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Hark, a tale of Jonah
by Steve Merideth
Not For Sale
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Its good to be with you tonite. I’m Hark, the Hearld Angel. I know, I don't look like an angel, but I bet none of you have ever seen an angel, so how would you know what one looked like? And No, I don't play a harp. I don't even sing. Now if you are expecting someone 10 feet tall with long blonde hair and a flaming sword, You need to look for Michael. A musician? That's Gabriel. Besides, The Chief said that it takes all kinds, so here I am. Anyway, I’m here to tell you about one of the Chief’s greatest prophets, That's right… Jonah!
As it happened in the days way back there… before the time of … well, a long time ago… Jonah was taking a nap under a big ole Oak tree. He heard a voice… “Jonah!”
“Jonah! Servant of God most high! Arise!”
He don't hear you know, hes got his ear plugs in and hes in a deep slumber.
Jonah, Prophet of God, awake! Serve your Creator!”
Finally, I reached down and taped him gently, WHAP!, up side the head and … Jonah leaps up.
“Wha? Wher.. I didn’t do it!... Wow what a dream! I knew I shouldn’t have eat that Pepperoni, pineapple and onion pizza!”
“What!? OK this aint funny! I’m awake and I know this aint the pizza talking!”
“Jonah! Servant of the most high LORD God Almighty! Arise and serve your LORD!” And about that time, I realized I was still invisible, so I made myself visible to Jonah.
Jonah looked at me just as serious as you can look at someone. And he spoke “Who are you?”
“Huh?” That's Hebrew for “What you talking about?”
“You asked me who I am, now don't get confused, I’m not Him, I Am, I’m Hark, the Herald angel.”
“You aint gonna sing too are ya?”
“Nope, I don't sing, I just carry messages for The Chief.”
“Hey I thought You guys were 10 feet tall or something and played harps and tooted horns and carried flaming swords and stuff.”
“Not me! A gig like that belongs to Gabriel or Michael. Me, I do play a mean kazoo! Wanna hear me?”
“I don't think so! Now why did you wake me up?”
“Oh yea! The Chief, The Lord God Almighty has a job for you.”
“Me, Well Tell me what He wants of a nobody like me.”
“Now Jonah, don’t you know that you are nobody till Somebody loves you? Now since God love you, You aint nobody, but you are somebody!”
“I am? Well tell me, Who I be?”
“Well, You be you!”
“But I wanna be somebody else”
“It don't work that way, you got be you, just you and no body else but you because your are not nobody, nohow, because you are somebody because the main Somebody loves you!”
“And God has chosen me to be a prophet”
“You got it bucko!”
“and as a prophet… what exactly do I do?”
“You go around telling the truth, the whole truth and nutin but the truth.”
“OK I got it. Ok whats the truth and who do I tell?”
“That's it? One word? Not much of a message.”
“Yep and You best get Going, the Chief said that you need to go to Nineveh and tell those folks to Repent or He is gonna make things go tough for them.”
“Huh? Nine-veh? He wants me to go to Nine-veh? Is He crazy? You got any idea how wicked and tacky and mean those people are? “
“Well I should hope so, after all, He created them!”
“Why cant He tell them hisself?”
“They aint listening?”
“And He thinks they will listen to me? Has He been there lately?”
“He’s there right now.”
“I thought you said He was here.”
“He is.”
“Look Angel, Hark or whatever your name is… I aint going. You cant pay me enough to get me to go prophesy to that bunch of people!”
“That's OK we weren’t planning on paying you anyway.”
“All the more reason not to go. Why cant He tell then Himself?”
“He doesn’t work that way, he’s chosen you.”
“Tell Him to choose someone else.”
“Nope, Hes Chosen You.”
“Call Western Union, send a telegram.”
“Nope, Hes Chosen You.”
“Call 1-800-Flowers, Send a Candy Gram”
“Nope, Hes Chosen You.”
“Call North Carolina, Send a Billy Graham”
“Nope, Hes Chosen You. You are going to Nineveh to be His prophet.”
“I don't know how to get there. “
“No sweat! Just follow the Jordan north and when you run out of water to follow, take a right. You cant miss it!”
“Now you best get going at first light, oh yea, one more thing… Tell them that if they don't repent, God is gonna rain a Sodom and Gamorah on them.”
“Now aint that a bit extreme?”
“Well Aint the Ninevites a bit extreme?”
“Well, now that you mention it… Hey first light? I like to sleep late!”
“First light and don’t worry, God is with you all the way. Fear not!”
“Fear no?”
“Well its something us angel types say when coming or going, besides not aint nothing to fear nohow.”
Well, Jonah figures that since he needs to head out at first light, he may as well catch a few Zs. So he does that. And when he woke uo bright and early, he began packing his duffle. Well he went to the Jordan river and started north…
You can hear him mumbling… “Go to Nine-veh! Tell them its gonna rain fire and Brimstone! Well they got it coming… I don't like them Nine-vites anyway! Besides, who’s to say God won’t forgive them if they repent. That's the way He is. He’s gracious and forgiving… Turn from your sins, seek His face… Yep He will forgive them and heal the nation… They don't need no healing! I aint going! No way Jose! I’m headed the other way!”
And you know? That's what he did! He took a right! Not a left and headed for Joppa. When he got there he found a boat.
“Hey there! You with the pipe!”
“You talking to me matey? I said are you talking to me? I don't see anyone else around here.”
“Well Popeye, I don't see anyone else around, of course I’m talking to you. You got room for a passenger?”
“The name is Sodaear, ye swab! Where ye headed?”
“As far away from Nine-veh as I can get!”
“We be sailing toward the setting sun me lad and since Nineveh is toward the rising sun, I reckon we be your boat!”
So He booked passage on that boat. I gotta tell you, the Chief was just a little perturbed…. Ok more than a little… The first thing Jonah did when he got on that boat was head below deck and find a corner and go back to sleep, I tell ya, that guy had to have a bad case of narcolepsy!
Well the Chief blew up a storm on that boat that made hurricane Sandy look like a water gun. Wind was blowing, water and waves were crashing over the boat, the crew was panicky and praying to every god they could think of and even to some they couldn’t think of. They finally started playing dice and realized that the storm was Jonah’s fault. That's when Sodaear, the Captain went hunting for him and found him snoozing. Well he grabbed Jonah and he shook him and rattled him and oh Jonah rolled his eyes. That's where Shake rattle and roll first came from.
“Wha? Wher? I didn't do it!”
“Yes you did do it! What did you do? The ship is sinking and its all your fault!”
Well Jonah fessed up. He told them. Well I’m a Jew and well, uh God Almighty is kinda upset with me. So He sent this storm.”
Now this crew was a bunch of nice guys, They figured on helping Jonah out. They rowed, and bailed water and rowed and tried to get the boat to land but it wasn’t gonna happen. Jonah told them, “I tell ya what, Just throw me overboard and you will be OK.”
They didn’t wanna do it, but they did what he asked and Jonah made a double flip with a full twist right into the mouth of the biggest fish I ever saw. I mean it was like that whale of a shark was waiting there the whole time just waiting for Jonah to come flying off that boat. There wasn’t no bite or nothing, just over the lips and through the gums, look out belly, here he comes! Well I tell ya, as soon as that fish closed his mouth, the sea got as calm… Not a wave at all and the sky was just as clear as a tear. It looked like fine sailing from here on… Well, ‘cept for Jonah…
Deep down in the bowels of a fish, we find Jonah. Its dark, its wet, its cold. I had to look in on him. You know what I saw? He had found a couple chunks of wood or floating seaweed and made hisself a cot. He was asleep! I couldn’t believe it! But then some said he was dead and that the Chief and made him that way so it wouldn’t be so hard on him. Me? I don't know, He looked asleep to him and I was told to look but don't touch. Well he finally woke up… he looked around and he didn't see anything. I don't think he realized where he was or what was going on, but when it did dawn on him what was going on, we went to praying. And it wasn’t one of them “Our father” King James prayers either. He hit one of them 911 prayers. “GOD! GET ME OUTTA HERE!”
You know, the Chief does work in mysterious ways. I know that fish had been eating a lot, but it got a case of indigestion I found hard to believe, even when I saw it happening. It had to be a result of that feast the fish had the day after he swallowed Jonah off that Italian shipwreck. I have never seen so much pepperoni, proscutio and salami in all my unborn days. It started gurgling way down deep for 2 days before he belched. You ever heard a fish burp? You don't want to. And he hurled! I mean he shot Jonah out so fast and hard that it was all he could do to hold on to his raft. And Stank! WHEW! WHAT AN ODOR! But Jonah was free of the fish. He looked terrible, Covered with seaweed, fish guts and all. Skin bleached by acids in the fish’s stomach, clothes eaten with big holes, stinking of fish burp. He was a mess.
And I had to go see him.
“Jonah! Servant of the most high God.”
“Oh its you! Hark the herald angel, sing to me! Why don't you go bother someone else.”
“I cant, my job is you, Arise and go …”
“Yeah, I know… Go to Nine-veh, tell them God is gonna destroy the city.”
“Now you’re talking buddy, Just keep trekking the way you are and in 9 days you will be there.”
“OK Ok, Let me get a bath, OK?”
“No sweat, But then I don't sweat anyhow”
Well, Jonah made the hike to Nineveh, I am glad God didn't send him to Teneveh, He would have never made it!
Now Nineveh was a big town! It took 3 days just to walk through the city proper, not to mention the suburbs. Jonah walked on a sightseeing tour for a day.
“Hey when you gonna give these folks the message?”
“What message?”
“What do you mean, What Message? The message the Chief tole me to tell you to tell them!”
“Oh THAT Message! Oh Nine-veh, Ten-veh, Eleven-veh! REPENT! For in 40 days Its gonna go tough for you! You think it was bad for Sodom? You aint seen nothing yet!”
“Now that's telling them Jonah!”
“Well The fools have it coming! Its gonna be fun in 40days watching them dance around dodging the fireballs! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
“”Uh Jonah! I don't think you should be having this much fun, I mean its an honor to be the Chief’s messenger and all, but…”
“But nothing! I AM honored to be the forteller of doom for these miserable retrobates!”
“But what if they repent?”
“They wouldn’t dare!”
“Wanna bet?”
Yep, you know it! They repented! The king issued a proclamation and everyone put on sackcloth, that's some itchy stuff!, and they sat in ashes and promised God they would do better. You would think a prophet would be happy, but not Jonah! Noooooo! He climbed the hill to the east of the city, built a shelter and watched.
“I knew this would happen! They repented and God being God forgave them! They deserve to die! They deserve the fire and brimstone! I bet He knew this would happen all along! Why send me? I go through that monsoon at sea and that icky fish and for what? This?”
“What are you doing”
“I’m holding my breath till I turn blue! Just kill me now Angel, don't make me watch this not happen!”
“You’re mad aint ya?”
“No, I’m not mad, I as happy as a Lark! I feel like dancing! OF COURSE I’M MAD! Here I go! Getting blown all over the Medeterranean, swallowed by Jaws and then I preach doom on a city for what? NOTHING!”
“Jonah, You don't get it. The Chiefs who plan was to send you her and preach to the Ninevites so they would repent. You did a great job, He is very pleased with the job you did.”
“Well, I aint pleased, Tell him to just leave me alone!”
“You know You've tried to run from Him before.”
“Well whats he gonna do now, Send a fish to the middle of the desert?”
“Jonah, Will you ever learn?”
“I’ve learned enough! First God wants me to be a prophet! Then He sends me through a typhoon and then I get up close and personal with Bruce the shark. Then I get up close and personal with the Nine-vites. And now He doesn't punish them. Well God can just get another prophet, I’m through! No more speaking for God for me, No sir, no way no how! God can get someone else out here in the desert! Desert? Where am I? Where is the city? Oh great! Now Im lost in the desert, on top of everything else I get to die of thirst in the desert!”
Well this time, he didn’t fall asleep, he fainted. The Chief had me take a Peavine to him. So I set it up as a shade for him and threw a glass of water on him.
“What What? Wher… I didn’t do it! Oh, I must have dosed, Wow looking here, a nice peavine. Wonder where it came from, hmmm pretty good fruit too. YAWNNN, I think I’ll take a nap…”
That guy could sleep through a thunderstorm, well he did do that. Anyway, I got a hongry caterpillar and took him to the peavine. That lil dude munched like there was no tomorrow, then I remembered something, for a caterpillar, there is no tomorrow…
Well, Jonah woke up and felt the wind and the sun… “Hmmm I need to move … huh? Where did the vine go? Hey what is this? Why is it so hot? God? Why are you doing this to me? “
“Uh Jonah?”
“Is something bothering you? “
“What did you do with my peavine?”
“ I didn't do anything, but Elmer was Hongry. “
“Elmer, the caterpillar, he ate the vine.”
“”This is crazy! I can’t stand it! What is the point of it all?”
“Jonah, do you wanna know, do you really wann know?”
“I want the truth!”
“You cant handle the …. Whats that Chief? He can? OK You can handle the truth!”
“Well you know how much you liked that peavine?”
“and how mad it made you when It was gone”
“well that's a small taste of how much God would have missed the Ninevites had he gone all Sodom and Gomorrah on them. As mean and terrible as they were, they were and are a part of His creation, all 120,000 of them and when they repented, He had compassion, he showed his compasion and He forgave them.”
“that's it?”
“yep… Aint God Good?”
“But what about me?”
“Ok Jonah, What about you? What have you learned?”
“well being Gods prophet might be a bed of roses, but you gotta look out for the thorns! It's a crazy job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Still I think I’d like to retire. Think he will let me?”
“I think that could be arranged!”
“Hark, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship! Tell God I’m looking forward to it.”
“Tell Him yourself, He is always with you, even in the belly of a fish!”


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