ITíS A WHALE OF A DAY
Jonah, The Reluctant Witness
He couldnít ever have guessed what the results of his witness would be. How could any one predict that an entire city would immediately turn to God when they heard from Him through His prophet. But they did.
The lesson learned? When we do our job, God does His. Each one of us has his or her own Nineveh. Will we run and try to duck out on our responsibility? Or will we do our job, witness and watch what God does in response?
A slightly modernized comic-drama in three short scenes for small or larger groups.
Scene One: On The Run (Jonah 1)
Scene Two: How Do You Spell Relief? (Jonah 2)
Scene Three: I Think They Got The Message (Jonah 3)
Scene One: On The Run
Jonah is happily going about his business. He was a prophet so we can imagine him working away at a sermon. He is dutifully flipping the pages of his books and writing things down, perhaps singing a song, like ďI Will Make You Fishers Of MenĒ, to himself.
Jonah: (looks up and all around, startled)
UhÖyeeees? If you kids are playing hide-and-seek with me, youíre in trouble. I told you I didnít want to be disturbed while I was working on my Sunday sermon.
Jonah: (realizing who is speaking to him, jumps up, very alert)
Yes, Lord, what can I do for You?
Iím glad you asked that question. I have a job for you.
Sure. Whatever You want, Lord. Just name it. Fire away. At Your service.
Jonah, I am very concerned about the awful sinfulness of the people in the city of Nineveh. I want you to go and tell them that I am very unhappy about their wickedness and that, if they donít repent and change their ways ASAP, Iím going to destroy them.
Uh, did you say Nineveh, Lord? THE Nineveh? The one with all those nasty people who worship idols; who beat up on anyone who gets in their way; who do whatever they want, whenever they want, no matter how bad it is? THAT Nineveh?
Thatís the one.
Are You sure? I mean they are a pretty tough bunch. They probably wonít listen. It would be a waste of time, Lord. I mean, even supposing they say theyíre sorry, and maybe even mean it, then You wonít be able to give them the punishment they deserve for being so bad, right?
But I love them, Jonah. I donít want to have to punish them, remember? You just go and give them the message. Leave the rest to me.
Well, sure, Lord. (voice trails off as Jonah realizes that he has been left alone)
Give me a break. Nineveh? No way. No way, Josť. Not on your life. Never. Absolutely not. You couldnít pay me enough to risk my neck going to Nineveh. He has got to be kidding. Theyíll kill me. I mean those people are truly BAD. (pauses) Besides if God punishes them for all the nasty stuff theyíve done, itís no less than they deserve. He can blast them to bits for all I care. No me. Not Nineveh. No way.
(Jonah leaves. From the other side of the stage enters the captain of the ship to Tarshish.)
Captain: (yells off to one side)
Hurry up, guys. Load that cargo. Weíll miss the tide and we have a schedule to keep. (he mutters to himself) Two thousand miles to go, and they act like weíve got 'til Christmas. Canít get good help these days.
(Jonah enters in a hurry.)
You the captain of this tubÖer, ship?
Who wants to know? And make it fast, Iím busy.
Me, thatís who wants to know. I want to buy a ticket as long as you are not going anywhere near Nineveh.
Youíre in luck. Weíre going in the opposite direction. Besides, who in their right mind would want to go to Nineveh?
Not me, thatís for sure.
You got the money, I got the space. But weíre leaving right now.
Perfect. The sooner, the better.
Say, you look like a man on the run from the law. You in some kind of trouble?
Nope, not me. Iím not on the runónot from the law, anyway. But I sure hope the Lord God of Israel doesnít catch up with me. He and I have a little disagreement about Nineveh. Anyway, right now, Iím not going to worry about that. (yawns) Iím pooped. Think Iíll go down to my cabin and have a little nap. Nothing like a little sea air to make you sleepy. (yawns again)
Well, your problems with your God are none of my business, just as long as your moneyís good and you donít interfere with my schedule. Hurry up and get on board. (yells to an unseen crew) Cast off. Letís get going.
(Jonah leaves. The sounds of wind and waves begin to increase. Sailors enter swaying from side to side as though having difficulty keeping on their feet as the boat is tossed about.)
Move that box. Pitch that crate overboard. Weíve got to lighten the ship or weíll sink.
(sailors throw things into the audience.)
Look out. Here comes one of those monster waaaaaaaaaaaaves. (appropriate sounds)
Captain. Weíve thrown everything overboard we can, but itís not doing any good.
The stormís getting worse, sir. Iíve never seen anything like it, not in thirty years at sea. Weíre going to drown.
Start praying, boys, cause weíre in big trouble. Iím going down to the hold to what else I can shake loose and toss overboard.
(Sailors and captain exit. Jonah appears, horizontal and snoring. The captain enters.)
HEY YOU. How can you sleep at a time like this? In case you havenít noticed, thereís a whale of a storm out there and if something good doesnít happen like right now, weíre going to be fish food very soon. Maybe youíd better get in touch with that God of yours you were telling me about before. Maybe He can help. Nothing else seems to be working.
Jonah: (to himself)
Somehow I donít think He and I are exactly on speaking terms.
Thereís got to be some reason for this storm, I mean the CNN weatherman said it was going to be sunny and calm all the way to Tarshish.
We have to get rid of some more weight and lighten the boat. We havenít got any more boxes or crates, so weíll have to think of something else. Letís draw straws. The guy with the shortest straw gets tossed.
Sounds like a plan, though Iím going to keep on eye on you just to make sure you donít cheat and keep the longest straw for yourself.
(The sailors go through the motions of cutting up, arranging and giving out the straws. Jonah comes up with the shortest. )
Sorry about that, mister. But we have to lighten the ship.
Donít worry about it. I got the short straw because Iím the one who caused all this mess. Iím a Hebrew, a worshipper of the God of Israel. Heís the Creator of the land and the sea. The storm came because Heís trying to get my attention.
I thought I heard the captain say you were having a LITTLE disagreement with your God. If this is the result of a little disagreement, Iíd hate to be around when you are have a BIG one.
So what do we do with you now?
Stick with your plan. Itís my fault. Itís me God wants. Just throw me overboard and everything will be all right ó at least for you. Iím not sure my travel insurance will cover what is going to happen to me.
Youíre nuts. You canít swim to shore from here, and thatís only supposing this storm doesnít kill you first. No, put your back to it men. Weíll row to shore.
(The men struggle to row.)
No use, captain. Itís getting worse.
God of Jonah, sorry about this, but it looks like the only thing we can do is ditch this prophet of yours.
(They ďthrowĒ Jonah overboard.)
Wow, would you look at this. Itís as sunny and calm as the CNN weather guy said it would be. Boy, this God of Jonahís is really something else.
Hey, forget the weather. Would you look at the size of that fish out there circling the spot where we threw Jonah.
And, would you look at what itís having for lunch. It just swallowed Jonah.
Should we lower the boat and search for him, captain?
Forget it. Besides, we threw the lifeboat overboard, remember? Letís go, but slowly. I have to do some serious thinking about how Iím going to explain throwing all that cargo into the sea on a sunny day with calm seas.
Scene Two: How DO you spell relief?
(Jonah ďswimsĒ in, coughing.)
Brother, have I ever done it now. I really blew it. Too bad I didnít figure out how stupid it was to run from God until I hit the water. On the other hand, this is better than drowning ó I think. Still, Iím glad God heard my call for help, even if it means camping out in the stomach of a fish. (chuckles) This is one ďwhaleĒ of an experience.
Iím sorry I made such a mess of things. I should have done what He asked me to do. Those pagans havenít got a chance of being saved. I get to call out to God when Iím in trouble. But they donít even know who God is to be able to call out to Him. Those pieces of dead wood and stone they worship canít help them. I wish I could go back to that moment when He asked me to go to Nineveh. If I had another chance Iíd do what He asked. Maybe if those wicked Ninevites could hear about my God, theyíd call on Him too. After all, salvation does only come from the Lord.
Ah, whatís that sound? Yikes, I think Iím going to be sickÖah, correction, I think this fish is going to be sick. Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-hó.
Scene Three: I Think They Got The Message
(Lights come up with Jonah standing on a box addressing the audience)
Okay, you people, listen up. Youíve gotten away with too much for too long, and God is not pleased. If you donít ask Godís forgiveness for all the nasty stuff youíve been doing; all that fighting, lying, cheating, swearing, stealing, being mean to people, and worshipping hunks of stone and wood, Godís going to punish you just like you deserve. And, itís not going to be pretty when He does. Youíve got forty days to think it over, and then, Wham ó youíre in really big trouble.
Brother, when I first saw this guy, I thought he was trying to make a fashion statement. Did you see the seaweed? Then, when I smelled him, I figured he must be advertising the latest in perfume ó eau de whale. But, you know, when I heard him, I said to myself: ďSelf, this is serious.Ē I believe the guy. We really must be as rotten as he smells, and Godís going to punish us.
I believe it, too. Weíd better do like he says and ask God to forgive us. Maybe itís not too late.
(The king enters.)
Now hear this. From now on, all of us, and I do mean ALL of us, are going to spend all our time calling on God for forgiveness. And, all of us, and I do mean ALL of us, are going to stop doing all the nasty stuff weíve been doing, just like Jonah told us. Maybe, just maybe, God will not punish us, but forgive us instead.
I have seen what you have done, and I know that you mean what you say. I have seen your hearts and know that you are truly sorry for what you have done. And just as I promised you through my messenger, Jonah, I will forgive you and I will not punish you.
(Everyone jumps around, hugging each other.)
Hurrah. Godís forgiven us. What say we have a celebration? Letís go find Jonah. I know this great seafood restaurant and todayís special is whale steak with seaweed sauce. I just know heíll love it.