Read Jonah 1:1-2. This stunning book opens by introducing us to its cast of main characters. God comes first, then Jonah, then the doomed city of Nineveh. God is all, but His grace in imparting hope can only be conveyed through the actions of other agents who can make a difference with God’s powerful Word and Spirit. First things first then! God, his people, and his awesome Word are the priority factors as we open this city-changing missional book.

GOD is the primary agent or force for good or ill, the one who really counts in world history, past and present. Yet he is the one most discounted or ignored, even by religionists and theologians. Some of us may have problems interpreting his prophets, and Bible prophecy, accurately. It’s deemed obsolete. Where do the continuities and discontinuities lie? What is a proper hermeneutic to enable us to interpret, understand and apply their messages accurately? Is this book fact or fiction? Is Jonah an imaginative parable or recorded space-time events that really happened? Sceptics are unsure, but we are not.

The whole message of this historical prophet rings true to real life and experience, as we live it. So one thing we can say for sure is that, everything the prophets teach about God is still true, and can be received intact without tampering, for God is the immutable Lord of all time and he changes not. If Nineveh was in danger because of the wrath of God, then so are London, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds, New York, Beijing, and Moscow. As such, it is a surprising source of concern to us just how little authentic fear of God can be found today, in our towns and cities, and even in God’s Church. We neither fear God’s anger, nor believe expectantly for his mercy. Yet, we are still the daily recipients and objects of both on a regular basis.

We should be aware of the weakness of politicians and politics to remedy our problems. We need more than New Labour or Old Conservatism, UKIP or the EU, and the many ‘emergency measures’ or Government ‘contingency plans’ designed to save us. Our trust has to be in the most powerful agents for change in the universe – the Living God and the Word of the Lord, preached in the power of the Spirit. In fact, God never works to restore and redeem decay in our world apart from these agents. This is how he created the world. It is also how he sets about re-creating it, after it its decline due to sinful agents, human and demonic. Wherever God’s Word goes, God himself goes with it. In fact his Word is as good as his presence, for his word is his presence (‘Just say the word Lord and my servant will be healed’ Lk.7:7-8; Jn.4:50). God’s Top Billing in this drama is amazingly shared with a flawed human agent – God’s chosen messenger Jonah, and by extension, this now includes God’s call upon all of our lives – weak agents like you and me.

Think hard about some things you’d like to see change, and dare to make yourself available to God to make you part of the answer.