Jonah is a prophet of God with an unlikely story. He tries to run from God. He is swallowed by a fish. He converts an evil empire with a 1-sentence sermon of judgment. And yet the most unbelievable part of Jonah's story is that this prophet of God is the most hateful, spiteful person we've ever met. How is Jonah's story a warning for us? How does he warn us against becoming bitter and spiteful?
In the face of tragedy, will we be agents for healing, or will we stand by and do nothing? The answer isn't found in the moment of the tragedy, but in the choices we make leading up to it. God spoke to Obadiah in the wake of the most devastating tragedy in Israel's history - the Babylonian conquest of Judah. Obadiah addressed not God's people, but their neighbors, the Edomites, who refused to aid Judah, and even aided the Babylonians in sacking Jerusalem. In God's warning to them, we hear a similar warning to enact justice now, in the small, every day choices we make.
We prize loyalty - in sports teams, to brands and especially in relationships. According to the prophet Hosea, we are often disloyal in our faith. We look at religious rituals as signs of faithfulness, when in fact what God desires is transformation. Rituals are never meant to be ends in themselves, but pathways to a new life.