I have been reading through the minor prophets lately and recently came across a truth about the call of God I felt led to write about. I noticed for the first time from the story of Jonah that the Bible never tells us that Jonah was a prophet before he was told to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2). I have always been taught that Jonah was a reluctant preacher who refused to become a missionary, however, the story never tells us this as fact. I personally have come to believe that Jonah’s story represents a first-time calling in Jonah’s life to serve the God he believed in. (Jonah 1:9) Jonah believed in God as creator, but did not have a personal relationship with Him yet. The subsequent story of his boat ride away from the Lord is simply a realistic look at how many of us respond to God when He first places a call in our lives. 

Similarly, many of the other minor prophets were simply men living their lives when God called on them to speak out his truth at a specific time, to a specific person, for a specific reason. Amos was a simple fig tree farmer who lived in a community of shepherds who suddenly began getting visions from the Lord which prompted him to prophesy against king Jeroboam. Obadiah gives no context at all about who Obadiah was or what he did outside of the message God gave him to pronounce against the Edomites. Micah was from an agricultural town with no known prophetic heritage, the word of the Lord simply came to him one day. 

Two questions my study prompted
1. Are you preparing your heart for the word of God in your life today?

I believe Jonah’s response of fear came from his heart which was unprepared for what God wanted for Him. Nine times in the Bible a phrase like “prepare your heart” is used, my favorite of which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 12:14 speaking about King Rehoboam where it says “And he did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.”

    2. When God’s call is made clear, will you step out in faith to do it? 

    We know so little about the minor prophets, certainly they each represented grown men with childhoods, parents, siblings, families, friends, careers, and everything in between. But as important as each facet of their life was to God (He cares about every detail of your life – Luke 12:7), by far the most important and immortalized period of their entire lives was when the creator God reached down from heaven and gave them a specific word to deliver.

      Like Jonah, It will be incredibly difficult for anyone who does not prepare their heart to seek God to respond in faith when His calling comes to them. Your call may or may not include going to the mission field, but I am confident it will include a timely word from the mouth of God to be delivered to someone in your life. It may be the plan of salvation: God could be cultivating an opportunity for you to lead someone (or many someones) to the Lord and He needs you to be a willing vessel to deliver his message of love for the people to whom He leads you. It could instead be your testimony (1 Peter 3:15) where God puts you in an incredibly specific situation and fills your heart to share the hope that is in you of what God has brought you through. Whatever the case, take some time to pray today and present yourself as a willing sacrifice to be used for His purposes. (Romans 12:1)

      The end of Jonah’s story seems hopeless, the newly appointed prophet sits depressed on a hill because God turned His wrath from the people to whom Jonah was sent to preach. However, Jonah’s story doesn’t end there, 2 Kings 14:25 tells us Jonah became a prophet for the nation of Israel under King Jeroboam. While there is room for debate about whether Jonah’s position of prophet preceded the events of Nineveh, I am personally convinced that Jonah eventually came around to God’s way of thinking and spent the rest of his life serving the God who had spared his life from the belly of a whale. 

      It’s never too late to start serving God, nor will you ever be too far gone to be used by Him to spread His word. Prepare your heart for His call. He desires to partner with you to reach the world!