Tag Archives: Hamlet

Same Story, Different Age

Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
Jonah 3:4 (NIV)

One of the things I’ve experienced in my continued and repeated reading through God’s Message is that every time I read through a section it is layered with new meaning simply because I am at a different place in my life journey than I was before. I’d like to think that there is some increased depth of wisdom, knowledge, and maturity to account for it. There are times, however, that simply being in a different place on life’s road experiencing different circumstances and challenges offers the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

I am once again struck this morning by the foreshadowing in the story of Jonah of the experiences of Paul as recorded in the book of Acts.

Reading the ancient prophets can always feel like a long slog in this chapter-a-day journey. They repeat their messages of warning, judgment, instruction, and encouragement over and over again to God’s people. They perform shocking acts of public performance art as metaphorical word pictures. On and on and on they preach and proclaim, and the people rarely responded. While there were periods of repentance and spiritual renewal, most of the story is about God’s people hard-heartedly refusing to listen to God’s Message.

In Jonah’s story, we have a single prophet who proclaims a simple message of eight words. It doesn’t even name God, provide instruction, or offer encouragement. The entire city of Nineveh, from the least to the greatest, repents and seeks God’s forgiveness. An entire city of non-Jewish, Gentile people who are the key enemy of Israel, respond to one minor prophet who proclaims eight words from God.

In the book of Acts, we read of Paul going from city to city proclaiming Jesus’ message. He always began at the Jewish synagogue. More often than not, his message fell on deaf ears and hard hearts while those who were not “God’s chosen people” received it heartily, just like the Ninevites who heard Jonah’s eight-word sermon.

This morning I find myself reminded of the message we heard this past Sunday. It reminded me that life can often be like a new movie that tells an old story with different players. The Lion King is simply the story of Hamlet in the jungle with animals. In the same way, life often repeats itself. How often today are Jesus’ followers like God’s people in ancient times? Do we sit isolated in our holy huddles choosing to hate, condemn, and cast off any concern for those outside the walls of our church building as we ritualistically repeat God’s message of Jesus dying and returning to Life for all people?

Love God,” Jesus basically said as he boiled down God’s commands, adding, “Love people; All people.” God’s Message in six words. Jonah had eight. Pretty simple, if my ears and heart are open to hearing it, believing it, and living it out.

 

“The Play’s the Thing”

David Tennant as Hamlet
David Tennant as Hamlet

“Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.”
Ezekiel 4:1-3 (NIV)

In the play Hamlet, the young prince of Denmark is faced with a dilemma. His father died and his mother was quickly married to his uncle, the brother of his father. The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears, tells the prince he was murdered by his brother, and tasks Hamlet with revenge. Hamlet is haunted by the vision, the accusation, and his task. He must find a way to verify that the story his father’s ghost told was true.

The idea Hamlet comes up with is to have a visiting troupe of actors write and produce a play that tells the very story his father described: a king murdered by his brother in order that he might marry his brother’s wife. Hamlet knows that if his uncle is guilty of murdering his father, then the uncle will be convicted by the play and Hamlet will know for sure that what his father’s ghost said is true. “The play’s the thing,” Hamlet says, “wherein I’ll catch the conscience of a king.”

In today’s chapter it is God who is saying to Ezekiel, “The play’s the thing.” He commands Ezekiel to do very much what Hamlet did. Ezekiel is going to get out the ancient equivalent of his Legos and erector set and play out the siege of Jerusalem in a marathon performance art piece which will last for well over an entire year. Ezekiel’s public performance was intended to visualize for his people what they were in for if they didn’t turn their hearts around, and to convict them to repent.

In the class I’ve been teaching on Wednesday nights we’ve been exploring metaphor, how it is the foundational way in which God expresses Himself, and the powerful ways we use it to communicate. Today’s chapter serves as a powerful example. He didn’t tell Ezekiel to preach from the street corner. He told Ezekiel to act it out.

source: Michael Buesking (prophetasartist.com)
source: Michael Buesking (prophetasartist.com)