I used not to look at myself. I’d hide my face in the dark. I wouldn’t want to look in the mirror…

~ Michael Jackson


1985 St. Vincent postage stamp of Michael Jackson, Ken Brown, courtesy of iStockPhoto


Michael Jackson and I shared a common bond … Vitiligo.

This dermatological condition causes areas of a person’s skin to lose their pigment, creating white patches next to tanned skin. The variegated flesh is easy to spot because some areas darken, while others remain ashen white.

To hide this malady, Jackson wore a white glove on his affected hand. The single glove became his iconic symbol. He wore makeup to conceal the pale areas on his face. He ventured outside with an umbrella to reduce darkening of the uninvolved skin.

Vitiligo thus contributed to him being considered eccentric.

  • Jonah’s impaired condition made him a public oddity.

The prophet suffered from skin impairment similar to vitiligo … only far worse. And its effects made him stand out to the Ninevites. Let’s explore how.

  • Acids bleach human skin.

The Ninevites were a dark-skinned people. They had flawless features and tones. When the pale-skinned prophet of doom walked in looking like a ghost, he warranted notice. And he got it.

  • Acids cause significant hair loss.

The Assyrians had almost no baldness recorded in their history. The ancients considered baldness to be a sign of shameful condemnation. Again, Jonah’s appearance with only scant patches of hair remaining on his body garnered negative attention.

  • Acids make the skin hypersensitive.

His skin was irritated much like one who’s sunburned. Wearing clothes would’ve aggravated his flesh, but Jonah’s exposed skin couldn’t withstand the vexation of the desert sun and the blistering heat.

  • Scripture hints that Jonah suffered from these effects.

In the last chapter, we find Jonah hiding in the shade to ease his discomfort.[1] When he lost the natural umbrella, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he almost fainted.[2] The suffering prophet wanted to die, saying: “ It’s better for me to die than to live.”[3]

  • How horrible it must have been for this man who survived being swallowed by a great fish.

He lived to tell about it, but the ordeal marred him. It made his flesh vulnerable to pain and misery.

  • His rebellion made him to suffer in these ways.

But God used Jonah’s agony to bring glory to His name.

  • Jonah was a sign of judgment to those destined for God’s wrath.

As we’ve covered in the previous posts, the people couldn’t overlook this freakish man. His body was a sermon unto itself. His devastated flesh warned of God’s coming judgment.

  • God used Jonah to point us to Jesus.

As we continue in this journey, we’ll see just how much Jonah foreshadowed Christ’s Passion. And we’ll see why Jesus said it would be the only sign He’d give the unbelievers of His day … and ours.


Can you think of other times that God used a person’s appearance to relate a message?