The Story of Jonah
Jonah was a prophet - a person chosen by God to speak God’s truth. One day, God told Jonah to go the city of Nineveh and to tell the people to stop doing bad things, otherwise he was going to destroy their city. Jonah didn’t want to give this message to the people of Nineveh, so he tried to run away from God.
Jonah hurried to Joppa and got on a boat headed for Tarshish. God saw Jonah on the boat and sent a storm so huge and terrifying, that everyone on the boat thought they would die. The sailors prayed to their gods, and tried figure out who might have made God angry. Jonah admitted that it was his fault, because he was running away from God. He told the sailors to throw him overboard. The sailors didn’t want to do such a terrible thing, so they tried rowing as hard as they could toward shore. The storm was too much for them though, so, after telling God they were sorry, they threw Jonah into the churning water.
God saw Jonah in the water. He sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah before he could drown. Try to imagine what it would be like on the inside of a fish. Probably dark…squishy…wet…smelly…scary. Jonah was there for three days and three nights. During that time, Jonah repented. He prayed and he thanked God.
God saw Jonah in the fish. He made the huge fish vomit Jonah up on a sandy shore. This time, Jonah did what God’s told him to do. For three days, he walked through the city of Nineveh, telling the people that if they didn’t stop doing evil, God would destroy the city in forty days. When the King of Nineveh heard the news, he repented and commanded all the people to repent as well. God forgave them and did not destroy the city.
Jonah was so angry, he went outside the city gates and built himself a little shelter under the blazing sun. God saw him there, and caused a vine to grow over Jonah, to provide some shade. Jonah was very happy with the vine, but the next morning, God sent a worm to destroy it. It made Jonah furious all over again.
“I might as well die,” he said.
Then God spoke to Jonah.
“Think about it,” God said. “You’re sorry because a little vine died, but you’re angry that I didn’t destroy Nineveh. If I had destroyed Nineveh, more than a hundred and twenty thousand people would have died – and many animals too! Do you think it’s right for you to be angry?”
I wonder why Jonah was willing to be thrown overboard, but he wasn’t willing to do what God told him to do?
I wonder what it means to repent?
I wonder why Jonah felt so thankful when he was still stuck inside a fish?
I wonder if God loves us as much when we do bad things as he does when we do good?
I wonder if sometimes we think like Jonah did, and we forget that God loves all people?