Jonah: Part 1

I’ve always enjoyed the story of Jonah and not just because my husband and I love playing in our saltwater tank!  But at the end of the story, I’m always left wondering what Jonah does next, before I get to that, here’s a very quick run down of the story of Jonah for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

Jonah was a prophet of God which meant that God would give Him a message that he was then supposed to pass on to God’s people.  The message would change depending on the condition of the hearts of the people.  It could be a message of foretelling, forth-telling, promise or of judgement.  In this case, Jonah was given a message for the people of Nineveh and the message was very clear.  The Ninevites were wicked in the eyes of the Lord and they were in danger of being completely destroyed if they did not immediately repent which means to seek forgiveness and turn away from their sin. Instead of hopping on his camel and heading out to Nineveh to deliver God’s message, he tries to run in the completely opposite direction.  He leaves Joppa, booking passage on a boat to Tarshish which, at the time, was as far away from landlocked Nineveh as he could possibly get!  Why exactly did he run away?  We’ll find out later on….

So Jonah is sleeping in the hull of the boat while a furious squall churns up the sea.  It must have been a dozy, because the experienced sailors were in terror for their lives praying to their various gods to save them.  Finally they call up Jonah and cast lots to find out why this storm has been sent.  I guess Jonah hoped it wasn’t him that God was upset with because he didn’t speak up before the lots were cast.  When it fell on him he confessed that he was running from God and in order to save everyone on the boat, they should throw him overboard.  Being the kind, compassionate, men that they were, they first tried to row to shore, but God was not having that at all. So, terrified, the sailors chucked Jonah over the side…end of storm, but just the beginning of a journey for Jonah.

So there he is treading water wondering what God is going to do now.  Will He let Jonah drown? Can he get back on the boat without the storm coming back? How about the sailors throw a rope off the side and just “tow” Jonah to the shore?  We aren’t told just how long Jonah enjoyed his swim when God sent a great fish to swallow him whole.  Three days Jonah called the fish’s mouth home and for three days he prayed…I’d pray too!  After three days, God commanded the fish to “vomit{ed} Jonah onto dry land, ” Jonah 2:10.  Now I can’t imagine that would have been a very pleasant experience and I wonder just how many times he had to bathe to get rid of that fishy smell.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that when God once again commanded Jonah to deliver His message to the people of Nineveh, Jonah was more than happy to do as he was told.

Once again, we’re not told how long it took Jonah to get to Nineveh from wherever the fish spit him out, but it would have taken him a day or two, if not more, to get to Nineveh.  When he gets to Nineveh we’re told it takes him three days to get through the city, it was that huge!  Needless to say, the people believed Jonah when he foretold them of the coming doom they would experience if they did not repent and turn to the Lord.  The king commanded the whole city to fast and to pray, repenting.  God had compassion on the people and did not bring the destruction He promised.  But this is where this happily ever after story takes an interesting turn…

{Ok, so that wasn’t a very “quick” run down, but tomorrow you’ll find the rest of the story.}

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