<<prophet swallowed by a whale>>

The book bearing his name majors on the person and only one verse summarises his message to which the people responded and repented (Jnh 3:4).

It is a graphic illustration of God’s grace and mercy, not just towards Nineveh the capital city of an evil empire (Assyria), but also to the reluctant prophet Jonah.  God used natural things and creatures (storm, whale, plant and worm) to bring about His purposes in Jonah’s life.

The book of Jonah records the events that took place about 760 BC.

Lessons from his life: * The Assyrians were a powerful and cruel nation, and Israel’s enemies.  Jonah would rather they were judged and punished by God than repent and receive forgiveness yet it was his God-given mission to speak the Word of the Lord to them (Jnh 1:2, 3:2, 4:2). Similarly, everyone needs to have the gospel presented to them and it is not always our choice who we will share it with. Am I effectively sharing the good news of Jesus with those in my sphere of influence, by lifestyle and in speech?  God commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

* Jonah didn’t want to do what God told him, so in rebellion and indifference he went in the opposite direction and brought disaster upon others (Jnh 1:3-5). Are we reluctant to do God’s bidding?  Rather than reacting in fear or refusing to obey, ask God for courage and start doing what He has asked; obedience is the way to be blessed personally and for humanity in general to be touched by the gospel.

*  Even though he failed and things went from bad to worse Jonah was still God's man for this mission and He sovereignly ‘arranged matters' giving him another chance (Jnh 1:15-17, 2:10). Being in this predicament Jonah repented, promised to obey and then carried out the divine orders (Jnh 2:2-9, 3:1,3,4). We humans often try to live independently of God, however when there appears to be no other solution out of the tight corner we are in, we start to bargain with God, ‘ Get me out of this God, and I will...’.  When the pressure is off do we as readily remember and honour our word, fulfilling the promises we made to others and God?

* Jonah had experienced forgiveness for his disobedience and yet was angry when God offered the same mercy to the people of Nineveh (Jnh 3:10-4:2). Jesus highlighted this type of inconsistency in a parable saying, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow beings just as I had on you” (Mt 18:33). God’s blessings are not exclusive – they are willingly given to all who meet His conditions.  Are we concerned over the spiritual condition of others or only over our own interests?

See also: disobedience, forgiveness, Jonah (Jnh), Nineveh, obedience, prophet, second chance.