Fun Fact: Did you know that the story of Jonah is number six in the top Bible stories for children? It makes sense. A man living in the belly of a big fish for three days is memorable, to say the least.
I studied the book a few weeks ago and was delighted to learn that this story is more than the big fish we all remember. For only being four chapters long, it sure does pack in a ton of life lessons. He was a rogue prophet. An angry prophet. He paints himself in a truthful light, but more importantly, he shows God’s greatness and power.
You see, God asked Jonah to preach to the Ninevites. The prophet responded by running in the opposite direction. This group of people was notorious for being wicked and arrogant. Everyone feared them. Jonah thought the idea of walking up to Nineveh and scolding them for being naughty was ludicrous. They were horrible people who deserved to be judged.
Jonah hops on a boat. God sends a storm. The sailors freak out and begin to pray to all sorts of deities. Nothing works. Jonah is pretty sure God is disciplining him, so he suggests that the sailors throw him overboard. They repent, ask forgiveness, and then toss him into the sea where Jonah is swallowed by a very big fish.
For three days, Jonah sits and prays. As he’s sloshing around in the belly of this fish, Nineveh doesn’t seem so bad. He promises to obey God and the fish pukes him up onto the shore.
God says, “Let’s try this again. Go to Nineveh.”
Jonah complies, but he’s a punk about it. He reaches the city and gives a short, odd sermon. He says, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”
After just eight words, Ninevites are dropping to their knees left and right. I believe God totally did that on purpose. God gave Jonah a choice. He could go kicking and screaming or go like a civilized person. Either way, Nineveh is going to repent.
And with almost zero effort on Jonah’s part, everyone in the city did indeed repent. All 600,000 of them. God loved Jonah too much to let him succeed at failing to do the task. As a result, Jonah had a change of heart. That’s why this book exists.
Jonah is so much more than a children’s VBS story about a big fish.
Do you have a problem with life being fair? Read this book.
Are you struggling with God controlling the circumstances of your life? Read this book.
Have you ever thought that God could never forgive you? Read this book.
Are you called to do something difficult? Read this book.
Are you scared? Read this book.
Are you convinced your plan is better than God’s? Read this book.
Are you tired of running? Read this book.
God’s will WILL be done. Willing participation is optional…