The Story of Jonah and the Fish
Jonah Chapters 1-3

Jonah lived in the country of Israel more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Israel's greated enemy at that time was the country of Assyria, a major city of which was Nineveh. The ruins of Nineveh now can be seen in the country of Iraq.

One day Jonah was praying when the word of the Lord came, "Go to Nineveh and speak against it for their great wickedness."

Jonah did not wish to go to Nineveh to preach to them. He did not wish for Nineveh to be saved because these people were the enemies of Israel. Jonah rather wished that Nineveh would be destroyed. Because Jonah did not wish to go to Nineveh he bought a ticket on a ship going to Spain, across the Mediterranean Sea.

During their sail to Spain, which was called Tarshish at that time, a great storm arose on the Sea. Giant waves crashed over the boat which pitched and tossed in the violent hurricane. The sailors were terrified and bagan to fast, pray and offer gifts to their gods trying to get the storm to abate. Instead the great storm grew worse. There was loud thunder and lightening and the dark waves swept over the ship which seemed to be about to sink. Finally Jonah spoke to the sailors, "I am the reason for this storm. My God is angry with me for disobeying His command. If you throw me overboard you and your ship will be saved."

The sailors did not wish to throw Jonah overboard, but finally they became so afraid of the storm that they picked up Jonah and tossed him into the raging sea. God had prepared a great fish which was waiting for Jonah. As soon as Jonah splashed into the water the fish opened its mouth and swallowed Jonah whole. Jonah found himself in the dark, slimey and stinking stomach of the fish. There was seaweed and small fish inside the pitch black stomach and Jonah found the seaweed wrapped around his neck. Jonah began to pray ernestly for God to save him. How sorry he was that he had refused to go to Nineveh to preach as God had let him know that He wished him to do.

"Oh, God, please deliver me from the stomach of this great fish," Jonah prayed. If you will get me out of here alive I'll go immediately to Nineveh to preach to them about the coming judgment of God." For three days and nights Jonah begged and pleaded with God to save him. On the third night the fish became violently ill and swam near to the seashore where it vomited Jonah onto the beach.

Jonah was so thrilled to have been spared from certain death that he quickly changed into clean clothes and started on the journey to Nineveh. Reaching the walls of that giant city he began preaching as he walked through its streets, "In forty days God will destroy this city because of your great sins."

The king became disturbed at the message that Jonah preached. He called his people together and commanded them to wear sackcloth clothing and to let neither man nor animals eat as the people prayed and repented of their wicked ways. All of the people of the city cried and prayed and asked God to forgive them for their sins. God saw the repentence in their hearts and forgave the people of Nineveh. He decided not to destroy the city after all, because they were so sorry for the wrong things they had said and done.

But Jonah was angry that God forgave the people of Nineveh and spared the city from destruction. Jonah cried to God, "I knew that You would do this. I look like a fool. I told everyone that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days, and now you have decided to spare these people from destruction. Now I look like a liar."

God spoke to Jonah's heart and said, "Is it right for you to be angry? Why should I not take pity on Nineveh, which has more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who are still children, not to mention the older people and the livestock?"

Finally Jonah got over his anger and agreed that it was merciful for God to forgive these people who had repented of their wrongdoings and asked forgivenss from God for their sins.

Key Concepts:

1. God loves all of the people in the whole world and wants everyone to be saved.

2. When we know that God wants us to do something it is important that we do what He wants us to do.

3. Disobedience against the will of God can bring us into a place of great misery and fear. 4. If we wish for God to forgive us our sins we should be happy when God forgives the sins of other people.

5. We should love all of the people in the world and teach them about the love and forgiveness of God.