God Spoke to Jonah. Go to Ninevah, he said, and tell the people
I know all about their wickedness. In forty days Ninevah shall be
Now Ninevah was the capital of Assyria. And the Assyrians were
the enemies of God's people. So Jonah did not mind telling the
people of Ninevah that God was about to destroy them !
But God is loving, he thought. He forgives people and lets them
have a second chance. He won't destroy Ninevah. And I shall
look silly. So Jonah set off - not for Ninevah, but for the port
of Jaffa, where he caught a boat that was bound for Spain.
As soon as the ship was out at sea, God sent a great storm. The
captain and crew were terrified. Pray to your God's they cried to
the passengers. Pray for your lives. Jonah was fast asleep.
The captain shook him hard. Pray, like everyone else he said.
I can't ask God for help, Jonah said. I've been running away from
him. It's God who has sent this storm. Throw me overboard.
Then the sea will be calm.
At first the captain refused. But the storm got worse and
worse. In the end he did as Jonah said. As Jonah plunged
down, down into the water, the sea grew calm. And on board the
ship the men gave thanks to Jonah's God. Jonah thought he would
drown. As the waves closed over his head he called out to God for
help. And God sent a huge fish, that swallowed him alive.
Alone in the dark, inside the fish for three days, Jonah was sorry he
had disobeyed God and he said so. Then God gave the
word and the fish threw Jonah up on to a beach. He had never been
so glad to see the sun ! He went straight to Ninevah to tell the
people God's message. In forty days Ninevah will be destroyed.
And the people took God at his word. They changed their ways -
every one of them, from the lowest slave to the King in his palace.
God was Glad. Because they gave up their wicked ways, he did not
Jonah sat down outside the city feeling angry and miserable.
Didn't I say this was what you would do ? he said to God.
that was why I tried to run away. I knew how kind you are.
so now, just let me die. But God didn't let Jonah die.
Instead he made a plant grow up and shade him from the burning sun.
Jonah felt better. Next day the plant died and the sun beat down
on him. I was glad of that plant, Jonah said, I'm sorry it's
Now you're beginning to learn, God said. You're sorry for a
plant that you did nothing for. You didn't make it grow. So
don't you think I have a right to be sorry for all those people in
Ninevah, and innocent children ? Not to mention the animals. I
gave them life and I go to a lot of trouble taking care of them.
And Jonah began, at last, to understand.
This is the Word of the Lord