A Reluctant Profit saved by the Whale
Where in the Bible?
The Books of Jonah, Luke and Matthew
Did You Know
The Book of Jonah is a warning to us all. It is pointless to try to run away from God. There is nowhere to hide from the omnipresent, almighty Lord—he is with us wherever we are and whatever we get up to.
Bio – Jonah
c. 8th century BC
Jonah is well known as the prophet who tried to run away from God. The son of Amittai, Jonah was called upon by God to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh, to warn them about their wickedness and to prophesy disaster. But Jonah had little doubt that God—a God of mercy and forgiveness—would forgive the people of Nineveh if they repented after hearing Jonah’s warning, and that was something that Jonah did not want to happen, for he both feared and hated Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire and therefore home of one of Israel’s fiercest enemies. So, instead of obeying God, he decided to run away, boarding a ship heading to Tarshish.
But the Lord had not finished with his prophet, and he sent a mighty storm to toss the ship upon the waves like a matchstick. After the terrified sailors drew lots to see who had angered the gods, Jonah finally confessed that he was the problem—that God was angry with him for his disobedience. He persuaded the reluctant sailors to throw him overboard, whereupon the storm immediately died down, and the frightened and awe-struck sailors made vows to God.
Meanwhile, an enormous fish swallowed Jonah whole, and for three days and three nights he remained in the belly of the creature, giving him plenty of time to realise how foolish and disobedient he had been, to praise God and thank him for his mercy, and to sincerely repent.
God gave Jonah a second chance to deliver his message to the Ninevites. The people of the city took the warning seriously and showed great contrition and remorse, and prayed to God earnestly, and—just as Jonah had predicted—God showed mercy and did not send the disaster upon them that he had spoken of.
Jonah felt bitter and angry, and sulked under a large, leafy plant that protected him from the harsh sun. When God struck down the plant, Jonah was furious. Then God rebuked him, telling him that if he could feel pity for a plant that he had neither planted nor cared for, then how much more reason did God have to feel pity for a city of one hundred and twenty thousand souls.
The Book of Jonah is a warning to us all. It is pointless to try to run away from God. There is nowhere to hide from the omnipresent, almighty Lord—he is with us wherever we are and whatever we get up to. But there is far more to it than that. The story of Jonah shows us most of all God’s infinite patience and unending mercy—his willingness to forgive the wicked people of Nineveh when they listened to his prophet and truly repented, but also his willingness to give a disobedient, stubborn and bad-tempered prophet a second chance.
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Bible Verses About Jonah
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.”
“You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.”
“I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”
“I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”
“You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
“This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.”