Jonah was a prophet that God sent to the city of Nineveh to preach. Jonah tried to flee his mission, but after being swallowed up by a large fish, he went to Nineveh and the people of the city repented of their sins. Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed but God showed compassion.
Jonah and the big fish
Jonah was a known prophet in Israel. He was from a place in Galilee called Gate-Héfer and prophesied of the military victories of King Jeroboam II ( 2 Kings 14:25 ). One day God sent Jonah to preach in the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. God had seen Nineveh’s wickedness and was about to destroy the city. Jonah was to warn the people of the coming destruction.
Assyria was an enemy empire that threatened the country of Israel. His people were violent and cruel and did not worship God. Jonas did not want to go to Nineveh. He wanted to see the city destroyed. So he embarked on a ship going to Tarshish, in the opposite direction to Nineveh ( Jonah 1: 3 ).
At sea, God sent a great storm, which threatened to sink the boat. While the sailors did everything to save themselves and prayed to their gods, Jonas slept in the basement! The captain woke up Jonas and everyone cast lots to find out who was to blame for the storm. Luck fell on Jonah and he explained that he was running from God ( Jonah 1: 9-10 ).
The storm did not subside, so the sailors did what Jonas suggested and threw him into the sea. Soon the sea became quiet and the sailors worshiped God ( Jonah 1: 14-16 ). Jonah sank, but God sent a big fish that swallowed him. Jonas stayed inside the fish for three days and three nights.
Find out here: Was Jonah swallowed by a whale?
Jonah in Nineveh
Inside the fish, Jonah prayed to God with repentance and faith. When the fish vomited Jonah on the beach, he obeyed God and went to Nineveh . For a day Jonah traveled through Nineveh and proclaimed that within 40 days the city would be destroyed. The people believed in God and repented ( Jonah 3: 5-6 ). The king proclaimed a fast and everyone abandoned their bad ways, dressed in mourning and cried out to God for forgiveness. God saw this and decided not to destroy Nineveh.
See also: what is Jonah’s sign?
When Jonah saw that God had not destroyed Nineveh as he had warned, he was very upset. He complained to God that he had not punished the people of Nineveh and asked to die ( Jonah 4: 2-4 ). Jonas left town and sat to see what would happen.
God grew a plant to shade Jonah, who was very happy with the plant. But the next day, God killed the plant and Jonah was very hot. Annoyed, Jonas asked again to die. So God showed Jonah that he was feeling sorry for a plant but not for the 120,000 people in Nineveh! ( Jonah 4: 10-11 ) God ended with a question: shouldn’t He feel sorry for everyone in this city?.