“Jonah. Jonah! Are you listening?”
“Yes, Lord. I hear you.”
"Get up; go to Nineveh. Preach to the people. Their wickedness is great.”
“But Lord, walking into Nineveh would be like walking into the middle of the enemy's camp.”
“Do not fear. The Assyrians have an opportunity to repent. Without repentance, there is no hope. I will destroy them.”
“But Lord, they are Israel’s biggest threat. Perhaps destroying them is wise.”
“It is not My will that any should perish.”
“But God, they are the enemy.”
“But God.” (Silence) He’s gone. Hmm! Nineveh or RUN? Running seems less dangerous.”
With his mind made up, Jonah immediately travels in the opposite direction to Tarshish—far away from God.
THUMP! “What’s that? It feels like I ran into a brick wall. Just my imagination.” Jonah ignores the sign and hurriedly boards a ship for Tarshish.
Standing at the helm of the ship, the Captain surveys the dark sky. The wind shifts from a light breeze to a strong bluster, and rain bombards the deck. The sails whip wildly as the crew battles to pull them in.
“When we left port, the sky was clear. Why this sudden change? It’s as though the gods are angry!” The Captain’s bold brow wrinkles with worry. In all his years at sea, he has never experienced such a dynamic turn, but the sea can be vicious, and the weather unpredictable.
The waves tower over the ship, and the vessel shows signs of breaking into pieces. The terrified sailors cry out in desperation to their gods. The storm rages on as the ship flounders to and fro on the high seas.
“Where’s the wretched fugitive who boarded our ship at port? He looked as though he were hiding from someone,” yells the Captain as he scurries below.
He finds Jonah in the hold of the ship—taking a nap and sleeping through the whole thing! “Pray to your god,” the Captain barks. “Maybe your god will rescue us.”
THUMP! “What’s that? It feels like I ran into a brick wall. Just my imagination.” Jonah ignores the sign and rushes to the deck where the sailors are casting lots.
The smooth, marked stones clatter across the wooden deck foretelling who’s responsible for this disastrous storm. The lot falls on Jonah.
“It’s my fault. Throw me overboard so God will save you.”
The sailors cry out to Jonah’s god, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man.” Reluctantly, they hurl him into the violent sea—and the storm ceases.
THUMP! “What’s that? It feels like I ran into a brick wall. Just my imagination.” Jonah detects the bad breath, the slime, the seaweed wrapped around his neck, and the stench of bile.
“Where am I? It’s dark and very warm. This must be Hell.”
For three days and nights Jonah drifts inside the belly of an enormous fish. With a repentant heart, Jonah prays, “Help me, Lord. I will forever praise You, and what I have vowed, I will make good. Salvation only comes from You.”
The Lord commanded the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land. THUMP!
Jonah walked three days from one end of Nineveh to the other shouting, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown. Repent.”
All the people dress in sackcloth to represent their repentance. The king tears off his royal robes, covers himself with sackcloth, and sits in the dust. “Call urgently on God. Give up your evil ways. God may show compassion and turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
Jonah waits outside the city expecting it to go up in flames, but nothing happens. Jonah’s anger burns against God, “I knew it! I knew you would forgive our enemy. Just let me die!”
“Jonah, turn from your anger.”
God sees Jonah’s distress and causes a plant to grow to provide a shade for him. He then, causes a worm to eat and destroy the plant. Again Jonah’s anger sears, “It’s so hot. Just let me die!”
“Jonah, why do you show compassion for this plant, but lack tenderness for an entire people?”
THUMP! “What’s that? It feels like I ran into a brick wall. Just my imagination.” THUMP! “God is right. I must show compassion and forgiveness.”
THUMP! “No more running into brick walls. No more selfishness.”
Jonah 1-4 (retold)
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