Jonah and the Whale
(from “The Book of Jonah”)
Jonah received a calling from the Lord to go to Nineveh and preach because its people were very wicked. Anyway, He said He had decided to destroy the town after forty days. Nineveh was one of Israel’s greatest enemies and Jonah was not willing to go there. Thus, he ran away in the opposite direction and arrived at Jaffa to board a ship to Tarshish.
During the journey there was a great storm, and all the sailors began calling upon their gods and idols to deliver them from the punishment they were being given.
When they found Jonah asleep, they awakened him and asked him to pray to his God to protect them. Then they cast lots to see whose god was responsible for creating the storm and discovered that Jonah was accountable for that punishment.
The prophet admitted he was running away from the Creator and asked to be thrown overboard, so as to calm the calamity.
At first the sailors refused and tried harder to row, but eventually they were forced to agree.
As soon as Jonah was tossed into the water, the storm stopped and everything was calm again.
The prophet was not killed by drowning, but he was swallowed by a great fish, in whose belly he remained for three days and three nights.
While he was there, he prayed to be helped, repented, and told God that he would accomplish the task that he had been given.
Therefore, God commanded the giant fish to vomit Jonah out, onto the shores of Nineveh.
After finding himself alive and on dry ground, Jonah ran to Nineveh and started to peach, warning its people to repent before its destruction, after the prophesied forty days, as the Lord had announced him.
To his amazement, and apparent disappointment, the people believed him, turned from their wickedness, and God had mercy on them and forgave them.
After leaving the city, he made himself a shelter, waiting to see Niniveh’s destruction and got a bit frustrated because God had not yet destroyed the Ninevites.
It was very hot, and God made a plant, a vine, grow over his shelter to give him some shade. The following day, however, God sent a worm to destroy the vine.
Exposed to the full force of the sun, Jonah complained and then pleaded to die.
Thus, God showed him the foolishness of the fact that Jonah was so worried for the life of the vine, that he had neither planted nor grown, while He was concerned with the 120,000 people who lived in the city of Nineveh.