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Jonah wants God to destroy the people of Nineveh.
Contributed by Richard Gunther
Story also available on our translated websites: Spanish, Portuguese
Once, many years ago, there lived, in a town a little north of Nazareth, a man called Jonah. He was a Hebrew, and an Israelite. – Slide 1
He was also a prophet who loved the Lord, and many people came to him for advice and teaching. He loved his nation. – Slide 2
One day, God said to Jonah: ‘Go to the city of Nineveh, and give them a message from me! Tell them they are a bad city, and I am planning to punish them for being so bad!’ – Slide 3
Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. The people there were Assyrians and enemies of his people living in Israel. So instead, he tried to run away from God. He went down to the harbour and got on board a ship. – Slide 4
The ship sailed towards a far-away place called Tarshish, in the opposite direction from Nineveh. Jonah thought he had got away, but God was watching him. God sent a fierce storm! – Slide 5
The storm crashed down on the ship, and huge waves began to push it around. The sailors were very scared. They knew the storm was so unusual it must have come for a special reason. – Slide 6
The sailors thought someone on the ship must be the cause of the storm. They started to gamble, to see if they could pick the man to blame. – Slide 7
While the sailors were doing this, Jonah was in his cabin, fast asleep. Soon the sailors decided that the man to blame for the storm was Jonah, so they came and knocked on his door. – Slide 8
‘Wake up!’ they cried, ‘Why are you not praying to your God?’<br/>Jonah knew this storm was his fault and confessed, ‘I am a Hebrew, and a prophet of God. I have disobeyed and am running away from Him!’ – Slide 9
‘What shall we do?’ the frightened sailors asked. ‘If you stay on the ship, we will soon be sinking and we will all drown!’<br/>‘The storm is my fault,’ said Jonah, ‘Throw me off the ship!’ – Slide 10
The sailors did not want Jonah to die, but to spare their own lives they threw him overboard. Immediately the storm stopped! – Slide 11
Jonah sank down and down, into the sea. All seemed lost. All hope was gone. But God was not finished with Jonah. – Slide 12
God made a great fish, which scooped Jonah up in its mouth, and swallowed Him. Suddenly, Jonah found himself alive again, only now he was inside a huge stomach! – Slide 13
God had shown love and forgiveness to His disobedient prophet. Jonah exclaimed how amazed he was to be alive.<br/>He thanked God for rescuing him from the depths of the sea and promised to do what God wanted in the future.’ – Slide 14
Three days and three nights went by, and then God told the great fish to go near land and spit Jonah out. He landed on the sand and walked up the beach, amazed and thankful. – Slide 15
When God told him once more to go to Nineveh, this time he did what God wanted and set off at once.<br/>He walked up and down the streets of the great city of Nineveh, shouting: ‘God is angry with this city! If you do not stop being so bad, God will destroy you all! You have 40 days to make up your minds!’ – Slide 16
The king of Nineveh was a wicked man, but when he heard what Jonah was saying he knew it was a message from God. ‘This man is a prophet of God,’ thought the king, ‘We’d better do what he says!’ – Slide 17
The king of Nineveh took off his royal robes and put on old sackcloth garments to show how sorry he was for being so wicked. He gave a royal order. ‘Everyone in Nineveh must stop doing such bad and unfair things,’ he demanded. Everyone in the city turned away from their wicked ways. – Slide 18
When God saw the people of Nineveh had listened and stopped doing bad things He decided to forgive them and not punish them. When Jonah heard this he was very angry. ‘These people are my enemies. I don’t want you to spare them!’ he complained, ‘Why do you have to be so kind, and loving, and caring all the time?’ – Slide 19
Jonah went out of the city and sat down to watch. He was sulking and still hoped God would destroy Nineveh. He made a shelter with some sticks, which wasn’t much use. – Slide 20
God wanted to teach Jonah a lesson about love and forgiveness. So He made a plant grow very, very quickly, and soon Jonah was sheltered and shaded under a mass of leaves. – Slide 21
Angry Jonah calmed down to relax in the shade of this plant ‘Very nice!’ he said, ‘Just what I needed!’He chilled and enjoyed the leafy shelter. – Slide 22
But that night God made a worm come along. This was a super-worm, with an enormous appetite. It ate the stem of the plant, and down fell the leaves. The next day Jonah woke up very hot and bothered. – Slide 23
‘I’d rather be dead than sit here in the sun!’ Jonah grumbled to God, ‘Why did you take away my shelter?’<br/>‘You are angry over a plant that died – a plant you did not create’ said God, ‘But you don’t care about a whole city of 120,000 people? Don’t you think I have the right to care about the people of Nineveh whom I have created and love?’ – Slide 24
Jonah realised how selfish he had been. That’s why he wrote about his adventures in the Bible to let us know about the tough lessons he learnt. God made and loves us. He wants us to turn to Him for forgiveness. – Slide 25
The city of Nineveh was spared, and Jonah went back to his own country. And what a story he had to tell when he got home! – Slide 26
You will find the story of Jonah in the Bible. It is a small book, maybe only two pages long, in between the books of Obadiah and Micah. – Slide 27
When Jesus came to our world he explained that, just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the sea creature’s belly, so He would be three days and three nights dead in the tomb. – Slide 28
Just as Jonah was rescued from sea after three days so Jesus would rise from the dead. And it is because Jesus is alive we too can know God’s love and forgiveness. – Slide 29
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