The story of Jonah is one of the more well known stories from the Bible and it is often retold as a children’s story because it has all the elements of an adventurous fairy tale. You have a man who was given a mission but chose not to accept it. So, he flees from his mission in a ship where he is fiercely targeting by a raging tempest at sea. The only way to save the ship is to toss him overboard where, upon doing so, the raging storm magically ceases. The man plunges into the depths of the blue and is swallowed by a large sea creature where he remains for three days and nights to ponder his life after which he is abruptly vomited to the shore. Neither Walt Disney nor Steven Spielberg could match this plot. But there are two important things to remember: First, it’s not a fairy tale. This story is 100% true and second, it’s not just a story for kids. Because of the imaginative nature of the story, the main truths are often lost – the greatest truth being that no matter how bad or evil you have been in your life, God is always desiring to restore and forgive. Jonah’s mission was to go to the people of Nineveh and tell them that God was aware of their wickedness and He would soon tolerate it no longer unless they repented. Jonah thought they deserved every bit of God’s judgment and wrath but he also knew that God would relent if they repented. So Jonah ran. He ran as far away as he could. But here, we find another truth. There is no place you can go where God can’t find you. God will order the wind, the sea, the fish, the plants and even little worms to get your attention, especially if someone’s life is in the balance. And a third important truth – repentance is God’s gift to us to restore us back into His good graces. It can even cause God to change His mind!
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:10 (NLT)
2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Jonah 4:2 (NLT)