Jonah was a prophet who loved God, but when God told Jonah to go to Ninevah to share His love with the people there, Jonah didn’t want to do it! He ran from God and ended up trapped in the smelly belly of a huge fish at the bottom of the ocean.
The Bible says that Jonah was in the fish’s belly for 3 days and 3 nights! Jonah wished he had obeyed God. In the fish’s belly, he began to pray. Jonah asked God to please forgive him. He knew that God still loved him – so much that God sent a fish to swallow him so that he would not drown in the sea! Jonah praised God for being so good even though he was in a fish’s belly. God heard Jonah’s prayer and caused the fish to spit Jonah onto the seashore!!
When Jonah landed on the shore, he began to thank and praise God for saving him! God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell them to turn to Him.
When Jonah came to Ninevah, he saw how mean the people were to each other. But Jonah obeyed God and told them that God loved them and wanted them to stop doing evil things. He told them to repent and turn to God and God would forgive them. The people listened and believed every word that Jonah said! The more they listened, the more they wanted to turn to God!
The Bible says that everyone in the city of Ninevah turned to God! Even their king wanted to be forgive and serve God! Don’t you think that made Jonah happy? Actually, it didn’t. Jonah couldn’t understand how God could simply forgive people who had been so evil and mean.
As Jonah sat outside the city, God knew that he was upset. Jonah said, “God, I knew You would forgive them if they asked You to, even though they have been some of the most evil people ever created! This is why I didn’t want to come to Ninevah!” Jonah didn’t believe that the people from Ninevah deserved God’s love and forgiveness. God told Jonah that just like He created Jonah, He also created all of the people in Ninevah and He loved them with all of His heart.
Jonah learned that God’s love is deeper than anyone could ever imagine. God sent Jonah to Ninevah not only to tell them about His love, but also to show Jonah just what a big heart of love He has. Just like God loved and forgave Jonah, He also loved the people of Ninevah and wanted to forgive them for all the bad things they had done, too.
What a great lesson for us! No matter who we meet in our lives, we can know that God loves them. And if God asks us to share His love with them, we should obey Him the first time!