Jonah was a prophet, an Israelite, and a messenger of God. One day, God willingly gave Jonah a higher calling, which was for him to go to Nineveh and tell the vile Assyrians about God and His mercy. This task was very hard because Nineveh was a terribly wicked city! Not even the lowest of the low wished for their enemy to be there. Although Jonah heard God’s message, he chose to ignore it.
Trying to escape God’s instruction by fleeing to Tarshish, Jonah met three ordinary pirates who later threw him overboard to calm the storm that occurred because Jonah had chosen to rebel. This resulted in his being swallowed by a large whale, only to stay in the belly of that whale for three days and three nights. After Jonah had been abruptly spewed out of the whale onto the shore, he decided to listen to God and go to Nineveh. Jonah warned them that if they did not change their hearts then God would destroy them. Jonah proudly built a little tent outside of the city, and while he waited for the city to explode, God provided him shade in the form of a gourd’s broad, fuzzy leaves. Sadly, a starving caterpillar came and ate the gourd overnight. Now Jonah was miserable and wanted to die.
Jonah learned that it is easier to follow God’s instructions instead of avoiding them. While it is true that God is a forgiving and merciful God, we should not take advantage of this as Jonah did. When God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah turned away knowing that if he messed up, God would be faithful and just forgive him. It was presumptuous to think that way. What was worse, Jonah himself was unwilling to show mercy to others. When we spend time with God we become like Him and we can see things more clearly. We can learn how to show mercy like He does.