Oh no, not Nineveh!
Jehovah had told the prophet Jonah to go on a mission to Nineveh, but Jonah did not want to go. The wicked people of Nineveh were enemies of the Jews.
Jonah decided to run away. He went down to the sea to find a boat going to Tarshish—the opposite direction from Nineveh. Then he went inside the ship to rest. The ship sailed out to sea.
While Jonah slept, Jehovah sent a great wind. Huge waves crashed all around. The sailors woke up Jonah and asked him to pray for their safety.
Jonah realized that he was the reason the sea was so rough. “Cast me forth into the sea,” he said. The sailors tried to row the ship back to shore, but the wind was too fierce. At last, they threw Jonah over the side of the ship. Suddenly the sea was calm again.
Waves swirled over Jonah as he sank down into the water. But Jehovah had prepared a great fish to be near the ship, and the fish swallowed Jonah whole.
In the dark belly of the huge fish, Jonah prayed humbly for three days and three nights. He repented of trying to run away from serving people he did not like.
Finally, Jehovah spoke to the fish, and the fish spat Jonah out onto dry ground.
Once again, Jehovah told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach repentance. This time Jonah did just as Jehovah asked.
Jonah told the people if they did not repent, the huge city of Nineveh would be destroyed. The people listened.
Even the king of Nineveh listened to Jonah. He told the people to turn away from evil and violence.
Because of Jonah’s missionary work, thousands of people in Nineveh repented. Nineveh was not destroyed. And Jonah realized that Jehovah loves everyone on earth, no matter where they live or what they have done.
Jehovah is another name for Jesus Christ. He is Heavenly Father’s oldest son. Heavenly Father asked Him to create the world and to help people return to Heavenly Father’s presence. When Jehovah speaks to people, He is usually representing Heavenly Father. In the Old Testament, Jehovah is usually referred to as Lord. After He was born in Bethlehem, He was known as Jesus Christ.
God, our Heavenly Father, is the father of our spirits. He loves and watches over us always. We worship Him and pray to Him.
Hundreds of years later, Jesus explained that just as Jonah was inside the fish for three days, Jesus would be buried for three days and then live again (see Matthew 12:40).
Illustration by Sam Lawlor