Monday, October 12, 2009


“Lord, take away my life. It is better for me to die!” prophet Jonah spoke angrily.

His temper had risen under the hot and humid atmosphere on a hill in the outskirt of Nineveh. On the absolute contrary, God, with his ever-abounding patience and grace, spoke gently with the fuming prophet.

“Have you any right to be angry?” the Lord asked rhetorically. Indeed, a prophet must only be a servant, obedient only to his master.

When Jonah sat under a shade, pondering over the city, his anger began to slip away as he cooled down. Unbeknownst to Jonah, God had sent a worm and wind to blow away his comfortable position and Jonah began to whine again. Surely God had not finished his conversation with the prophet yet. “Do you know that this city has 120,000 children and thousands of precious souls that needed my truth?” the Master of the Universe spoke, his voice was soothing. “Should I not be concerned about this great city?” he added with a plea of compassion.

Jonah knew God was referring to this great city not in physical term but to its population, created in his image and greatly loved. The prophet’s heart needed to be transformed and he himself knew it. His fame at home grew when he prophesied successfully to King Jeroboam II regarding the ruler’s endeavours. Jonah was a true patriot of Israel and he was glad that God showed favour to Israel even though Jeroboam II, the son of King Jehoash, was sinful throughout his reign. But when it came to other nations, he wished they all would be subjected to his Israel. When God summoned him over to Nineveh, a city reputed to be pagan and cruel, he rejected the call swiftly. One thing was sure, Jonah knew very well of whom he served, a God who was compassionate beyond measure. And he didn’t like it. In fact he hated the idea of Nineveh being shown mercy. He had tasted God’s mercy at home when he even prospered evil Jeroboam II. Jonah had heard of Elijah’s ministry and he would certainly like to see fire coming down from the sky and destroy the wicked once and for all. He knew God might not be so willing to burn and destroy. The only option he took was to run the opposite direction as far as possible. At least a chance that God would call someone else. Or better still, call off his plan of mercy.

When the storm came upon the ship he was on, Jonah knew right away God had tightened the rope around him. On the request of the prophet himself, the sailors threw him off the ship, sacrificing him in order to maintain calm onboard. What was Jonah thinking when he offered himself to be sacrificed? Was it mercy for the sailors? Suicide? Both reasons probably. In the end, Jonah was cornered.

In the shadows of death came a rescuer, a big fish, its tummy big enough to keep him alive for three days. Of all places, inside the fishy and slimy darkness of the big fish, Jonah prayed for forgiveness. A place of extreme discomfort brought out a transformation to the reluctant prophet. Jonah was the not the only point in God’s relentless manoeuvring, it was more towards his mercy for Nineveh. Yet his answer to Jonah’s prayer in the belly of a fish showed God’s care and providence whether toward one rebellious servant or an entire wicked city. He answered prayers from under the sea to far away lands, whoever cried out for his help.

Jonah finally stepped into the city of Nineveh where he was once so reluctant to preach. The city was huge and needed three full days to declare fully the Word of God. But when the prophecy was preached on the first day, the words already cut through the hearts of the people. The huge ripples ripped through the hardened hearts of the poor as well as the rich, right up to the king.

The incredible success of God’s Word sent great joy to God but a tinge of anger to Jonah. A great irony that an Israel’s prophet took offense of God’s compassion while a wicked city rejoiced at the mercy of God. Perhaps, Jonah’s heart needed another fish story but no, God sent a worm and some words of concern.

What would Prophet Jonah say to us if he were to be alive today?

1. Let God be God and let us all be obedient servants.
2. God is a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love. Don’t get angry with that when he showed it to others we don’t like.
3. If God can use a worm to do his work, he can use you!
4. God doesn’t let us go so easily. He is always there for us, making sure you are at your best that he created you to be.
5. God loves the world that he doesn’t want a single person to be lost without him!


  1. What I love the very most about Jonah is how much better I feel after God has humbled me. I think of the prophet and say, "At least the Lord didn't make fish vomit out of me."

    (Not to say that He might not still ...) :D

  2. Let us all constantly check our hearts to keep the big fish away...Tks Anne for the comment.