Jonah’s story is rather infamous, or at least parts of it are. Even I grew up knowing he was swallowed by a whale for a whale, but never why or what his overall significance in the Bible actually was.
This first chapter has everything I knew of Jonah in it, but there’s still more. I never stopped to wonder what Jonah was supposed to be doing when he go stuck in that whale. He was supposed to be warning the people of Nineveh about the wrath of God that was coming. Like most of those who came before him, God tells him to go prophesy to them and he doesn’t just say no, he boards a ship going in the opposite direction and sets sail.
His mistake was thinking he could get away. So this ship meets some rough seas and they eventually realize that it’s because of Jonah and he agrees to be thrown in the ocean to save the rest of them from the wrath of God. And that’s how he’s even in the position to be swallowed by a whale. Well, the text itself said a “great fish”. He was in there three days and three nights.
Here Jonah prays. The sailors on the ship had asked him to pray to his God for them to make it through the storm, but he didn’t. He just admitted that it all was his fault. Once he’s in the whale, he prays for himself and his near death experience. The chapter ends with him being vomited out onto dry land.
Conveniently, he gets vomited out exactly where he was supposed to have gone in the first place. Jonah goes through the country prophesying that God will punish them if they continue the way they were and they listened.
One might think that after a successful job at saving this whole city, Jonah was happy that he did a good job or something, but no. Jonah was actually upset that Nineveh was going to be saved from punishment because they listened to his prophecies about the wrath of God coming. This prompts God to make an example for him with a tree and a worm and the scorching heat. Still, Jonah would rather die than appreciate that God wanted to spare another people.