Jonah was a prophet, who was preaching the word of the Lord to the Israelites. One day, God called Jonah and told him to go preach to Nineveh because the people were wicked and needed guidance.
Jonah hated this idea because Nineveh was one of Israel’s greatest enemies and Jonah wanted nothing to do with preaching to them. Jonah ran away from God and in the opposite direction to the city of Nineveh. He headed to Joppa and climbed aboard a boat that would take him to Tarshish.
God saw Jonah on the ship and sent a great storm upon the seas. The men decided Jonah was to blame, that he had brought upon the storm on them, so they threw him overboard. As soon as they tossed Jonah in the water, the storm stopped.
God sent a big whale to swallow Jonah and to save him from drowning. While in the belly of the big whale, Jonah prayed to God for help, repented, and praised God. For three days and three nights, Jonah sat in the belly of the fish. All the while Jonah kept thinking about himself and his plight.
Then, God had the big fish throw up Jonah onto the shores of Nineveh. Jonah preached to Nineveh and warned them that the city would be destroyed in forty days, and to mend their ways before the time was up, so that they could attain Heaven. The people believed Jonah, turned from their wickedness. God had mercy on them, and did not destroy the city once the forty days were up.
Jonah now became angry and bitter because God did not destroy the Ninevites who were Israel’s enemy. He was afraid he would be now called a false prophet. So he went out of the city and built a hut and started living there.
When Jonah sat to rest God made a thick vine grow next to the hut, to give him shade. Jonah was glad and sat in its shade. The next day, God sent a worm to eat the vine. A hot wind blew and sun beat down mercilessly.
Jonah was sad to see the vine destroyed and now sat in the hot sun complaining and wanting to die. God called out to Jonah and scolded him. He remarked that Jonah lamented the death of a plant that he had not sown or nourished. Yet he had no thought for the hundred thousand children who lived in the city of Nineveh, and asked them to be destroyed.
Then Jonah learnt that all men, and women, and little children, whether they know God or not, are precious in the eyes of the God.