That’s what the story is all about, right? Well…not really. The story is about obedience (or the lack thereof). It is about a man that refuses to obey God, and how God deals with Him. It’s about redemption. It is about mercy, compassion, and unfailing love.
God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them that they will be destroyed because of their wickedness. Jonah runs the other way and hitches a ride on a boat. There is a big storm, the others on the boat figure out that the storm is God trying to get Jonah, and they throw him overboard. That is when the big fish is finally mentioned. After Jonah prays a prayer of repentance, the fish spits him out and Jonah goes to Nineveh.
When the people there hear the message from God, they change their ways and God changes His mind. Jonah gets mad cause he says he knew God would do this. God then provides an example for Jonah to see how hard it must be for God to wipe out so many people out.
Isn’t that awesome? The story of Jonah is so deep, and it shows us so much about the character of God. We see God condemn, forgive, redeem, and work miracles. Yet, we always talk about the whale. The fish, however, is but a small detail.
How often do we do this in our own lives? God provides for us in a mighty way, but we keep looking for “what’s next”. God helps us through a hurtful time, but we focus on the pain. God offers forgiveness and redemption, but we focus on our mistakes.
God is awesome. And if He is going to intervene and display His awesomeness in our lives, then the least we can do is marvel at His splendor. Yes, the details are important because He is in them. However, let’s try to keep our focus on His presence and not on our selfish interests.
So [Jonah] complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” (Jonah 4:2-4 NLT)