Jonah was alive about 800 years before Jesus and lived in a village near Nazareth. Jonah was a prophet (a messenger sent by God) who was given a very big job to do by God. He was told to go to Nineveh and explain to the people what they were doing wrong and get them to change their ways! Nineveh was hundreds of miles away (in the country we now call Iraq) and was one of the larger, more important, cities in the world. Jonah did not want to go and ran away in the opposite direction. He went to the nearest port, and got on board a ship heading west – as far away from Nineveh as possible.

The ship sailed straight into an enormous storm and everyone on board thought Jonah had caused the storm! They did their best to save the boat but could see no way to survive, except to throw Jonah over the side. With Jonah in the water, the storm ended... and Jonah was about to drown. But God had other plans. He sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah... and then spit him out onto the beach. Jonah 1:17 tells us, “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.” (New Living Translation). The book of Jonah is in the Old Testament part of the Bible.

After this close shave with death, Jonah knew God was serious about him going to Nineveh. So he went! And what’s more, the people listened to his message and turned away from their bad behaviour. Jonah should have been happy at this but he thought of the Ninevites as enemies of Israel. He would have been quite pleased to see them punished by God. Jonah had to learn that God forgives those who turn to him, even people Jonah didn’t like!

To find out more, read...
                    Jonah chapters 1-2; 3:1-6

and watch Friends and Heroes...
Series 1 Episode 12, “No Way Out”