Jonah is a follower of Yahweh and a member of a nation who follows the one true God. He is asked by God to go to the capitol of the Assyrian Empire, Nineveh and preach their coming destruction if they refuse to repent. They are enemies of Jonah's people and a real threat to them.
Instead of leaving for Nineveh, Jonah runs quickly in in the opposite direction and catches a boat to Tarshish (“the end of the world”). During a storm at sea, Jonah is tossed overboard and swallowed by the whale. After three days and a minimally contrite prayer, Jonah is spit up on dry land and heads to Nineveh.
During the 40 days of his preaching in Nineveh, the people of the city repent and God spares their destruction. Jonah is not happy. In fact, he admits that this was the very reason he didn’t want the job originally – he just knew God would spare the evil foreigners in Nineveh because God is a forgiving God.
Jonah then goes outside the city to sit in the hot sun and pout … and await God's punishment of the city. Instead, God makes a bush grow to shade him one day and then sends a worm to harm the roots and destroy the bush the next day.
Jonah once again sits in the hot sun, wishing he were dead, and God scolds him for feeling so sad about the death of a bush, but not about the 120,000 people whom God spared from death in the city.
Consider the following questions in your time of meditation or as you reflect in your journal this week:
The cycle of death and resurrection is central to the Christian faith (Jonah falls into the deep ocean and ends up in the belly of a whale – certainly a form of death).
- In what ways is that cycle present in my life right now?
- Where might there be necessary change, suffering, death and decay and how might new life emerge from those experiences?