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People of the Bible: Jonah

Bible Story: Jonah 1-4

Who was Jonah?

Jonah was a prophet from Israel around the 8th century BC. Jonah was called by God to preach the gospel to Nineveh. Nineveh was known for their evil wickedness. God told Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh that God’s judgment was going to come upon them if they didn’t change their ways.

But Jonah disobeyed God and he went the other way. Jonah got on a boat and while he was sleeping a huge storm arose and Jonah was eventually thrown overboard. The Bible tells us that because Jonah tried to run from God, God appointed a big fish to come and swallow him.

While in the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed to be saved and God listened to him. After three days, the big fish spit Jonah out on dry land. There God spoke to Jonah again and told him a second time to go preach to Nineveh. This time, Jonah listened and went to Nineveh.

Once Jonah arrived, he started telling the people that God would destroy the city in 40 days. At hearing this, the king of Nineveh repented and called the whole city to return to God. Because of this, God relented from his judgment and saved the 120,000 people of Nineveh.

However, Jonah was not happy that God showed compassion to these people. Jonah thought that because these people were wicked they should be punished. But God taught Jonah a valuable lesson. All people are wicked and have sin in their lives, but all people are God’s people. We all deserve punishment for the sins we’ve committed, but God shows compassion on us everyday so we can live with him.

This compassion was never more clear than when God, in human form died on the cross for our sins. Even though we deserved destruction, Jesus showed us compassion and through grace has taken our sins upon himself. When we repent and return to a relationship with God, God’s anger subsides and we get to experience fellowship with him.

Jonah’s story is special because it shows us so clearly how Christ acts on our behalf. In fact, Jesus compared himself to Jonah (Matthew 12:40). Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days, and Jesus would be dead for three days. But we know he didn't stay dead. Three days later, he defeated death, hell, and the grave by coming back to life! It’s through Jesus that our sins can be wiped away & forgiven. We just need to repent & turn back to God each day.

Key Takeaways:

  • God calls people to repent.

  • We need to pray and obey God.

  • God forgives people who ask His forgiveness.

Parents, 3treesKIDS will also be learning about the life of Jonah this Sunday, both in-person and online.

Be sure to check out their lesson at

To find service times and locations, visit


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