Something Fishy Is Going On! Jonah & The Whale
Don’t you just love it when people think that they’re so smart and know more than God does? Don’t you just love it when people think that they’re all that and a bag of chips, but in reality, they’re only one-eighth of that and a half eaten Dorito? God has a purpose for each and every one of our lives, and he has given us certain gifts to be used for him, to tell the world about him, and to bring people to him (like your gift of speaking, singing, or dancing, and my gift of being a quirky Christian cornball who loves to write and make people laugh). We all have a calling, and when God calls us, we must answer (don’t be like trifling Trudy over here, hanging up, hitting ignore, arguing, fussing, fighting, forgetting her Sunday school language, and trying to run away from God). When we don’t answer God’s call, or we try to redirect the call (do whatever we feel like doing), God knows how to get our attention. God can use absolutely anything to get our attention-trees, the wind, animals, even those STANKY gym shorts that you should have washed two weeks ago (are you trying to put someone’s eye out with those things? Are you trying to make the cat pass out…AGAIN?!). God is not limited in how he can speak to us when we’re going in the wrong direction (insert “Dead-End” sign here), and this brings us to the story of Jonah and the whale in the Bible.
Meet Jonah: a highly gifted speaker and prophet from the kingdom of Israel (he could make watching paint dry sound like an exciting trip to Disneyland). God knew that Jonah had a way with words (he created Jonah with this gift, after all), and he wanted Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to tell the people about the Kingdom of God-the people of Nineveh were evil, wicked, nasty, they didn’t fear God, and they needed a nice, stiff, spiritual kick in the behind. Here’s the thing, though, Jonah didn’t want to do it. Jonah 1:3 (KJV) reads as follows:
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
That’s right! Jonah didn’t want to listen to God, and he tried to get on a ship and run away from home (like we tried to run away when Mom or Dad said it was bath time or time to eat everyone’s favorite, brussel sprouts!). Jonah hated (or should I say, strongly disliked) the people of Nineveh; he thought that he was SO MUCH better than they were, and he didn’t think that they deserved to hear the Word of God (who do you think you are, Jonah? Stop smelling your own behind and thinking it doesn’t stink; you’re making my nose cry right now). Knowing what we know about God (he loves to laugh), God threw a monkey wrench into Jonah’s plans: God brought a great storm, the men on the ship blamed Jonah for the storm, the men threw Jonah overboard, the storm immediately stopped once Jonah was thrown into the water, and God sent a huge fish (a whale) to swallow Jonah up (didn’t chew him up, though) to keep him from drowning. Let’s read that again: God sent a WHALE to swallow Jonah to save his life (WOW! You were almost raw rib tips without the BBQ sauce, Jonah). Jonah woke up and recognized that God was in control, and while he was sitting in the whale’s stomach (a 3-day belly bump!), he prayed, asked God to forgive him for not listening to him, he worshiped God, and he asked God to please help him. God answered Jonah’s prayer, the whale threw Jonah up on the shores of Nineveh (surprise!), and Jonah finally acted like he had some home training and did what God asked him to do in the first place. Jonah preached God’s word to the people of Nineveh (those scoundrels! Just kidding. Haha), telling them that they must repent of their sins (ask God for forgiveness and stop doing bad things) and turn to God before the city was destroyed in 40 days. The people of Nineveh didn’t give God or Jonah any lip; they listened, repented of their sins, turned to God, and their city was not destroyed.
WAIT! You would think that Jonah would be happy about this, right? NOPE! Think again! Once Jonah preached the Word of God and the Ninevites turned to God, Jonah became angry because God did not destroy Nineveh (Jonah, you are TRIPPING! Have we not learned anything from sitting in a whale’s stomach for 3 days?!). Jonah wanted to do what God asked him to do, just to see Nineveh go up in smoke (that’s foul, Jonah! That’s foul!). God realized that Jonah’s heart was not right, however, and while Jonah was sitting under the cool shade of a vine (grab your sunglasses, sunscreen and a cool drink, kids!), God sent a worm to eat the vine, left Jonah in the hot sun (introducing, the McGoofy! Here for a limited time at McDonalds), Jonah whined like a little girl and wanted to die, and God talked to Jonah about caring more about a stinking vine than seeing 120,000 Ninevites saved. Snap out of it, Jonah!
– I love this story! I couldn’t resist turning this into a modern-day skit. Let’s get it! NOTE: I will be utilizing modern-day language, technology, and ways of living in the story, as we are picturing this happening today.
Something Fishy Is Going On! Jonah & The Whale
Biblical Reference: Jonah, Chapters 1-4 (KJV)
*God tells Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach his Word to the lost, evil, sin-sick people there*
Jonah (talking to himself): Man, God is tripping! I ain’t going to Nineveh! They don’t deserve to hear the Word of God; they’re all a bunch of butt-backwards, sick, twisted, evil clowns! They don’t care about God! They’re the enemy! Me talking to them is like Mike and Scottie having dinner with Isaiah Thomas and Bill Lambeer in the 90s (kids, ask your parents about the Chicago Bulls vs Detroit Pistons (known as the “Bad Boys”) classic basketball rivalry in the 1980s and 1990s)! You just don’t do that! I’m staying as far away from Nineveh as possible. There’s a ship going to Tarshish now. I’m getting out of here!
*Jonah pays his fare, boards the ship, it takes off, but not before a huge storm stops everyone in their tracks*
Other Passengers: *pointing at Jonah* What did you do?! We didn’t have any problems with the weather until you got on! Who did you tick off?!
Jonah: I didn’t tick anyone off! I haven’t done anything wrong! I don’t know why we suddenly have a storm! It’s not my fault!
Other Passengers: We don’t believe you! You get to swim with the fish now! *the other passengers throw Jonah overboard, and he lands in the stomach of a whale*
Jonah: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! *thump!* Where am I?! What is this?! Am I inside a whale right now?! Am I SERIOUSLY stuck in the stomach of a whale right now?! I’m not fish food! I don’t taste like crab! Helpppp! Get me out of here!
*Jonah starts hitting the sides of the whale and looks goofier than Squidward always looked playing the clarinet…for 3 days…3 long days*
Jonah (tired): I’m sorry, God. I’m sorry. I should have listened to you and went to Nineveh to preach to your people. I promise that I’ll do better. Please help me. You’re God. You’re in control. I can’t and won’t make it through this ordeal without you. I worship you. Please help me.
*God hears Jonah’s prayer and makes the whale throw Jonah up like a bad burrito on the shores of Nineveh. Jonah tells the Ninevites about God, tells them to repent of their sins and turn to God, and they listen.*
Jonah (sitting under the shade of a vine): I can’t believe that Nineveh hasn’t been destroyed yet! God, you said that this hole in the wall of a city would be destroyed in 40 days! I preached your word, the Ninevites repented of their sins (turned from their evil ways) and turned to you, and what happened?! Nothing! I wanted to see something blow up!
*God sends a worm to eat the vine, taking Jonah’s shade away and showing him for what he really is, a HOT MESS*
Jonah: What happened to my shade?! What happened to my shade?! I’m burning up over here, man! I’m about to melt and be a blob of vanilla ice cream on the sidewalk! This isn’t fair! I don’t have a hat, a hood, an umbrella; I don’t have any water or central air; this is bogus, man! I just want to die right now!
GOD ALMIGHTY: Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Jonah, you big goofy! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, God just put Jonah in his place. God asked Jonah why he cared more about a plant, which he didn’t help to make grow, more than seeing 120,000 Ninevites give their lives over to God and be saved. We are to love each other and help each other as God, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, always loves and helps us. We should want to see everyone come to God, and God has given us our gifts-singing, dancing, writing, having a sense of humor-to bring people to HIM. Let’s be careful not to use our gifts for selfish reasons; God has a purpose for each and every one of our lives, and our gifts are to be used in that calling. When God calls, make sure that you answer (don’t be a jamoke like Jonah was). I love you all!