This time Jonah did as he was told. Nineveh was huge. Homes spread out for miles around. It took Jonah three days to walk around the city. All that time he called out, “In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed!”
The people of Nineveh heard Jonahand were shocked. This was terrible news! They listened to God’s warnings. They believed in God. They took off their rich clothes and wore plain clothing, made of sackcloth. They stopped eating and spent their days praying. Everyone from the poorest beggar to the richest farmer asked God to forgive them for living such evil lives.
Even the king of Nineveh laid aside his robe and put on the sackcloth clothes. He ordered everybody to do the same. “No one may eat, not even the animals!”
When God saw how all the people were sorry and wanted to change, He forgave them.
God Is Good
When God decided to let the people of Nineveh live, Jonah was not very happy. “Lord, how could You save Nineveh, that awful city and all those evil people! It just isn’t fair!”
The Lord said, “Jonah, what is the matter? Why are you so upset?”
Jonah went off to a place east of the city to sulk. That day, Jonah sat in the hot sun, waiting and watching. God caused a plant to grow so that it shaded Jonah from the sunlight. Thanks to the plant, he could look out over the city without becoming too hot. Jonah thought this plant was the only good thing in his life.
But God had a worm attack the plant and by sunrise the next day, it had withered. God called the hot east wind to blow and the sun to beat down on Jonah’s head. That day he became faint and begged with all his might, “Please Lord, I am furious at this plant. Even it has failed me. Please put me out of my pain.”
God asked Jonah, “Why should you be angry at the plant?”
Jonah said, “I want that plant back.”
Then the Lord said, “You are angry because this plant died. You wanted it to live, even though you did not plant it. It came up one night and died the next. Now why shouldn’t I care for the over one hundred thousand people in Nineveh? They did not know until you told them that what they were doing was so wrong.
“This was the reason I sent you to them. They needed to learn the difference between good and bad. Now, through you, they have met Me.”
Jonah finally realized, God had taught him a very big lesson.