Christian Bertomo2B-2JonahThe book of Jonah in the Holy Bible is a narrative story of a Hebrew prophet, son of Amittai.  Although not clearly named as the author, it was never contested that Jonah had written his story in a short book with four chapters. The book of Jonah was written approximately 785-760 BC, before Assyria’s conquest of Israel. The main message of Jonah’s story is to show God’s sovereignty and compassion for His creation.  Sometimes, God accomplishes His purpose through others. His patience and compassion is boundless even to the unwilling and bitter heart.Although Nineveh deserved to be wiped out immediately, God showed his mercy and compassion and chose Jonah to relay the message that will give them a chance at redemption. He was to preach to the Ninevites, to turn away from sin and ask God’s forgiveness.  Jonah, a Hebrew, found this unacceptable for not only is Nineveh full of wickedness but it was also the capital of Assyria, one of Israel’s foremost enemies. Jonah, not willing to be a follower, must have been thinking he could defy God’s order so he set sail to Tarshish.  However, a great storm fell upon them at sea and, fearing for their lives, the sailors threw Jonah off the ship when he confessed of his disobedience. Jonah was swallowed by a huge “whale” fish and, while in the fish’s stomach, came to his senses. Believing that all salvation comes from God, Jonah prayed for God’s forgiveness. He stayed there for three days and nights before he was coughed out to dry land.  Jonah surrendered to God’s Will and went to Nineveh to fulfill his mission. He carried out God’s plan, preached repentance and was amazed that the Ninevites believed him.  God showed mercy upon the Ninevites and relented on the city’s destruction.  Jonah, however, did not feel any sympathy for the Ninevites. He remained bitter on them being spared from destruction.  When Jonah stopped outside the city to rest, God provided a vine to shade him from the hot sun. Jonah was very happy that God provided a vine for him, but the next day God sent a worm to eat the vine; this made the vine wither. Jonah then complained again. It was at that time that God taught Jonah a lesson on love and compassion. His selfishness and lack of compassion was brought to light as God helps him confront the things embittering him.  God asked how he, who has not done a thing for the plant that provided him shade felt harsh and sorry for himself when the plant withered but has no sympathy for the possible loss of many lives had they not been saved from destruction.  God was the Source of life for those Ninevites and had taken care of them, as he does all his creatures.  God enlightened Jonah onto seeing beyond his own selfish needs, to open his heart and mind and extend his kindness to others as the Lord God is merciful and forgiving.  Faith and repentance spared Nineveh from complete destruction. The lessons learned from the story of Jonah extend to all humanity and applies to people of all ages.  While the very young may respond with awe from the miracle of being swallowed by a “whale” ; the older youth will find that there’s more to it than the wonder.  Jonah’s story represents the human qualities of stubbornness, rebellious, ill-temperance, and being self-focused. Constantly faced with moments of self-pride and doubts, the story of Jonah will serve as a refresher on humility and calls for self-reflection on how to humble ourselves.  The willingness to look at what we have done to others, be responsible and seek reconciliation will lead us to follow the righteous path. Sometimes, just like in Jonah’s story, God fulfills his purpose through others and we must be ready to surrender to His will and serve his purpose.