Book of Jonah – Ninevah, the Gourd, the Worm, and the Wind
In our first story of Jonah, we learned how Jonah disobeyed the LORD when He told Jonah to go to Ninevah. We learned how Jonah went the other way and got on a ship in Joppa bound for Tarshish. We learned how the LORD brought a great wind and storm to the ship Jonah was on, how the men threw Jonah overboard, and how he was swallowed by a great fish the LORD had prepared. And we learned how Jonah prayed to the LORD from the fish’s belly, and how, when Jonah said “Salvation is of the LORD” the great fish vomited Jonah up on dry land. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ said that this great fish was a whale.
Now the LORD spoke to Jonah again, and told him “Get up, go to Nineveh, and preach to it that which I told you to do”. So this time Jonah went to Nineveh, just as the LORD told him to. Nineveh was a very great city. It took three days to go through it. And when Jonah began to enter the city, he cried “In 40 days Nineveh shall be overthrown.” So the people believed God, and ordered a fast, and put on sackcloth. All of the people did this, from the greatest of them to the least of them. Word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, laid his robe aside, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. He ordered it to be declared through Nineveh by the order of the king “Let every man and animal be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God, yes let them turn every one from their evil ways, and from violent things they do.” He said “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his anger so that we do not perish?” And God saw their works, and God changed his mind, and did not destroy Nineveh.
But Jonah was not pleased about this at all, he was very angry, and he went out of the city and prayed to the LORD and said “O LORD, isn’t this what I said when I was in my country? This is why I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and that you would repent of the evil. Therefore now O LORD, I plead with you to take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
And the LORD said “Are you doing right by being angry?”
Jonah went out and sat on the east side of the city, and made himself a shelter and sat in the shade to watch and see what would happen to Nineveh. The LORD God prepared a great gourd (that is a vegetable like a pumpkin) so that it might bring shade for Jonah, and Jonah was very happy because of the gourd. But the next day God made a worm to come and destroy the gourd and it withered up. When the sun came up, God prepared a very strong east wind, and the sun was very hot upon the head of Jonah. He fainted, and wanted to die, and said “It is better for me to die than to live.”
God said “Is it right for you to be angry for the gourd? You had pity on the gourd, even though you did not work for it, or make it grow. It came up in a night, and died in a night. And shouldn’t I spare Nineveh, where there are more than 60,000 people and also many cattle?”
Memory Verse: Jonah 4:2 “…for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness….”
1. What did Jonah do when the LORD spoke to him a second time? Answer: He obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh.
2. What did the people do when Jonah told them that Nineveh was going to be destroyed? Answer: They believed God, and made a fast, and put on sackcloth.
3. Why did the king want everyone to put on sackcloth and turn from their evil ways? Answer: Because he said that God might turn away from his fierce anger and not destroy the city.
4. Why do you think the LORD destroyed the gourd that he made for Jonah? Answer: To teach Jonah that God is in control, and he had the right to spare Nineveh, and also to destroy the gourd which he had made.