God gave the Prophet Jonah a mission.
Jonah was to go to Nineveh, the principal city of Assyria, and preach a message of repentance to its people. But things didn't quite go as planned - he initially disobeyed God's command and tried to run away.
However, God spoke to him in ways Jonah couldn't ignore, eventually sending him on his mission via a rather unlikely creature - a giant fish!
You've probably heard about the prophet Jonah and his mission from God.
He was tasked with a demanding job: to travel to Nineveh and preach a warning of judgment to its people.
Despite being a prophet Jonah decided to flee from what God wanted him to do.
So Jonah found out just how powerful and persistent His voice could be.
Who was the god of Nineveh?
The people of Nineveh put their faith in a fish god called Dagon. T
This made Jonah’s mission even more critical – God wanted him to warn them and teach them a lesson that would steer them away from this false God and towards true faith and a secure eternity.
God spoke to make it clear that this mission was one that Jonah could not escape.
It's a miraculous tale of faith and duty, beginning with a call from God.
When God spoke to Jonah, he didn't want to listen because he hated the Ninevites.
He tried to run away from the mission God had given him because he didn't want God to show them mercy.
The Ninevites were the Jew people's enemy and were quite nasty characters. They did not believe in the God of the Jews so Jonah knew his task would also be full of danger.
So Jonah didn't want them to get saved. That's why he fled.
But God was determined to save the Ninevites and wouldn't let Jonah ignore Him.
Jonah tried to escape God's calling, but God kept pushing him to do what was right.
Jonah couldn't escape the fact that God was speaking directly to him, and he HAD to listen. Eventually, he did though fulfill his mission, and the people of Nineveh learned something important.
God can talk to us, too, in ways we can't ignore.
It might be through a dream or a feeling, but we must listen and act on what we hear.
Now, it's time to delve into the fascinating story behind the fish god of Nineveh and how it is connected to Jonah's mission.
The fish god, Dagon, was the principal god of Nineveh.
Around Jonah's time, it was believed that Dagon was responsible for the abundance of the land and its inhabitants; they would give offerings to the god with the hopes of receiving blessings in return.
Jonah's mission from God was to tell the people of Nineveh that if they repented of their sins, the one true God would forgive them.
But this idea was in direct conflict with the belief system of Dagon: according to their traditions, if you sinned, you had to sacrifice to Dagon for penance.
Jonah's mission threatened this relationship, so the people of Nineveh would be VERY resistant to his message.
Jonah knew this too, that's why he boarded a ship headed in the opposite direction of Nineveh.
When Jonah tried to escape God's calling, he ended up inside the belly of a fish. God had sent the fish to teach Jonah a lesson and get him back on track with his mission.
God also sent the fish because He knew seeing a prophet get spit out by a giant fish would get the Ninevites to pay attention to Jonah's message of repentance.
As his journey ended inside the fish, he was reminded of the importance of following God's will.
Many believe Jonah died in the belly of that fish. That made him a type of Christ because he was dead for three days in a belly of a fish like Christ was in the grave for three days. The resurrection of Jonah would further the type even further.
The Bible does not say Jonah died in the fish but we can surmise that he did.
The fish opened its mouth and spit out a resurrected Jonah onto the shore and the Ninevites saw it! This was God's way of finishing the mission He had given Jonah to preach to Nineveh and to save the Ninevites from their wicked sins.
The people of Nineveh learned that God speaks in powerful ways and will always be heard.
The thought their god Dagon had spit Jonah out at their feet and that it wanted them to pay attention to Jonah.
So they listened and repented from their sins.
Even when it seems impossible, God can work in mysterious ways to ensure his message is heard and people get saved. The Ninevites saw this firsthand as Jonah was miraculously brought back to shore by a giant fish they worshipped.
God loved the Ninevites so much that He made sure they saw and understood the message clearly.
You can learn from Jonah's story that God speaks in ways that cannot be ignored.
He is also extremely intelligent and His ways are above our ways in every way.
Though it may have taken a miraculous journey inside a fish for Jonah to accomplish his mission, God still made it happen.
We, too, can heed God's call and fulfill our missions if we are willing to listen and obey.
Remember: when God speaks, He expects us to act.
God is willing to go the extra mile to ensure you His lost sheep hear His message of redemption. He will use whatever means necessary to get your attention and show you that He has a plan for your life.
Believe it or not, He might even use a fish!
Remember, if God can speak through a fish, He can communicate with you. You're way smarter.
We can learn from this story that God will always speak to us, even through something we might consider a false god or idol.
He wants us to understand and recognize His power, and sovereignty. He will go to any lengths to ensure we do hear it too.
Never forget how much God loves you and wants to save you.