Jonah was told by God to go and preach His message of salvation to the wicked people of Ninevah. Jonah refused and ran in the opposite direction as he didn`t think they deserved God`s forgiveness. As far as he was concerned, they needed His judgement, not His mercy.
In his effort to run from God, he gets tossed out of a ship into the raging sea.
Does this verse remind you of anything? Jesus quoted from Jonah`s experience about His own death.
But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
They would see Jesus, [just as Jonah] swallowed by death and delivered after 3 days.
Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah’s Prayer and God’s Answer
This is a prayer of thanksgiving, Jonah was thankful he didn`t drown.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
“When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
“Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
What an incredible experience for Jonah - talk about the depths of despair, yet God delivered him!
Jonah completed his task and preached to the people of Ninevah, they responded immediately and repented.