The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it..."
But Jonah ran away from the LORD... and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up... So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"
"Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm." I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."
Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before... they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD...
Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah...
... and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God...
And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."
... The Ninevites believed God...
~ Extracts from Jonah 1-3 (NIV) (Read the full account here.)
I've always had mixed feelings whenever I read about the account of Jonah. I picture him being vomited out, in a whole yucky, stinking mix of guts and slime, and whatever else that should be in the stomach of that great fish (unlike the pictures in most storybooks, of Jonah flying out of the fish's mouth onto a balmy beach with palm trees). I wonder how terrified he must have been inside the belly of the fish (Was he all squashed up like a fetus, or was it big and roomy in there? It really must have stunk!). I wonder even more about why he sulked at the salvation of the Ninevites, after going through everything that he went through. But one thing that the story does impress upon me, is how our God is always in control, and how He could turn one man's disobedience into saving grace for others, like the sailors on the ship (who might have never met Jonah if he hadn't run away).
Little boy too had mixed reactions to the story. Initially, he was rather frightened of the aspect of Jonah being swallowed up after disobeying God, and for some time refused to read the story. Then recently, we've been casually discussing the story again, and mentioning that God provided the fish to swallow Jonah, who might have just drowned in the sea. With this, he has been reading the story again, and asked to make the great fish. So we did. :)
There are many theories about what kind of fish could have possibly swallowed a man... one of which was a whale shark, the largest living fish species. So we made our fish a whale shark, and googled for pictures of the giant fish. Little boy noted the grey body and white spots, and I noted the number of fins (This picture was helpful, and I think there are 8 in total. I didn't stick on the anal fin, since it was at the bottom and would just make the fish off-balance).
I got the idea of using paper plates from this mummy's version of a killer whale (You can obtain the template and steps from this site, which inspired the killer whale craft), and got the boy to paint the top paper plate and the fins grey (again, he used a paintbrush, followed by his hand-smearing method). The next day, we did fingerprinting with white paint to make the white spots:
I found the plates rather hard to glue together, so I did it on my own (the easiest would be to make folds on the side of both plates, then glue the back and the sides together). Since I used PVA glue, which takes ages to dry, clothes pegs helped to hold Mr Whale Shark together while the glue dried.
Then I scribbled a verse inside the shark's mouth...
The boy stuck on the eyes and did some touch-ups for me (I had to cut a larger tail since the first one I cut looked ridiculously small), and our great fish was done!
He's been having a good time re-enacting the story of Jonah, and now is asking to make Samson. So I've gotta figure out how to make a long-haired fellow with huge biceps. Suggestions anyone?