Old Jonah lived in old Gat Hefer
Back in Israel’s days of yore.
He preached and spoke as Jehovah’s prophet
Doing happily every chore…
‘Till the message came: “Rise and journey east
To the gates of Ninevah the Great.
Cry against their sin; tell them God has heard
Of their evil, wickedness and hate!”
So Jonah rose, but fled away
From the presence of the Lord of heav’n.
Down to Joppa’s shore, then to sail away
To Tarshish soon his fare was giv’n.
“Never shall I go to those Ninevites,
Wretched enemies of all I know!
But my home I’ll make on the coast of Spain…”
Thought the prophet as he stole below.
God hurled a wind, a frightful gale
On the calm Mediterranean Sea.
Jonah’s ship was tossed and battered sore,
Thinking, “This shall be the death of me!”
With waves so high, the sailors cried
To their idols, golden, wooden, stone…
Casting off their goods to the raging sea,
All were fearing that their lives were done!
The captain roused sleeping Jonah up:
“Call quickly, sleeper, on your God!
Do you not care that we are perishing?
This is no time to drowse and nod!
Perhaps these lots will reveal the culprit
Whose guilt has brought this beastly storm.
Maybe chance will point out the one to blame;
The one this storm-god means to harm!”
When Jonah drew the shortest straw,
The sailors questioned him with fright:
“O tell us, please, what and who you are,
Where you hail from and what is your plight!”
So Jonah knew that his flight was over;
He’d been overtaken by his God.
A rebellious child of the Lord of heaven,
He prepared his soul to feel God’s rod.
“I serve and fear the God who made
The earth and heaven, sea and land.
I ran away from His holy presence
But I never could escape His hand.
Because of me has the tempest come;
God demands my life be sacrificed.
Come, cast me out into the sea--
For the Lord demands I pay the price.”
The kindly sailors rowed and strained
Against the shrieking, blasting wind,
But finally prayed to Jonah’s God
For pardon if perchance they’d sinned…
For overboard they let him go,
Throwing Jonah into waters deep.
And the waves grew still as the prophet said,
So they humbly sacrificed a sheep.
Down Jonah sank, a guilty soul,
And the seaweed wrapped and held him fast.
Yet, God still loved and planned to use
This erring child with sin-stained past.
He’d loved him with the threat’ning storm
Sent as easily as one could wish…
And now, as Jonah despaired of life,
God loved Him with a saving fish.
In the fish’s belly Jonah prayed,
Thanking God for sending help so rare.
Three days and nights the man of God
Composed and memorized his prayer.
“Up out of the grave You brought me, Lord,
And toward your temple call I now
Salvation surely is Yours to grant;
Give me liberty to keep my vow!”
Old Jonah got his second chance
Once the fish had given up his catch…
For the prophet learned that to challenge God,
Anyone would find he’d met his match!
“Go to Ninevah, and preach my word,”
Came the urgent call from God again.
And Jonah went, for it’s best to say
“Yes” to God--no matter where, or when.