Warnings From The Old Testament Books Of Joel And Jonah About God's Anger on Those Who Harm Others

Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The purpose of the Old Testament seems to have been mainly to try to scare lawless societies into behaving decently, giving up the cruel ways the Bible says they were guilty of. Hence much of the gruesomeness, which is at least in part meant to warn people committing cruel and hurtful actions to change.


In the New Testament, the Bible says:

2 Timothy chapter 3 (NLT)

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. 17 It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.


In the Old Testament Book of Jonah, the Bible says:

Jonah chapter 1 (TEV)

1 One day the Lord spoke to Jonah son of Amittai. 2 He said, "Go to Nineveh, that great city, and speak out against it; I am aware of how wicked its people are."

3 Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship about to go to Spain. He paid his fare and went aboard with the crew to sail to Spain, where he would be away from the Lord.

4 But the Lord sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up. 5 The sailors were terrified and cried out for help, each one to his own god. Then, in order to lessen the danger, they threw the cargo overboard.

Meanwhile, Jonah had gone below and was lying in the ship's hold, sound asleep. 6 The captain found him there and said to him, "What are you doing asleep? Get up and pray to your god for help. Maybe he will feel sorry for us and spare our lives."

7 The sailors said to each other, "Let's draw lots and find out who is to blame for getting us into this danger." They did so, and Jonah's name was drawn. 8 So they said to him, "Now, then, tell us! Who is to blame for this? What are you doing here? What country do you come from? What is your nationality?"

9 "I am a Hebrew," Jonah answered. "I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made land and sea."
10 Jonah went on to tell them that he was running away from the Lord.

The sailors were terrified, and said to him, "That was an awful thing to do!"

11 The storm was getting worse all the time, so the sailors asked him, "What should we do to you to stop the storm?"

12 Jonah answered, "Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I know it is my fault that you are caught in this violent storm."

13 Instead, the sailors tried to get the ship to shore, rowing with all their might. But the storm was becoming worse and worse, and they got nowhere. 14 So they cried out to the Lord, "O Lord, we pray, don't punish us with death for taking this man's life! You, O Lord, are responsible for all this; it is your doing." 15 Then they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and it calmed down at once.
16 This made the sailors so afraid of the Lord that they offered a sacrifice and promised to serve him.

17 At the Lord's command a large fish swallowed Jonah, and he was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

Jonah chapter 2 (TEV)

1 From deep inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God: ...

10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah up on the beach, and it did.

Jonah chapter 3 (NIV)

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.
Now Nineveh was a very important city-a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."

5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:

"By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.
9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah chapter 4 (TEV)

1 Jonah was very unhappy about this and became angry. 2 So he prayed,
"Lord, didn't I say before I left home that this is just what you would do? That's why I did my best to run away to Spain! I knew that you are a loving and merciful God, always patient, always kind, and always ready to change your mind and not punish. 3 Now then, Lord, let me die. I am better off dead than alive."

4 The Lord answered, "What right do you have to be angry?"

5 Jonah went out east of the city and sat down. He made a shelter for himself and sat in its shade, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh.
6 Then the Lord God made a plant grow up over Jonah to give him some shade, so that he would be more comfortable. Jonah was extremely pleased with the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day, at God's command, a worm attacked the plant, and it died.
8 After the sun had risen, God sent a hot east wind, and Jonah was about to faint from the heat of the sun beating down on his head. So he wished he were dead. "I am better off dead than alive," he said.

9 But God said to him, "What right do you have to be angry about the plant?"

Jonah replied, "I have every right to be angry-angry enough to die!"

10 The Lord said to him, "This plant grew up in one night and disappeared the next; you didn't do anything for it and you didn't make it grow-yet you feel sorry for it! 11 How much more, then, should I have pity on Nineveh, that great city. After all, it has more than 120,000 innocent children in it, as well as many animals!"


Nineveh's Shortlived Repentance, its Subsequent Return to Cruelty, and its Eventual Destruction as Prophesied by Nahum


In the Old Testament Book of Joel, the Bible says:

Joel chapter 1 (NLT)

1 The LORD gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel.
2 Hear this, you leaders of the people! Everyone listen! In all your history, has anything like this ever happened before? 3 Tell your children about it in the years to come. Pass the awful story down from generation to generation.

Joel chapter 1 (TEV)

4 Swarm after swarm of locusts settled on the crops; what one swarm left, the next swarm devoured. 5 Wake up and weep, you drunkards; cry, you wine-drinkers; the grapes for making new wine have been destroyed. 6 An army of locusts has attacked our land; they are powerful and too many to count; their teeth are as sharp as those of a lion. 7 They have destroyed our grapevines and chewed up our fig trees. They have stripped off the bark, till the branches are white.

8 Cry, you people, like a young woman who mourns the death of the man she was going to marry. 10 The fields are bare; the ground mourns because the grain is destroyed, the grapes are dried up, and the olive trees are withered. 11 Grieve, you farmers; cry, you that take care of the vineyards, because the wheat, the barley, yes all the crops are destroyed. 12 The grapevines and fig trees have withered; all the fruit trees have wilted and died. The joy of the people is gone.

14 Give orders for a fast; call an assembly! Gather the leaders and all the people of Judah into the Temple of the Lord your God and cry out to him! 15 The day of the Lord is near, the day when the Almighty brings destruction. What terror that day will bring! 16 We look on helpless as our crops are destroyed. There is no joy in the Temple of our God. 17 The seeds die in the dry earth. There is no grain to be stored, and so the empty granaries are in ruins. 18 The cattle are bellowing in distress because there is no pasture for them; the flocks of sheep also suffer. 19 I cry out to you, Lord, because the pastures and trees are dried up, as though a fire had burned them. 20 Even the wild animals cry out to you because the streams have become dry.


Other Old Testament prophets condemned the sinful state of the Jewish society they lived in:

Ezekiel chapter 22 (NLT)

6 "Every leader in Israel who lives within your walls is bent on murder. 7 Fathers and mothers are contemptuously ignored. Resident foreigners are forced to pay for protection. Orphans and widows are wronged and oppressed. ... 9 People accuse others falsely and send them to their death. You are filled with idol worshipers and people who take part in lewd activities. . 11 Within your walls live men who commit adultery with their neighbors' wives, who defile their daughters-in-law or who rape their own sisters. 12 There are hired murderers, loan racketeers, and extortioners everywhere! They never even think of me and my commands, says the Sovereign LORD.

Amos chapter 3 (NLT)

"My people have forgotten what it means to do right," says the LORD.

Isaiah Chapter 59 (NIV)

3 Your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. 4 No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
7 Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. 8 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. 14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

Isaiah chapter 5 (NIV)

7 He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

Isaiah Chapter 9 (NIV)

16 Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. 17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks vileness.

Jeremiah Chapter 6 (NIV)

13 "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.

Jeremiah chapter 9 (NIV)

3 "They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me," declares the LORD. 4 "Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. 5 Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. 6 You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me," declares the LORD. 8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit. With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.

Hosea chapter 4 (TEV)

1 The Lord has an accusation to bring against the people who live in this land. Listen, Israel, to what he says: "There is no faithfulness or love in the land, and the people do not acknowledge me as God. 2 They make promises and break them; they lie, murder, steal, and commit adultery. Crimes increase, and there is one murder after another.

11 The Lord says, "Wine, both old and new, is robbing my people of their senses!

Hosea chapter 14 (NIV)

1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall!



The Book of Joel continues:

Joel chapter 2 (GWT)

1 Sound the alarm on my holy mountain. Everyone who lives in the land should tremble, because the day of the LORD is coming. Certainly, it is near. 2 It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and overcast skies. A large and mighty army will spread over the mountains like the dawn. Nothing like this has ever happened. Nothing like this will ever happen again. 3 In front of this army a fire burns. Behind it flames are blazing. In front of it the land is like the garden of Eden. Behind it the land is like a barren desert. Nothing escapes it! 4 The soldiers look like horses. They run like war horses. 5 As they leap on mountaintops, they sound like rattling chariots, like crackling fire burning up straw, and like a mighty army prepared for battle. 6 People are terrified in their presence. Every face turns pale. 7 They run like warriors. They climb walls like soldiers. They march straight ahead. They do not leave their places. 8 They do not crowd one another. They keep in their own lines. Even when they break through the defenses, they do not break their ranks. 9 They rush into the city. They run along the wall. They climb into houses. They enter through windows like thieves. 10 The earth quakes in their presence, and the sky shakes. The sun and the moon turn dark, and the stars no longer shine.
11 The LORD shouts out orders to his army. His forces are very large. The troops that carry out his commands are mighty. The day of the LORD is extremely terrifying. Who can endure it?

12 "But even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart-- with fasting, crying, and mourning."
13 Tear your hearts, not your clothes. Return to the LORD your God. He is merciful and compassionate, patient, and always ready to forgive and to change his plans about disaster.

14 Who knows? He may reconsider and change his plan and leave a blessing for you. Then you could give grain offerings and wine offerings to the LORD your God.

15 Blow the ram's horn in Zion. Schedule a time to fast. Call for an assembly. 16 Gather the people. Prepare them for a holy meeting. Assemble the leaders. Gather the children, even the nursing infants. Grooms leave their rooms. Brides leave their chambers. 17 The priests who serve the LORD cry between the altar and the entrance to the temple. They say,
"Spare your people, O LORD. Don't let the people who belong to you become a disgrace. Don't let the nations ridicule them. Why should people ask, 'Where is their God?'"


18 Then the LORD became concerned about his land, and he had pity on his people. 19 The LORD said to his people, "I am going to send grain, new wine, and olive oil to you. You will be satisfied with them. I will no longer make you a disgrace among the nations.

20 "I will keep the northern [army] far from you, and I will force it into a dry and barren land. The soldiers in front will be forced into the eastern sea. The soldiers in back will be forced into the western sea. A foul odor will rise from the dead bodies. They will stink."


He has done great things!
21 Land, do not be afraid. Be glad and rejoice. The LORD has done great things!
22 Wild animals, do not be afraid. The pastures in the wilderness have turned green. The trees have produced their fruit. There are plenty of figs and grapes.
23 People of Zion, be glad and find joy in the LORD your God. The LORD has given you the Teacher of Righteousness. He has sent the autumn rain and the spring rain as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain. The vats will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

25 "Then I will repay you for the years that the mature locusts, the adult locusts, the grasshoppers, and the young locusts ate your crops. They are the large army that I sent against you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, and you will be full. You will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has performed miracles for you. My people will never be ashamed again. 27 You will know that I am in Israel. I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. My people will never be ashamed again.

The Background to the Book of Joel

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
Or go to the next in the series: The Consequences Of One Disobedient Act Of Moses And Of One Man Taking Valuables That The Israelites Had Been Instructed To Destroy, And The Gibeonites.
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

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The Beauty of the New Testament's Moral Teaching and Other Important Pages on this Website

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There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:


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