Today’s story is from the book of Jonah.
Jonah was a prophet. That means he talked to God and God talked to him and then he told all people what God said. Sometimes it was good news, sometimes it was bad news, sometimes it was about what the people should or shouldn’t do, and sometimes it was about something that would happen later.
If you remember, Israel was divided. Most of the people in Israel (God’s people), had decided to follow one king and they disobeyed God. God let them captured by the Assyrians and they had to leave the land God had promised them. There was another part of Israel (called Judah) that followed a different king and they were still living in the promised land.
Jonah usually brought God’s word to His people in Israel. But this time, when God spoke to Jonah, He told him to go to Ninevah (a city in Assyria…the people who had just taken the rest of Israel captive) and tell all the people to STOP IT. Stop making bad choices!
Jonah was scared for the people of Ninevah. They were really REALLY bad, and he didn’t want to go.
So, he bought a ticket and got on a boat….and went the OTHER WAY. He tried to run away from what God had asked him to do.
Can we ever run away from God?
No…God is everywhere and He knew what Jonah was doing.
As Jonah was on the boat, a big storm came. Everyone on the boat was terrified. “We’re gonna die!!! Jonah, pray to your God and ask Him to help us!”
“I can’t,” Jonah said. “I have disobeyed God and that’s why there’s this big storm. Throw me over into the water.” The people on the boat didn’t want to, but the storm was so big and scary, eventually they did and as soon as they threw him into water, the storm stopped.
Then, a grey BIG fish came and swallowed Jonah. (Most people think it was probably a whale, but the Bible doesn’t say for sure what kind of fish.) Jonah was inside the fish for 3 days. It was probably slimy, and stinky and hard to breathe. It was groooooosssssssss.
While Jonah was in the whale, he was so sorry. He asked God to forgive him for disobeying and promised that if God would let him out of the fish that he would go to Ninevah. God did forgive Jonah. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins (tell them to God), that He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse from unrighteousness (clean away the bad choices and we’ll be right with Him again.)
So God forgave Jonah and after three days, the fish was sick of having Jonah inside and he spit him up onto the beach.
This time, Jonah did the RIGHT thing and he went to Ninevah. He told the people there what God had said. “Stop making bad choices or God will destroy this whole city and all of you!”
The people were so sorry. They asked God to forgive them and they started making better choices.
Jonah went away from the city and sat up on a hill and waited. He was waiting for God to destroy the city. It was very hot on the hill and God even made a big plant grow up to cover Jonah from the hot sun.
Jonah waited and waited…but God didn’t destroy the city?! Why not!?
(Because the people had confessed and asked God to cleanse them)
The next day, God took away Jonah’s plant. Jonah whined and he was angry. “Why aren’t you destroying the city?! Why did you take away my plant?!”
God answered Him. “You care more about this plant than all the people down there!? You think you can be angry about this?!”
“YES!” Jonah was angry. God had forgiven him in the fish and given him a second chance. But when God forgave the people of Ninevah, Jonah was angry.
No matter how bad we think someone is, if they turn to God and ask Him to forgive them, He will. We need to remember that the things we have are a present from God. He doesn’t HAVE to give us anything…but He does, because He loves us. He loves EVERYONE, and we should care more about other people than about the “stuff” God has given us.
This story also reminds us, that ANYONE can learn to trust God and make better choices, no matter how bad they seem. We can talk to God and ask Him to help us be thankful for the things He’s given us, to be thankful for forgiving us when we make bad choices, and we can pray and talk to God and ask Him to help us care about other people.
For our craft, we made some Jonahs and big fishes. We cut out fish shapes and glued on a googly eye. Then we cut out and decorated scared Jonahs. We taped them to a piece of cardboard. Next, we taped a strip of cardboard to the back of our fish and slid the Jonah cardboard through the loop we had made. Then we could slide the Jonah in and out of the fish’s mouth.
We also watched the Veggie Tales Jonah movie.
Thanks for joining us today, love to you all!