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Jonah and a Great Fish

Please don't swallow me!


God wants kids to pray for children who have never heard of Jesus.

Bible Text:

Jonah chapters 1 to 4.


Running Away:

Jonah was a prophet in Israel and one day the Lord told Jonah to go to a city called Nineveh and warn the people of what would happen if they didn't turn away from doing wicked things.  "I won't go!" he shouted and decided to run away as far and as fast as he could go in the opposite direction.

Is it alright for us to disobey God?  (Let the children respond).

Running Away!

Anyway, Jonah went to a city called Joppa that was by the sea and looked for a ship that was sailing far away.  He eventually found one that was going to a city called Tarshish.  "Here captain," he cried, "Take my fare, I want to sail away as soon as possible!"  What do you think he thought as he sailed away that day and watched the shore disappear over the horizon?  (Let the children respond).

As the ship sailed on toward Tarshish, Jonah went below deck and found a bed to lie down on.  He knew that he was wrong and that he was disobeying God.  When you do wrong things, do you feel really bad afterwards?  (Let the children respond).  Do you then lie and try to cover up what you have done? (Let the children respond).  I'm sure that only makes you feel worse!

What did Jonah do?  He probably chucked, "Ha, I've got away with it.  Now the Lord won't be able to send me to Nineveh and put my life in danger from all the wicked people who live there!  I'm sure they would stone me alive if I tried to warn them that God is going to destroy them!  No!  Not me!!"  And with that happy thought he stretched out and fell fast asleep.

The Storm!

In the meantime, God knew exactly what Jonah was doing.  God then sent a strong wind and soon a furious storm was raging around the ship.   The waves beat against the ship from all sides almost causing it to sink.  The sailors and the captain were afraid, and so the captain begged Jonah to pray to his God so that they could all be saved.  What do you think Jonah did? (Let the children respond).  I think that he just turned over and fell fast asleep again!

In the meanwhile, the sailors hung on for dear life and were afraid the ship would soon break up.  They even started throwing the cargo into the sea to make the ship lighter.  The crew finally realised that the storm was caused by someone's wickedness.

They got together to find out whose fault it was that such a bad storm had come upon them.  The sailors cast lots and the lot fell to Jonah and they shouted to the captain, "It must be that man Jonah's fault!"

It's My Fault!

During all this commotion Jonah had been asleep.  The sailors woke him up and dragged Jonah up to the main deck.  "Who are you?" they shouted.  Jonah timidly replied, "I'm a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land."

"We've found him, Captain," the sailors cried, "It's his fault that this terrible storm has come upon us."  The captain frowned at Jonah, "My good man, what have you done wrong?  Pray to your God and perhaps He will help us!"  Jonah hung his head in shame and muttered, "I know why this storm has come.  It's because I'm running away from God."

The sea was getting rougher and rougher.  The sailors begged Jonah, "What can we do, man?"   Jonah cried out, "Just throw me into the sea and then the storm will stop!"  The sailors at first didn't want to do this, and so they tried to row the ship towards the shore, but the storm only grew worse.  At last the captain shouted, "It's no good men, throw the Hebrew into the sea!"

Swallowed by a Giant Fish!

Reluctantly they threw Jonah into the sea and they could hardly believe it when the sea ceased its raging and the waves died down, and all became quiet and peaceful.  "Look Captain", shouted the mate, "A big fish is swallowing that man!  "Truly he served a big God," remarked another sailor, "What a pity that he had to die this way."

But that was not to be, God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah.  We think it was it might have been a whale.  The fish had opened its enormous mouth and swallowed Jonah.  All of him, as though he was just a little fish!

Jonah felt himself sliding down the fish's throat and landed with a splash in its stomach.  What do you think it was like to be in a fish's stomach?  (Let the children respond).  I am sure it stank.  As the fish swam and dived, every now and then Jonah would let out a yell, "Oh no, not again!"  And a wave of stomach juices would roll over his head and he would fight for breath.  This went on for three days and three nights until Jonah was sure that the next time this happened he would be a dead duck!

I'll Obey Now!

Finally Jonah cried out to the Lord, "I'm ready to do what You want me to do."  God heard Jonah's prayer and told the fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry land.  God then spoke to Jonah a second time and said, "Go to the city called Nineveh and tell the people the message I gave you before."

Jonah wasted no time and went straight to Nineveh and warned the people, "In forty days time the city will be destroyed!"

I am sure that Jonah looked a sight, all bleached white by the fish's juices.  The people must have asked what had happened to him.  After he had told them his experiences in the fish's stomach, they believed God and stopped their wicked ways.  The people fasted and prayed and when God saw how they had turned from their evil ways, He forgave them and did not destroy their city.

Jonah was angry with the Lord for not destroying the people of Nineveh as he felt they should have been punished for their wicked ways.  But, the Lord spoke again to Jonah, and taught him to pray for the people and care for them.  Just as Jonah had cared for a little plant that had grown up and sheltered him from the sun.

Telling Others:

God's wants us to live according to the Bible.  In John 14:23-24 Jesus said,

"If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching,
My Father will love him and We will come to him,
and make our home with him."

This means that God wants us to do the right things and always try to please God.  When we do wrong, we can say sorry to Jesus and ask Him to forgive us and change us inside so that we will never want do it again.  Obeying God shows that we love Him.  The verse also says that God will not only love us, but that God and Jesus will live in our hearts!

Remember, don't be like disobedient Jonah!  Obey God and your parents, and then God's blessings will rest on you every day.

God does not only want you to love and serve Him, He wants you to talk to many children today who have never heard of Jesus and that He loves them.  We need to pray for these children and care for them.  You need to tell them about Jesus, and how He died and rose again, so that their sins can be forgiven so that they can go to Heaven one day and live there forever.

Perhaps like the people of Ninevah, they will listen and ask Jesus be their Best Friend!

God bless.


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