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Jonah and a Great Fish


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

Bible Text:

Jonah chapters 1 to 4.

Age Group:

Preschool to Grade 2.


Please don't swallow me!

Jonah Runs Away:

Jonah was a prophet in Israel and one day the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people to turn away from their wicked ways.   But, Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh and shouted, "No, I won't go!"  And so he ran away to the seaport of Joppa and found a ship that was going the opposite way to Tarshish and hoped that he could escape from God.

It's wrong to disobey God, isn't it?  (Let the children respond).  But Jonah didn't care, and so he just laid down and went to sleep in that ship.  While Jonah was asleep below decks, the ship sailed away with Jonah and no sooner had it sailed, when God caused a terrible storm to come up.

The Terrible Storm:

The wind howled and the waves beat against the ship.  The waves got bigger and bigger, tossing the boat up and down. Could you stayed asleep in the cabin while the storm raged?  (Let the children respond).  Well Jonah did!  The storm got so bad almost causing the ship to sink.

The sailors were afraid and woke up Jonah and asked why he was on the boat.  "I was going to Tarshish" he replied.  I'm sure Jonah then asked, "What's the matter?"  And told them that he was having such a nice dream of where he was sitting in the sun on an island far away!

But, the sailors didn't know that Jonah was running away from God.   Can you run away from God?  (Let the children respond).  No, you can't because God can see you wherever you go!

The captain then begged Jonah to pray to his God so that they could all be saved from the terrible storm.

It's My Fault!

In the meanwhile, the sailors cast lots to see who had caused the raging storm.  Jonah was chosen, and they shouted, "It's your fault that this storm is going to drown all of us!"  A shame-faced Jonah admitted, "I'm running away from doing what God asked me to do.   If you throw me into into the sea the storm will stop and you'll all be safe!"

Although they didn't want to hurt him, the sailors decided to do as Jonah had said.  They picked him up and threw him over the side of the ship into the sea.  Do you think Jonah could swim and make it back to harbour?  (Let the children respond).

The captain and the sailors could hardly believe it when the storm suddenly stopped raging and the waves died down, and all became calm and peaceful!  And as for Jonah?  He was sinking into the water and was about to drown!

The Great Fish!

But God didn't want Jonah to drown and die.  Jonah called out, "Farewell all, perhaps I should have obeyed God!"  Just as Jonah took his last breath, God caused a great fish to appear (we think it was a whale).  "Look," gasped the sailors in horror, "That great fish has opened its enormous mouth and is swallowing poor Jonah.  Oh no, he's gone, and that's the end of him!"

But, it was not the end of Jonah and he stayed in the belly of that fish for three days and three nights.  What do you think it was like in the fish's huge stomach? (Let the children respond).   I'm sure it was pitch black with Jonah shouting, "Oh no!" as wave after wave of seaweed and stinking stomach juices splashed over him!

"Please God," he cried, "Save me!"  And the Lord heard Jonah's cry and the great fish spat Jonah out onto dry land.

I'll Obey!

God spoke to Jonah a second time, "Go to Nineveh and warn the people that I am going to destroy them!"  This time Jonah listened and obeyed, and went to Ninevah just as the Lord had told him to.  And the people of Nineveh believed Jonah when he told them, "Turn from your wicked ways, or your city will be destroyed in forty days."

The people prayed and when God saw that they were truly sorry and had turned from their wicked ways, He forgave them and did not destroy the city.  And Jonah?  He was angry with God for not destroying the people of Nineveh as he felt they should have been punished for their evil ways!

Does God forgive you when you do wrong things? (Let the children respond).  Yes, He does because God loves us and cares for us.  And so the Lord spoke again to Jonah, and told him to pray for the people and care for them.

Telling Others:

There are many children today who have never heard of Jesus.  We need to tell them about Jesus and how He loves them.  They need to ask Jesus to forgive them for all the wrong things they have done, so that they can go to Heaven one day and live there forever.

And perhaps like the people of Ninevah, they will listen and ask Jesus be their Best Friend.  We need to pray for these children and care for them.

Let's pray right now for children who have never heard of Jesus, and for all your friends and children you know.

God bless!


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