Big Idea for Parents
Jonah's story highlights the incredible grace of God in this way: God continues to love Jonah and give his Word to Jonah even after Jonah ignored him. Jonah 3:1 is an incredible, grace filled verse, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time" (Jonah 3:1 NIV). Thankfully, God doesn't treat Jonah, or us, as our sins deserve.
The story of Jonah also tends to raise questions as to whether this story is true or a myth. Due to the miraculous nature of the account, the question is certainly understandable. When children raise this question, we want to be careful not to dismiss it out of hand. Instead, it provides an opportunity to demonstrate: 1) How to thoughtfully investigate the Bible; 2) God's Word is reliable.
The Bible presents the events of Jonah as true history. Our first clue is that the people, cities and countries actually existed. Jonah is first introduced as a prophet at the time of King Jeroboam II in 1 Kings 14:25 (which places him sometime between 800 - 750 B.C). Nineveh was in the Assyrian empire and is known both inside and outside the Bible to have been a powerful city in the time of Jonah. Significantly, Jesus references the story of Jonah during his ministry and teaching as though it actually happened (Matthew 12:39-41). Jonah's story points ahead to Jesus, the ultimate prophet. Jonah's time in the belly of the fish and his subsequent exit is a shadow of Jesus time in the grave and his subsequent resurrection. Since Jesus takes the account of Jonah as true history, we do well to understand it in the same way.
Wherever we are, God always listens to us and loves us. The prophet Jonah learned this when he spent three days and three nights in the belly of a fish! Jonah prayed to God inside a fish, and God heard Jonah's prayer. How did Jonah end up inside a fish? How did he get out? Let's read what happened to Jonah ... (Read pages 160-169).
- What message did God want Jonah to give to the people of Nineveh?
- What happened to Jonah when he ran away from God?
- How did God show his love for Jonah?
- How does God still deliver messages to us today?
Dear God, thank you for loving us even when we don't listen to you. Forgive us for disobeying you. Help us to bring your message of love to the people in our lives today. In Jesus name, Amen.