The story of Jonah and Ninevah is such a great demonstration of how much God loves sinners.The Ninevites were a violent, pagan people that Jonah had good reason to dislike. God gave them a second chance, just like He gave us. Praise God for His amazing grace and mercy!
This week your child learned that God’s way is the best way and that God wants us to listen to Him, and to obey Him.The Lord called to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh to tell the people to stop doing bad things, but Jonah didn’t want to go. He tried to run from the Lord by getting on a boat headed to another city. A storm came, and it would not go away. The men on the boat asked Jonah why this was happening. He told them he was trying to run away from the Lord. The storm got worse, and the men decided to throw Jonah overboard. Once they threw him into the ocean, the sea quickly calmed down and the storm ended. Then the Lord provided a big fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah lived in its belly for three days. Finally, Jonah asked God for forgiveness, and the fish spit him onto dry land. Jonah then obeyed God. He went to Nineveh and did what God commanded.(Jonah 1-3)
"Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3 (NASB)
Save and clean a large Styrofoam cup (like the ones from Chick-Fil-A) to be the big fish. Decorate the cup with tissue paper, sequins, wiggly eyes, etc. It can be as simple or elaborate as your child wants. Poke a small whole in the bottom of the cup and thread a piece of yarn about two-three feet long through the hole and tie a knot. Fill a small balloon with a fourth to a half a cup of flour and tie it off. Using a marker, draw a small person on the balloon. Tie the other end of the yarn to the balloon. Your child can now try to get Jonah (the balloon) into the big fish (the cup) by scooping up Jonah and tossing him out of the cup.
Reenact the story using your couch and a bean bag/large pillow. Choose someone in your family or use the kids from your community group to be Jonah. Everyone else will be the sailors in the boat (sitting on the couch). When Jonah joins you on the couch, start swaying back and forth. Discuss why this is happening (you’ll have to be fairly loud since the waves are crashing into your boat and the wind is howling!) Gently toss Jonah to the bean bag (big fish). The people on the couch stop swaying and offer a sigh of relief. Jonah prays to God, jumps onto dry land, and goes to Nineveh (a nearby room) to tell the people to stop doing bad things.
After the retelling talk with your child using these questions:
1. What did God want Jonah to do?
2. Did Jonah obey?
3. What happened to Jonah?
4. How many days was he in the big fish?
5. Can we hide from God?
6. Did God still love Jonah?
7. Does God love us when we do wrong things?
Teach your child about Jonah & the fish by learning a new song to the tune of ―London Bridge.
Jonah was swallowed by a fish
By a fish, by a fish.
Jonah was swallowed by a fish,
Jonah prayed to God above
God above, God above.
Jonah prayed to God above
And was forgiven!
Pray a short, simple prayer thanking God that His way is always the best way. Thank Him for being a helpful, loving, perfect Father to us! Thank Him for saving you and for His Son, Jesus.