VERSES: Jonah 1:1-4:11
MEMORY VERSE: Jonah 1:17 "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish..."
BOOK TO REMEMBER: 2 Peter. Write "2 Peter" on small slips of paper and hand out to
PRAYER: Pray that we obey God the first time He tells us something through His Word. We, like Jonah, will save ourselves a whole lot of trouble.
SPECIAL SONG: Jonah (see March 2014 - Songs We Sing In Bible Class #4 on this blog. Click on the orange circle to hear tune.)
VISUAL AID: Cast lots to demonstrate what that meant back in Jonah's time. Make a large Activity (see below).
- Jonah was a minor prophet who wrote a book that bore his name with only four chapters. Jonah was from Gathhepher which was twelve miles west of the Sea of Galilee. He was, also, the son of Amittai.
- God spoke to Jonah and told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people and tell them to repent of their wicked ways, but Jonah chose to run away to Tarshish. He traveled to the city of Joppa and found a ship that was going to Tarshish, which was in the opposite way of Nineveh. He paid for his ticket and went down into the ship.
- But God sent a great wind into the sea, so that a strong storm almost broke the ship in half! The sailors on the ship were afraid and cried out to their gods. They threw things on the ship overboard to make the ship lighter, so that they might not wreck the ship.
- Where was Jonah all during this time? He had gone down into the inside of ship, had laid down...and went to sleep. The captain of the ship came into where he was sleeping and said to him, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and cry to your God, so that we will not die!" Then the other sailors decided to cast lots or what we call 'draw straws' to see who was causing trouble on the ship. When the lot fell to Jonah, the sailors asked him where he came from, what did he do for a living, and what nationality he was. Jonah confessed that he was a Hebrew who feared the LORD God who had made the land and the sea.
- The men were very afraid! They asked Jonah why he had done this to them because knew he had run away from the LORD. They asked what they should do to him in order to calm the sea because the sea was tossing to and fro. Jonah knew what to do. He told the sailors to throw him into the sea, then the sea would be calm. Jonah said he knew that he was the one who was causing the trouble. But the men even rowed harder to reach the land, but they could not because the sea was very stormy. They prayed to God to spare their lives and, finally, they took Jonah and threw him into the ocean and immediately the sea was calm which made the men honor the LORD God.
- While all this was happening, the LORD had prepared a great big fish that swallowed Jonah up. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Then Jonah changed his mind and prayed to God. Jonah chose to do what God said. Jonah chose to go to Nineveh. Do you know what happened then? God spoke to the fish and the fish spit Jonah out on dry land! Jonah could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble if he had obeyed God in the beginning and preached to Nineveh.
- God told Jonah again to go to Nineveh and preach to the people and tell them to repent and stop doing the wicked things that they had been doing. Jonah walked all around the city and the city was so big that it took him three days to walk all around it! As he walked, Jonah cried out loud and said, "Forty days and the city of Nineveh would be overthrown!" The people heard Jonah and believed God. They proclaimed a fast and everyone, even the very old people to the very young children put on sack cloth and they did not eat anything. Even the king of Nineveh heard the word and he covered himself with sackcloth and ashes. Everyone repented of their sins and cried mightily to God to forgive them.
- When God saw that Nineveh had truly repented and turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind and spared the city of Nineveh from destruction. Jonah had helped the city and obeyed God.
- Sometimes Jonah is called the "Running Prophet" because in Chapter 1, Jonah was running from God, in Chapter 2, Jonah was running to God, in Chapter 3, Jonah was running with God, and in Chapter 4, Jonah was running against God.
- The rest of the story: After the city repented, Jonah was very displeased and angry. Jonah said that he knew that God was merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and was full of kindness, but the reason that Jonah had run away in the beginning was because Jonah was a patriotic man and he had wanted Nineveh to be destroyed. Now that Nineveh had repented of their sins, he was angry and wanted to die. The LORD scolded Jonah and Jonah went outside the city and made a little booth or a lean-to and sat in its shade to see what was going to become of the city. The LORD cause a gourd to grow right over Jonah's head, so that it shaded Jonah's head to help him with his grief. Jonah was very glad to have the gourd grow, but the next morning, God prepared a worm that made the gourd wither and die. Then, God prepared a strong east wind to cause the sun to beat down on Jonah's head. Jonah fainted and wished he could die. He was acting like a spoiled child, wasn't he? God asked Jonah if he was angry because the gourd withered and Jonah said he was. Then God told Jonah that he had pity on the gourd that he himself had not worked to make it grow, yet when it died, he was angry. God asked Jonah if God should have spared the city of Nineveh that had 120,000 little children. That is where the book of Jonah ends and it does not say whether Jonah repented or not, but we must consider that Jonah did write and finish his book.
- Jonah did no miracles in the whole book because HE was the miracle.
- No one knows where Tarshish was, but somewhere over by Spain.
- Real lesson of the book of Jonah: We know our God (Jonah 4:2). God had patience with Jonah and Jonah felt like he could honestly talk to God.
- It is interesting to notice that in Jonah 2:6, it says that "Jonah went down to the bottom of the mountains" in the sea. How did Jonah know that? Inspiration from God!
- Jesus believed in Jonah's story because he refers to Jonah in Matthew 12:38-41.
Materials needed: 12" x 18" dark blue construction paper, 4" x 18" medium blue construction paper, 3" x 18" little blue construction paper, 12" x 12" black construction paper, 4" x 12" brown construction paper, scraps of orange, black, tan, and green paper, marker, crayons, glue, scissors.
- Hand out darkest blue paper.
- Hand out light blue paper.
- Glue light blue paper to the very top of the dark blue paper.
- Hand out medium blue paper.
- Glue medium blue paper just under the light blue paper.
- Hand out brown paper.
- Round bottom corners of brown paper or cut at an angle.
- Glue brown paper to top edge of light blue paper. This is the boat.
- Draw 'wood' on boat. (see picture).
- Hand out black paper.
- Fold black paper in half.
- Draw a big fish with top of fish on fold line.
- NOT CUTTING ON FOLD, cut fish out.
- Glue the black fish's BACK in the middle of the dark and medium blue paper.Fish should open up.
- Out of tan scraps, draw Jonah.
- Cut Jonah out.
- Color Jonah.
- Glue Jonah INSIDE the black fish.
- Out of black scraps, cut out black rock.
- Glue to bottom of picture.
- Out of tan scraps, cut or tear out dirt.
- Glue dirt to bottom of picture.
- Out of green scraps, cut out seaweed.
- Glue seaweed to paper.
- Out of orange scraps, cut out little fish.
- Glue orange fish in seaweed, saving one fish.
- Draw an 'x' on the saved orange fish's body where the eye should go. This fish is dead.
- Glue dead fish inside the black fish with Jonah.
- Glue tiny bits of green seaweed inside the black fish with Jonah.
- Draw eye and gill on black fish.
- Write "So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea..." and "Jonah 1:15" on the top right of the boat.
- Write "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah..." close to the black fish.
- Open up black fish.
- On the inside of the top fish, write "And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights..." and "Jonah 1:7).