When most people think of Jonah, they think about how he ran away from what God was calling him to do and then he got swallowed by a big fish for three days and three nights. While all of that is true, the story is about so much more. God is always with us and sees us, no matter how far away we try to run. At the same time, God is a just God who cares about all people. Follow along with this devotion, which you can walk through with your family in 10-15 minutes one night this week or review it in 3-5 minutes over the course of the week.
KEY VERSE – DAY ONE:
Review the key verses and hand motions for this unit with your children.
“And the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, has been born for you in the city of David.’” – Luke 2:10-11
“Yahweh is good, and his love endures forever. His faithfulness endures through all the generations.” – Psalm 100:5
BIG PICTURE QUESTION – DAY ONE:
Ask your children the Big Picture Question for this unit: What is God like? God is slow to anger, merciful, and loving.
MAIN POINT – DAY ONE:
Share with your children that this week’s main point is God showed mercy to the Ninevites.
BIBLE PASSAGE – DAY TWO:
This week’s Bible story comes from Jonah 1-4. This story can be found on page 108 of the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook. Take some time now to read these passages with your children or you can refer to the Bible story summary below!
BIBLE STORY SUMMARY:
God told the prophet Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh. Tell them to stop doing evil things.” Jonah did not go to Nineveh. He got on a boat heading the other day!
God sent a terrible storm, and the sailors were afraid! They cast lots, like flipping coins or tossing dice, to figure out who caused this trouble. The lot fell on Jonah. They asked Jonah, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Jonah replied, “I am a Hebrew. I worship the one true God who made everything.”
The sailors did not know what to do, so Jonah told them to throw him into the sea. When they did, the storm stopped. From that moment on, the sailors worshiped the one true God.
God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the first three days and three nights. Jonah prayed and thanked God for sending the fish to save him. Then the first vomited Jonah onto dry land.
God said to Jonah, “Go to Nineveh and preach My message.” So Jonah went. He walked around the city shouting God’s message: “In 40 days, Nineveh will be destroyed!”
The people turned from their evil ways. Everyone put on sackcloth and did not eat. Even the king repented. God decided not to destroy Nineveh.
“I know You are a gracious God. You show mercy to people. You are slow to anger, and You are loving. I knew You would decide to not destroy Nineveh. I am so mad!” Jonah said.
“Is it right for you to be angry?” God asked. Jonah left Nineveh and made a shelter where he could still see the city.
God taught Jonah a lesson. He provided a plant to shade Jonah from the sun. But the next day, God sent a worm. The worm attacked the plant, and the plant died. Then God sent a dry east wind. Jonah was so hot, he almost fainted.
God asked Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“Yes!” Jonah said.
God said, “You cared about the plant, but you did not take care of it or make it grow. It only lasted one day. But Nineveh is a big city with thousands of people. I created them and care about them. Aren’t they more important than a plant?”
REVIEW QUESTIONS – DAY THREE:
After reading the Bible story or going through the summary, ask your children these review questions:
- What did Jonah do instead of going to Nineveh? (got on a boat to go far away)
- What happened when Jonah was on the boat? (God sent a storm)
- What happened to Jonah after the sailors threw him overboard? (God sent a big fish to swallow him)
- Did God destroy Nineveh? (no, God showed mercy to the Ninevites)
- How did Jonah feel about God decided not to destroy Nineveh? (mad)
- Where did God tell Jonah to go? (to Nineveh)
- How did God stop Jonah from running away? (He sent a terrible storm)
- What did Jonah tell the sailors to do with him to stop the storm? (throw him into the sea)
- What happened to Jonah when he was thrown into the sea? (a big fish swallowed him)
- How long was Jonah in the fish? (three days and three nights)
- What happened after Jonah prayed to God from inside the fish? (the fish spit Jonah onto dry land)
- What message did Jonah tell the people in Nineveh? (in 40 days, Nineveh will be destroyed)
- What did the Ninevites do when they heard Jonah’s message from God? (they turned from their evil ways and repented)
- When God saw the actions of the Ninevites, what did He do? (God showed mercy to the Ninevites and did not destroy them)
- How did Jonah feel when God showed mercy to the Ninevites? (Jonah was angry)
- God used a plant to teach Jonah a lesson. What happened to the plant? (A worm attacked the plant, and the plant died)
WORSHIP – DAY FOUR:
CHRIST CONNECTION – DAY FIVE:
It’s amazing to see how things that happened in the Old Testament are connected to the New Testament and the Gospel – the good news that Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins because of His love for us. These Christ connections show us that God has been preparing us for a relationship with Jesus since the beginning of time.
God told Jonah to go to his enemies and tell them to stop sinning. Jonah did not want to go. Later, God sent His own Son, Jesus, to tell His enemies to stop sinning. Unlike Jonah, Jesus wanted to obey God. He died on the cross to save us from sin.
God called Jonah to go to his enemies, and call them to turn away from their sin, but Jonah refused. Instead, he ran away. Later, God sent Jesus to His enemies to call us to repentance. Jesus willingly obeyed. Jesus died on the cross to rescue us from sin.
PRAY – DAY FIVE:
As you pray, thank God for caring for all people and sending Jonah to the Ninevites. Praise God for showing mercy on the Ninevites, and ask Him to help us remember how He showed His mercy to us – by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sin.