No Love for the Ninevites

Jonah

God’s desire is that all people would turn to him and acknowledge his great love for them. Jonah had a hard time understanding God’s love for everyone. God sent Jonah to call the Ninevites to repentance but instead he went the opposite direction. After 3 days in the belly of a big fish Jonah came to his senses and went to preach to the Ninevites. The story of Jonah points us to Jesus who obediently brought God’s message of salvation to an undeserving people. Jesus referred to his own death, burial and resurrection as “the sign of Jonah” (Matt. 12.39; 16.4).

Key Verse

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ”

2 Corinthians 1.20a (NLT)

Lesson

Explain to the kids that each week you’re looking at a story from the Old Testament* that points to Jesus. It’s often helpful to briefly review the previous week’s lesson.

Object Lesson (Daddy shoe, baby shoe†)

Supplies: The biggest grown man’s shoe you can find and the smallest baby shoe you can find.

Keep the big shoes hidden and show the kids the little shoes. Talk to the kids about how small the shoes are. Explain to them that we are very small compared to God and the same is true for our hearts and our ability to love others. Take out the big shoes and tell them that God’s love is really big; sometimes bigger than we can understand. 

Tell them that we’re going to read a story about a prophet who didn’t love other people and didn’t want God to love them either.

Bible story

Props you may want to use: A sleeping bag, a tin of fish (could be cat food).

Use your Bible or a children’s Bible to tell the story from Jonah. You can make it interactive by pretending that the sleeping bag is the big fish. Have it ‘swallow’ one of the children. Have the kids imagine what it would have smelled like by passing a bowl of strong smelling fish around! Jonah thought he was so much better than the Nineties but he must have smelled really bad!

Application

The story of Jonah reminds us that God has a plan for everybody to experience his love, even those who don’t deserve it! God sent Jonah so that the Ninevites would have the chance to repent and turn to him. God sent his Son Jesus so that we could do the same thing!

We need to remember that God loves all people. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from, or what you’ve done. God loves you, and if you come to him, he’ll welcome you with wide open arms!

Prayer: Thank God for sending his Son Jesus and making a way for us to be close to him. Thank him that we can always trust his promises. Pray for wisdom and courage for the children as they seek to follow God.

* Old Testament: The first part of the Bible that tells the story of God’s people and explains his promise.
† Borrowed from Ministry to Children


Review Questions:

  • Why do you think Jonah didn’t want to go to Ninevah?
  • What did the sailors do to stop the storm?
  • What did Jonah say to God when he was in the belly of the big fish?
  • Where did he go after the fish spat him out?
  • What do you do when you struggle to love someone?

Game

Sharks and Minnows

How to Play: Choose two kids to be “sharks.” Stand them in the middle of the room. The rest of the children stand on one side of the room and be the “minnows”.

The object of the game is for the “minnows” to get across the gym without getting caught by the sharks.

If a “minnow” is caught, then it becomes a shark.

The last one to get caught is the winner!