Jonah for Kids Part 3

Jonah Preaches

If you have read about Jonah in a Children’s Bible or heard about him in a Sunday School lesson or Vacation Bible School, it was probably chapter 1 and maybe chapter 2 that you learned about. In Jonah for Kids Part 1, based on Jonah chapter 1 in the Bible, there is a storm at sea and Jonah is thrown off a ship. He is swallowed by a great fish – perhaps you’ve heard whale, it’s not worth arguing about because that is not the point – and all of that happens in just the first chapter. In Part 2/chapter 2 we learn that after three days in the fish’s belly Jonah decided it was time to pray. Children, adults, Old Testament prophets; stubbornness is common among many different people. You may have never read or heard about what happened next. Jonah’s story is not done and if you are willing to keep reading we can continue this journey together.

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.” Sometimes we have to be told twice. After three days in a fish belly Jonah did not want to be told a third time. He went to Nineveh and preached the message that God gave him. The Bible describes Nineveh as a great city, large enough that it would take three days to walk across. For about 50 years Nineveh was the largest city in the world. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and that means the King of Assyria lived there. The Assyrians were polytheistic, meaning they believed in many gods. Jonah was told by God, twice, to go to the capital city of an enemy empire and preach to people that did not believe in God. Some of us get nervous speaking in front of a class or standing in front of church to do anything. Jonah went to the greatest city on earth to preach that God would destroy the city! Because this was God’s plan, and Jonah was obedient to God, the people of Nineveh listened.

Everyone in Nineveh believed God. They put on sackcloth, which is like burlap. It’s tough material, used for making sacks to hold grain and not clothing. Wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes was how people in the Old Testament showed they were mourning. It’s like wearing all black or staying locked inside your room today. They declared a fast, which meant they did not eat. Because they believed God and showed him they were sorry for all the wrong they had done, he did not destroy their city. Jonah finally did what God told him to do in the first place and the result was a great revival in Nineveh.

Everything worked out and this is Jonah’s happy ending, right? Not yet. The sailors on the ship in part 1 turned from their false gods and prayed to the true and living God. All of Nineveh, even the king, believed God after Jonah preached. Everyone in this story has learned about God… except maybe for Jonah. There is one more part of this story and we will save that for next week.

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