Welcome to the last of November’s lessons about the story of Jonah. Look on pages 160-169 of The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones to find “God’s Messenger.”
Children: The big question asked at the end of Lesson 2 is the big question that I again ask to begin Lesson 3 … What did Jonah do for three days while in the fish? The big answer, of course, is that he PRAYED! (You knew that, didn’t you!) Jonah spent his time praising God, telling God that he was sorry he had chosen to disobey, and thanking God that He will save Jonah from this mess. And that is just what God did when He made the fish spit out Jonah onto dry land. When asked a second time by God, Jonah said YES to going to Nineveh to spread His word! Thankfully the people of Nineveh said YES to Jonah’s preaching and were saved from disaster!
Jonah knew that God loved him, as He does you, and that God would forgive him, as He will you.
Being sorry for the things we do wrong is called repenting, and God accepting our apologies when we repent is called forgiving. The acts of repenting and forgiving saved Jonah from being fish food!
Adults: The Biblical reference to Jonah’s story is the book of Jonah in the Old Testament.
The main lesson that Christians can learn from the story of Jonah is that you can't outrun God. God is an all-powerful but also a forgiving God - even of people or communities who are wicked and sinful.
Amazingly, Jonah’s prayer shines like a bright light in a dark place—the deep, swampy belly of the fish. The runaway prophet accepts the Lord’s discipline (2:3-6), anticipates the Almighty lifting him out of the pit (2:6), remembers the Lord’s holy temple (2:7), denounces idols (2:8), gives thanks, (2:9), promises to pay his vows (2:9), and acknowledges the Lord’s salvation by saying, “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (2:9). In other words, “Lord, only you can save me from this mess!” This is the prayer of a repentant man who is looking up to heaven from the bottom of the ocean.
Chapter two ends by stirring our imagination with what happened to him next, “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land.” (2:10). Chapter 3 picks up with these familiar words, “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah got up from the sandy beach and went directly to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord (3:1-3). The same call from God came to the same prophet, telling him to go to the same people with the same message. Fortunately, the God of the Bible is all about second chances.
Jonah delivered eight words laced with fire-breathing judgment, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (3:4) Surprisingly, the Bible says in the next verse, “And the people of Nineveh believed God” (3:5). The Ninevites wasted no time by sitting around and discussing the prophet’s message; instead, they acted upon it immediately. They called a fast and wore sackcloth. Even the king took off his robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then, the king issued a royal proclamation, urging man and beast to do the same and “call out mightily to God” (3:8). When God saw how the Ninevites responded, He relented of the disaster.
The book of Jonah is truly the greatest fish story ever told. From it, we learn that God’s call is irrevocable, God’s presence is inescapable, and God’s grace is everlasting.
~This week’s prayer: Thank you, dear Lord, for giving me second chances. Amen
To put on your calendar: Our 4th Sunday of the month get-together for discussing Jonah’s story and doing a craft will take place on November 27, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. right after the church service. Bring any questions, thoughts, comments, or art work with you. All adults and children are welcome!
Hope to see you soon!
November Week 2, 2022 Learning Together
Hello! Hello and welcome to Learning Together’s November Week 2 lesson. Today we continue talking about the story of Jonah in “God’s Messenger” on pages 160-169 in The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Weber.
Children: You may wish to again listen to the oral reader reading this month’s story. Maybe you will want to reread the story out of the book or take turns reading it with someone in your family. Remember that Pastor Mary would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and reactions to this lesson. Please feel free to comment!
Picking up where we left off, the big question for Jonah at this point in his life is how much convincing will it take for him to do what God has asked? Sometimes when people do not want to do something they know they should, something happens that helps them to change their minds. What do your parents say or do when you decide not to clean your room? Well, God decided to help Jonah change his mind by creating a bad storm. And sending the big fish. And letting Jonah sit in the big fish for 3 days. I believe that would convince anyone.
Can you imagine what Jonah did while spending 72 hours in the total darkness and in total stinkiness of a fish’s stomach? What do you think you would do? Any picture you could draw of this scene would be amazing!
Adults: The Biblical reference for this story is the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament.
Nearly one-fourth of this Book is a prayer Jonah voiced from inside the fish. Jonah cried out from the depths of his despair, and he did so by rejoicing that God heard his prayer. “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me” (2:2-3).
We need to give Jonah credit for praying, but too many of us pray only when we find ourselves in trouble like the runaway prophet.
Jonah knew God’s word well enough to fill his prayer with words from Scripture. From memory, he recites phrases from Psalm 18:6, 31:22, and 42:7, demonstrating the power of holding God’s word deeply in our hearts so that we can retrieve it at the right time (Psalm 119:11).
~This week’s prayer: Dear Lord, I want to hold your words in my heart. Amen
Have a safe and happy week!
November Week 1, 2022 Learning Together
Hello to you and your family! As usual, you are invited to listen and read and create and pray around one particular story, and this month the story is “God’s Messenger” found on pages 160-169 in The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Children: Please start this lesson by listening to the story read aloud to you in this Learning Together email. If you like, follow along in your own book, making sure to check out the pictures. Any family member is welcome to join you!
So, let me ask you this … Do you always do what you’re told to do? When your parents ask you to clean your room, do you do it right away with a smile? Sometimes we don’t like to do what we are told to do. God told Jonah to go where he did not want to go, to do something he did not want to do.
Jonah was a prophet. A prophet is a person sent by God to deliver a message to a person or to group of people. We know from the Bible that Jonah was a man who listened and obeyed when God spoke to him… well, most of the time. This story is about one time that Jonah listened but chose NOT to obey God.
God had a plan for Jonah to go to a certain city to deliver His message to the people there, and He understood that Jonah needed to be convinced to do as he was asked. He arranged for a meeting between Jonah and a large fish, and after the two had met, Jonah decided that following God’s plan was the best decision after all.
Would cleaning your room when first asked be easier than trying to get out of it?
If you have questions or comments, please post them on this blog. Pastor Mary will respond. You may want to draw a picture of Jonah and what happened to him.
Adults: The biblical reference for this story is the book of Jonah. This book begins with Jonah receiving specific instructions from the Lord. “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their evil has come up before me’” (1:1-2).
Jonah is the only Hebrew prophet in the Old Testament sent by God to a Gentile nation. This event reminds us that God has a missionary’s heart and a plan for the Gentiles. Jonah is the Old Testament book that reminds us “God so loved the world,” including the Gentiles.
Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian empire, which had a reputation for strength and brutality, though at Jonah’s time they had not reached the zenith of their power. Still, God calling Jonah to Nineveh was like him telling us to pack our bags, move to Afghanistan, and preach the gospel to the Taliban. No wonder Jonah ran away. The wickedness of the Assyrians was well-known.
Jonah fled to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Tarshish was west, and Nineveh was northeast, nearly in the exact opposite direction. Jonah ran from God’s call and from God’s presence, but God planned a perfect storm for the purpose of intercepting the runaway prophet, who was now sleeping in the hull of the ship. It must have been a storm-of-the-century because it frightened the seasoned sailors on board the ship. God also appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah after the seasoned sailors tossed him overboard in a superstitious attempt to satisfy Jonah’s god and quell the storm (1:4-16).
~This week’s prayer: I pray that I will gladly accept God’s plan for me.
Enjoy your week!