God's Messenger - Lesson Three
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!
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