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Jonah and the Whale for Kids

Jonah and the Whale

This is the story of Jonah who tries to run away from God, but finds himself inside a big fish!

Scripture Text: Jonah 1 – 4

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The Story Text (adapted text from door43.org)

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the presence of the Lord.  He found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, went aboard, and the ship headed off.

But the Lord sent out a great wind, and there was such a mighty storm on the sea that the ship was likely to break up. The sailors were afraid, and every man cried to his god. They threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah was fast asleep below deck. The captain came to him and said “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god!”

The sailors cast lots to see who was responsible and the lot fell on Jonah.
They asked him all sorts of questions, hoping to find some answers as to why all this was happening.
Jonah explained, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.
This frightened them and they asked, “What have you done?”
They knew he was fleeing from the Lord as he had already told them.
Jonah said, “The only thing you can do is throw me overboard and then the sea will become calm.”

The sailors tried to row back to land but the sea continued to grow more and more wild. Eventually, and reluctantly, the sailors threw Jonah overboard.

At once, the sea became calm.
The sailors worshiped the Lord and offered sacrifices to him.

The Lord had a huge fish ready to swallow Jonah up.
He was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

Inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord.
“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….
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

After three days and nights, the Lord commanded the fish spit Jonah onto dry land.

The Lord spoke to Jonah a second time. “Go to Nineveh and speak the message I gave to you.”
This time, Jonah went to Nineveh as God commanded.

Nineveh was so large that it took three days to get from one end to the other.

Jonah journeyed a day into the city proclaiming, “In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”
The people of Nineveh believed the message and proclaimed a fast with sackcloth.

The news reached the king of Nineveh and he too put on sackcloth, sitting down in ash.
He made a proclamation and published it through Nineveh, decreeing that all people be covered in sackcloth and cry out to God.

The Lord saw that they had turned from their evil ways and showed mercy by not destroying them as he said he would through Jonah.

This made Jonah mad. “I knew that you are gracious, merciful and slow to anger, that’s why I ran to Tarshish in the first place.”

The Lord answered. “Is it right that you are angry?”

Jonah went out of the Nineveh and sat down to see what would happen to the city.
The Lord provided a leafy plant to grow to give Jonah shade over his head. The plant made Jonah really happy.

However at dawn the next day the Lord sent a worm who chewed the plant so that it withered. When the hot sun rose, Jonah grew faint and complained bitterly.

The Lord said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
Jonah replied “Yes I am very angry.”
The Lord said “You are concerned for a plant you did not tend or grow. It came up in a night, and perished in a night. Should I not also be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?”

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