The book of Jonah isn’t just a story about a man and a giant fish. It’s about running from God, learning tough lessons, and discovering the vastness of God’s love and mercy.
BIBLE READING: Jonah
KEY VERSE: “As my life was fading away, I remembered the LORD. My prayer went up to You, to Your holy temple” Jonah 2:7
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BIBLE STUDY NOTES FOR TEENS
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY:
The book of Jonah is unique among the prophetic books of the Bible. It focuses more on the prophet himself than the prophecies he delivered. Jonah is given a mission he initially refuses, leading to extraordinary events and a powerful lesson in obedience and grace.
Setting and Time Period:
Jonah’s story is set in the 8th century B.C., when Assyria, with Nineveh as its capital, was a dominant force in the Near East. Nineveh, located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in modern-day Iraq, was renowned for its size, grandeur and wickedness.
Jonah, unlike other prophets who readily embraced God’s call, chose to flee from his mission. His reluctance to preach to the Ninevites, whom he likely despised due to their notorious cruelty and idolatry, highlights the struggle between personal prejudices and God’s will.
The Miraculous Rescue:
Instead of heading to Nineveh, Jonah hops on a boat, going the complete opposite way. He tries to hide from God (spoiler: it doesn’t work). Then, a wild storm hits. Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by a giant fish. Here, we witness a profound transformation, and he finally decides to follow God’s plan.
The story’s climax is the Ninevites’ unexpected and overwhelming repentance. This repentance, leading to God’s forgiveness, underscores a central theme of the Bible: God’s readiness to forgive and save not just Israel but all who turn to Him.
1. OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S COMMANDS – JONAH 1:3
2. REPENTANCE AND RESTORATION – JONAH 3:10
3. GOD’S MERCY IS GREATER THAN OUR DISOBEDIENCE – JONAH 3:1
. GOD’S COMPASSION FOR ALL – JONAH 3:10
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YOUTH GAMES AND ACTIVITIES – Jonah
Materials needed: None
- Choose one person to be the leader who will give out commands.
- The leader calls out various physical actions (e.g., “Stand up,” “Walk forward,” “Raise your left hand”).
- Players must do the opposite of what the leader says (e.g., “Stand up” means sit down, “Walk forward” means walk backward).
- The game continues with a series of commands. If a player does the exact action said by the leader instead of the opposite, they sit out the rest of the round.
- The last person standing, who consistently does the opposite, wins the game.
- Discuss how Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh, but instead, he did the opposite and went to Tarshish. Reflect on the consequences of Jonah’s actions and compare it to the confusion and mistakes made during the game when players followed the wrong instructions. This activity can highlight the importance of following God’s directions in our lives.
Materials needed: Music player and music.
- Players move around while music plays.
- When the music stops, everyone must quickly turn around.
- The last player to turn each round is out.
- Continue until one player remains.
- Relate the game to repentance, similar to Jonah’s turnaround towards God. Discuss how quickly turning around symbolizes immediate repentance and returning to God’s path.
Materials needed: Sacks or large pillowcases.
- Divide players into teams and give each team a sack or large pillowcase, representing sackcloth.
- At the start signal, the first player from each team hops into their sack and jumps to the turnaround point and back.
- Once they return, the next player takes their turn, continuing until all team members have completed the race.
- The first team to have all members finish the race wins.
Discuss the significance of sackcloth in the Bible as a symbol of repentance and humility, as seen in Jonah’s story with the people of Nineveh. Relate the effort and challenge in the sack race to the commitment required in true repentance and turning back to God.