Jonah Lesson Plan (B09-L06)


Ask one of the following questions as a opening to start the discussion.

  • Option 1: What are some characteristics of a Holy man/woman? (ie. saint, prophet, …)
  • Option 2: If God came to you in a dream and asked you to go to ISIS and preach – what thoughts would you have in the morning? What would you do?

Lesson Time

Background discussion

  • Time Frame: 8th Century B.C. (Assyrian Empire threat)
    • Some scholars say 400 B.C.
  • Home Town (2 Kings 14:25)
    • Israel – Northern Kingdom
    • Gath Hepher
  • Assyrian Empire was a major power
    • They were cruel and were feared

Group Activity – Sorting

The story of Jonah should be familiar with most kids at this age.   So dive right into a group activity of having the kids sorting slips of papers from the story of Jonah. Have them use a Bible if stuck.  Afterwards can use it to review the story quickly.

  • Download: Slips of paper to cut-up before class.  Have one set of cut-up slips per group.   (word)  (pdf)

Story Recap/Discussion

Can go over these points as you go through the students results of sorting.

The Mission

  • God tells Jonah to:
    • The evil of Assyria has “reached” him…
    • Go to Nineveh (Assyrian Capital)
    • Preach repentance…
  • Interesting notes…
    • Nineveh is NOT a Jewish state
    • Only time a Jewish prophet is sent to a non-Jewish nation…
    • Not only that…but actually a fierce enemy…
      • Think KKK, ISIS, etc…

The Flee…

  • Jonah goes in the opposite direction of Nineveh
    • 1:3 – But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
  • He doesn’t want to do the mission – and runs away

The Return

  • God obviously sees this
    • Sends a storm
    • The sailor/Jonah realize it is God
    • Jonah says throw him overboard
      • Note – Jonah is always giving up…
    • God saves Jonah by swallowing him in a fish
      • Note – God is consistently patient and correcting Jonah
    • The fish spits Jonah up after 3 days…
    • Jonah completes his task…

The Assyrian Response

  • With Jonah’s preaching the Ninevites respond immediately
  • The King too

Jonah’s Response – Anger?

  • The Ninevites repented and spared
  • Jonah looks on the city hoping to see God’s wrath
    • He is angry with God

God’s Teaching Jonah again…

  • God teaches Jonah to love and care via a plant
    • The plant provided Jonah some share
    • Jonah is angry after the plant diet
    • God was teaching Jonah:
    • 4:10-11 “You took pity on the goard, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came up during the night and perished before the next night. And shall I Myself not take pity upon Nineveh, the great city, in which dwell more than 120000 people who do not know either their right hand or their left – and many livestock?”

Group Activity: Matthew 12:39-41

Have the students work in groups to read and discuss a related passage in Matthew.  Have them answer the following questions an then discuss afterwards.  (Handout for kids)


  • Who is speaking in the passage?
  • What is meant by “sign of Jonah”?
  • Why will the Ninevites rise up in judgement?
  • Who is the queen of the South?
  • In what ways can we be like the Pharisees here?
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Application 2: Who/Where/What is our Nineveh?

  • To Jonah, the Ninevites were beyond the grace of God
    • But God points out that is false
  • Who do we not reach out to? or do not care to reach out to?
  • Who do we neglect in our church? Friends? School?
  • Are our fears, greater than our love for God or others? Where does God need to teach us to love?
  • Is it ourselves?
    • Jonah repeatedly says “I’d rather die…”
    • Always giving up on himself… but he also wasn’t beyond God’s grace
    • God was continually re-teaching him…

Application 3: Human too..

  • Not perfect
    • Here we saw a prophet who was reluctant
    • The saints and prophets before us had “feelings”
  • Our feelings are real…
    • Our fears and feelings don’t signal that we are not to be used..
    • We are in good company with the saints…


Take the story of Jonah and write about a lesson learned from it.


Click for presentation that can be used that follows this lesson plan.


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