Today’s Bible story in The Gospel Project® for Kids is one that many kids have heard before, and we often lose sight of the central message. The message isn’t so much about Jonah being swallowed by a big fish, although that is certainly amazing. Jonah’s account centers around the compassion of God, not only for the people of Israel, but for people throughout the earth—even Israel’s worst enemies!
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the rulers of Nineveh were notoriously evil and cruel. Check out how the prophet Nahum described the city in Nahum 3: “Woe to the city of blood, totally deceitful, full of plunder, never without prey” (v. 1). No wonder Jonah ran the other way! Through a storm and some time in the belly of a fish, God got Jonah’s attention. Jonah went to Nineveh. For three days, Jonah walked around the city. His message to the Ninevites was brief: “In 40 days Nineveh will be demolished!”
The people of Nineveh immediately repented, and God withheld His judgment. Jonah was furious. God rebuked Jonah and prompted him to examine his heart. God displayed His mercy and grace by forgiving the people of Nineveh when they repented of their sin. God showed His love to the rest of the world by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross. God saves those who trust in Jesus and repent of their sin, and He sends them out, like Jonah, with the good news of salvation.
Today’s Bible story in The Gospel Project® for Kids reveals what true, unconditional, godly love looks like. God told Hosea to show the people of Israel how much God loved them but in an unexpected way. God told Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman, and to raise her children who were conceived with other men.
Hosea obeyed God. He married a woman named Gomer, and she was unfaithful just as God said she would be. God’s people were no different than Gomer. They loved and worshiped idols, people and things that were not the one true God.
It would have been easier for God (and Hosea) to throw up His hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with you!” But God’s love never gives up. He gave Hosea a love for his wife that compelled him to buy her back from the slave market after all she had done.
Hosea’s relationship with Gomer reminds us of God’s relationship with the people of Israel and with us. Even though God’s people are unfaithful and love other things more than they love God, God still loves us. God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sin and bring us back to Him.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next four weeks, our Bible stories will focus on four prophets whose messages to God’s people foreshadowed Jesus Christ. In today’s Bible story, Amos was a regular, hard-working man who raised sheep in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. God called Amos to prophesy to the people of Israel.
On the outside, the Northern Kingdom of Israel looked good. They were prospering economically, their borders were expanding, and sure, King Jeroboam was an evil and ungodly man, but he could have been worse. But God was not pleased with His people. Their hearts were far from Him. They ignored God’s laws, worshiped idols, and mistreated the poor. They were greedy, hypocritical, and prideful. So God called Amos to tell Israel that God was going to judge them for their sin.
Taking God’s message to the people of Israel was no easy task. When Amos told Israel through three sermons that God’s judgment would also fall on them, they told him to go away. The Israelites’ refusal to turn back to God eventually led to their exile and brought an end to their time of prosperity.
God is holy and just, but He is also loving and gracious. God wanted His people to turn back to Him, but they refused. Israel faced the punishment for their sin. God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sin. God accepts anyone who trusts in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Today’s Bible story in The Gospel Project® for Kids focuses once again on the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God’s people in the Northern Kingdom had a long history of disobeying God. God sent His prophets to the people of Israel. The prophets told the people of Israel to repent and worship God again. Many times, the prophets told the people what would happen in the future if they continued to sin.
Sometimes God’s people listened to the prophets, repented of their sins, and followed God. But many people did not. God had been very patient with the Israelites. He had helped them in times of trouble and had delayed their punishment because He is gracious and compassionate. (2 Kings 13:23) But many years passed, and God knew His people would not love Him with all their hearts.
God had had enough of His people’s sinning. They wouldn’t listen to Him, so He allowed their enemies to send them into exile. The king of Assyria attacked Israel and laid siege to Samaria. Assyria captured Samaria and forced the people to leave the city. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed and the people were scattered, just as God had said it would be. (1 Kings 14:15)
When the Israelites disobeyed God, God judged their sin and punished them by removing them from His presence. Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He unites and restores those who trust in Him. Jesus brings us into God’s presence and keeps us there.
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, we turn our attention to Elisha, Elijah’s friend and successor, and Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army. The Syrians often attacked Israelite cities and took whatever they wanted, including people to work as slaves. One of the slaves carried off by the Syrians has a pivotal role in today’s story.
Naaman was sick with leprosy—a serious skin disease. Without a cure, Naaman would suffer horribly. A young slave girl from the land of Israel, however, knew about the one true God. She told her mistress that Elisha the prophet could heal Naaman.
Naaman told his master, the king of Aram, what his servant said. The king of Aram wrote a letter to King Ahab, commanding him to heal Naaman. King Ahab panicked. He couldn’t heal Naaman—only God could do that! Elisha called for Naaman and told him to wash seven times in the Jordan River. It wasn’t the “cure” Naaman was expecting, and initially he rejected Elisha’s instructions. His servants, however, encouraged him to obey. Naaman washed in the Jordan and he was healed! Naaman told Elisha, “I know there’s no God in the whole world except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15).
Naaman was sick with a skin problem. His disease went away when he washed in the river. All people are sick with a sin problem. They need a Healer. When we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, God forgives our sin and heals us.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story immediately follows Elijah’s confrontation with King Ahab and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah saw God send fire from heaven. God showed King Ahab, the Israelites, and all the people who worshiped the false god Baal that God is the one true God. Elijah probably felt very happy and victorious, but he was about to face trouble.
King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was furious with Elijah. Jezebel had already killed many of God’s prophets. After Baal’s defeat at Mount Carmel, Jezebel sent a message to Elijah: she was going to kill Elijah like she had killed God’s prophets. Elijah was afraid! He ran away from Jezebel and hid in the wilderness. Overcome with despair, Elijah begged the Lord to take his life. (See 1 Kings 19:4.)
God sent an angel to bring food and water to Elijah while he rested. Then Elijah traveled to Mount Horeb—another name for Mount Sinai—to have a personal encounter with God. God revealed Himself to Elijah in a voice, a soft whisper. Elijah’s circumstances were difficult, but God didn’t leave him. God gave him Elisha, a friend and successor. God assured Elijah that he was not alone; there were 7,000 people in Israel who had not turned to worship Baal.
Elijah was God’s prophet, but Jezebel wanted to kill him. God was in control, and He protected Elijah. Jesus is the true and final Prophet. People hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him. God was in control. He used Jesus’ enemies to fulfill His plan to save people from sin.
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to a power-encounter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, a false god. King Ahab was a very evil king. In fact, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
God sent Elijah the prophet to get Ahab’s attention. God prevented rain in the land for three years. For Ahab, a man who worshiped Baal—the false Canaanite god of rain and fertility—the drought sent a strong message about the one true God. When God was ready to send rain to the earth, Elijah appeared to Ahab and told him to gather all the people and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Elijah issued a challenge to the people: Follow God or follow Baal.
Imagine what it must have been like to watch the thousand prophets of Baal face off against the one true God and His prophet. The prophets of Baal shouted to their false god. They cried out. They even cut themselves. Where was Baal? Why didn’t he answer? When it was Elijah’s turn, Elijah drenched his altar with water. Then Elijah called out to God, and God answered with fire from heaven that consumed the offering, the wood, the stones, the dust, and even the water in the trench Elijah dug. The people fell facedown, shouting “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!”
Elijah called on the power of God to prove to the worshipers of Baal that God is the one true God. By sending fire from heaven, God displayed His great power. God would use His power years later to raise Jesus from the dead, showing that Jesus is the Son of God.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week, our journey takes us to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, created as a result of King Solomon’s sin. King Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom, created two golden calves for his people to worship. Needless to say, his kingdom wasn’t starting out very well.
The Northern Kingdom was plagued by evil kings who led people away from worshiping the one true God. Baasha (BAY uh shuh), Elah, Zimri (ZIM righ), and Omri (AHM righ) each reigned as evil, sinful kings of Israel. Each king led the Israelites further away from worshiping God.
Then Omri’s son Ahab (AY hab) became king of Israel. Ahab was more evil than the kings who were before him—more evil than Omri, more evil than Zimri, more evil than Elah, and more evil than Baasha! If that wasn’t enough, Ahab married Jezebel, who encouraged him to serve and worship the false god Baal. Ahab built an altar for Baal in Samaria. All the things Ahab did made God very angry.
God’s people asked for a king to lead them, but no king led them perfectly. Was there any king on earth who would be faithful? God would send a king from heaven—His own Son—who would lead God’s people back to God. He would be the King of all kings—Jesus Christ.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project for Kids. We’d like to take a break from the chronological study of the Bible and invite boys and girls into the stories of Christmas. Today’s story relates a time when angels came to visit Mary and Joseph. The angel Gabriel came to Mary and startled her with his news. Mary felt unworthy, but she humbly submitted to God’s will for her life.
Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy and decided to divorce her quietly, but an angel visited Joseph and encouraged him to follow God’s plan and let the marriage take place as planned. God’s plan was far greater than Joseph’s plan.
What were Mary and Joseph’s roles in God’s plan? God had chosen Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of Jesus. The baby Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14. This was one of many Old Testament prophecies which Jesus fulfilled.
This week in The Gospel Project for Kids, your kids learned about the aftermath of Israel’s sin when they were wandering in the wilderness. God had given the people and opportunity to obey, but again they chose not to. After much grumbling from the Israelites, God sent poisonous snakes into the ranks of the nation. God, in His gracious wisdom, gave them a way of escaping the results of the snake bite. Sin comes with consequences, but God always provides a way of salvation.
Because of our sin, we face a huge problem. Our sin leads us to be separated from God, and we deserve to die. Just like the Israelites who were healed from the poison snake bite when they looked at the snake on the pole, those who choose to see Jesus on the cross and trust in Him, will be saved from their sin.