Key Passage: Jonah 4:2 “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
Big Picture Question: What is God’s desire for people? God wants all people to be saved
Christ Connection: The people in Judah sinned. To punish them, God sent locusts and stopped the rain. Joel told the people to be sorry for their sin. Jesus also wants people to be sorry for their sin. Jesus died to take away our sin, and He is alive. If we trust in Jesus and are sorry for our sin, God forgives us.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. In today’s Bible story, God called Joel to prophesy to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the middle of a crisis. Judah was experiencing an invasion of locusts, on top of a drought. Joel made it clear the people were not undergoing bad luck—God was judging them for their sin.
In Deuteronomy 28, God told His people that if they did not obey Him, “You will sow much seed in the field but harvest little, because locusts will devour it” (vv. 15,38). That is exactly what happened. These disasters were a wake-up call. Joel told the people to repent. He told them to fast. He told them to cry out to God and ask Him to show them mercy. Then Joel looked ahead to the future. The Day of the Lord was coming, a day when God would show His strength through an invading army. God’s power would be against them. So Joel implored them, “Return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.”
God would rather forgive His people than punish them. God used locusts and drought to get Judah’s attention. They had turned from God, and the prophet Joel called them to repent. Like Joel, Jesus calls sinners to repent. Jesus died and was resurrected so repentant people could experience forgiveness. (Luke 24:46-47)
Family Activity: Use a jar to create a temporary insect container for each kid by taking a nail and putting a small hole in the lid. Set aside a time to hunt for grasshoppers or other insects. Place the bugs in the jars and talk about how God used locusts to punish the people of Judah for their sins. Explain that we deserve punishment for our sins too, but Jesus took our punishment.
Go further: Go online to find instructions to make a sundial. Work with your family to create one and use it to time how long it takes for something to occur. Talk to your kids about why we wait eagerly for Christ to return.