By Bethany Verrett, Crosswalk.com
Teaching children about their Savior and how they can have eternal life may be the most important responsibility of a Christian parent and the believers who come into the lives of children. One of the key ways to help children grow spiritually is to help them get to know the Bible.
Reading the stories, extracting lessons, helping them memorize important verses, and helping them see the connections to Jesus and God’s love are part of “train[ing] up a child in the way he should go; [so] even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The Bible is a big book, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, there are many stories that are important and accessible for children.
Here are 10 of the most popular Bible stories for kids.
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1. Adam, Eve, and the Fall - Genesis 1-3
God created the world in seven days, and created Adam and Eve to be in His image. They worked in the Garden of Eden, a beautiful place where they walked and talked with their Creator. They were allowed to eat any fruit or vegetable in the Garden, except for the food from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, warning they would die if they did.
Satan, an angel who rebelled against God, possessed a serpent and tempted Eve to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. She does, and then she gets Adam to do the same. Because of their disobedience, they realize that evil exists, and that disobeying God has brought evil into the world. God banishes them from the Garden, but promised that one day someone will come and defeat the serpent, restoring humanity’s relationship with Him.
That person who would come to defeat the serpent was Jesus. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, their descendants – which is all of humanity – gained the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, and the ability to engage in sin, which all people do. Because God loves His creation, even when people rebel against Him, the Father sent the Son to bear the burden of judgment and wrath so that people could once again walk with Him.
Genesis 3:4-6 “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
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2. Noah’s Ark - Genesis 6-9
The early chapters of Genesis record how the generations after The Fall grew more wicked, and God decided to start over with the family of the only righteous man left – Noah. God had Noah build an ark, and his wife, their three sons and their wives moved into it. God called two of every living creature into it. It flooded for 40 days and forty nights, but everyone in the Ark was safe.
After the rains stopped and the waters receded, Noah praised the Lord, and God promised to never again send a judgment of flooding on the earth. To remind humanity of this promise, God made a rainbow, a beautiful and colorful sign of His patience, mercy, and love.
The story of Noah is a powerful reminder about God’s love for humanity, but that people naturally scorn that love. It is also shows that God tempers judgment and mercy perfectly. It also explains why, no matter how wicked people act, God stays His hand. After Jesus Christ died on the cross, all people were given an opportunity to get on a metaphoric ark, by accepting Him as their Lord and Savior, believing that His death on the cross paid the ultimate price for their sins, releasing them from God’s righteous judgment.
Genesis 6:5-8 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
Genesis 8:11-12 “And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.”
Genesis 9:12-15 “And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.’”
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3. Joshua and the Battle of Jericho - Joshua 2 and 6
After Moses died, Joshua became the leader of the Hebrew people before they entered the Promised Land. In order to settle in the region that God promised them, they had to pass through cities of enemies, people who heard about how God had punished the Egyptians for disobedience, but chose to disobey anyway. One of those places was Jericho, a city that had big walls.
Rather than welcoming the Hebrews, or even just capitulating to them out of fear of their God, they hid in their walls and defied them. One woman, Rahab, chose to help the Hebrews and they promised to spare her. They walked around the city walls for seven days, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. One the seventh day they walked around seven times and blew horns, and the walls came down; Rahab and her family were spared and she married into the Hebrew people.
God’s power can be demonstrated anyway He chooses, and He will often do it in ways that ensure the glory is all His. In this case, the walls came down because God demonstrated His might, not because of anything the Hebrew people did. Rahab married Salmon, a Hebrew, and had a son named Boaz, who married Ruth, and became a part of the genealogy of Christ.
Joshua 2:8 “Before the men lay down, she (Rahab) came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.”
Joshua 6:2-6 “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’”
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4. The Prophet Samuel’s Call - 1 Samuel 3
During the time of the Judges, the prophets of God would be raised up to assist in political matters as well as religious issues. One of the priests of the temples, Eli, would counsel a woman named Hannah, who wanted a child. She promised that if she became pregnant, she would give that child back to God’s service. Her son Samuel was born, and she was happy; she kept her promise and he served in the temple from a young age.
As an older child, possibly a young teenager, God called Samuel to follow him in service personally. Samuel heard the voice of God, and thought it was Eli. Even as a child, God had plans for Samuel.
Samuel’s early life shows that God can use difficulty as a blessing, and that He really does have plans for those He loves, even if they are young, even if they do not yet know him as their Savior. He also served as a prophet to the ancestor of Jesus - King David.
1 Samuel 3:4 “Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, ‘Here I am!’”
1 Samuel 3:7 “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”
1 Samuel 3:10 “And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears.’”
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5. David and Goliath - 1 Samuel 17
Israel was a small nation surrounded by powerful enemies. During the reign of King Saul and the days of the prophet Samuel, the Philistines set themselves against Israel, sending big armies to fight them. The Philistines had a giant amongst their ranks named Goliath who mocked Israel and God every day.
When David, a teenager, came to bring supplies to his brothers on the front lines, he accepted Goliath’s challenge. The king tried to put him in armor, but it did not fit. David faced the giant with five stones and a sling, confident that God would protect him. He brought down Goliath with one strike to the head.
Like David, Jesus is a shepherd, and people are his sheep. Jesus’ human line would come from David, and the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. This story displays how God works in unexpected ways, and will humble the proud through the weak. When Jesus came, people expected the Messiah to come as a conquering king, not as a lowly carpenter.
1 Samuel 17:37 “And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you!’”
1 Samuel 17:40 “Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:45 “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’”
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6. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Daniel 3
Three Hebrew boys, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were taken from their homes and into exile in Babylon and renamed Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. They worked in the house of the king, and probably knew Daniel.
King Nebuchadnezzar built a golden idol of himself, and wanted everyone to bow down and worship it. Anyone who didn’t would be thrown into the fiery furnace. The three young men refused, and the king did have them thrown into the fire, which was so hot it killed the men who threw them in. But when the king’s men looked into the furnace, there were four men in it, not three. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out with no burns, praising their God.
These three young men showed great courage standing up to a powerful king – even being willing to die for their faith. The fourth person in the fire was a pre-incarnate Lord Jesus, demonstrating His power, protection, and love centuries before He would come to die on the cross.
Daniel 3:1 “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.”
Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’”
Daniel 3:24-25 “ Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’”
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7. Daniel in the Lion’s Den - Daniel 6
Daniel was a Hebrew who lived in Babylon during a period known as the exile, when many people from Israel were conquered and taken into Babylon as prisoners. Daniel loved the Lord, and served a good witness for Him in the service of the Babylonian court. He grew close to King Darius because of his wisdom, sage advice, and honesty, which made other advisors jealous.
They tricked Darius by flattering his ego to say that no one can make a petition to any god or man except the king for thirty days or they would be fed to hungry lions, knowing Daniel would pray. Darius agreed and made it law. Daniel continued to pray, and was thrown into the lion’s den. But God kept the mouths of the lion’s shut, and Darius was happy to see Daniel alive the next day.
This story is a great reminder that God is always with those who love Him, and that He will act for us in accordance to His will and for His glory. God rules the world, including the beasts of the earth, and Jesus is the Lion of Judah, who has more authority than King Darius.
Daniel 6:4-5 “Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.’”
Daniel 6:16 “Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!’“
Daniel 6:22 “My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”
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8. Palm Sunday - Matthew 21:1-17
In the third year of His ministry, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, and to be crucified, though no one knew that yet except him. By that time, many heard about him, and suspected He was the prophesied Messiah. When he rode in on a donkey, the adults proclaimed Hosanna to the Son of David! They were declaring Him their Messiah.
When He arrived in Jerusalem and went to the Temple, he found merchants exploiting people and selling things inappropriately in the temple. Jesus turned over the tables and cleansed the temple. At that time, children began to cry out Hosanna to the Son of David! The adults projected their own expectations of a warrior king onto Jesus, but the children recognized Him as the Messiah for what He did to glorify God. His authority as the Son of God and the Son of David is the reason He had the authority to drive out the merchants from the temple.
This event took place a week before Jesus was betrayed and crucified. People would turn against the person they declared as the Messiah in one week. It is an important reminder that all people are sinful, and are naturally inclined to rebel against God, but that He has ultimate authority over all things.
Matthew 21:7-9 “They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’”
Matthew 21:12-13 “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.’”
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9. The Crucifixion - Mark 15
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, they introduced sin into the world. Every person after them would sin as well, and would become separated from God. To pay the price for those sins and be reconciled with God, a sacrifice had to atone for them. For centuries, an animal was the offering, but it could not cover the sins of any one person, none the less for all of humanity.
Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and lived a sinless life, and then allowed himself to be crucified in order to atone for those sins. He suffered a great deal, and the Father even turned his face away from Jesus. However, because He lived a sinless life, His death covered the sins of the world, and the veil in the Temple was torn, meaning God could dwell in men again.
This event is one of the most important in the Bible. It is a moment of great sorrow, with the deep and heavy understanding that our sins put Jesus on that cross. However, it is also the moment that allows everyone to have their sins forgiven and have an everlasting relationship with God.
Mark 15:22-25 “And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him.”
Mark 15:34 “ And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
Mark 15:46 “ And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
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10. The Resurrection - Luke 24
The death of Jesus paid for the sins of the world, but His greatest act was yet to come. After three days in the grave, women came to tend to the body, but when they arrived the tomb was empty. Later, a couple of the apostles confirmed this fact. Jesus began to appear, alive and in the flesh to select groups of people. He started with a few, and was eventually seen by over 500 people.
Because God brought Jesus back bodily, death and the grave have been conquered, and will be cast into the fiery pit at the end of days. Anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ and spends their life pursuing Him will join Him in the resurrection, and the grave will give up its dead. Believers will have their body restored and perfected for eternity.
The resurrection is the climax of the Bible. It is the moment the serpent’s head is crushed once and for all, that the sacrificed sheep returns as the triumphant lion. In this story, multiple prophecies of hope are fulfilled.
Luke 24:5b-8 “Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
Luke 24:30-31 “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.”
Luke 24:45-47 “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Teaching children in the way they should go is a big responsibility. Fortunately, there are lots of stories in the Bible to help do that. This list is just a start. Each of these stories can be tailored to be appropriate to the age of the child in question, as well as their maturity level. Every adult can rely on the Holy Spirit to help guide them to which Biblical accounts are best to help a child grow.
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