Animal Bible stories are a central element of kids' ministry, providing a fun way to share key themes of Christianity. Animals in the Bible are valuable for demonstrating symbolism, so tales for kids represent only one aspect of the story.
Join us as we explore a range of stories, from the lions that refused to devour Daniel to the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve into sin.
Let's dive into four of the most important animal stories in the Bible.
1. Noah's Ark
This well-known story tops any list of Bible stories for kids. It outlines God’s instructions to Noah, showing him how to save creatures from extinction. A flood sent by God to cleanse the world of evil meant a reset not just for humanity, but for the animal kingdom too. Including creatures of all sizes highlights that all animals are His creations.
- God cares about animals. This Biblical story highlights that God cares about animals, and that we must care for them.
- God grieves when human beings sin. Even though a wooden ark saved Noah and his family from physical death, Jesus—who died on a wooden cross—saves us from spiritual death.
- God will show us the path to redemption. Although we may not completely understand God’s plan, we can trust Him.
- God’s commandments are good. Even when no one else believes and the world thinks we are crazy, we can trust in God because we know that He and his commandments are good.
2. Jonah and the Whale
This story begins with God instructing Jonah to preach repentance to Nineveh, but he rebels. In his eyes, this mission is horrifying, as the fierce empire was known for wickedness. A giant fish swallows Jonah until he (at last) repents and fulfills his mission, demonstrating God’s ability to forgive and offer guidance to all.
- God is love. He has compassion for everyone, even those deemed outsiders or seen as oppressors. Jonah could not understand why God wanted to help Nineveh, but He is loving.
- You cannot run from God. In this story, the whale represents God’s omnipotence, as He stuck with Jonah even when he tried to run, keeping Him safe. In some ways, Jonah’s time in the whale was like a ‘time out,’ decreed by our Holy Father.
- God is patient. Whales are calm and gentle creatures, and the use of this animal in this story is powerful. This giant mammal represents God’s never-ending patience, and Jonah spent 3 days inside, just like Jesus in the tomb.
3. Daniel in the Lion's Den
Daniel had lived a righteous life and was obedient to God. This unfaltering faith didn’t even shake when violence was threatened, so his captives threw him into the lion’s den to be mauled to death. Throughout it all, God kept the lions’ mouths closed, and the King was so overjoyed he released Daniel immediately.
- God will protect you. Even if someone falsely accuses you, don’t falter in your faith, because God will stand by you.
- God commands all creatures. Lions are ferocious beasts that are feared by all, but not by God who is sovereign over all.
- Never give up on God. Every obstacle is a test of faith—staying faithful isn't always easy. But God will see you through.
- Stay true to your beliefs. After Daniel survived the night in the lion's den, the king was so moved that he sent the man who accused him straight to jail.
- The impossible can happen with God. Trust in His omnipotence, and welcome miracles into your life. God rewards the brave and pious.
4. The Serpent in the Garden of Eden
One of the oldest stories in the Bible depicts the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, the first two people, have a life of beauty, serenity, and calm, where they can roam free and do as they wish. The only rule is that they cannot eat an apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A serpent tempts them to try it until they do.
- Humans are sinners. The story of the Garden of Eden shows the downfall of humanity, from innocence to the present human condition.
- Even the best people can be tricked by Satan. In this story, the serpent is a highly deceptive, evil creature—Satan.
- We must trust in God and resist temptation. God loves humans, and the devil does not. But in submitting our life to God, we can resist the Devil and he will flee (James 4:7).
The Importance of Animals in Biblical Teachings
Many people take the presence of animals in Biblical stories for granted, but their significance cannot be understated. Through Animal Bible stories, scripture teaches some of the most important lessons about grace and life in Christ.
Animals are an accessible medium to express a common virtue or vice, through the common conceptions of the animal represented. What images come to mind when you imagine a lamb or a lion, an eagle or a snake? Your ideas are likely more connected to the Bible than you realize.
Symbolic Animals in the Bible
Classic animal Bible stories are full of important animals in the Bible. The same animals appear time and time again, adding depth to moralistic tales. Keep an eye out for these furry and feathered friends next time you study scripture, and consider what they are in place to express.
- Animals symbolize Jesus and His sacrifices. The lamb, symbolizing purity and submission, serves as a reminder of how Jesus willingly and quietly walked to the cross.
- Animals provide us with spiritual fortitude. The eagle and the lion stand in for Christ's grandeur.
- Animals remind us that life entails hardship. The Bible is full of trials and tribulations, from the fish used to feed the five thousand to the deadly snakes deployed in the desert. However, it teaches us that trusting Him ensures eternal life and that God's love is more powerful than our problems.
Understanding Animal Bible Stories
Knowing the deeper significance of the animals God used in the Bible makes the messages found within much more meaningful. Animals are used as literary tools in various types of writing, as they demonstrate universal truths about humanity. They are often associated with particular qualities or vices, making them perfect to express complex themes.
This is even more powerful in the Bible—short Bible stories for kids help convey complex themes that might otherwise confuse or bore them. Check out this list of ten Biblical kids' stories to include in your Sunday service, and appreciate the roles animals play in teaching valuable lessons.