Have you ever found the Old Testament hard to understand? Have you ever wondered about the relevance of the stories to the New Testament or to us today? This is a comment I hear frequently amongst Christians today. Aside from the wonderful stories and characters, they wonder why they should be concerned about books like Leviticus or the minor prophets. The stories often seem overwhelming and hard to understand. So, we enjoy the Psalms or we read our children the stories of Jonah or David and Goliath or even Daniel in the Lions’ Den and simply use them as a way to morally apply the story, being reminded of needing faith like David when facing ‘Goliaths’ in our lives or doing what God tells us or we will end up like Jonah in a somewhat of a fishy situation. But is that what God would have us glean from these stories? Is this the right method of applying these stories to our lives and the lives of our children?

I am a huge fan of the “Tales that Tell the Truth” series by The Good Book For Children. I’ve reviewed many of their stories in the past and they are a regular gift for us to other children and to my own children at birthdays and Christmas time. Books in this series provide a wonderful resource, written from a solid biblical base and are written and illustrated in a way that captures children’s attention and imagination. The heart of this series is to paint the picture of God’s ‘Big’ Story of the Bible, helping children and adults alike see that the Old Testament has treasures to be mined and actually whisper the name of Jesus as the Messiah from the first page of Genesis to the last page of Malachi. Last year, the Good Book for children brought out “Jesus and the Lions’ Den” by Alison Mitchell and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri (The Good Book Company, 2019). Yes, that is “Jesus and the Lions’ Den” not Daniel in the Lions’ Den.

Lion symbol. Image: The Good Book Company

One of the things I love about this book is the gentle teaching to parents and children about how to handle the Old Testament stories to see Jesus. On the first page, Mitchell writes, “Did you know that the oldest stories in the Bible are a bit like puzzles? If you look very carefully, you can spot some “Jesus moments”. Those are moments when someone in the story is a little bit like Jesus.” Echeverri also weaves this in to her illustrations, hiding pictures of a special Lion symbol in the images when the ‘Jesus moments’ are occurring. At the end of the book there is also a comparison, helping parents and children understand how these moments point to Jesus.

The story is relatable, with Mitchell comparing Daniel’s habit of praying to other habits children may have, such as singing in the bath, twiddling their thumbs or humorously sticking their finger up their nose (yuck!) This is used to connect with children, capture their attention and make them laugh. Mitchell then helps readers- young and old- come to see the privilege it is to talk to the “real king of everyone and everywhere.” The story then points us to our promised future of being able to live with Jesus “for ever and ever.”

Daniel and the King. Image: The Good Book Company

This is a beautiful book for children. The colours and illustrations are what we have come to know of Echeverri’s style and partner with the narrative in a complementary way. They have Middle Eastern patterns and textures, which work to show the Babylonian setting. Echeverri uses dark colourings in sections of the story where you wonder if Daniel is about to become “lions food,” which contrasts to the bright jubilation when Daniel is found to have been saved through the hand of God.

Due to the length of the narration, I would recommend this book for children aged between 3 and 10. It has provided a welcome addition to our bookshelf and allows us to marvel as a family at the ‘Jesus moments’ in the story of Daniel. It is available from Christian bookshops or online.

All images from The Good Book Company.