Bible Story: The Exiles Returned Home (Ezra 1; 3)
Text Truth: God keeps His promises.
Memory Verse: Ezra 3:11a
Today, we get to dive into the first part of the book of Ezra which is found in the Old Testament. During this time in history, the Israelites had been exiled.
Question: What do you think it means to be ‘exiled’? (To be taken from your home and not able to return)
Many years before our story in Ezra took place, the Israelites were conquered by the King of Persia and taken to live far away from their home. When they were conquered, their home was destroyed including the temple in Jerusalem.
God loves the Israelites and promised them that they would one day return to their homeland. However, because of rulers in Persia, it seemed they would never be able to get home. Let’s see what happens to the Israelites in the book of Ezra.
Read: Ezra 1:1-4
In the first verse you read, we learn that Persia had a new king. During King Cyrus’ first year as king, we learn that God worked on his heart to make a new law concerning the exiled Israelites in his land. King Cyrus decided that the Israelites could be allowed to return home to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem!
Question: Who did God use to keep His promise to the Israelites?
God used King Cyrus! The very person the Israelites may have guessed would keep them from going back home, was used by God to keep His promise. King Cyrus didn’t just send the Israelites home empty-handed either. He gave them silver, animals, and other supplies. How amazing is that! God always keeps His promises.
When the Israelites reached Jerusalem, it was time to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles (Ezra 3:4). This festival was held to celebrate the full harvest of crops and the temporary homes (tabernacles) the Israelites lived in during their time in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. Along with celebrating, they had the Israelite leaders including Jeshua and Zerubbabel build an altar for them to worship God and obey the law.
The next step for them to complete was the foundation of the temple. The temple was a very special place. It is kind of like a church building you see today. However, today, when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Bible says that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. God lives inside all Christians to help them live right. He is always with us. The Israelites lived before Jesus made a way for people to personally know God. So the temple was the actual place on earth that God would dwell with His people. This made it a very holy and special place.
Read: Ezra 3: 10-12
Question: What did the people and the priests do after the foundation of the temple had been completed?
The people were so very thankful that God kept His promise! They praised God for all He had done to return them to their home. They praised Him for letting them accomplish the foundation of this special place they were building.
We need to show praise and thank God for what He has done in our lives too! Remember, God wants what is best for us. We can know that He will always keep His promises.
1)A Strong Foundation
Supplies: Craft sticks and clothespins
Do & Say: Create a strong foundation and build a temple using only the supplies given. Set a 2 minute timer and see who can complete the best free-standing temple (hint: the stronger the foundation, the better the end result).
“God used King Cyrus and returned the Israelites to their homeland. He even sent them with the needed supplies to rebuild the temple. It is amazing how God always keeps His promises!”
2) Anyone and Everyone
Supplies: drawing paper, mirror, pencils, colored pencils/crayons/ markers
Do & Say: Let each person (Parents included!) use a mirror to draw himself. Use pencils, crayons or markers to add color. As you work on your masterpieces, discuss the story.
“God can use anyone to accomplish His plans. How can God use you?” (Possible Answers: obeying parents, being kind, inviting someone to church, giving to someone in need, sharing the gospel.) God used King Cyrus to return the Israelites back to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s temple. God is amazing and sovereign! He always keeps His promises.”
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