Unit 16, Session 4: God Brought His People Home
January 8, 2017 | by: Jessica Wilson | 0 Comments
God’s people had been living in Babylon for 70 years. Some of God’s people had died in Babylon. Some of their children and grandchildren were born in Babylon and grew up there. But Babylon was not their home.
Before the people of Judah were exiled, God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah. These are the words of the Lord: “These nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years” (Jer. 25:11). Then the Lord said, “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place” (Jer. 29:10). The time had come for God’s people to go back home.
Cyrus, the king of the Persian empire, overthrew Babylon. Cyrus took over the kingdom, including the lands of Israel and Judah. In the following year, the Lord did something miraculous in Cyrus’s heart. He prompted Cyrus to issue a decree: All the Jewish exiles are free to return to their ancestral homes.
The exile was over! God’s people were free to return to their own land. They were free to live as God’s special people. The first group of Judean exiles returned home under the leadership of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the grandson of King Jehoiachin, who had been taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. (See 2 Kings 24:8-13.)
Ezra 2:64-65 says nearly 50,000 people traveled back to Judah. When they got to Jerusalem, they began working to rebuild the temple that the Chaldeans had destroyed. (See 2 Chron. 36:19.)
Zerubbabel led God's people back to the temple to rebuild it. The temple was the place where God met with His people on earth. Jesus came to earth to rescue God’s people. One day, Jesus will return to restore a greater home for all of God's people, and we will spend eternity with Him.
Help your kids understand that the temple was designed to point to Jesus. We meet with God not through a building now, but through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card below for ways to interact with the Bible content this week:
THIS WEEK'S BIBLE STORY-
God Brought His People Home (Ezra 1:1–2:2; 2:64–3:13)
Many years before God’s people were taken to Babylon, God promised the prophet Jeremiah that the exile would last 70 years; then God would bring His people back home. God always keeps His promises.
Cyrus, king of Persia, had taken over Babylon. God gave Cyrus an idea. Cyrus said, “Let all of God’s people go back to Jerusalem so they can rebuild the Lord’s temple. Give them gold and silver and animals. Give them gifts for God’s temple.”
The exile was over! God’s people were free to go back to their homes. God’s people got ready, and their neighbors gave them gifts—gold and silver and animals and other expensive things.
Zerubbabel (zuh RUHB uh buhl) and the high priest led God’s people back to Judah. They had been away for 70 years. Many of the people were born in Babylon; they had never seen the land God had given their parents and grandparents. In all, thousands of people went back to Judah. They settled in their hometowns and set up their houses. Then the people met together in Jerusalem to rebuild the Lord’s temple.
First, the priests rebuilt the altar in the same place it used to be. They followed all the laws of God for building. When the altar was finished, they offered burnt offerings to God. The people also obeyed the law about special celebrations. They had a festival like God had told them to do, and they made sacrifices to God.
Then God’s people gave money to stonecutters and carpenters who would work on God’s temple. They paid people to bring cedar logs to Jerusalem. Finally, when everything was ready, the people started to work. They laid the foundation of the temple. The foundation was important; it would make the building strong.
When the foundation was finished, the priests put on special clothes, and the people praised God. They sang, “The Lord is good. His faithful love will last forever.” Then the people shouted and praised God. They were so happy! The foundation of the temple was complete!
Not everyone was happy though. Some of the older people remembered what the temple had looked like 70 years ago, before it had been destroyed. They cried. The noise of the crying and shouting was so loud that the people could be heard far away.
Christ Connection: Zerubbabel led God’s people back to the temple to rebuild it. The temple was the place where God met with His people on earth. Jesus came to earth to rescue God’s people. One day, Jesus will return to restore a greater home for all of God’s people, and we will spend eternity with Him.
FAMILY STARTING POINTS
Babies and Toddlers
- God helps us obey Him.
- God brought His people back to their land.
- Zerubbabel led the people to build the temple.
- Jesus brings us to God.
- How can we obey God? We trust God to help us obey Him.
- God brought the Israelites back home.
- How can we obey God? We trust God to give us strength to obey Him.
- God changed the king’s heart so the Israelites could go home.
UNIT KEY PASSAGE
Daniel 2:20-21 (Preschool: Daniel 2:20)
Elementary: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.
Preschool: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.
FAMILY DISCUSSION STARTERS
•What would it be like to be away from your home for a very long time?
•How do you feel about going home after being away? How do you think God’s people felt?
•Where will we live when Jesus returns? (See John 14:2-3.)
•How do you think the home Jesus is fixing up for us is better than our home now?
•Talk about a situation in which your family needs to trust that God is in control.
•Why don’t we need a temple today?
•Why was building the temple’s foundation important?
•Make a birdhouse or other simple woodworking project with your kids. Review the importance of the temple as you work.
•Check out a construction site near you. Identify the building’s foundation.
•Identify a refugee family or refugee relief organization. Inquire how your family can help people who have just arrived in our country.
“The Temple Was Completed” (Ezra 4:1-7; 5:1-5; 6:13-22)
For more ways to interact with this week's content, you can download the Gospel Project for Kids App. For more information, check out this website: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gospel-project-for-kids-family/id561426629?mt=8