Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem Nehemiah 1 2

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1 Leader BIBLE STUDY Use Week of: 1 After the Babylonian exile, God s people were known as Jews people from the kingdom of Judah. Nehemiah was a Jew living in Persia. He served as the king s cupbearer, a position of great trust; the cupbearer made sure no one poisoned the king s drink. Sometimes the cupbearer even tasted some of the drink himself to ensure its potability. When the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians, King Cyrus allowed God s people to return to Judah. Two or three million Jews had originally been deported, but only a remnant 50,000 people returned. They set up their homes and rebuilt God s temple in Jerusalem. Nehemiah s story takes place after Ezra led a second group of exiles back to Judah. Nehemiah received word about God s people who had returned to Judah. They were in trouble and living in shame; the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the city gates were burned. They lived in fear, unprotected from their enemies. Nehemiah sat down and wept. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for days. He remembered God s promise to His people. Their disobedience led to exile, but if they turned back to the Lord, their obedience would lead to blessing. God promised to restore their fortunes and give His people a home. (See Deut. 30:1-10.) The king noticed Nehemiah s sadness, and Nehemiah was afraid. No one was supposed to be sad in the presence of the king; it was an insult to his greatness. Nehemiah explained the plight of his city. The king granted him leave and gave him letters to ensure his safe passage. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem. He encouraged the people to rebuild the walls and stood confidently against opposition. This story is the beginning of Nehemiah s work to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. As you teach kids, point out that Nehemiah trusted God s promise to give His people a home. When we repent and trust in Jesus, we can trust His promise to prepare a place for us in His Father s house, where we will be with Him forever. (See John 14:3.) 1

2 The BIBLE STORY Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem Nehemiah 1 2 Long ago, a man named Nehemiah (nee huh MIGH uh) lived in Persia. Persia was the place where many of God s people stayed after they were freed from Babylon. Some of God s people went home to a country called Judah. Nehemiah was one of God s people. Nehemiah had an important job in Persia. He served the king. One day, some men came from Judah. Nehemiah asked them, How are God s people doing? Are the people who live in the city of Jerusalem OK? The men had bad news for Nehemiah. The people are in trouble, they said. The walls around the city are broken down, and the gates have been burned down. This was very bad news! Without a wall, the people could not protect themselves from their enemies. Nehemiah was sad. He sat down and cried. He prayed to God for several days. When Nehemiah prayed, he said, God, please hear my prayer. Your people have sinned. We have disobeyed You. Then Nehemiah asked God to remember His promise. Many years before, God told Moses, If you turn away from me, I will scatter you. And that is what happened! God s people had turned away from God, and He scattered them far away from their homes. But God had also said, If you come back to Me and do what I say, I will bring you back home. Nehemiah wanted God to keep that promise. Nehemiah served the king. The king saw that he was sad. What s wrong, Nehemiah? the king asked. Why are you sad? Nehemiah was afraid. The king was an important man. Everyone who was with the king was supposed to be happy. Nehemiah told the king, The city where my family is from is in trouble. The walls around the city are broken, and the gates have been burned down. What do you want to do? the king asked. Before Nehemiah answered, he prayed. Then he said to the king, Please send me to Jerusalem so I can rebuild the city. 3

3 The king sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem. He made sure Nehemiah had everything he needed to have a safe journey. The king gave Nehemiah supplies, and he sent some men from his army to keep Nehemiah safe. Nehemiah got to the city of Jerusalem. He did not tell anyone why he was there. Three days later, Nehemiah got up in the middle of the night. He rode around the walls and looked at them. When Nehemiah was done looking at the walls, he told the people there, We are in trouble. The city is broken, and the gates have been burned. Let s rebuild Jerusalem s wall. Nehemiah told the people how God had helped him. He told them everything that the king of Persia had said and done to help him. The people said, Let s start building, and so they did. Christ Connection: God promised to keep His people safe and give them a home. God always keeps His promises. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so we can have a home in heaven. When we trust in Jesus, we will be with God forever. Jerusalem Was Rebuilt 4

4 Small Group Opening Session Title: Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem Bible Passage: Nehemiah 1 2 Big Picture Question: Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 Unit Christ Connection: God restored a faithful remnant and reminded them of His promise of a new covenant through Jesus Christ. We Won t Be Shaken song offering basket Allergy Alert puzzles and blocks LOW PREP Trace the Path activity page, 1 per kid pencils or crayons paper scraps sheets of paper markers glue Welcome and Session Starter (15 20 minutes) Play the unit song in the background as kids arrive. Set an offering basket near the door. Post an allergy alert, if necessary. Set out a few favorite toys, such as puzzles and blocks. Activity Page: Trace the Path Invite kids to trace the path Nehemiah traveled from Persia to Jerusalem. Say Nehemiah heard very sad news from Jerusalem. The city walls were broken! The king of Persia gave Nehemiah permission to go to Jerusalem to help God s people rebuild the walls. N is for Nehemiah Provide scraps of different shapes, colors, and sizes. Help each preschooler trace a large N on a sheet of paper. Instruct her to glue the paper over the letter N to create a mosaic of the letter. Say Our Bible story today is about a man named Nehemiah. Nehemiah starts with the letter N. Nehemiah was sad because the walls in his home city, Jerusalem, were broken. 5

5 Nehemiah prayed to God to keep His promise to bring His people back to Jerusalem and protect them from their enemies. paper crayons or markers decorating supplies (optional) countdown video (optional) Draw the wall Give each child a blank sheet of paper and some crayons or markers. Invite kids to draw a wall on their paper. Talk to them about the importance of the walls in a city. Mention that in Bible times, when enemies attacked, the people would hurry inside the walls of the city and lock the gates. Once they were inside the city walls, the people would be safe from danger. Jerusalem s walls were broken. The people did not have a safe place to go when their enemies attacked! Say Nehemiah went all the way to Jerusalem to inspect the city walls to see how they were broken. The walls were important because they would protect God s people from their enemies. The people in Jerusalem needed to fix their walls! Transition to Bible study To gain the attention of all the preschoolers and move them to the Bible study, show the countdown video, flip off the lights, or clap a simple rhythm for the children to copy. Invite preschoolers to inspect carefully the path to the large group area: challenge kids to avoid stepping on any cracks, and if kids spot any trash, instruct them to pick it up. Say We are going to learn today that Nehemiah inspected the city walls. That means he looked at them very carefully to see how they needed to be fixed. Jerusalem Was Rebuilt 6

6 Large Group Bible Study Session Title: Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem Bible Passage: Nehemiah 1 2 Big Picture Question: Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 Unit Christ Connection: God restored a faithful remnant and reminded them of His promise of a new covenant through Jesus Christ. Large Group Bible Study (10 15 minutes) cardboard or wooden blocks Key Passage Slide or Poster Celebrate song Bible Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem video Bible Story Picture Slide or Poster Introduce the Bible story Stack cardboard or wooden blocks to form a large wall to introduce the story, but leave some parts of the wall unfinished. Scatter the missing pieces of the wall near the large group area. Explain that this wall represents the wall around Jerusalem; it had been destroyed when Babylon took over Judah. Say Is this wall mighty and strong? Can it protect God s people from their enemies? Our story today is about a man named Nehemiah. Nehemiah was sad because the walls were broken down in Jerusalem, his home. Nehemiah wanted to help. Mention that Nehemiah knew that God would keep His promise to them. The prophet Malachi said in the key passage that the people who obeyed God would be happy like calves playing in the fields. Teach the key passage using easy-to-remember motions. Repeat the first sentence several times and then sing Celebrate. Watch or tell the Bible story Say The Bible story today is in the Book of Nehemiah. 7

7 [Point to the Book of Nehemiah in your Bible.] Nehemiah was sad because the walls were broken down in his home. City walls were important in Bible times. The people of Jerusalem needed walls for protection. How would you feel if your home was broken down? Would you be sad? Tell the Bible story with your Bible open to Nehemiah 1 or show the Bible story video Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem. Timeline Map Big Picture Question Slide or Poster Tip: Do activities one of these ways: as a group, all at the same time in small groups that rotate through each activity set up as centers, allowing preschoolers to browse and choose Talk about the Bible story Point to the pictures of the exile and the return of the Israelites to the promised land on the timeline map to review. Point to today s picture on the timeline map and ask the following questions: 1. What was Nehemiah s job? (He was the king s cupbearer.) 2. Where was Nehemiah s home? (Jerusalem) 3. Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. 4. What did Nehemiah want the king to do? (send him to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls) 5. If we believe in Jesus, where will we have a home? (in heaven with God) Say God promised to keep His people safe and give them a home. God always keeps His promises. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so we can have a home in heaven. When we trust in Jesus, we will be with God forever. Transition to small groups Describe the small group activities. Dismiss kids to small group activities in pairs or groups of three. Jerusalem Was Rebuilt 8

8 Small Group Activities Session Title: Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem Bible Passage: Nehemiah 1 2 Big Picture Question: Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because the walls of Jerusalem were broken. Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 Unit Christ Connection: God restored a faithful remnant and reminded them of His promise of a new covenant through Jesus Christ. Tip: Select small group activities that fit your church and your budget. LOW PREP masking tape paper crayons and markers envelopes play dough coins Small Group Activities (20 25 minutes) Preschoolers learn best by repetition. Make sure you mention the big picture question and answer or the Christ connection in each activity to reinforce the Bible story. Follow Nehemiah s path Use masking tape to create an obstacle course. Use chairs, tables, and other obstacles for kids to crawl under or move around. Lead kids along the path. Say Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he didn t tell the people what he wanted to do. Nehemiah walked all around the walls, inspecting them to see what needed to be fixed. Some places he could not go because the path was too narrow. Write, fold, and seal envelopes Give each child a blank sheet of paper. Encourage them to write a letter to someone. Preschoolers can draw pictures and tell you what to print on their letters. As they finish, guide kids to place the letters in envelopes. If you have time, add a small lump of play dough to the back of each 9

9 envelope as a seal, and use coins to make impressions in the play dough. Explain to the kids how kings in Bible times sealed letters with melted wax and signets or rings. Say Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. Nehemiah asked the king to send letters with Nehemiah on his way to Jerusalem. The letters told the king s governors to make sure Nehemiah had everything he needed to rebuild the walls. Bible Story Picture heavyweight paper scissors stopwatch or timer (optional) glasses (not plastic) filled with various amounts of water spoons or unsharpened pencils towel (optional) Puzzle races Print several copies of the Bible story picture onto heavyweight paper and cut them into four squares. Form several teams of kids. Invite teams to race to see who can complete their puzzle the fastest. Kids may also work together and race against a timer. Say Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. Nehemiah wanted to go home. When he got there, Nehemiah asked all God s people to help him rebuild the wall, and they worked hard! Make music with water glasses Use spoons (or pencils) and glasses to make water music. Invite children to tap the glasses gently with their spoons. Encourage the kids to take turns making music. Supply a towel to clean up any spills. Say Nehemiah was the king s cupbearer. A cupbearer is someone who serves the king his drinks. One day, Nehemiah heard bad news from the messengers from Judah. Nehemiah was sad. The king asked Nehemiah why he was so sad. Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. Jerusalem Was Rebuilt 10

10 Nehemiah Pictures Remember the Bible story Using the provided pictures, retell the story of Nehemiah receiving news from the messengers, going to Jerusalem, inspecting the walls, and encouraging the people. Ask the following review questions about the Bible story: 1. What was Nehemiah s job? (He was the king s cupbearer.) 2. Where was Nehemiah s home? (Jerusalem) 3. Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem's walls were broken. 4. What did Nehemiah want the king to do? (send him to rebuild the walls) 5. If we trust in Jesus, where will we have a home? (in heaven with God) Say Nehemiah was a cupbearer. He served the king drinks. Nehemiah heard sad news that made him want to go home and help God s people. No one was supposed to be sad in front of the king; you were supposed to be happy around the king. God helped Nehemiah. The king sent Nehemiah to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls for God s people! Nehemiah knew that God would keep His promise to protect His people, so he wasn t afraid. As Christians, we have a home to look forward to in heaven with God. Jesus is the brave One who goes to His Father for us, and He made the way for us to get home. 11

11 countdown video (optional) Allergy Alert snack food paper cups and napkins Journal Page Bible Story Coloring Page books and puzzles crayons The Big Picture Cards for Families: Preschool Snack and Transition (20 minutes) Play the countdown video while kids help straighten the room. Take a bathroom break and wash hands. Serve graham crackers for the snack. Remind the kids to say please and thank you. Thank God for the graham crackers. As the kids eat their snack, instruct them to break the crackers to represent Jerusalem s walls being broken. Transition When a child finishes her snack and throws away any trash, she may select a puzzle or book to examine, play quietly with play dough or a favorite toy, or color the Bible story coloring page. Offer the journal page and suggest children draw their home. Invite them to color it and label the rooms. Assist as needed. Encourage kids to describe their homes aloud. Ask questions such as What do you like best about your room? or What is your favorite room in your house? Pray with the preschoolers. Remind preschoolers that Nehemiah prayed, and God heard his prayer. God helped Nehemiah return to Jerusalem. Invite kids to pray that God will show His faithfulness and His love to them in their lives. Pray that they would trust the Lord to always keep His promises. If parents are picking up their children at this time, tell parents something that their child enjoyed doing or did well during the session. Make sure you give kids this quarter s big picture cards. If new teachers are arriving, quietly share useful information about kids who are present. Jerusalem Was Rebuilt 12

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