LESSON OVERVIEW/SCHEDULE

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1 TEACHER BIBLE STUDY Ezra was a priest in Babylon at the end of the exile. More than 50 years after the first group of exiles to return to Jerusalem had completed and dedicated the temple, Ezra led a second group back to Jerusalem. Just as God had been with Nehemiah, He was with Ezra granting him favor with the Persian king. The king gave Ezra permission to go to Jerusalem. He provided Ezra with a letter and access to resources to ensure safe travel. (See Ezra 7:11-26.) Ezra traveled to Jerusalem with a purpose. God s people had spent 70 years in exile, and they needed to be reminded how to live. As a scribe, Ezra was an expert on the law of Moses, and he had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10). Under Nehemiah s leadership, the people had rebuilt Jerusalem s walls. They gathered together at the Water Gate to hear the law of Moses. Men, women, and children anyone who could understand came to listen to the reading of God s Word. From early morning until midday, Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses. He stood on a high wooden platform where everyone could see and hear him. Ezra opened the book of the law, and everyone stood up. The Levites helped the listeners understand the words of the law. The people reacted strongly to hearing and understanding the law of Moses. Verse 9 says the people were weeping. The law revealed their sin. God s Word is powerful. The law reveals our sin and how short we fall to meeting God s standard. As you teach kids, help them recognize that we cannot meet God s requirements. We need a Savior. God sent Jesus to obey the law perfectly and die for our sins. We can trust in Him for salvation. LESSON OVERVIEW/SCHEDULE Session Title: Ezra Read the Law Bible Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-12 Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. 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. 1

2 Transition Time Welcome time Activity sheet/table Centers Session starter (10 minutes) Lesson Countdown Introduce the session (1 minute) Timeline Map (2 minutes) Big picture question (1 minute) Sing (5 minutes) Key passage (4 minutes) Tell the Bible story (10 minutes) Discussion starter video (3 minutes) The Gospel: God s Plan for Me (optional) Prayer (4 minutes) Table Time Timeline map (1 minute) Bible story review (10 minutes) Large Group Review / Activities Key passage activity (5 minutes) Activity choice (10 minutes) Prayer (5 minutes) THE BIBLE STORY/OVERVIEW Ezra Read the Law Nehemiah 8:1-12 The walls around Jerusalem were finished at last! The people had worked hard, and with God s help they finished rebuilding the walls and the city gates in just 52 days. All the people in Jerusalem gathered together very early in the morning at one of the city gates. Men, women, and children anyone who could understand came to listen to the reading of God s Word. As the sun was just coming up, Ezra (EZ ruh) the priest brought out the book of the law of Moses that God had given to His people. God s words were written on a scroll. Ezra stood on a high wooden platform. Some men stood next to Ezra on his right and on his left. Ezra opened the book where everyone could see it. Ezra began to read. He read the law for several hours, and all the people listened carefully. All the people stood up. They had respect for God s Word. Ezra praised God, and the people lifted up their hands. 2

3 Amen! Amen! they said. The people in the crowd bowed down with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped God. Some of the leaders there the Levites (LEE vights) explained the law to the people and helped them understand the words Ezra read. As the people heard the words of the law, they began to weep. The law was God s rules for living, and the people had disobeyed God. They realized they had sinned. Ezra, the Levites, and Nehemiah (NEE huh MIGH uh) the governor said, This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. Even though the people s sin made them sad, this was a happy day. Then Ezra said to them, Go home and prepare a feast! Eat rich food and drink sweet drinks. Share what you have prepared with those who have nothing prepared. And again Ezra said, Today is holy to the Lord our God. This is not a day to be sad because the joy of the Lord is your strength. The people obeyed Ezra. They prepared a feast. They ate rich food and drank sweet drinks. They shared what they had with people who did not have food and drinks, and all the people had a big celebration. They were glad because they understood the words of the law that were explained to them. Christ Connection: God s Word is powerful. When Ezra read God s Word, the people changed their ways and loved God more. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God who came to live with people on earth. Jesus has the power to change our hearts. TRANSITION TIME Session Title: Ezra Read the Law Bible Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-12 Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. 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. Welcome time Tip: As kids arrive this is a great time to collect the offering, fill out attendance sheets, and help new kids connect to your group. Arriving Activity: Great Start sweet snack balloons tablecloths Allergy Alert As kids arrive, provide a sweet snack. Consider cupcakes or fruit. If possible, cover the tables in tablecloths and place balloons around the room for a party feel. Invite the kids to eat a snack and 3

4 play with the balloons. Say How many of you like parties? In today s Bible story, we will see how God s people had a big party. We will also find out why. Activities/Table Centers (5 minutes) Table centers (Miscellaneous Activities) Book Find activity sheet / Bible Story Coloring Sheet, 1 per kid pencils, markers or crayons Guide boys and girls to complete the activity page. Say You found the word holy. God wanted His people to live holy lives by obeying Him. In today s Bible story, God once again sent someone to remind the people of that. If time remains, allow kids to complete the coloring page provided with this session. Session Starter (10 minutes) Option 1: Bible Game Bible Choose a volunteer. Give the volunteer a Bible. Explain that the volunteer will do one of three things with the Bible. If the volunteer holds it up, the kids should hold up both hands. If the volunteer opens the Bible, the kids must stand. If the volunteer holds the Bible close to her heart, the kids must say amen. Between each action, the volunteer must hold the Bible straight out with both hands. At this action, the kids will go back to a sitting position with hands down. Encourage the volunteer to do one of the three actions with the Bible in any order. If the kids struggle, invite an adult to be the volunteer for a few rounds. Speed up as the game continues to see if the kids can follow the rules. If you wish, eliminate kids who fail to do the correct commands. Say In today s Bible story, God s people stood, raised both hands, and said amen while God s Word was being read. We ll find out more in a moment. Option 2: Tissue Toss boxes of tissues, 1 per group tape Form two or more groups. Tape a large circle for each group, and give each group a box of tissues. Place the tissue in the center of the circle. When you give the command to start, each group will try to be the first to empty its box of tissues and move all the tissues outside of its circle. They may toss them out, run them out, or blow them out of the circle, but each player may only touch one tissue at a time. The first group to clear its circle of all the tissues is the winner. When finished, see which group can move the tissues back into its circle the fastest and which group can throw away its tissues the fastest. Say When do we use tissues? We often use tissues when we are sad and crying. God s people were sad, and they cried during part of today s Bible story. We will find out why. Transition to large group 4

5 LESSON Session Title: Ezra Read the Law Bible Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-12 Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. 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. Countdown countdown video (on provided DVD with lesson videos and worship) Show the countdown video as you clean-up table centers, set up classroom chairs for the lesson and set it to end as large group time begins. Introduce the session (1 minute) rope harness helmet paper marker [Large Group Leader enters with a rope, a harness, and a helmet. Place a sign on the climbing wall that says Now Open! Leader reads the sign and gets really excited.] Leader Yippee! The day has finally come. I will finally get to climb this wall. Hello again. I heard the climbing wall will be opening today, and it is. I ve got all my gear, so I m ready to go. I just need to put on my helmet and my harness. Now I will attach my rope. Wait a minute. I am missing something. I can t do this alone. I need a belayer. Does anyone know what a belayer is? A belayer is someone who makes sure you don t fall when you are climbing. He or she holds the rope that holds you in case you slip. You should never climb a wall without someone or something to anchor you. That reminds me of what happened after Nehemiah and the Jews rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. They needed an anchor for something much more important than climbing a wall. They needed something to help them live the lives God wanted them to live. Timeline Map (2 minutes) Timeline Map (small group visual pack copies provided for Table Time Review) Leader Do you remember what Nehemiah was doing when he heard that Jerusalem s walls were broken down? He was working for the Persian king. The news made him very sad. Nehemiah prayed and wanted to do something. What did Nehemiah want to do? Nehemiah wanted to rebuild Jerusalem s walls. The king offered to help Nehemiah rebuild the walls by giving him safe travel and supplies for the job. Nehemiah arrived and encouraged God s people to work with him. 5

6 A wall was very important to any city in Bible times because it was a symbol of a great nation, and it protected the city from its enemies. How were God s people protected? God used Nehemiah to lead the people to rebuild the city walls. With God s blessing and Nehemiah s leadership, the people completed the wall in just 52 days. Even those who didn t like God s people realized that God was with the Jews. Now that the wall was complete, another leader would come to rebuild something even more important than a wall. Big picture question (1 minute) Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? - 11x17 poster provided Leader Speaking of important things, who has a Bible today? Great! Let s find out our big picture question for today, Why did Ezra read God s Word? Sing (5 minutes) Worship Song: We Won t Be Shaken (on provided DVD) Leader Ezra was a priest who led a group of God s people from Babylon back to Jerusalem. He understood that rebuilding Jerusalem was important, but it was even more important that the people remembered who brought them to Jerusalem to begin with. Ezra wanted the people to once again focus on God. Let s focus on God, too, as we sing our theme song. Sing together We Won t Be Shaken. Key passage (4 minutes) Key Passage Poster: Malachi 4:2 (provided) Worship Song: Celebrate (on provided DVD) Leader Our key passage says those who put their trust in Jesus will be happy and free, like a young cow released from a small space. When we trust in Jesus, we are free from the destruction of sin. He took the punishment we deserve. Let s say our key passage together. Show the slide or poster of the unit s key passage, Malachi 4:2. Lead the boys and girls to read the verse together. Sing Celebrate. Tell the Bible Story (10 minutes) Ezra Read the Law video (on provided DVD) Bibles, 1 per kid Bible Story Picture Slide or Poster Leader Let s see how Ezra encouraged the people to remember God. Listen closely for the answer to the big picture question, Why did Ezra read God s Word? Show the Ezra Read the Law video, or choose to tell the Bible story in your own words using the script provided. For a shorter version of the story, read only the bolded text. Leader Ezra gathered all the people and started reading the law, God s words given to Moses and the Israelites. Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. The Levites, who were helpers in the temple, helped the people understand what they heard. 6

7 The people knew they had failed to obey God, so they were very sad. Ezra and Nehemiah told them it was a happy day, and they should celebrate because of God s Word. That s what they did. They had lots of food and drinks, and they shared them with everyone. Ask the following review questions: Who read God s Word to the people? (Ezra, Nehemiah 8:2-3) What did the people do while Ezra was reading the law? (stood, raised their hands, said amen, bowed, cried; Nehemiah 8:5-6,9) What did Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people to do after they finished reading? (celebrate, Nehemiah 8:10) Why did the people have reason to celebrate? (Because they understood God s Word, Nehemiah 8:12) Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. Discussion starter video (3 minutes) Unit 22, Session 3 - Discussion Starter Video (on provided DVD) Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? - 11x17 poster provided Leader Do you ever feel like you have too many rules to follow? Watch this video. Show the Unit 22 Session 3 video. Leader What are some rules you find hard to follow? You have rules at home, at school, and even at the playground. Those rules are generally to keep you safe and encourage you to do what s right. Ezra wanted God s people to do what was right. Sin separates people from God, but God loves people and wants to have a relationship with them. The problem is that people have always failed to be holy like God on their own. They need someone to be holy for them. That s what Jesus did. He lived the holy life we ve failed to live. When we trust in Jesus, God sees His holiness instead of our sin. The Gospel: God s Plan for Me (optional) Use Scripture and the guide provided with this session to explain to boys and girls how to become a Christian. Assign individuals to meet with kids who have more questions. If this is not possible, encourage boys and girls to ask their parents, small group leaders, or other Christian adults any questions they may have about becoming a Christian. Prayer (4 minutes) Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? - 11x17 poster provided Show the big picture question slide or poster. Leader Let s take a look at the answer to the big picture question, Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. As you repeat the big picture question and answer, encourage the kids to say it with a sad face and then with a happy face. 7

8 Before transitioning to small groups, make any necessary announcements. Lead the kids in prayer. Pray that God will help the kids understand how holy God is and how Jesus died to bring unholy people to God. Dismiss to small groups for Table Time The Gospel: God s Plan for Me Ask kids if they have ever heard the word gospel. Clarify that the word gospel means good news. It is the message about Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation. Use the following guide to share the gospel with kids. God rules. Explain to kids that the Bible tells us God created everything, and He is in charge of everything. Invite a volunteer to read Genesis 1:1 from the Bible. Read Revelation 4:11 or Colossians 1:16-17 aloud and explain what these verses mean. We sinned. Tell kids that since the time of Adam and Eve, everyone has chosen to disobey God. (Romans 3:23) The Bible calls this sin. Because God is holy, God cannot be around sin. Sin separates us from God and deserves God s punishment of death. (Romans 6:23) God provided. Choose a child to read John 3:16 aloud. Say that God sent His Son, Jesus, the perfect solution to our sin problem, to rescue us from the punishment we deserve. It s something we, as sinners, could never earn on our own. Jesus alone saves us. Read and explain Ephesians 2:8-9. Jesus gives. Share with kids that Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again. Because Jesus gave up His life for us, we can be welcomed into God s family for eternity. This is the best gift ever! Read Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; or 1 Peter 3:18. We respond. Tell kids that they can respond to Jesus. Read Romans 10:9-10,13. Review these aspects of our response: Believe in your heart that Jesus alone saves you through what He s already done on the cross. Repent, turning from self and sin to Jesus. Tell God and others that your faith is in Jesus. Offer to talk with any child who is interested in responding to Jesus. 8

9 TABLE TIME LEADER Session Title: Ezra Read the Law Bible Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-12 Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. 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. Bible story review (10 minutes) Tip: Divide children into small groups for table time. Each group should include an adult leader at the table. Bibles, 1 per kid Timeline (small group visual pack extra copies provided for Table Time Review) Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? (11x17 poster provided in classroom) sturdy chair Encourage the kids to find Nehemiah 8 in their Bibles. Help them as needed. Say In which division of the Bible do we find Nehemiah? (History) What rebuilding project does Nehemiah tell us about? (the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem) In the Book of Nehemiah, who encouraged the people to repent and follow God? (Ezra) Use the small group visual pack to show kids where today s Bible story is on the timeline. Review the Bible story provided using the bolded text, or summarize the story in your own words. Make a small stage using a sturdy chair or other safe furniture to stand on. Choose one volunteer at a time to come stand on the chair and read a verse from the Bible story. Invite the volunteer for verse 4 and verse 7 to read only the first part, skipping the difficult names. Say The people were sad when they heard God s words because they had sinned. They had failed to obey God s law. Their sadness was proof that they understood they had sinned and wanted to repent. Ezra and Nehemiah didn t want the people to be sad. Ezra and Nehemiah wanted them to celebrate because they had understood God s message. Show the big picture question slide or poster. Say Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. God s Word is powerful. It still helps us understand sin today. It also reminds us that we, too, need to repent. God gave us much more than just words. He gave us His Son who showed us and told us how to live a holy life. When we repent and trust in Jesus, Jesus changes our sinful hearts, so we can be holy. 9

10 LARGE GROUP REVIEW AND ACTIVITIES Key passage activity (5 minutes) Celebration Streamers Key Passage Poster: Malachi 4:2 colored strips of paper with verse segments printed on them (5 sets provided per class hour) tape Make sure the key passage, Malachi 4:2, is visible for each child, either as the printed poster or written on a dry erase board. Read the verse together. Say The sun of righteousness is Jesus. He brings us healing from sin. When we trust in Him, we can be happy like a calf being released from a stall because we are free from sin. Strips of paper with words or phrases from the key passage are provided. Form up to five (5) groups and give each group tape and the mixed-up key passage. The goal is to be the first group to put the streamer together in the correct order of the verse. If you wish, assign each group a wall to hang the streamer on once it s completed. In this case, the winners are the first group to hang it on the wall. Activity Choice (10 minutes) Option 1: Word Game Bibles, 1 per group Form groups of two or more kids, and invite each group to sit in a circle. Choose a volunteer in each group to find one of the verses below in the Bible. The other kids in the group can help encourage the volunteers, but they may not touch the Bible. Once the volunteer finds the verse, she must pass the Bible clockwise to her neighbor. This continues until the last person receives the Bible. He must lead the entire group in reading the verse together. If a player loses the verse while passing the Bible around the circle, the Bible must go back to the volunteer to start again. The last kid in the circle reads the verse. The first group to read its verse wins. Choose a new volunteer and play again. If you don t have readers in your small group, assist the groups in finding the right book of the Bible and instruct them to pass the Bible around the circle. Here are some verses that talk about God s Word: 2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:25; John 1:14; Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 119:89; John 1:1. Say These verses tell us just how important God s Word is. Just like you, Ezra opened God s Word so that everyone could see it. Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. 10

11 Option 2: Party Package white paper bags party supplies (hats, streamers, party napkins, noise makers, etc.) Provide the kids with white paper bags and a variety of party supplies. Allow the kids to decorate the bags. Place a balloon, some streamers, party napkins, noise makers, and so forth in the bag. Encourage the kids to pick a night the following week to celebrate God s Word, the Bible. Consider placing a note in each bag explaining to parents the bag s purpose. Say The people celebrated because they understood God s Word. Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. Prayer and Clean-Up (5 minutes) Say Let s see how many of you can answer the big picture question one more time. Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. If time remains, take prayer requests. Pray, thanking God for His Word. Pray for each child by name, asking God to transform kids hearts as they read the Bible. Clean-Up Room 11

12 Instructions: Find the books with a bookmark in them. Write the letters on those books below and unscramble them to form a word. UNIT 22 Session 3 Younger Kids Activity Pages 2014 LifeWay OK to print Jerusalem Was Rebuilt

13 Ezra Read the Law Nehemiah 8: LifeWay OK to print

14 Family Journal Page Jerusalem Was Rebuilt e Bible. Kids may th m fro ud alo ad re d an ily m fa e Invite kids to stand before th ind them that m Re :1 h ia em eh N ad re or e choose a favorite Bible passag ople from sin by pe ve sa to n pla d s Go us ls tel ble Bi the Bible is God s Word. The aw a picture of dr to s kid for s on ay cr e id ov Pr s. os sending Jesus to die on the cr their favorite Bible story below. Ezra Read the Law Nehemiah 8:1-12 Preschool Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 Big Picture Question: What did God s Word teach the people? God s Word helped them know the right things to do. Christ Connection: The Bible teaches us about God and Jesus. It helps us know the right things to do. We do wrong things a lot, but when we know and love Jesus, He helps us say no to sin. Jesus died to rescue us from sin. Kids Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 Big Picture Question: Why did Ezra read God s Word? God s Word helped people know how to obey God so they could be holy. Christ Connection: God s Word is powerful. When Ezra read God s Word, the people changed their ways and loved God more. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God who came to live with people on earth. Jesus has the power to change our hearts. Unit 22 Session LifeWay OK TO PRINT

15 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2 Unit 22 Key Passage Poster (ESV) OK TO PRINT 2013 LifeWay Jerusalem Was Rebuilt

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