VERSES: Ezra 1:1-10:44
MEMORY VERSE: Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments."
BOOK TO REMEMBER: Matthew. Write "Matthew"on small slips of paper, so the students can take the papers home and memorize the name of this first book of the New Testament.
PRAYER: May we have the heart of Ezra who had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD.
SPECIAL SONG: The Books of the Old Testament and The Books of the New Testament songs (see "March - Songs We Sing In Bible Class #3" on this blog under the month of March.)
VISUAL AID: Map, showing Jerusalem and Babylon. Make a sign, either out of large construction paper or write the words on the whiteboard or chalkboard, "70 YEARS LATER."
- When we watch television or maybe a movie, sometimes there are words that are written at the bottom of the screen, sometimes they say "Twenty Years Later" or something like that. Today's lesson is like that! If this was a movie, we would see the words "Seventy Years Later" at the bottom of the screen. When we left God's people last time, they were servants in Babylon. They had been taken there by force and not because they wanted to go. They had been making and serving false gods for many years and God had finally had enough of their disobedience! He allowed Babylon to come into Jerusalem and destroy the temple, burn the houses, and take the people to the far-away country of Babylon. The reason they were not in their own beloved Canaan was because of the choices they had made and not served and loved God with their whole heart.
- So, how many years later? 70 years later we find that there is a man named Ezra who is a good man who loves God and is a scribe. What is a scribe? A person who writes. Back in the Old Testament times, not everyone could write, but Ezra could! Ezra was from the tribe of Levi. In fact, his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was Aaron! We remember Aaron, the brother of Moses and Miriam, don't we?! Ezra was a Levite and he was a priest.
- At the end of seventy years, the king that was ruling over the people was the King of Persia named Cyrus. Way back in the prophet Isaiah's time, about 150 years before Cyrus was born, God had told the future by saying that there would be a king named Cyrus who would let God's people not only go back to Jerusalem, but he would let them lay down the foundation of the temple (Isaiah 44:28). And it happened just like God had said it would! God knows the future and God is in control--always!
- The Bible says that God stirred up Cyrus and King Cyrus made a proclamation that said that the LORD God had instructed him to build God a temple in Jerusalem. The king said if any of the Jews wanted to go back to Jerusalem, then they could go. King Cyrus let the people take the vessels that the King of Babylon had taken from the LORD's temple back to Jerusalem, too.
- Ezra listed all the people who went to Jerusalem the first time with the governor of Judah whose name was Zerubbabel. Guess how many of God's people wanted to go back to Jerusalem? Almost 50,000! That's a lot of people, but not as many as had been forced to leave under Babylon's rule. These people were called the 'remnant' of God's people. A remnant is what is leftover or what remains. It is usually a small amount of what there was in the beginning. Under the guidance and leadership of Zerubbabel, these people traveled back to Jerusalem to build the temple. That was their purpose or the reason that they were leaving. What was Zerubbabel and the nearly 50,000 people going to do? Yes! Build the temple. But, first, they had to lay the foundation (Ezra 3:11). It took them a while, but they finally finished the foundation which was going to hold up the rest of the temple. Perhaps because they had seen the beauty of King's Solomon's temple, or perhaps because they were sorry and remembered their sins and all the trouble they had caused, many of the priests and Levites cried when they saw it (3:12). Some peopel were happy, but some people were sad.
- Building the rest of the temple took a long time because the nations around Jersualem caused some trouble, and then the people were discouraged, but more than twenty years later, the temple, too, was finished (Ezra 6:15).
- After the temple was built, it had been so long that God's people had worshiped Him, someone need to go and restore the law of the LORD, so the people would know HOW to worship God His way. Ezra asked to go and permission was granted by the next king of Persia, Artaxerxes. This king of Persia gave Ezra everything he needed which was really provided by God (Ezra 7:6). Ezra had also prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD and did them, then he taught the people the law (Ezra 7:10). The king gave Ezra a letter, then Ezra and 17,000 more of God's people returned to Jerusalem to restore the Law of the Lord for a second trip.
- We will learn next time who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem.
"Older Student" Tips:
- Many of God's people chose not to go back to Jerusalem because they had important jobs in Babylon or they had married wives of the Babylonians and did not want to leave Babylon which was their home. They stayed in Babylon.
- Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther tell the history of the last 100 years of the Old Testament. Remember, the books of the Bible are not written like a storybook. The books of the prophets and poetry were blended into 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles.
- It may be good to know that the book of Esther should chronologically be inserted between Ezra 6 and 7.
ACTIVITY: Ezra, The Scribe
Materials needed: 9" x 12" light green construction paper, 3" x 8" scrap of brown paper, 2" x 7" tan construction paper, scraps of blue, black, and tan paper, crayons, scissors, glue.
- Hand out green paper.
- Cut 2" circle from tan scrap. This is Ezra's head.
- Glue head in the middle of the paper.
- Cut a half-circle of blue paper. This is Ezra's shoulders.
- Glue the shoulders to the bottom of Ezra's head.
- Cut strip of blue for Ezra's arm.
- Glue brown paper to bottom of green paper.
- Glue long strip of tan paper on top of brown paper.
- Glue Ezra's arm to Ezra's body.
- Cut a small circle for Ezra's hand.
- Glue hand to end of arm.
- Cut a long, thin, black strip with a point for Ezra's pen.
- Cut small black square.
- Glue black square on top of beige strip.
- Make squiggles on one side of tan paper to resemble words.
- Color Ezra's face.
- Write "EZRA" at top of green paper in red.
- Write "A Levite", "A scribe", "2nd return to Jerusalem", and "He knew God's Law" on blank area around Ezra.
- Write "Ezra 1-10" at top of green paper.