Before the people of Judah were exiled, God spoke through Jeremiah that the Israelites would be in exile for 70 years. Even after 70 years, God was faithful to this promise and the Israelites returned home! The first thing they did – rebuild the temple. Today’s story is a beautiful example of God’s faithfulness to His people and His people’s response to such faithfulness. Follow along with this devotion, which you can walk through with your family in 10-15 minutes one night this week or review it in 3-5 minutes over the course of the week.
KEY VERSE – DAY ONE:
Review the key verses and hand motions for this unit with your children.
“May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.” – Daniel 2:20
BIG PICTURE QUESTION – DAY ONE:
Ask your children the Big Picture Question for this unit: How can we obey God? We trust God to give us strength to obey Him.
MAIN POINT – DAY ONE:
Share with your children that this week’s main point is God changed the king’s heart so the Israelites could go home.
BIBLE PASSAGE – DAY TWO:
This week’s Bible story comes from Ezra 1:1-2:2; 2:64-3:13. This story can be found on page 150 of the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook. Take some time now to read these passages with your children or you can refer to the Bible story summary below!
BIBLE STORY SUMMARY:
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 and the high priest led God’s people back to Judah. 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.
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.
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.
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.
REVIEW QUESTIONS – DAY THREE:
After reading the Bible story or going through the summary, ask your children these review questions:
- Where did God’s people live for 70 years? (Babylon)
- Who said God’s people could go back to their land? (Cyrus, the new king of Babylon)
- What part of the temple did the people build first? (the foundation)
- How did the people celebrate that the foundation was done? (the priests put on special clothes and the people shouted and sang songs to God)
- Why were some of the older people sad? (they remembered what the first temple looked like)
- Which prophet told about God’s promise to bring His people home? (Jeremiah)
- How long were God’s people in exile? (70 years)
- After the priests finished rebuilding the altar, what did the people do? (they gave a burnt offering to God)
- What did the people say when they sang praises to God? (“The Lord is good. His faithful love will last forever.”)
- How can we obey God? (We trust God to give us strength to obey Him)
WORSHIP – DAY FOUR:
CHRIST CONNECTION – DAY FIVE:
It’s amazing to see how things that happened in the Old Testament are connected to the New Testament and the Gospel – the good news that Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins because of His love for us. These Christ connections show us that God has been preparing us for a relationship with Jesus since the beginning of time.
God sent His people home to fix the temple. God sent Jesus to earth to save His people. One day, Jesus will come back. He will fix up a greater home for all of God’s people, and we will live with Him forever.
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.
PRAY – DAY FIVE:
Pray this prayer: God, thank You for being perfectly good and holy. Thank You for always keeping Your promises – even good promises we don’t deserve! Thank You that You promise to send Jesus back for us and we will get to live with You forever. Amen.