217 - The long trek back


15 minute Story planner

Ezra 1-3
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 249

Use the Old Testament flashcards to remind the children of the events leading up to today’s story. Explain that with Rehoboam in charge of Israel the people began to disagree and eventually the nation split into two kingdoms. The kingdom in the North was called Israel and the kingdom in the South was called Judah. After many years the Israelites were taken to Assyria and the Judeans were taken by King Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. Years later a new king, King Darius, ruled Babylon and then, a few years later, King Cyrus took the throne. Today’s story ends with God’s people looking ahead to hard times. Show the children the picture on pages 254 and 255 as you explain that the Temple and the city walls were finally rebuilt so that God’s people could return to the Promised Land to worship God in Jerusalem once more. 

1. Setting the scene - 2 mins 
Find the Old Testament section in a Bible.
Show and talk about 'The Old Testament FlashCards' cards one to ten

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Do you have a favourite story that you love to hear over and over again? When the Judeans were taken to Babylon it was a long time before they would see the Promised Land again. Parents told their children about the land where they had once lived. They talked about Jerusalem and the kings that ruled the two Kingdoms. They described how God had brought their family out of slavery and Moses had led them into the Promised Land. Over and over again they told the story to their children, then, when the children had grown up they passed on the story too - telling it to their children and grandchildren. 

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A dressing-up crown

  • ‘Go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple to your God,’ speech bubble (see Printables)

  • Temple treasures inventory (see Printables)

  • Silver and gold paper plates (if you can’t find any, spray some plain paper plates silver and gold)

  • Old bricks or pieces of rubble

Click on the images at the beginning of this post for more resources from the web

4. Story activity - 6 mins
Option 1 - Enjoy the puzzles in this week's Dead Sea Comic Caper (see Printables)

Option 2 - Precious plate challenge
You will need: Masking tape and around ten silver paper plates and ten gold paper plates. If you can’t find any silver and gold plates use gold and silver spray or write ‘S’ on ten plain plates and ‘G’ on another ten.     Before playing this game you may need to explain that although this challenge is about throwing the plates the Judeans in fact carried the plates and dishes carefully from Babylon to the Promised Land.     

Stick a long strip of masking tape to the floor at one end of your teaching space - this will be your start line; and another strip at a distance of about three meters – this will be your ‘target line’. Make sure the second strip is parallel to the first.  Divide your group into two teams. Give all the silver plates to one team and all the gold plates to the other. Explain that the team able to get the most plates over the target line is the winning team.  Ask all the children to line up along the start line. One at a time, encourage the children to throw their plate in the same way they would throw a Frisbee. When all the plates have been thrown, count the number of gold and silver plates successfully thrown over the line. Announce the winning team. If the children find it too easy to throw their plates over the target line encourage them to take one step backwards before throwing again or, if it is simple to do so, move the ‘start line’ back 50 cm or so. 

5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God, we think about the excitement of your people as they drew nearer and nearer to Jerusalem.

We imagine their disappointment when they saw the once magnificent city in ruins; we think about their despair when they realised that hard times lay ahead.

Father God, when things don’t turn out as we expect thank you that we can turn to you in our disappointment. Help us to believe that even when we go through hard times you are always with us, loving and caring for us every day. Amen

Alongside this story, make the craft...

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