Key Passage: Zechariah 9:9 “Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey.”

Big Picture Question: What did Zechariah say about Jesus? Zechariah said Jesus is coming.

Christ Connection: God showed Zechariah many visions about things God was going to do. God was going to help His people and give them a special king. Jesus is the King who came humbly on a donkey, just like Zechariah said. Because God kept His promise to send Jesus, we can trust in Jesus to forgive our sins.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story focuses on the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah was a priest who had been born in Babylon and returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. The returning Judeans were struggling to finish rebuilding God’s temple. In fact, several years had passed without progress on the temple when God called Zechariah to prophesy.

Zechariah’s message was twofold: first, look back and remember the past. Second, look forward and prepare for the future. God wanted His people to learn from the mistakes of their parents and grandparents who had ignored the prophets’ warnings. Zechariah set out to encourage the people.

Zechariah emphasized God’s promise: “A king is coming.” God was going to help His people and give them a different kind of king. Jesus is the King who came and rode humbly on a donkey, just as Zechariah said. Because Zechariah’s prophecy came true in Jesus, we can have hope and forgiveness of sins when we trust in Jesus.

Family Activity: Find Zechariah 9:9 in the Bible and read it as a family. Remind family members that many of the prophets spoke about the coming Messiah. Invite kids to share their favorite Bible story about Jesus. You may want to have your Jesus Storybook Bible handy to help younger kids pick out a story. Close your time together in prayer.

Key Passage: Zechariah 9:9 “Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey.”

Big Picture Question: How can we honor God? We can put God first.

Christ Connection: God’s people had been away from home for a long time. They didn’t have a place to worship God. When they went home, Haggai told them to fix the temple. God promised to be with them. When God sent His Son, Jesus, God kept His promise to be with us.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. At last! God’s people returned to Jerusalem, the home of their ancestors. Many of God’s people had been born in Babylon, and life in exile was the only reality they knew. Life in Judah wasn’t exactly what they had imagined. It was difficult. Their national wealth was gone. The work of rebuilding the temple and the city of Jerusalem was hard. The land was desolate, and crops failed. Their neighbors opposed their efforts. (See Ezra 4:6,11-16.)

God’s people were disappointed and discouraged. Their enemies forced them to stop building and, rather than fight them, God’s people gave up. The temple of the Lord sat unfinished for 16 years. If that was what God wanted, wouldn’t He make it easier for them? (See Hag. 1:2.) The prophet Haggai stepped onto the scene and brought words from the Lord, commanding them to finish the work they started. God promised to fill the temple with His glory, and comforted His weary people with this promise: “I will provide peace in this place” (Hag. 2:7,9).

God’s people struggled to do what God wanted them to do. God chose Zerubbabel to help the people finish the temple. Zerubbabel was the descendant of King David, and an earthly ancestor of Jesus. Many years later, God sent His Son, Jesus, to do God’s will. Jesus died and rose again to free us from sin so that we can do His will.

Family Activity: Make a list of all the activities your family is involved in. Talk about whether any of the activities are making it harder to put God first. Allow kids to circle the activities that help them put God first. Briefly review what Haggai told the Israelites by talking about the big picture question and the Christ connection.

Key Passage: Zechariah 9:9 “Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey.”

Big Picture Question: Does God keep His promises? God always keeps His promises.

Christ Connection: Zerubbabel led God’s people home to fix the temple. Jesus came back to earth to save God’s 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.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Babylon. God’s people had been living in Babylon for 70 years. Some of God’s people had died in Babylon. Some of their children and grandchildren were born in Babylon and grew up there. But Babylon was not their home.

Before the people of Judah were exiled, God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah. These are the words of the Lord: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place” (Jer. 29:10). The time had come for God’s people to go back home. Cyrus, the king of the Persian empire, overthrew Babylon. Cyrus took over the kingdom, including the lands of Israel and Judah. In the following year, the Lord did something miraculous in Cyrus’s heart. He prompted Cyrus to issue a decree: All the Jewish exiles are free to return to their ancestral homes.

The exile was over! God’s people were free to return to their own land. The first group of Judean exiles returned home under the leadership of Zerubbabel (zuh RUHB uh buhl). Zerubbabel was the grandson of King Jehoiachin, who had been taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. Ezra 2:64-65 says nearly 50,000 people traveled back to Judah. When they got to Jerusalem, they began working to rebuild the temple that the Chaldeans had destroyed.

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.

Family Activity: Make a birdhouse or other simple woodworking project with your kids. Review the importance of the temple as you work.

Go further: Ask family members to name promises they have made that were hard to keep or that they failed to keep. Talk about how we fail to keep our promises, but God always keeps His promises. Discuss promises God has made to His people.

Key Passage: Zechariah 9:9 “Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey.”

Big Picture Question: What is pride? Pride is thinking you are the best.

Christ Connection: God gave Obadiah a message for His people. The people of Edom were mean to God’s people, but God is always in control. He promised to save His people. One day, Jesus will be King over everything. He will make all things right.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story looks at the prophet Obadiah’s message to the people of Edom. Do you remember the story of Jacob and Esau? The twins struggled in the womb, and their mother Rebekah asked why. Read Genesis 25:23 to find out God’s reply.

The nation of Israel descended from Jacob, and the nation of Edom descended from Esau. God reaffirmed His promises to Jacob (Gen. 28:15), but Esau was a godless man who despised God’s promises. (Heb. 12:16) For centuries, the two groups were at odds. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the king of Edom refused to let the Israelites pass through his country to get to the promised land. (Num. 20:14-21) Edom fought against God’s people on several occasions. (See 2 Chron. 20:2; 28:17; 2 Kings 8:20-22)

The Book of Obadiah is God’s message about Edom in response to their sin. When the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem, the people of Edom didn’t help. Like an envious brother, Edom was glad to see Judah overcome. In fact, Edom was a guilty participant in the action against Judah. Read verse 11 in Obadiah.

God said the people of Edom would get what they deserved. “As you have done, so it will be done to you; what you deserve will return on your own head” (Obad. 15). God used Obadiah to give a message to His people. Even though they were mistreated by the people of Edom, God was still in control. God showed His people that He is ruler of all the earth, and in the end, Jesus will set up His kingdom and make all things right.

Family Activity: Take a walk or a drive as a family. As you travel, invite kids to name things they see that God created. Remind everyone that God is in control. Jesus will return and rule over everything. Review the story of Obadiah as you return home. Discuss how Edom’s pride led them to believe they were in control, but they weren’t. Invite everyone to list one thing they saw during today’s walk or drive.

Key Passage: Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and he saves;…He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Big Picture Question: Who rescued Daniel? God rescued Daniel.

Christ Connection: God saved Daniel from the lions. God is powerful! God sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from something scarier than lions. Jesus rescues us from sin and death.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story takes place after the Persians defeated King Belshazzar and Darius was made king. By this time, Daniel was an old man, probably in his early 80s. Daniel served the new king as one of the three leading supervisors in the kingdom.

Daniel was very good at his job. So good, in fact, that King Darius planned to put him in charge of the entire kingdom. The other supervisors and satraps beneath them were jealous; they tried to catch Daniel doing something wrong so they could complain to the king. But Daniel was trustworthy, and they couldn’t find any negligence or corruption in him. They also knew Daniel was devoted to the one true God. If they couldn’t catch Daniel breaking a law, they would convince the king to make a law that Daniel would break.

Under their malevolent persuasion, King Darius passed a law that no one could pray to anyone but him. Daniel continued to pray to God, and the jealous officials turned him in. The king stayed up all night trying to find a legal loophole, but the law couldn’t be undone. (Daniel 6:15) Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den, but God shut the lions’ mouths. Daniel wasn’t hurt. His accusers received the very punishment they sought for Daniel.

Daniel trusted the Lord to save him; he knew he didn’t stand a chance fighting off the lions in his own strength. God showed His power to rescue Daniel from the lions, but Daniel was just a small part of a much bigger story. We all have sinned and deserve punishment far worse than a lions’ den: hell—eternal separation from God. God ultimately rescued us from a much bigger problem—sin and death—through His Son, Jesus.

Family Activity: Take a trip to a local zoo and pay special attention to the lion exhibit, or look up internet sites that talk about lions. Find 10 facts about them, and share them with the family. Remind kids that no matter how amazing lions are, God is much greater. Read Daniel 6:26-27 together.

Go further: Pray with your family and talk about and pray for people who live in places where it is illegal to worship God.

Key Passage: Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and he saves;…He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Big Picture Question: How did God help Daniel help the king? God gave Daniel wisdom.

Christ Connection: God made Daniel wise. Daniel told the king God was going to punish him. The king thought he was better than God. No one is better than God. Jesus is God’s Son, and even He obeyed God. Jesus left His place in heaven to come to earth and rescue us from sin.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story takes place many years after Nebuchadnezzar’s reign ended. King Belshazzar hosted a grand banquet for a thousand of his nobles. King Belshazzar and those closest to him drank from the holy vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the house of God in Jerusalem. King Belshazzar and his friends drank and praised their false gods.

The party was suddenly interrupted when a human hand appeared; its fingers wrote a message on the wall. The king couldn’t understand the message, neither could the astrologers and wise men. The queen remembered Daniel and his God-given ability to understand dreams and visions. (Daniel 1:17)

Daniel read the words on the wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.” These words mean “numbered,” “weighed,” and “divided.” God had evaluated Belshazzar and found he wasn’t good enough. God would bring Belshazzar’s reign to an end—that very night!

God used Daniel’s wisdom to get the king’s attention about his pride. The king acted like he was better than God, so God humbled the king. Jesus humbled Himself by dying on the cross for our sin. God raised up Jesus and gave Him honor. When we humble ourselves and trust in Jesus, God will raise us up too, and we will be with Him forever in heaven.

Family Activity: Invite family members to tell about a special talent they have. Remind the family that God gives us talents to give Him glory, not ourselves. Talk about how each family member’s talent can be used for God, and help each family member plan a time and place to use it.

Key Passage: Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and he saves;…He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Big Picture Question: Who was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? God was with them in the fire.

Christ Connection: God saved Daniel’s friends from a fire. Jesus came to save us in a different way. Jesus died so we wouldn’t be punished for our sin. He was punished instead. If we know and love Jesus, Jesus saves us so we can be with God forever.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Babylon during the exile. This week, kids will learn about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—Daniel’s three friends who stayed faithful to the one true God. Nebuchadnezzar built a tall gold statue and issued a new law: “When you hear music, you are to fall down and worship the statue.” Whoever did not bow to the statue would be thrown into a blazing furnace. (Daniel 3:6) So when the music played, all the people bowed down and worshiped the gold statue. Well, almost everyone. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the statue. They loved and worshiped the one true God. Only He was worthy of their worship.

The Chaldeans—a group of astrologers and dream interpreters (see Daniel 2:2,4)—told on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But not even the threat of death could convince the three friends to renounce God. Their trust in God enabled them to stand firm even as they were tied up and thrown into the fire. The Lord not only rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, He was with them. Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the fire, walking around unharmed!

Only God could rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire. Jesus is the only One who can save us from our sin. On the cross, people mocked Jesus: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!” (Mark 15:31). Jesus was not physically unable to save Himself; He chose to do the Father’s will. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross provided the way for us to be rescued and have eternal life.

Family Activity: Review your family’s fire safety plan. If you don’t have one, develop one. Tips and templates are available online. Talk about how God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire. Share an experience where you had to demonstrate faith during a difficult time.

Key Passage: Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and he saves;…He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Big Picture Question: What did Daniel do when he was captured? Daniel obeyed God.

Christ Connection: Daniel did what God told him to do. God helped Daniel and his friends. Daniel wasn’t perfect, but he reminds us of someone who was. Jesus always did what God wanted Him to do. God is happy when we know and love Jesus.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next four weeks, we will take a look at the exile through the eyes of Daniel and his friends. Before the exile, prophets had warned God’s people to stop sinning, but the people did not listen. The nation of Judah was consumed by idol worship; the kings did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So God kept His word—He allowed His people to be taken from their land. They became captives in the enemy nation of Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, called for the best young men from Judah to be trained for service in the palace—among them, Daniel and his three friends. The boys were given new identities—new names, new education, new culture. They were indoctrinated to be good Babylonians. But Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah stayed faithful to the one true God and did not make themselves unclean by eating the king’s food.

Daniel and his friends chose to obey God no matter what. God blessed Daniel and his friends. They were smarter than all the other young men in Babylon, and the king recognized their gifts. Daniel wasn’t perfect, but he reminds us of someone who was. Jesus obeyed God perfectly and He always pleases God. We please God when we trust in Jesus.

Family Activity: Prepare a meal of nothing but vegetables with only water to drink. Ask who in the Bible ate this type of meal for at least three straight years. Invite each family member to share a time when obedience wasn’t easy.

Key Passage: Ezekiel 37:27 “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Big Picture Question: What was God’s plan for Israel? God planned to bring His people back together in their own land.

Christ Connection: God showed Ezekiel a valley. It was full of dead bones. When we disobey God, we are like those dead bones. But God gave us Jesus to take away our sin. Jesus can give us life so we can be with God forever.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Last week, Ezekiel saw God’s glory leave the temple in a vision. It seemed like all hope was lost. God had removed the people of Judah from His presence. The exiled people of Judah were eager to blame God for their circumstances. “It’s not fair!” they argued. (See Ezekiel 18:25.) Ezekiel told the people that they were at fault for their exile; their faithlessness had provoked God’s wrath. The people were getting what they deserved. “I take no pleasure in anyone’s death,” God said. “So repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32).
God gave Ezekiel a vision of hope. In this vision, God showed Ezekiel a valley of dry bones. The bones represented Israel. Ezekiel prophesied that God would put tendons, flesh, and skin on the bones. He would put breath in them so they would come to life. Ezekiel encouraged the exiles. Apart from God, they were dead. But God was offering them life. He would restore their future. “My dwelling place will be with them,” God said. “I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezekiel 37:27).
We too are dead in our sin. (Ephesians 2:1) Sin separates us from God because He is holy. We are apart from God’s presence. But God does not delight in our death. He is patient and wants us to repent and live! The dry bones of Ezekiel’s vision remind us what we are like when we sin. God had a plan for people who sin. Because Jesus came to earth, died, and was raised to life, He has the power to give us eternal life.

Family Activity: Lead everyone in the family to draw a picture of something they hope will happen in the future. Talk about the word “hope.” Look the word up in the dictionary or read verses in the Bible about hope (examples: Psalm 62:5, Romans 15:13). What does it mean to have hope? Ask kids to think about why God wanted His people to have hope for the future.

Take it further: Peel a banana in the morning and save your banana peel. Show it to your kids later in the day after it has turned brown. Discuss what happened to the banana peel. Talk about God’s power to bring something dead back to life as a way to introduce the story.

Key Passage: Ezekiel 37:27 “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Big Picture Question: Why did God leave His people? God left His people because they kept sinning against Him.

Christ Connection: God did not stay in the temple. He left because the people sinned. God cannot be around sin. Jesus came to earth to take away our sin. When we turn from sin and trust in Jesus, we can be with God forever.

Dear Parents,
Today in The Gospel Project® for Kids, Ezekiel brought God’s message to the exiles in Babylon. God’s messages to Ezekiel came in the form of visions, full of symbols and signs. The prophecies shared by Ezekiel include details of God’s judgment on Jerusalem: the people would lack bread and water (Ezekiel 4:17), die by plague and famine (Ezekiel 5:12), and be ruined and disgraced (Ezekiel 5:14).

In Ezekiel 10, God told a man in linen to scatter coals over Jerusalem—a symbol of both punishment and purification. God had used fire to cleanse the lips of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:6) and to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24). In those days, when something was too dirty to be cleaned with water, it was burned up.

God’s judgment also came to Jerusalem through His departure from the temple. We must not think God was confined to the temple; He is omnipresent. (1 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:24) But the temple was the place God’s people went to worship Him. (See 1 Kings 8:33-34.) When the people refused to be righteous before God, God’s glory left the temple.

God left the temple because He was unhappy with His people’s sin. Sin separates people from God. But we do not have to stay separated from God. Jesus came to earth to fix our relationship with God by taking the punishment of our sin for us. Because of Christ, we can enjoy God’s presence.

Family Activity: Ask everyone to explain how they know when someone else in the family is unhappy. How did God show He was unhappy with Israel? God’s presence left the temple. God left because the people sinned. God cannot be around sin. Jesus came to earth to take away our sin. When we turn from sin and trust in Jesus, we can be with God forever.