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 did God use Esther? God used Esther to help save His people.

Christ Connection: The Jews were in danger, and they needed someone to save them. God made Esther the queen so she could help the Jews. Today, everyone sins and is in danger. We need someone to save us. God sent His Son, Jesus, to save people from sin.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Let’s set the scene for the story of how Esther saved her people. The Babylonian captivity had ended while Cyrus was king. Some of God’s people—now referred to as Jews (people from Judah)—traveled back to Judah to rebuild the temple, the city, and their lives. Others, however, stayed in Persia where life among the pagans was relatively comfortable.

Ahasuerus (uh haz yoo EHR uhs), also known by his Greek name, Xerxes (ZUHRK seez), was the king of Persia. Esther was a young Jewish girl who became queen by winning a beauty contest of sorts. Before becoming queen, Esther was an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai.

Mordecai had an enemy, Haman the Agagite (a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites). The king gave Haman an important position in the kingdom; people were supposed to bow down to Haman when he passed by. Mordecai refused. Infuriated, Haman wanted to destroy not only Mordecai but all of the Jews in the kingdom.

Mordecai turned to Esther for help. After all, she was in a position of power; and the Jews were her people. The stakes were high, but Esther approached the king and explained her people’s plight. God was in control over Haman’s evil plan to destroy the Jews. Like Haman, Satan wants to destroy believers. He thought he had won when Jesus died on the cross, but God raised Jesus from the dead and defeated Satan once and for all. (Heb. 2:14-15)

Family Activity: Invite kids to name people they know whom God has used in His plan. Encourage kids to think about people they go to school with, attend church with, or see in other life situations. Family members may also name Bible people. Review the story of Esther by allowing kids to tell or read the Bible Story. Pray and ask God to help each family member be willing to be used by God in His plan to rescue people from sin.

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: Why did the people rebuild the temple? The people rebuilt the temple to worship God.

Christ Connection: God’s people rebuilt the temple so they would have a place to worship God. Years later, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be with His people on earth. People don’t need to go to a temple anymore to meet with God. Jesus is with us wherever we go.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story takes us back to Jerusalem where the returning exiles were rebuilding the temple. At this time, Darius was king of Persia. The Persian Empire was vast, so Darius appointed governors over the provinces. A man named Tattenai watched over the province that included the land of Judah. Tattenai noticed the work of God’s people, and he was concerned. He sent a letter to King Darius. “Is this allowed?” he asked. “The people say that King Cyrus said they could rebuild the temple and the city. Please investigate this matter.”

King Darius did investigate, and Cyrus’s decree was located in the Babylonian records. Darius instructed Tattenai to allow the people to rebuild the temple and the city. “In fact,” Darius wrote, “give them whatever they need from the royal treasury. And if anyone gives them any trouble, he will be punished.” God had turned the heart of the king for His people’s favor. (See Prov. 21:1; Ezra 6:22.) The people completed the temple. They dedicated it joyfully and observed the Passover.

God’s people rebuilt the temple so they would have a place to worship God. God declared in Haggai 2:9 that the glory of this second temple would be greater than the first. This prophecy was fulfilled by the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God. Years later, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be with His people. Now God dwells not in the temple, but directly with His people. Because of Jesus, we don’t need a temple anymore.

Family Activity: Gather building blocks, playdough, or graham crackers and icing for each family member. Guide family members to create a building of their choice and share with the family what they designed. Talk about why the Israelites rebuilt the temple. Name places your family can worship God.

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.