Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves.”

Big Picture Question: How did God protect His people? God helped His people rebuild the city walls.

Christ Connection: Nehemiah helped God’s people fix the walls around their city. The walls protected the people from their enemies. Jesus protects us from our enemies. When we know and love Jesus, He keeps us safe and we will live with Him forever.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Jerusalem as Nehemiah led God’s people to finish rebuilding the city walls. City walls and gates were very important in Bible times. Walls were built to be several feet thick. They protected a city from its enemies and provided a sense of safety and security. Gates were the center of city life, the meeting place for commercial and social transactions. Without these structures, the surviving remnant of God’s people struggled and was vulnerable to attack.

Nehemiah traveled from Persia to Jerusalem to lead the effort in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Nehemiah’s leadership was effective. Nehemiah 3 describes all the people working together to rebuild the gates and walls. But it wasn’t long before Nehemiah met opposition. Sanballat and Tobiah were local governors who strongly opposed Nehemiah’s helping the Jews. The two mocked God’s people and tried to discourage them. Sanballat and Tobiah planned a surprise attack against God’s people, but God’s people found out. They kept working—with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.

God’s people completed the wall in just 52 days. Note how their enemies reacted: “All the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God” (Neh. 6:16). Nehemiah led the people to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem to protect them from their enemies. Jesus came to protect us from our enemies. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to rescue people from sin and death.

Family Activity: Provide play dough, interlocking blocks, or other construction toys. Challenge kids to build a wall. As they build, remind them that the wall around Jerusalem helped protect God’s people from their enemies. Lead kids to list reasons they can trust God when they feel afraid. Remind kids that they can pray and ask God for help anytime.

Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves.”

Big Picture Question: Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem’s walls were broken.

Christ Connection: God promised to keep His people safe and give them a home. God always keeps His promises. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so we can have a home in heaven. When we trust in Jesus, we will be with God forever.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids; we have certainly come a long way together! From creation and the fall all the way through the Babylonian exile, God’s promises stand firm. This unit, kids will continue with the story of the returning exiles, now known as Jews—people from the kingdom of Judah. Two or three million Jews had originally been deported, but only a remnant—50,000 people—returned after King Cyrus gave them permission to go home. Nehemiah’s story takes place after Ezra led a second group of exiles back to Judah. Nehemiah was a Jew living in Persia. He served as the king’s cupbearer, a position of great trust.

Nehemiah received word about God’s people who had returned to Judah. They were in trouble and living in shame; the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the city gates were burned. They lived in fear, unprotected from their enemies. Nehemiah sat down and wept. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for days. He remembered God’s promise to His people. Their disobedience led to exile, but if they turned back to the Lord, God promised to restore their fortunes and give His people a home. (See Deut. 30:1-10.)

The king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness, and Nehemiah was afraid. After saying a quick prayer, Nehemiah explained the plight of his city. The king granted him permission to return to Jerusalem. When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he encouraged the people to rebuild the walls and stood confidently against opposition. Nehemiah trusted that God would keep His promise to protect His people and give them a home. When we trust in Jesus, we have a home in heaven with God. Jesus obeyed God perfectly. He died on the cross and rose again so we can have a home with Him forever in heaven.

Family Activity: Invite family members to point out things that make your home a safe place to live. Consider locks on doors or windows, smoke alarms, rails on stairs or porches, and so forth. Talk about how God promised to keep His people safe.

Go further: Build a Rube Goldberg machine to do some small task. Talk to your kids about ways we make things harder instead of seeking wisdom from 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: 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.

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.