Hello everyone! Our Bible characters this week are Ezra and Nehemiah. Both were in captivity in Babylon. Ezra was a priest and scribe (he wrote things down!) Nehemiah worked as a cupbearer to the King. Both of them were used by God and ended up back in Jerusalem to encourage the returned Jews to rebuild the walls and to put God first and worship him. Do you remember that we learnt through Moses and Joshua and others that God had led the people to their special land? Sadly, they soon forgot God, did things they shouldn’t have and ended up seeing their special land, Jerusalem destroyed and many people taken away as slaves. We will find out that God is going to help them again and Ezra and Nehemiah are a big part of that.
Have a look at this first video for a fun introduction.
I’m not sure if the Jews had old sprouting potatoes thrown at them and people stealing their helmets but they did face lots of opposition to building the walls. Nehemiah must have been an inspiring leader to keep them going to get the wall built so quickly. Only 52 days! It can’t have been easy to build walls whilst holding weapons and knowing that the enemy would keep coming up with ways to make them give up. Apparently they slept inside the walls and Nehemiah did not even get to change his clothes! The story in the Bible is a really good one so it is worth reading in the book of Nehemiah. You can also take a look at the video below. It does not include Ezra but he was very involved and he came back with 2,000 Jews to Jerusalem. He taught them and encouraged them to walk with God. When the walls were finished and the Jews celebrated and also confessed their sins he prayed an amazing prayer.
Lots of important people were not happy at all that the walls were being rebuilt and in their anger they ridiculed and made fun of the Jews. They talked about how useless they were. I don’t know if this has happened to you but it can be quite discouraging! Nehemiah prayed about it and encouraged the people to keep going. Below is a picture of them building the wall and some of the tools that helped them overcome those trying to stop them. We can use these tools as well if we are feeling discouraged. Prayer, having faith that God is in control. Still being generous and leading people well.
How about making your own Jerusalem walls? Here is a template. In the picture below I have made my walls with mini marshmallows (which I then got to eat!) If you don’t have marshmallows I am sure you have something you can use and eat afterwards. A mix of sweets and apple chunks? Currants? Be inventive!
The wall map shows lots of the different groups of families and people who built the sections of wall. It also shows the gates. Some of them sound fun – the Horse Gate, The Dung gate – I bet you can guess what went out of that one! Would you like to be the person who built that section? I have put some items against my map in the picture below. You could do the same or draw your images instead. You could also play a game if you have some counters or something similar. (Currants if you have some left from your wall and have not eaten them all!) A bit like tiddlywinks you could decide which gate to aim for and try and get your counter onto the gate you chose.
Here is a wordsearch you could try.
Ezra was a teacher and he taught the people about God and how to live for him. What can you teach others? Maybe you have a skill you could share with someone else and then teach them to do it too. Or perhaps you could encourage someone with the way you live.
Thank you God that Nehemiah and Ezra listened to you and obeyed. Help us to do the same. Thank you that you helped them overcome obstacles and work hard to build the wall in 52 days. Thank you that they learnt more about you and even more importantly got to know you better for themselves as they saw you at work. May our trust and faith in you grow more this week. Amen.