Nehemiah: The Gospel in the Gates – Valley Gate (Neh 3d)

Categories: Children's Church

1. HOOK:

  • Dark in the Valley:
    Stack chairs in 2 rows to create a valley in between, where the kids will sit. Turn off the lights to illustrate how dark it is in the valley.
  • Dodge ball (older kids)
    Get kids to line up in 2 lines, facing each other, forming a long “valley”. Get 1 kid to try to get from one end of the “valley” to the other. Give kids 1-2 plastic balls; they have to try to throw the balls at the kid in the “valley” (below knees only). The kid in the “valley” has to get from one end to the other without getting hit. Once the kid is “hit”, he’s out.

 

2. STORY: The Gospel in the Gates (Nehemiah 3:13)

  • Recap
    • We’re following the adventures of Nehemiah as he and the people of Israel work together to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
    • There were 10 gates mentioned in the rebuilding of the walls. We looked at what these gates were used for and how they remind us of Jesus and His finished work on the Cross!
    • So far, we’ve covered the:
      • Sheep Gate: reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
      • Fish Gate: reminds us that Jesus died and resurrected after 3 days (just as Jonah was in the belly of the big fish for 3 days).
      • Old Gate: reminds us that Jesus makes us New Creations
    • Today, we are looking at the 4th gate — the Valley Gate
      • Nehemiah 3:13  13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars,
      • When Nehemiah first went to examine the walls of Jerusalem, he went out through the Valley Gate (Neh 2:13)
      • The Valley Gate is probably named that because it overlooked the Hinnom Valley, one of the several valleys surrounding Jerusalem.

3. LESSON:

  • What does the Valley Gate remind us of?
  • Jesus is with us in the Valley
    • A valley is a low area of land between hills or mountains. It can be a beautiful place with streams of water, but it is often seen as a dangerous place too.
      • Dark: Sunlight is blocked by the surrounding hills/mountains, so it can get quite dark.
      • Dangerous: The sheep and people walking through the valley are often vulnerable to predators and robbers who are hiding in the hills/mountains.
      • When we talk about mountain tops, we usually associate them with victory or success or good times, e.g. “I’m on the top of the world!”
      • When we talk about valleys, we normally associate them with the low and tough times in life. All of us will go through difficult times. Our parents will go through difficult times. Sometimes it’s health issues, school issues, friends issues, parents issues, money issues. We’ll feel sad or tired or angry or afraid.
    • But in Psalm 23, David (the shepherd boy who became king) writes about the Good Shepherd and how He takes care of the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are all like the helpless little sheep. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The Good Shepherd takes care of the sheep, provides for their needs, brings them to green pastures and cool waters.
    • Then David writes, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4)
    • Doesn’t the “valley of the shadow of death” sound scary? Not just valley, but a valley of shadows; not just shadows, but shadows of death! After all, death can be a really scary thought.
    • But did the sheep feel scared? No! Why not? Because the Good Shepherd is with Him.
    • Yes, we don’t have to be afraid when we go through valleys. Because Jesus is with us. His rod and His staff comfort us. Whatever difficult and tough times we go through, Jesus is there to take care of us and to protect us, and He will bring us through the valley!
    • The Valley Gate reminds us that Jesus is with us in the Valley!

 

4. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:

  • Memory Verse activity: Psalm 23:4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
  • Poster:  The Valley Gate

Valley02 Valley03 Valley014

 

 

 

 

  • Close in Prayer

Nehemiah: The Gospel in the Gates – Old Gate (Neh 3c)

Categories: Children's Church

1. HOOK:

  • Illustration: Metamorphosis of a Butterfly
    (use pictures/props to illustrate; for younger kids, can use Dr Seuss’ “My, O My, A Butterfly” or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” books)
    This morning I have brought a butterfly. Just look at my butterfly! Isn’t it beautiful? I think the butterfly is one of the most beautiful things that God has ever created, but it wasn’t always so beautiful. As you probably know, the butterfly started out as a fuzzy little caterpillar. Now some people may think caterpillars are cute, some may think that they are funny, but probably no one would say that they are beautiful. A caterpillar is a worm — and worms are not beautiful! Then, one day the caterpillar spins a cocoon about himself and stays there for several weeks. When it comes out, it is no longer a caterpillar, it has been miraculously changed into a beautiful butterfly — a brand new creation!

2. STORY: The Gospel in the Gates (Nehemiah 3:6)

  • Recap
    • We’re following the adventures of Nehemiah as he and the people of Israel work together to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
    • There were 10 gates mentioned in the rebuilding of the walls. We looked at what these gates were used for and how they remind us of Jesus and His finished work on the Cross!
    • So far, we’ve covered the:
      • Sheep gate: reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
      • Fish Gate: reminds us that Jesus died and resurrected after 3 days (just as Jonah was in the belly of the big fish for 3 days).

       

    • Today, we are looking at the 3rd gate — the Old Gate (some versions use “Jeshanah”, which means “old”; easier for kids to use “Old Gate”)
      • Nehemiah 3:6  The Old City Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.
      • The Old gate was where the elders of the city would meet to discuss community matters and settle disputes (Joshua 20:4, Ruth 4:11, Proverbs 31:23).

 

3. LESSON: The Old Gate

  • What does the Old Gate remind us of?
  • Jesus fulfilled the OLD Covenant and began the NEW Covenant
    • The Old Covenant that God made with Moses and the Israelites demanded perfect obedience to God’s perfect law — obey fully and be blessed; disobey just 1 of the laws and be cursed.
    • The people of Israel could never fulfill the Old Covenant. They kept trying and failing and faced judgement/punishment of death.
    • Jesus was the only man who could obey the Old Covenant Law fully, and He did so on our behalf. He also took the judgement and punishment of our disobedience/failures when He died for us on the Cross.
    • His death began the New Covenant — all who believed in Him will not die (what we deserved) and will experience God’s abundant blessings (that Jesus deserved).
  • Our OLD sinful self has gone; we are a New Creation
    • When we believe in Jesus, we become a New Creation in Christ! We are no longer the old, dirty, sinful person we used to be … we are brand new in Jesus!
    • 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  • Just like the butterfly —  God didn’t just take a caterpillar and stick some wings on him and paint the wings all different colors. When the cocoon opens and the butterfly crawls out, it is a new creation. The caterpillar is gone! It has now become a butterfly. When we invite Jesus to come into our heart, we become a new creation. God doesn’t just clean us up and slap on a little paint, he makes us into a new person. Would you rather be, a worm or a butterfly? Jesus will make you into a new creation if you will invite him into your heart. Dear Lord, we thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross so that we, like the butterfly, can become a new creation. We ask you to change us and to make us beautiful. Amen. (source: Sermons4kids)

 

4. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:

  • Memory Verse activity: 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  • Poster:  The Old Gate

OLD GATE OLD GATE 03 OLD GATE 02

 

Nehemiah: The Gospel in the Gates – Fish Gate (Neh 3b)

Categories: Children's Church

1. HOOK:

  • Fishing Game: Divide the children into 2 teams and ask for volunteers to represent the team. To prepare the game, cut out fish-shaped paper with drawings of the following:  wall, sheep gate, fish gate, Jonah in the fish’s stomach, cross, sting, empty tomb, Cinderella. Attach each picture with a paper clip. Make a fishing rod by attaching a magnet to a string and then attach the string to a stick.  Each representative will “pick one item” and pass the rod to the next person. First team to finish wins. Collect the items. Pick up each item (see the words in bold and enlarged font below) according to the following sequence and tell the story.

 IMG_8164

 2. STORY: Nehemiah the Wall Builder (Nehemiah 3:3)

  • Recap
    • As you heard in the previous lessons, Nehemiah got the people of Israel together to rebuild the wall.
    • There were 42 groups of people working on specific areas of the wall. They were priests, leaders, craftsmen, Jews from other cities. Different groups worked on different portions of the wall.
    • There were 10 gates mentioned in the rebuilding of the walls.
    • Last week, we covered the sheep gate. Anyone remembers why was it called the sheep gate?
    • It was called the Sheep Gate because it was the entrance for sheep entering into the Temple compound from the sheep markets (where lambs were sold for sacrifice in the Temple) and the sheep pool (later known as Pool of Bethesda), where sheep  were washed for sacrificing.
    • What does the Sheep Gate remind us of?  We are saved through Jesus’s Sacrifice — Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29)
    • Fish Gate
      • Today we are going to talk about the Fish Gate.
      • Nehemiah 3:3  “The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.”
      • The Fish Gate was the second gate to be restored, and it was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. “Hassenaah” means the thorny, the pricky (sting).
      • It was called the Fish Gate because the fishermen of Galilee will bring their catch through this gate to be sold.

 

3. LESSON:

  • What does the Fish Gate remind us of?
  • Death, burial & resurrection of Jesus
    • In Matthew 12:40, Jesus had told the people that, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. Jesus said this even before he was arrested and died on the cross for us.
    • (Book of Jonah) Jonah was a prophet who ran away from God because he did not want to go and tell the people of Nineveh to repent and turn to God. He hated the people of Nineveh and wanted God to punish them. But God prepared a fish to swallow Jonah and he was in the fish’s belly for 3 days and 3 nights. When Jonah prayed to God, the fish vomited him on dry land. Jonah finally went and told the people of Nineveh to turn to God, which they did and were saved from destruction. Jonah’s story is one of God’s grace — the people of Nineveh did great evil and deserved to be punished; but our ever-forgiving, ever-loving God wanted them to come to Him and be saved.
  • The importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection:
    • There is no more death for us
      • Do you know what people fear most? Death. Why? Because people want to live. They also don’t know what will happen to them when they die. When Jesus died on the cross, he saved us from the death. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish (die) but have eternal life”. (John 3:16) We no longer need to fear death because we know that we have eternal life. If we were to die today, we will go to heaven to be with Jesus forever. 
      • Like Paul, we can even say “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor 15:55) which is in fact saying that death cannot hurt us because Jesus has won over death as he rose from the dead and is alive forevermore. (empty tomb).
    • We have a new identity
      • How many know the story of Cinderella? What was she when the story started? She was an orphan, treated like a house maid by her step-mother and step-sisters. Her real name was Ella, but since one day she became so dirty, covered with cinders after falling asleep by the fireplace, her step sisters started calling her “Cinder- Ella”. What was Cinderella when the story ended? She became a princess and lived in the palace because she married the prince. She did not have to slave away in the ashes anymore.
      • Like Cinderella, our identity was also changed. We were sinners and were separated from God. When Jesus died on the cross, he took away our old identity as sinners and gave us a new identity as God’s beloved children. Jesus took away all our sins past, present and future. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we are in Christ. We are as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” We are righteous and we will always be righteous even if we mess up and sin because we are in Jesus, who is righteous and will always be righteous.
  • Memory verse:  “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55, ESV)

 

4.          ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:

  • Poster:  The Fish Gate

IMG_8350 IMG_8351 IMG_8354 IMG_8355

 

 

Nehemiah: The Gospel in the Gates – Sheep Gate (Neh 3a)

Categories: Children's Church

1. STORY: The Gospel in the Gates (Neh 3:1-32)

  • Once Nehemiah announced his plan to rebuild the wall, the work began.
  • There were 42 groups of people working on specific areas of the wall. Everybody could play a part — priests, leaders, craftsmen, Jews from other cities.
  • There were 10 gates mentioned in the rebuilding of the walls. There are the:
    i. Sheep Gate
    ii. Fish Gate
    iii. Old Gate
    iv. Valley Gate
    v. Dung Gate
    vi. Fountain Gate
    vii. Water Gate
    iix. Horse Gate
    ix. East Gate
    x. Inspection Gate

  • Each gate has its own practical function. But they also have a spiritual significance — the gates give us a better understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
  • So for the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at each gate and what they remind us of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
  • Today we will start with the Sheep Gate.

 

2. LESSON: Sheep Gate

  • Neh 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors.
  • The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be restored, and it was rebuilt by the High Priest and his fellow priests. Note: This was the only gate that was consecrated (set apart as holy), as it was used for bringing in sacrifices for the temple.
  • It was called the Sheep Gate because it was the entrance for sheep entering into the Temple compound from the sheep markets (where lambs were sold for sacrifice in the Temple) and the sheep pool (later known as Pool of Bethesda), where sheep were washed for sacrificing.
  • Thousands of years later, when Jesus was on earth, He always entered Jerusalem via the Sheep Gate (except for the Triumphal Entry). The Sheep Gate also led to Golgotha, the path Jesus took to the crucifixion.
  • What does the Sheep Gate remind us of?
  • Jesus’s Sacrifice — Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29)
    • The Sheep Gate = Salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross
    • This gate had no bolts or bars — salvation freely available to everyone who enters through it.
    • Built by the High Priest — Jesus is our High Priest
    • His death opens the way for us and restores free access to the Father
  • The Sheep Gate is mentioned at the start and end of the chapter — everything starts and ends with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It’s all about Jesus and His finished work on the cross!
  • Have you come in through the Sheep Gate? <issue invitation and pray with the children who want to accept Jesus as the Lord>

 

3. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:

  • POSTER: Sheep Gate — what it reminds us of and the memory verse (John 1:29)
  • Ideas: get kids to stick/draw pictures of sheep (or stick cotton wool on the sheep), can write their names next to each sheep.

 IMG_7977 IMG_7979

Nehemiah: Response to the Rubble (Neh 2b)

Categories: Children's Church

1.  HOOK:

  • Play a fun, simple “rubble” icebreaker, i.e. Search through the rubble to find the treasure.
    e.g. Sieve through flour to find hidden coins; or go through lots of cards to find the “joker” etc. Encourage teamwork, strategy, leadership qualities that emerge from this exercise.
  • Show photos of Jerusalem’s wall; get kids to build the wall using blocks.
  • Show photo of the Petronas Twin Towers. Discuss with kids how difficult it is to build a mega project without the technology and skills we have today, and how Nehemiah could not have rebuilt the wall so quickly without God’s divine help. Show photo of rubble: Get kids to imagine how difficult it would be to transform that into the finished wall.

 

2. STORY: Nehemiah the Wall Builder (Neh 2b — Neh 2:11-20)

  • Because of God’s favour on Nehemiah, he had the permission, blessings and provisions of King Artaxerxes to undertake a mega building project — the walls of Jerusalem.
  • So Nehemiah set off to Jerusalem. But he didn’t make a grand entrance and announce to everyone his grand plans.
  • In fact, he stayed in Jerusalem for 3 days without doing anything about the wall. Probably he was checking out the situation on the ground for himself. “I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem,” he said. That’s probably wise — wait and see first instead of opening his mouth early on and risk other people sabotaging his plans or finding ways to discourage him.
  • Then after 3 days, late at night, he went out with a few others to the wall area. Only he rode a horse, while the rest walked. I guess they wanted to remain inconspicuous and not attract too much attention.
  • Nehemiah went to check out the Valley Gate to the Dung Gate and until the Fountain Gate. He saw the broken down walls and the gates that had been destroyed by fire.
  • Finally he reentered the city via the Valley Gate.
  • The officials, at that time, did not know where what he was doing because he had not yet said anything to anyone else about the work. But after examining the walls, Nehemiah told them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”
  • He also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
  • The officials agreed. “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
  • But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab (you’ll hear these names often in the coming weeks) heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed Nehemiah. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
  • Nehemiah answered them by saying, The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

 

3. LESSON: Response to the Rubble

  • The task was gigantic. The problem was huge. But when Nehemiah looked at the broken walls and burnt gates, he didn’t see them as a “huge problem” or “impossible task”. In fact, he saw it as a “good work” and knew that “God will give us success”.
  • If you are looking at a huge mess in life — maybe it’s your bedroom or your school work or your family issues, you’d be tempted to think it is impossible to fix.
  • But Jesus said, “With man, this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • So don’t focus on the problem. Focus on Jesus.
  • When you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. When you focus on Jesus, Jesus gets bigger!
  • When we look at the rubble, we don’t have to fight and struggle in our own strength. We can rest in Jesus and totally depend on Him to help us out.
  • Whatever the problem, however bad the situation may be, we know Jesus will help us. He is our wall builder — he rebuilds the broken walls and clears the rubble for us! Hallelujah!

4. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:

  • Brick-related craft/activity: “The God of heaven will give us success.” Nehemiah 2:20

IMG_7822

  • Worksheet

140504 Nehemiah 2b-4

Nehemiah the Cupbearer (Neh 2)

Categories: Children's Church

1. HOOK

  • Play a fun, simple wall-building icebreaker, e.g. Prepare blocks/Uno stacko. Kids take turns to run forward and place a brick, then run back, and next person goes. Key is to build highest wall.

2. STORY

  • Two weeks ago, we started learning about an interesting character of the Bible. What was his name? Nehemiah
  • What was his job? Cupbearer to the King.
  • What’s a cupbearer?
  • After Nehemiah heard the news about the broken walls and burnt gates of Jerusalem, he prayed and asked God for favour from the king.

 

  • One day, Nehemiah was doing his job as cupbearer with the king and queen. He took the wine and passed it to King Artaxerxes (can get kids to repeat name).
  • Normally, whenever you are in front of a king, no matter how you feel, you have to look happy. You cannot be long-faced, or the king might get angry with you.
  • But that day, Nehemiah was so troubled by the broken walls in Jerusalem that he could not hide it from his expression.
  • King Artaxerxes noticed and asked him, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick?”
  • Nehemiah was afraid but told the king the reason. “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”
  • Then the king said to him, “What do you request?”
  • Wow! What favour. Not only was the king not angry with Nehemiah, but he asked him what he wanted.
  • Before he answered, Nehemiah quickly prayed to God. It’s good to pray and ask God for guidance and wisdom in all things, so that we don’t answer rashly or do things without thinking.
  • Then Nehemiah asked the king to send him back to Judah so that he can rebuild the walls.
  • The king asked, “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?”
  • Nehemiah had asked God for favour, and he had also done his homework in preparation for the trip. He was able to give the king a time frame.
  • And he went on to ask the king for:
    • Letters for the governors of the surrounding region so that they will give him safe passage through
    • Letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so that he can get all the wood he needs to make beams for the city gates
    • Because the “good hand” (favour) of God was on him, the king granted all his requests. The king also sent army captains and horsemen to accompany Nehemiah back to Jerusalem!


3.  LESSON

  • Jesus is our favour
    • Nehemiah could not have done the huge task that’s ahead of him without the blessings and favour of the king. The one thing he asked God for was for favour with the king, and the king not only granted him what he asked, but over and above. 
    • Jesus made us righteous, so God’s favour is upon us all the time!
    • Psalm 5:12 “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”
  • Jesus left all He had for us
    • Nehemiah left his high-ranking position in the king’s courts to serve his people by overseeing the rebuilding of the wall.
    • Jesus gave up His position in heaven to come to earth as a man and die for us and to rebuild our broken lives.
    • Phil 2:5-7 “… Christ Jesus … Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”

 

3. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS

  • Craft: Brick-related craft/activity: “I am Highly Favoured” or “I am God’s Favoured Child”

IMG_7823

  • Worksheet

 140427 Nehemiah Pt 2-4

Nehemiah the Cupbearer (Neh 1)

Categories: Children's Church

photo-3b

1. HOOK

  • Play a fun, simple cup-themed icebreaker, e.g.
    Cup Relay: Kids have to run to and fro 2 buckets, carrying a cup of water from one to another. First team to finish wins.
    Cup Stack

 

2. STORY

  • We’ve just finished a series on Jesus’ encounters, parables and miracles in the Book of Luke.
  • This week onwards, we’re looking at an Old Testament book of the Bible, named after a very short man … he’s only “knee-high” (Ne-hi-miah) J

 Israel Judah timeline

 

  • (for older kids)
    Briefly go through timeline of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah to show where Nehemiah fits in.

    • Last year we learned about the kings of Israel — starting from King Saul, to David and Solomon. Then because Solomon worshipped all the other false gods, when his son Rehoboam took over, the kingdom was split into 2 — Israel (Northern; 10 tribes) and Judah (Southern; 2 tribes)
    • Israel had many bad kings and kept sinning against God. In the end, the 10 tribes were attacked and scattered by the Assyrians.
    • Judah had some good kings, but also many bad kings. In the end, they were attacked by the Babylonians and taken into exile (prisoners in a foreign land).
    • In the years that passed, God raised up godly leaders to bring his people back to Jerusalem and to rebuild it. E.g. Zerubabbel led the first group of exiles to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple.
    • Another of those leaders was Nehemiah.
    • Nehemiah was a Jew in a foreign land. But he was given a very important position — he was the Persian king’s cupbearer!
      • What’s a cupbearer? (can illustrate with a cup of Ribena)
        A high-ranking officer in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king’s cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence.
  • Many of Nehemiah’s friends had gone back to Jerusalem with Zerubabbel. One day, some of them, including Nehemiah’s brother Hanani, came to visit.
  • Nehemiah was very keen to know how everyone was back in Jerusalem. But the report he received was not very good:
    • Those who returned were in great trouble and disgrace
    • The wall of Jerusalem was broken down
    • The gates had been burned with fire
    • Imagine you are studying or staying overseas, and you hear this sort of report from home — that your family is in trouble, their house is broken and their gates have been burnt. How would you feel?
    • A city without walls! In those days, walls were a city’s main protection against its enemies. Remember the wall around Jericho that Joshua and the Israelites had to march around? Have you seen the Great Wall of China? They help to keep enemies out and the city’s people safe. A city without walls would be vulnerable to attacks and easily taken over. So it was a big deal that the grand city of Jerusalem did not have proper walls.
    • Nehemiah was very sad. He sat down and cried. He mourned and fasted and prayed.
    • In his prayer, he remembered who God was:
      • A great and awesome God
      • A God of Covenant of Love
      • A God who hears His people’s prayers
      • Nehemiah knew that God was a Promise-keeping God who keeps His covenant of love (Neh 1:5). Under the Old Covenant, God’s covenant was conditional, e.g. “with those who love him and keep his commandments.” Under the New Covenant, we receive His unconditional blessings because of Jesus, and, in response, we love Him and keep His commandments.
      • He ended his prayer by asking God: “Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
        • Who’s “this man”? The king of Persia
        • Nehemiah knew that if he wanted to do anything about the situation, he’d need the favour and blessings of the king.
        • Nehemiah also knew that God had placed him in an influential position as cupbearer.

3. LESSON

  • God is faithful and gracious
    • God had punished the Jews by exile to Babylon due to their repeated sins … yet by His grace, He brought them back to Jerusalem again.
    • God never forgot His people, despite their disobedience. He used pagan kings and various leaders, such as Nehemiah, to effect His plans and purposes — to bring back the people, to rebuild the temple and walls, and to re-impart the Word to them.
    • He raised Nehemiah, a captive, up to a position of importance and influence — the 3rd most important man in Persia, with direct access to the king — for this very purpose.
  • Nehemiah was a shadow of Jesus
    • Nehemiah was willing to take poison on behalf of the king.
  • Jesus is our Cupbearer: Jesus took the Cup of Punishment and Suffering on behalf of us (Matt 26:39)

4. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS

  • Worksheet

140413 Nehemiah Pt 1-5

 

Tears & Joy at the Water Gate (Nehemiah 8)

Categories: Children's Church

1. ICEBREAKER

  • Something related to a mirror, in line with lesson of the Law as a mirror;
    e.g. 2 groups. Each group takes turns to do a pose (can be solo, 2 or more people); the other group must mirror it exactly.


2. LESSON: Tears & Joy at the Water Gate (Nehemiah 8)

  • REVIEW: Nehemiah so far …
    • Nehemiah: cupbearer to king of Persia
    • Inspected rubble of Jerusalem by night
    • Building the wall
    • Gospel of the Gates — How many? (10) Name some that you remember
    • Who’s the Gate of our Salvation? (Jesus)
    • Opposition: Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem etc
    • Wall completed in 52 days!

 

  • READ: Nehemiah 8
    • The Water Gate
      • No repairs were needed
      • Water Gate: Picture of the Word
        Where people gathered for the reading of the Law
      • Now that the wall had been rebuilt, everybody gathered by the Water Gate to listen to the reading of the Law.
      • Who read the Law?
        Ezra – the teacher of the Law who returned to Jerusalem 13 yrs earlier
      • When did he read it? From 1st  to 8th day of the 7th month (Feast of the Trumpets)
      • How long did he read it aloud? (From daybreak till noon)
      • How did the people respond? Did they fall asleep? Play with their phones? ;-)
        (They listened attentively; understood; lifted their hands in response; bowed down and worshipped; wept)
      • Why did the people weep?
        (Because the Law showed them how far they had fallen from God’s perfect standards)
      • What did Nehemiah do?
        (He pointed them to the goodness of God — “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (v9-10))
      • The written word cannot save us, but the Word of God (JESUS) can.
        The Good News the Jesus came to give us is the grace of God:

        • Even though we have fallen from God’s standards, even though we fail and still sin, even though we deserved the worst, God’s grace is there to cover us in love.
        • Result of the grace of God:
          • Changes us from inside out
          • Makes us want to walk better
          • Helps us to serve others and show His love to them (“send some to those who have nothing prepared”)
      • What was the response of the people?
        • They went to celebrate with great joy (God’s good news always brings joy) because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
        • If we see the Bible as a list of do’s and don’ts, we will end up feeling condemned and sad.
        • If we see the Bible as God’s love letter to us, revealing the beauty of Jesus and His finished work on the cross, we’ll be able to celebrate with great joy!

 

  • On the 2nd day of the 7th month, when the people gathered again to listen to the reading of the Law. What did they learn?
    • The celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles — the people were to live in temporary shelters during the Festival to remember how faithful and good God was to them when they wandered through the desert for 40 years (under Moses’ leadership after they escaped from slavery in Egypt).
    • So everyone went out to get branches from trees to make temporary shelters and lived in them. Their joy was very great.
    • Celebration of the Feast:
      • Lamps: torches placed along the walls of the temple
        • Picture of Jesus, Light of the World (John 8:12)
        • Water: high priest carries water from pool of Siloam and pours into silver basin beside the altar in the temple
          • Picture of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-38)

 

  • Why do we read and study the Bible week after week?
    • We read the Bible not to know about God but to know God
    • The Bible tells us about Jesus and His finished work on the Cross
    • From Genesis -> Revelations
      Even in OT book like Nehemiah, we see pictures of God’s grace and love for us.

 

3. SHARE: How can we encourage each other to read the Bible regularly and see Jesus in the Scriptures? Perhaps give them some workable suggestions that the youth group can do together through this year. E.g. Read through the Gospel of Luke or go through a devotional book.

Overcoming Opposition (Nehemiah 6)

Categories: Children's Church

1.      ICEBREAKER

  • Set a challenge that the youths have to complete, but include various “attacks” to distract and make their task more difficult.
    E.g. Try to hit down some targets (such as chewing gum boxes) with coins, with some obstacles in the way.

 photo 2b

2.      LESSON: Overcoming Opposition (Nehemiah 6)

  • READ: Nehemiah 6
  • Who remembers the trouble-makers that we talked about last meeting (Ch 4)?
    • Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites
    • Nehemiah rallied the people by telling them, “Do not be afraid. Remember the Lord!”
  •  Well, they failed to stop Nehemiah then. But they had not given up their plans to disrupt the building of the wall. What did they try to do?

i.  Distract and trick Nehemiah by asking him to meet them at the villages of Ono — far away from Jerusalem in enemy territory

  • But Nehemiah recognised that he was doing “a great work” (vs 3) and refused to be side-tracked, even though the trouble-makers persisted. How many times did they send the message to Nehemiah? 4 times. Each time Nehemiah stood his ground.

ii. Defamation/slander/lies/personal attacks — open letter accusing Nehemiah of personal agenda, wanting to be crowned king of Judah and rebel against the King of Persia

iii. Instilling fear“Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.” (vs 9)

  • What was Nehemiah’s response?
    Prayed — “Now strengthen my hands.” (vs 9)
  • Have you ever been wrongly accused? Do you have faith/confidence that God will protect and defend you from those lies?

iv. Deception from within  — hired priest, Shemaiah, to try to deceive Nehemiah and lure him into the temple (vs 10)

  • Nehemiah refused to be cowed by fear. Instead, he perceived the real motives of Shemaiah and trusted God to handle his enemies.
  • Betrayal from friends is often the worst because you trusted them. Remember: Jesus was betrayed by His own disciple too, but He asked God to forgive him too.

nehemiah

  • Devil’s main weapon: Fear Factor
    • Sanballat and gang used it constantly against Nehemiah
    • Fear can torment and paralyse us
    • Fear says: We are not confident God will protect, provide or heal us
    • Antidote to fear: Love — Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)
      When we know and believe God loves us, fear will have to go.
    • Jesus’ death on the cross was the greatest testament of God’s love for us — on that cross, Jesus defeated Satan, death, sickness, lack etc.
  • Wall Completed
    • How long did it take for Nehemiah to complete the wall? 52 days — quite an impossible feat.
    • What happened when the enemies heard of it? They were very disheartened for they knew that this work was done by our God.” (vs 16)
    • The completion of the wall is a picture of Christ’s finished work on the Cross. Remember when we learned about the 10 gates? Jesus is our Gate. Jesus is also our Wall of Salvation. In Him, we are safe and secure.
  • All of us will go through difficult situations. Whatever situation you are facing today, whether long or short time, whether it seems like an impossible situation or you are tired and discouraged, God wants you look to Jesus and enter His rest because the He has won the victory on your behalf. He wants to give you strength to fight from a position of victory and not be intimidated by the fear tactics of the devil.

 

3. SHARE: What is one challenge or opposition you are facing now? What lessons from Nehemiah can you learn and apply in your situation? Pray for one another.lat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites

Adversary of the Wall (Nehemiah 4)

Categories: Children's Church

1. LESSON: Adversary of the Wall (Nehemiah 4)

  • REVISE: Briefly run through the 10 gates of Jerusalem and what they mean (Nehemiah 3).
    (can be a matching game)

 

  • READ: Nehemiah 4:1-23
  • The building project was underway — halfway through. What was the problem that emerged?
    • Trouble-makers Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites were angry and conspired to attack Jerusalem and create confusion.
    • Created doubts on their identity (“feeble Jews”) and ability (“Will they …?”)
    • What was Nehemiah’s response?
      • Prayed — “Do not be afraid. Remember the Lord!”
        • We can rest because “our God will fight for us” (vs 20b)
        • Rom 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
  • Set watch — positioned armed men behind openings of lower parts of the walls — half the men worked; half held spears/shields and bows; builders worked with one hand and held a weapon with another.
    • We can put on the whole armour of God to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph 6:11)
    • What happened when the people looked to God?
      • God brought the enemies’ plot to nothing (vs 15)

 

  • SHARE: What is one challenge or opposition you are facing now? What lessons from Nehemiah can you learn and apply in your situation? Pray for one another.