the captives came home

Bible Passage: Ezra 1–3

Story Point: God kept His promise to bring His people home.

Key Passage: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

What is God Like: God is Faithful

CHRIST CONNECTION: Zerubbabel led God’s people home to fix the temple. The temple was the place where God met with His people on earth. Jesus came 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.








Consider questions that pursue the heart of your child during natural points of connection. Here are a couple for during a walk or at the dinner table this week:

  • Is there a time you were were excited about something and you ended up being disappointed?
  • What are things you like to build or make?



  1. How long did God’s people live in Babylon? (70 years)
  2. Who led the people back to their home in Jerusalem? (Zerubbabel)
  3. What did the people start building when they got back to Judah? (the temple)
  4. Why were some people sad and crying when the temple’s foundation was done? (They remembered what the first temple looked like.)
  5. How did God show He is faithful in this story? (He kept his promises!)


  1. Which king of Persia allowed God’s people to return to Israel? (King Cyrus, Ezra 1:1)
  2. What did the priests build first when they got back to Israel? (the altar, Ezra 3:2)
  3. Why were some of the older Israelites crying? (They remembered the first temple that had been destroyed, Ezra 3:12)
  4. Why do you think God allowed His people to live in exile for 70 years? Guide the kids to see that God takes sin seriously. God wanted to give His children a chance to recognize their sin and turn back to Him. He used the exile to glorify Himself in foreign nations.
  5. How can we know God loves us in difficult times? Help kids understand that God’s love for us never changes. We don’t always understand why we face hard times but we can trust that God will never leave us. He will never stop loving us. Sometimes He allows us to experience pain so we can better understand how much we need Him. When we face hard times while relying on God, it glorifies Him and builds our faith.
  6. The temple needed a strong foundation. What is the foundation of our lives? Help kids see that our faith is built on Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We trust the Bible as God’s Word, and it tells us what is true about God and ourselves. With such a firm foundation, our lives can stand up to various trials.



building a snack

WHAT YOU NEED: mini marshmallows, pretzel sticks, paper and pen

WHAT YOU DO: As a family, sit down with the supplies. On an index card (or other piece of paper), write the words I promise to pray for you written on it. Invite every person to write any specific prayer requests they have on the back of the index card. Encourage kids to build a foundation (a strong square or rectangle structure) for a temple using pretzel sticks and marshmallows. You may choose to snack on “building supplies” as you build. Perhaps play some favorite worship music as you build.

WHAT YOU SAY: Your temple foundations look great. In Bible times, 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. Thank you for sharing with me some ways I can pray for each of you. I promise I will pray for you this week. Always feel free to share with me how I can pray for you. God is faithful, and we can trust Him with any problem, fear, worry, or joy we have!


WHAT YOU NEED: Jenga or some other variation of blocks

WHAT YOU DO: Build a tower out of Jenga blocks or provide a variety of building materials and work together to build a tower. Experiment with different foundations for towers. If possible, play Jenga (remove blocks one at time and try to keep tower from tumbling)

WHAT YOU SAY: For any building to stand tall and strong, it must have a solid foundation. In our Bible story this week, we heard about God’s people’s return to the land God had given them. Not only did they return, but they also set out to rebuild the destroyed temple. The people had to start by building a strong foundation.


WHAT YOU DO: Practice saying the key passage together. Create motions. Try saying it in different tones of voice.

PRESCHOOL: “I know the plans I have for you … plans ... to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11

ELEMENTARY: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11



WHAT YOU NEED: painter’s tape (for indoors) or sidewalk chalk (to do outside)

WHAT YOU DO: Use sidewalk chalk to mark a path making sure that the path ends where it begins. Encourage children to walk the path without falling off. Suggest they walk forward, heel to toe, backward, hoping on one foot, in pairs, or holding a toy. Repeat the activity as time allows.

WHAT YOU SAY: Walking on the line did not take us very long, but some of it, like walking backward, was hard to do. In today’s Bible story, God brought His people home to Judah from Babylon. They had to walk for a long time, and they had to carry all that they owned. It was not an easy trip, but they were happy to be home. Do you remember what God’s people did when they got home?


WHAT YOU NEED: quantities of small items that you have at the house (i.e. buttons, crayons, stones, coins, etc. and some cups/bowls/bags, muffin pan, etc. to put them in)

WHAT YOU DO: Lay plastic counters, large buttons, crayons, stones, or other manipulatives in a bin on the table. Invite children to count out 10 items and place the 10 items in a small bowl. Encourage children to continue until they have 7 bowls with each containing 10 items. Help as needed.

WHAT YOU SAY: Seven groups of 10 equals 70. Seventy items looks like a lot, but can you imagine 70 years! God’s people were in Babylon for 70 years. That’s a long time! Finally the time had come for God’s people to go home. We will hear about that in today’s Bible story.


WHAT YOU NEED: Play vehicles, sand, and a bin.

WHAT YOU DO: Place large shallow bin with an inch of play sand or use a sand table. Invite toddlers to roll transportation toys or fingerwalk in the sand. Talk about how people in Bible times traveled by foot, by horse or donkey, or by chariot.

WHAT YOU SAY: God brought His people back to their land. THE PROPHETS TOLD ABOUT JESUS. Jesus will give us a home with Him forever.




Guide kids to think about and answer one or two journaling prompts. Be sure to join them.

  • What does this story teach me about God or the gospel?
  • What does the story teach me about myself?
  • Are there things God is asking me to do in this story? How are they for God’s glory and my good?
  • Are there any promises in this story to remember? How do they help me trust and love God?
  • What characteristics of God do I see in this story?
  • What does the story teach me about people around me?
  • If I’m honest, what parts of this are hard to understand or believe?

talking to kids about the gospel...

Here’s one way we talk about the gospel with elementary kids

A- We are God’s most treasured creation! Created to be with Him. However, there’s a problem. It’s sin. Sin is anything we do that isn’t what God wants for us. We’ve all done it, even me. And sin gets in the way of us having a relationship with God. We need to admit we have this problem!

B- Believe that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He did in order to make a way for our relationship with God to be made whole again...specifically He loves you SO MUCH that...”Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be.” (1 Cor. 15: 3-4) He took the punishment we deserved.

C- Choose to put your faith in Jesus. Jesus says that our response, or the way we accept it is by faith. In other words putting our trust in Him.