Unit 18, Session 6: Malachi the Prophet

Dear Parents,

This week was our final week in the Old Testament as we looked at the Book of Malachi. After many years living as prisoners in Babylon, God’s people had returned to Judah. They had worked hard and overcome opposition to rebuild the temple and the walls around Jerusalem. Surely God would restore them … finally! But nothing happened. As they waited, they faced drought and economic uncertainty. God’s people probably didn’t feel like God had blessed them at all.

“It is useless to serve God,” they said. “What have we gained by keeping His requirements?” (Mal. 3:14).

Did God still care? It wasn’t long until they fell back into the same patterns of sin that led to their exile in the first place: idolatry, covetousness, hypocrisy, arrogance, and abuse of the poor.

But God did still love His people. He had been working out His divine plan of redemption, and He never gave up on them. God sent a message to His people through the prophet Malachi.

Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He spoke to God’s people approximately 100 years after the end of the Babylonian captivity. Malachi’s message from God was a wake­up call.

God communicated through Malachi that the people’s lack of blessing didn’t mean that God didn’t care. God exposed His people’s sin and made clear that their actions merited a curse. God’s people needed to repent and turn back to God. “But for you who fear My name,” God said, “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal. 4:2).

Malachi was a messenger—a prophet—who told God’s people to repent. Malachi also told about another messenger God would send. This messenger, John the Baptist, would call people to repent and get them ready for a final Messenger, Jesus Christ. Jesus would bring good news of salvation.

Help your kids understand that 400 years of silence followed Malachi’s prophecy; God did not communicate to His people. This period brings us to the New Testament, when the silence would be broken by the last prophet before Jesus, John the Baptist. His words about Jesus in John 1:29 offered hope to all who heard: “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God keeps His promises.

Malachi told people God’s words.

God promised to send a messenger before the Messiah.

Jesus is God’s Son, the Messiah.

Preschool

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.

God told His people to repent.

Kids

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

God told His people to repent and get ready for Jesus.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Lamentations 3:22-­23

NEXT WEEK
“From Abraham to Jesus” ( Matthew 1:1-­17)

Unit 18, Session 5: Ezra Read the Law

Dear Parents,

Ezra traveled to Jerusalem with a purpose. God’s people had spent 70 years in exile, and they needed to be reminded how to live. As a scribe, Ezra was an expert on the law of Moses, and he had “determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the people had rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls. They gathered together at the Water Gate to hear the law of Moses. Men, women, and children—anyone who could understand—came to listen to the reading of God’s Word.

From early morning until midday, Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses. He stood on a high wooden platform where everyone could see and hear him. Ezra opened the book of the law, and everyone stood up. The Levites helped the listeners understand the words of the law.

The people reacted strongly to hearing and understanding the law of Moses. Verse 9 says the people were weeping. The law revealed their sin.

God’s Word is powerful. When Ezra read God’s Word, the people changed their ways and loved God more. The Bible says that Jesus is “the Word.” Jesus is God who came to live with people on earth. Jesus has the power to change our hearts.

Help your kids recognize that we cannot meet God’s requirements. We need a Savior. God sent Jesus to obey the law perfectly and die for our sins. We can trust in Him for salvation.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God keeps His promises.

Ezra read God’s words to the people.

The people heard God’s words and loved God.

Jesus spoke God’s words.

Preschool

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.

Ezra taught the people God’s Word.

Kids

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

Ezra read God’s Word to teach the people how to obey God.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Lamentations 3:22­-23

NEXT WEEK
“Malachi the Prophet”(Malachi 1—4)

Unit 18, Session 4: Jerusalem’s Walls Were Rebuilt

Dear Parents,

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 from local governors who planned to attack God’s people. God’s people armed themselves and kept working. They 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). Now God’s people were protected from their enemies.

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.

Help your kids see that God provided the way for us to be protected from our enemies, sin and death. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. When we repent and trust in Jesus, He frees us from sin and death. We still sin, but we are no longer slaves to sin. (See Rom. 6:17­-18.) We may die a physical death as a result of sin, but we have eternal life. (See John 11:25-­26; Rom. 6:23.)

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God keeps His promises.

Nehemiah led the people to build the city walls.

God kept His people safe as they worked.

Jesus always obeyed God.

Preschool

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.

God led Nehemiah to rebuild the walls.

Kids

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

God used Nehemiah to lead His people as they rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Lamentations 3:22­-23

NEXT WEEK
“Ezra Read the Law” (Nehemiah 8:1-­12)

Unit 18, Session 3: Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem

Dear Parents,

This week and the next two weeks, we are studying the story of Nehemiah and Ezra. Nehemiah was a Jew living in Persia. He served as the king’s cupbearer, a position of great trust; the cupbearer made sure no one poisoned the king’s drink. Sometimes the cupbearer even tasted some of the drink himself to ensure it was safe.

When the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians, King Cyrus allowed God’s people to return to Judah. Two or three million Jews had originally been deported, but only a remnant—50,000 people—returned. They set up their homes and rebuilt God’s temple in Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s story takes place after Ezra led a second group of exiles back to Judah.

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, their obedience would lead to blessing. 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. No one was supposed

to be sad in the presence of the king; it was an insult to his greatness. Nehemiah explained the plight of his city. The king granted him leave and gave him letters to ensure his safe passage. 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 believe God will keep His promise to give us—His people—a home. Jesus obeyed God perfectly. He died on the cross and rose again so we can have a home with Him forever.

Help your kids understand that when we repent and trust in Jesus, we can trust His promise to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house, where we will be with Him forever. (See John 14:3.)

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God keeps His promises.

Nehemiah prayed for God to keep His people safe.

God used Nehemiah to build the city walls.

Jesus hears us when we pray.

Preschool

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.

Nehemiah prayed that God would help His people.

Kids

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

Nehemiah prayed that God would help His people rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Lamentations 3:22-­23

NEXT WEEK
“Jerusalem’s Walls Were Rebuilt” (Nehemiah 3:1—6:16)

Unit 18, Session 2: God Saved His People through Esther

Dear Parents,

During the time of Queen Esther—more than 450 years before Jesus was born—the Jewish people were scattered around the Persian Empire. The Book of Esther tells the unlikely story of a young Jewish woman who, as the queen of the Persian Empire, saved her people.

After Esther was chosen as the queen of Persia, she received news that an evil man named Haman had a plan to kill all of the Jews. The Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God by name, but God clearly worked through Esther and her cousin Mordecai to save the Jewish people. Mordecai even suggested to Esther that God’s hand was in the situation: “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esth. 4:14)

If Haman was successful in killing all the Jews, his evil plan would put God’s promises in jeopardy. God had promised to bless the world through Abraham’s family and to send a King from the line of David who would rule forever.

Esther had a choice to make. She could do nothing and face destruction (Esth. 4:13­-14), or she could risk her life by approaching the king to plead for the protection of the Jews. Esther and the Jewish people prayed and fasted for three days before Esther went to the king.

Esther was welcomed by the king, who offered to give her anything she wanted—up to half of the kingdom. Esther told the king of Haman’s plot against her people. The king

ordered that Haman be killed instead!

God was in control over Haman’s evil plan to destroy the Jews. Like Haman, Satan wants to destroy believers. Satan thought he had won when Jesus died on the cross, but God raised Jesus from the dead and defeated Satan once and for all.

Help your kids understand that Jesus is the greater Esther. Esther risked her life to rescue God’s people, but Jesus gave up His life to rescue God’s people.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God keeps His promises.

Esther trusted God to help her talk to the king.

God used Esther to keep His people safe.

God sent Jesus because He loves us.

Preschool

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.

God used Esther to save His people.

Kids

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

God used Esther at just the right time to save His people.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Lamentations 3:22­-23

NEXT WEEK
“Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem”(Nehemiah 1—2)

Unit 18, Session 1: Esther Became Queen

Dear Parents,

This week we began a two­ part session on Esther and how God used her to save His people. The Babylonian captivity had ended while Cyrus was king of Persia. 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.

The king of Persia was now Ahasuerus, also known by his Greek name, Xerxes. Esther was a young Jewish girl whom Ahasuerus had chosen to be his queen. The former queen had defied the king and was promptly replaced. Esther did not reveal to the king that she was a Jew.

Esther had been an orphan, so her cousin Mordecai adopted her. Mordecai kept in touch with Esther while she lived in the palace. One day, the king gave Haman the Agagite a very important position in the kingdom. The king even commanded the people to bow down to Haman. But Mordecai refused.

Haman was a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites. The nations of Israel and Amalek did not get along. Haman was angry about Mordecai’s defiance, but instead of just punishing Mordecai, he planned to kill all 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. Esther could be killed for approaching the king without permission. But Esther was willing to take the chance and explain her people’s plight.

God’s plan all along was to send the Messiah through Abraham’s family. Haman’s evil plan might have stopped God’s plan, but God was in control. He was working out a plan to use Esther to rescue His people and make the way for His Son, Jesus, to come into the world.

Help your kids understand that the survival of God’s people was essential to God’s plan and that Satan tried to stop God’s plan any way he could. But God used Esther to rescue His people and make the way for His Son, Jesus, to come into the world.

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God keeps His promises.

God made Esther queen.

Esther asked God’s people to pray for three days.

Jesus hears us when we pray.

Preschool

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful.

Esther became queen.

Kids

Does God keep His promises? Yes, God is always faithful even when we are not.

Esther agreed to help her people.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Lamentations 3:22-­23

NEXT WEEK
“God Saved His People through Esther” (Esther 5—10)

Unit 16, Session 5:​ ​The Temple Was Completed

 Dear Parents,

Some time after the temple’s foundation was laid, the work stopped. With the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, God’s people resumed the work of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Approximately 15 years had passed without progress.

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. 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 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. Jesus said that He is greater than the temple. (Matt. 12:6)

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. Now God dwells not in the temple, but directly with His people. Because of Jesus, we don’t need a temple anymore.

Help your kids see that in Christ, we find the substance of which the temple was a shadow. The Lord was not confined to a building, yet deity lives fully in Christ. (See Col. 2:9.) Jesus is our High Priest. He entered the most holy place for us. (Heb. 6:19­-20) The priest offered the blood of animals, but Christ offered His own blood once and for all. (Heb. 9:25­-26) He gives us access to the throne of grace. (Heb. 10:19­-22)

Check this session’s Activity Page as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God helps us obey Him.

God helped His people rebuild the temple.

Darius wrote a letter to help God’s people.

Because of Jesus, we can worship God anywhere.

Preschool

How can we obey God? We trust God to help us obey Him.

God helped His people rebuild the temple.

Kids

How can we obey God? We trust God to give us strength to obey Him.

God helped His people rebuild the temple.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE:  Daniel 2:20-­21 (Preschool: Daniel 2:20)

NEXT WEEK
“Esther Became Queen” ( Esther 1—4)