Unit 16, Session 1: Daniel and His Friends Obeyed God

Dear Parents,

This week we began a 3 ­session story arc spanning much of Daniel’s life. God’s people had been warned by the prophets: “Turn from your sin, and turn back to God!” But the people did not listen. The nation of Judah was consumed by idol worship; the kings did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So God kept His word—He allowed His people to be taken from their land.

Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, the strong and powerful nation that overtook Judah’s capital of Jerusalem and brought God’s people from Israel to Babylon. Daniel was a young man in Judah when this happened. He might have heard about the prophet Isaiah’s warnings; now he witnessed their fulfillment. (See Isa. 39:5­7.)

King Nebuchadnezzar called for the best young men from Judah to be trained for service in the palace. Among these teens were Daniel and three of his friends. The chosen boys were given new identities—new names, new education, new culture. But Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah stayed faithful to the one true God and refused to make themselves unclean by eating the king’s food.

God blessed Daniel and his friends. Daniel’s obedience to God led to his favor with King Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel’s life would be a testament to God’s control over all things. God remembered His people during the exile and promised to bring them back to their homeland and set up a new kingdom.

Daniel chose to obey God no matter what, and God blessed Daniel and his friends. In an even greater way, Jesus always obeyed God. He came to earth and followed God’s plan to save sinners. Jesus never sinned, but He died the death we deserve. Jesus rose from the dead, and those who trust in Him receive God’s forgiveness and blessing.

Help your kids understand that obedience is not always easy, but we trust God to give us strength to obey Him. Point out that Daniel lived about 600 years before Jesus—the perfectly obedient promised One. We can trust that Jesus will return someday to set up His kingdom forever.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God helps us obey Him.

God let the king of Babylon take His people away.

Daniel and his friends loved and obeyed God.

Jesus always obeyed God.

Preschool

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

Daniel obeyed God.

Kids

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

Daniel obeyed God by not eating the king’s food.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

Daniel 2:20-­21 (Preschool: Daniel 2:20)

NEXT WEEK
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Daniel 3)

Unit 15, Session 4: Ezekiel Told About a Future Hope

Dear Parents,

Ezekiel had a tough job: ministering to people who had rejected God and suffered the consequences. The exiled people of Judah were eager to blame God for their circumstances. “It’s not fair!” they argued. (See Ezek. 18:25.)

Ezekiel told the people that they were at fault for their exile; their faithlessness had provoked God’s wrath. The people were getting what they deserved. “I take no pleasure in anyone’s death,” God said. “So repent and live!” (Ezek. 18:32).

God gave Ezekiel a vision. In this vision, God showed Ezekiel a valley of dry bones. The bones represented Israel. Ezekiel prophesied that God would put tendons, flesh, and skin on the bones. He would put breath in them so they would come to life.

Ezekiel encouraged the exiles. Apart from God, they were dead. But God was offering them life. He would restore their future. “My dwelling place will be with them,” God said. “I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezek. 37:27).

We too are dead in our sin. (Eph. 2:1) Sin separates us from God because He is holy. We are apart from God’s presence. But God does not delight in our death. He is patient and wants us to repent and live!

Hundreds of years after Ezekiel died, God’s presence came to His people through Jesus Christ, Immanuel—meaning, “God with us.” Jesus is the source of life; He offers us living

water. (John 4:10,14) If we do not drink of it, we will become like the dry bones. No life will be in us.

Christ changes that. Evangelical Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias1 wrote, “Jesus does not offer to make bad people good but to make dead people alive.” Indeed, He does. God saves us by grace, making us alive with Christ through the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:4­5)

God showed Ezekiel a valley of dry bones. The dry bones remind us what we are like when we sin. God showed Ezekiel His power to make dead people alive. We see God’s power at the cross. Jesus died to save sinners. God raised Jesus from the dead, and He gives us eternal life.

Help your kids understand that God is the author and giver of life and just as He pictured bringing dead bones back to life, He brings us to life when we trust in Jesus.

Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card 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 me love Him.

God showed Ezekiel some dry bones.

God promised to bring His people back to their land.

Jesus gives us life forever with God.

Preschool

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God planned to bring His people back home.

Kids

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God planned to bring His people back to their land and give them new life.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Ezekiel 11:19­-20 (Preschool: Ezekiel 11:19)

NEXT WEEK
“Daniel and His Friends Obeyed God” (Daniel 1)

Unit 15, Session 3: Judah Was Taken into Captivity

Dear Parents,

Warnings had come from the prophets for decades. God patiently waited for His people to turn from their sin. The prophet Jeremiah spared few details when he warned Judah what would happen if they did not turn from their evil ways. (See Jer. 25:1­-14.)

But the people of Judah did not change their ways. The kingdom had been declining for years, despite King Josiah’s efforts to prompt nationwide repentance. When King Josiah died, the people went back to their old ways, worshiping idols and disobeying the Lord.

The time of judgment had come. God used Nebuchadnezzar—the king of Babylon—to deport the people from Judah to Babylon where they would live in exile for 70 years.

Nebuchadnezzar went to Judah when Jehoiakim was king. He put Jehoiakim in chains and took him to Babylon. Jehoiachin became king, and Nebuchadnezzar came back for him too. Many of the people in Judah were taken, along with treasures from the Lord’s temple. Nebuchadnezzar put Zedekiah on the throne in Jerusalem.

The people of Judah were unfaithful to God. Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and God poured out His wrath on Judah. Nebuchadnezzar showed no mercy to the people of Jerusalem. The Babylonians set fire to the Lord’s temple and the king’s palace. They destroyed the wall around Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies carried most of the people away to Babylon as prisoners; only poor farmers were allowed to stay and work the land. The people were held captive in Babylon, serving the king for 70 years.

God was right to punish His people for their sin, but He kept His promise to provide a king through David’s family. Ultimately, God punished our sin through His Son, Jesus, and made Him our King forever.

Help your kids understand that God did not abandon His people. The prophet Jeremiah told what would happen next: “The days are certainly coming … when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah” (Jer. 30:3). God was going to save His people from captivity and raise up a new King—a forever King—from the line of David. (Jer. 30:9)

Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card 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 me love Him.

The last kings of Judah did not obey God.

Jeremiah said God’s people would be taken to Babylon.

God sent Jesus because He loves us.

Preschool

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God sent Judah away from their land.

Kids

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God sent Judah into captivity because of their sin.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Ezekiel 11:19­-20 (Preschool: Ezekiel 11:19)

NEXT WEEK
“Ezekiel Told About a Future Hope” (Ezekiel 37)

Unit 15, Session 2: Jeremiah Prophesied a New Covenant

Dear Parents,

Shortly after God had rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai. The terms of the covenant are found in Exodus 19.

God said through Moses, “If you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, … and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation” (vv. 5­6). God’s people responded, “We will do all that the LORD has spoken.”

But the people did not do all that the Lord had spoken. The people had God’s law, but they were not able to obey Him because of the sinfulness of their hearts. God punished His people for their unfaithfulness, eventually sending the Northern Kingdom into exile. But God was faithful; He preserved two tribes, keeping His promise to establish David’s house forever.

The Israelites in Jeremiah’s day broke the covenant just like their ancestors before them. The prophet Jeremiah told about a new covenant. He prophesied about a coming day when God would forgive sin and write His law on the hearts of His people. This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus did not come to get rid of the law. (See Matt. 5:17.) Through His sinless life, Jesus fulfilled the demands of the old covenant.

Jeremiah told about a day when God would forgive sin and change people’s hearts. Jesus made these words come true. God forgives our sin through His Son, Jesus. He changes us and gives us power through His Spirit to obey His commands.

Help your kids understand that obedience only comes from a heart changed by God and it is always a response to God’s goodness and love for us.

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.

Parents: We are going to start incorporating tithing into our classroom routine for the children. We will discuss the importance of tithing and what God’s word tells us about it. Would you please encourage your children Pre-K up to 5th grade to bring their Bibles each week as well. Please talk to your children and help them to remember their Bibles and their tithes each week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God helps me love Him.

People do not always love and obey God.

God made a new promise to forgive His people.

God sent Jesus to forgive His people forever.

Preschool

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God promised a better covenant.

Kids

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God promised a new and better covenant.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Ezekiel 11:19­-20 (Preschool: Ezekiel 11:19)

NEXT WEEK
“Judah Was Taken into Captivity” (2 Chronicles 36:1-­21)

Unit 15, Session 1: God Called Jeremiah

Dear Parents,

The people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah were afraid. They had seen the Assyrians destroy the Northern Kingdom and now they were not sure if they would be able to survive. God called on Jeremiah to speak to the people.

“I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born.” These words from Jeremiah 1:5 reveal a Creator who is sovereign, working out everything in agreement with the decision of His will. (Eph. 1:11)

Jeremiah 1:5 ends with a specific call for a man named Jeremiah: “I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah the priest. He lived just north of Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s ministry began when God called him. At that time, Josiah was king of Judah. Whom else did God call in the Old Testament? God called Noah to build an ark (Gen. 6); He called Abram to leave his home (Gen. 12:1­4); He called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt (Ex. 3).

Each time God calls someone, He equips him or her to do His work. Like Moses, Jeremiah was hesitant: “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth” (Jer. 1:6). God assured Jeremiah: “I will be with you” (Jer. 1:8).

God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to Judah. Judah was deep in idol worship and other sins. God’s judgment was coming. Jeremiah’s job was to warn them. God gave Jeremiah

two visions. The first—a branch of an almond tree—was a sign that God would keep His promise to send judgment, and He would do it soon. The second vision—a boiling pot—meant that God’s judgment was coming from the north. God would bring the Babylonians from the north as judgment on His people. Then God sent Jeremiah out to announce God’s declaration.

God had a plan for Jeremiah before Jeremiah was born. God called Jeremiah to share God’s message about sin. In a similar way, God had planned all along to send His Son, Jesus, to show them what God is like and to rescue them from sin.

Help your kids see God’s love even in the midst of His discipline and help them connect Jeremiah’s ministry to the ministry of Jesus. God called Jeremiah to warn the people of the judgment for their sin. Jesus also came to tell people to turn from their sin. He didn’t just tell them about the punishment, He took the punishment on Himself.

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.

Parents: We are going to start incorporating tithing into our classroom routine for the children. We will discuss the importance of tithing and what God’s word tells us about it. Would you please encourage your children Pre-K up to 5th grade to bring their Bibles each week as well. Please talk to your children and help them to remember their Bibles and their tithes each week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God helps me love Him.

God gave Jeremiah a message for Judah.

The people of Judah stopped loving God.

Jesus told people to love and obey God.

Preschool

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God chose Jeremiah as His messenger.

Kids

Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.

God chose Jeremiah as a prophet to the nations.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Ezekiel 11:19-­20 (Preschool: Ezekiel 11:19)

NEXT WEEK
“Jeremiah Prophesied a New Covenant” (Jeremiah 17:1-­10; 31:31­-34)

Unit 14, Session 3: Joel, Prophet to Judah

Dear Parents,

This week we turned our attention back to Judah and picked up the big story with God’s people in quite a bind. The prophet Joel spoke to the Southern Kingdom of Judah at a time when the nation faced a crisis. The land had been invaded by locusts; swarms of the insects had devastated the plants. Judah was also affected by a severe drought.

Joel looked back on these events and announced that these were not mere natural disasters—the Lord was judging the people for their sin.

In Deuteronomy 28, God told His people, “If you do not obey the Lord your God by carefully following all His commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you … You will sow much seed in the field but harvest little, because locusts will devour it” (vv. 15,38). That is exactly what happened.

These disasters were a wake­up call. Joel told the people to repent. He told them to fast. He told them to gather and repent together, crying out to God and asking Him to show them mercy. Then Joel looked ahead to the future. In essence he said, “You think this is bad? This is only the beginning!”

God’s judgment of Judah was not over. The Day of the Lord was coming, a day when God would show His strength through an invading army. For those who were not right with God, this was bad news. God’s power would be against them. So Joel implored them, “Return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to

anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.”

God had pity on His people and promised to restore them. God would rather forgive His people than punish them.

Joel warned God’s people about the Day of the Lord—a day when God will judge His enemies, free His people, and make the world right again. Those who trust in Jesus will escape God’s punishment for sin. Jesus was punished in our place, and we share in His righteousness.

Help your kids see that God takes sin seriously, but at the same time, He showers grace upon those who trust in Jesus. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for sins so people could be right with God. An ultimate Day of the Lord is coming, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

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.

Parents: We are going to start incorporating tithing into our classroom routine for the children. We will discuss the importance of tithing and what God’s word tells us about it. Would you please encourage your children Pre-K up to 5th grade to bring their Bibles each week as well. Please talk to your children and help them to remember their Bibles and their tithes each week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God loves people.

Joel was God’s prophet.

Joel said God wants to forgive people.

God forgives us through His Son, Jesus.

Preschool

What is God like? God is merciful and loving.

God warned His people to repent.

Kids

What is God like? God is slow to anger, merciful, and loving.

God warned His people to repent before the Day of the Lord.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Joel 2:13

NEXT WEEK
“God Called Jeremiah” (Jeremiah 1)

Unit 14, Session 2: Jonah, Prophet to Nineveh

Dear Parents,

Last week, we saw Hosea’s amazing love for his unfaithful wife that provided a picture of God’s greater love for His unfaithful people. This week, we looked at Jonah’s lack of love as a contrast.

The Book of Jonah is not primarily about Jonah and a big fish. While those elements are important, Jonah’s account centers around the compassion of God, not only for the people of Israel, but for people throughout the earth—even Israel’s worst enemies!

God spoke to Jonah: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me” (Jonah 1:2). God is the judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25) and He is sovereign over all the nations. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the rulers of Nineveh were notoriously evil and cruel. No wonder Jonah ran the other way!

No one can flee from God’s presence. (Ps. 139:9-­10) Through a storm and some time in the belly of a fish, God got Jonah’s attention. Jonah went to Nineveh. For three days, Jonah walked around the city. His message to the Ninevites was brief: “In 40 days Nineveh will be demolished!”

The people of Nineveh immediately repented, and God withheld His judgment. He passed over their sins and did not demolish the city. How did Jonah react? “Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious” (Jonah 4:1). Jonah refused to love the people of Nineveh, even when God did.

God rebuked Jonah and prompted him to examine his heart. He left Jonah—and the reader—with a question to consider: “Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh?” (Jonah 4:11).

God called Jonah to go to his enemies and call them to turn away from their sin, but Jonah refused. Instead, he ran away. Later, God sent Jesus to His enemies to call us to repentance. Jesus willingly obeyed. Jesus died on the cross to rescue us from sin.

Help your kids see that God’s love extends to the nations and that like Nineveh, we are all enemies of God undeserving of grace and mercy. Jesus is greater than Jonah. (Matt. 12:41) Jesus came calling all sinners, Jews and Gentiles, to repentance. He didn’t only bring a message, He truly loved us. He submitted to God’s will with joy and laid down His own life for our sins. God shows His mercy in the gospel, forgiving those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. God sends us out, like Jonah, to share the good news of 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.

Parents: We are going to start incorporating tithing into our classroom routine for the children. We will discuss the importance of tithing and what God’s word tells us about it. Would you please encourage your children Pre-K up to 5th grade to bring their Bibles each week as well. Please talk to your children and help them to remember their Bibles and their tithes each week.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

Babies and Toddlers

God loves people.

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh.

God sent Jonah to Nineveh because He loves people.

God sent Jesus because He loves us.

Preschool

What is God like? God is merciful and loving.

God showed mercy to the Ninevites.

Kids

What is God like? God is slow to anger, merciful, and loving.

God showed mercy to the Ninevites.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE: Joel 2:13

NEXT WEEK
“Joel, Prophet to Judah” (Joel 1–3)