Ezekiel Told About a Future Hope

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 9.10.38 AM

This week at Antioch, kids will learn about Ezekiel. Ezekiel had a tough job: he had a message from God to give to people who had chosen not to worship God–in fact, they were worshipping other things instead! Because of this, there were consequences. The people of Judah had been exiled–meaning they were taken to a foreign land. Unfortunately, the people of Judah blamed God for their circumstances. “It’s not fair!” they argued. (See Ezek. 18:25.)

Ezekiel told the people that exile was their own fault; God longed for His people to love and obey Him.  God does not enjoy punishing people… in fact, He told them to, “repent and live!” (Ezek. 18:32). He wants good things for His creation.

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

Ezekiel encouraged the people of Judah. Apart from God, they were dead. But God was offering them life– good life!  God said that His dwelling place will be with them and then said “I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezek. 37:27).

We, too, know that life is not as it should be. We choose to do our own thing over and over again instead of trusting and obeying God. This is called sin. Sin ruins things! God does not want this for His creation–He 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 has come to give us the fullness of life and to join Him in His work of making things as they ought to be.

As you review this story with your child, help him or her understand:

  • God showed Ezekiel dry bones–then gave them life.
  • God is the  giver of life.
  • God gives us new life when we trust Jesus!
  • We obey God because He loves us.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Jeremiah and the Kings of Judah

Warnings had come from the prophets for decades. God patiently waited for His people to change and return to Him. 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 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 the land of 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.

Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. 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.

Through this story, the people of Judah learned that they should love and obey God. We can learn the same lesson from this story: we should love and obey God! As you review this story, remind your child of these key points:

  • The kings of Judah were not obeying God.
  • God gave Jeremiah a message for the people: obey God!
  • The people learned they should love and obey God.
  • We obey God because He loves us.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 8.57.22 AM

God Promises a New Covenant

Coming up this week in Antioch Kids we will discover God’s exciting plan for a newer and better covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two or more people. God has been making covenants with His creation since the beginning of time. These covenants  always require obedience. But throughout history, people choose to do what they want instead of what God wants.

As you probably know, it is impossible to always get God’s rules right. The people of Judah were no different. They decided to worship things that were not God. God sent Jeremiah to remind the people of Judah to worship God and then gave a warning. If they did not listen to this warning, God would allow His loved people to go into exile. Exile was like a long timeout for the people of Judah. But good news! God is good and He did not plan on leaving His people in timeout forever.

Jeremiah had more to tell the people of Judah–and it was good news. God would send His son Jesus to keep all of the rules for us. Jesus was going to live a perfect life and be a perfect sacrifice so that God would see us as good, too.

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • The people of Judah could not keep God’s rules.
  • God put the people into a time out called exile.
  • God made a new promise to keep His rules for us.
  • Jesus was the one who kept God’s promise.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 10.13.39 AM

God Chose Jeremiah

This Sunday kids at Antioch will learn about the people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They were afraid! They had watched as the Northern Kingdom, Israel, was destroyed. Now they were concerned for their own safety. God called on Jeremiah to give a message to the people.

Each time God calls someone, He helps him or her to do His work. Like Moses, Jeremiah was afraid: “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).

The people in the land of Judah were in deep trouble because they had chosen to worship things that were not God. Jeremiah’s job was to warn them–return to the Lord and stop sinning!

Before Jeremiah told this message to the people of Judah, God gave him two visions. In the first he saw a branch of an almond tree. This was a sign that God was watching and that Jeremiah could trust Him. In the second vision he saw a boiling pot which meant that their was trouble coming from the north. Jeremiah had the big and terrifying job of explaining these visions to the people of Judah.

God planned to use Jeremiah to deliver this message long before Jeremiah was born. In a similar way, God had planned all along to send His Son, Jesus, to show us what God is like and to show all of creation that God is love.

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths

  • The people of Judah stopped obeying God.
  • Jeremiah was given a message to tell Judah:  love and obey God.
  • Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.
  • We are made to love and obey God.

Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 12.27.25 PM

 

Joel, Prophet to Judah

This week, kids at Antioch will take a look at the people in the land of Judah and find quite a mess! The land had been invaded by locusts; swarms of the insects had devastated the plants and the food supply. There was also a severe drought in the land of Judah. This meant there was no food and no water in the land of Judah.

These disasters were a wake-up call. Joel told the people of Judah to repent—which means to express sincere regret for sin. He knew that sometimes repentance can be a show to get out of trouble. But that is not what God is interested in. He wants genuine change! He wanted the people of Judah to stop their selfish and evil ways.

Joel then explained why the people should repent— he said, “Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love.” (Joel 2:13 ”) God’s mercy and love is more powerful than His wrath and anger.

God’s response is beautiful. He said that He would reverse the affects of these disasters—He promised to restore the devastated land, bring it back to life, and make it abundant once more. With a God of mercy, there is always hope!

The book of Joel explores profound ideas. First, Joel shows that sin causes devastating destruction in our world. Then, Joel reminds us that God longs to show mercy. Last, Joel leads us to hope, reminding us that God will one day defeat the evil in the world and also the evil inside of us! His healing presence will make all things new. Joel gives us hope for the restoration of all creation— a new Eden! In the mean time, God’s own spirit will empower his followers so we can truly love and follow Him.

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • Joel was a prophet with a message from God.
  • The people of Judah were not obeying God.
  • Joel wanted the people to repent.
  • God is full of love and mercy.
  • God loves people.
  • One day, God will make all things new!

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 1.56.08 PM

Jonah, Prophet to Nineveh

Last week, kids at Antioch 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 will look at Jonah, which offers a powerful contrast.

The Book of Jonah is not primarily about Jonah and a big fish. While that part of the story sure is interesting, the story of Jonah centers around the mercy of God for people throughout the earth—even Israel’s worst enemies!

God spoke to Jonah. He said:  “Get up, go to the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it, because I see the evil things they do”(Jonah 1:2). Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the rulers of Nineveh were notoriously evil and cruel. No wonder Jonah ran the other way!

However, no one can outrun God. (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!” He advised them to stop sinning and instead live like God instructs.

The people of Nineveh immediately repented—they begged God to forgive them, then they mourned their bad behaviors. They put on sack cloth and sat in ashes and cried out to God.  And God withheld His judgment. He did not demolish the city.

How did Jonah react? “This made Jonah very unhappy, and he became angry.” (Jonah 4:1). Jonah refused to thank God for the mercy He showed to the Ninevites, and refused to love the people of Nineveh, even when God did.

God was not pleased by this response and prompted Jonah to examine his heart. He left Jonah—and the reader—with a question to consider: “Shouldn’t I show concern for the great city Nineveh, which has more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know right from wrong, and many animals, too??” (Jonah 4:11).

God loves people—and, as kids will also observe, loves the animals He has made, too! His love never ends, and His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). Mercy means “being treated better than you deserve”—the story of Jonah is filled mercy. God treated Jonah better than he deserved. God treated the Ninevites better than they deserved. And God treats us better than we deserve every single day! His love is unending and his kindness is real!

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • God loves people.
  • God sent Jonah to Nineveh because He loves people.
  • Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh.
  • God sent Jesus because He loves us.
  • What is God like? God is merciful and loving.
  • What is mercy? Being treated better than you deserve.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 9.28.09 AM

Hosea: Prophet to Israel

This week, we encountered the curious instructions God gave the prophet Hosea. God gave the prophet Hosea a message to tell to the people of Israel. In this message, God explained how much He does not like sin–in fact, discipline was coming. But the message didn’t end there. Hosea also brought a message of God’s love—a love that never gives up.

God used Hosea’s own life to show Israel what a never-gives-up kind of love looks like. (Please note: your child learned an age-appropriate version of this story in his or her class). The short version of the story goes like this…God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. He told Hosea that his wife would not be faithful to him. She would have children with different men. Still, Hosea obeyed God. He chose Gomer as his wife. Just as God said, Gomer was not faithful to Hosea. She went after other lovers. Can you imagine Hosea’s grief each time he found his wife with another man? It might have seemed easier and even fair for Hosea to throw up his hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with you!”

The Israelites were similar to Gomer in that they kept running away from God and loving many other things more than God.  It might have seemed easier and even fair for God to throw up His hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with you!” But God’s love never gives up.

God didn’t give up on His unfaithful people after all they had done. In fact, He did the exact opposite: He drew near. He came to us in the person of Jesus!

Homer did not love Hosea–she did things that made Hosea sad, but Hosea still loved his wife. Similarly, we do not love God like we were made to–we do things that make God sad, too. But God still loves us! One way He has shown us His love is by sending Jesus to be our Savior.

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • God loves people.
  • God sent prophets to help His people know how to live best.
  • Hosea was a prophet.
  • Hosea’s life showed Israel how much God loved them.
  • Jesus’ life shows how much God loves us!
  • What is God like? God is merciful and loving.

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 12.51.15 PM

God’s Very Good Idea!

In the beginning, God had a very good idea! God’s idea was to make people…lots of people…lots of different people…who would all enjoy loving him and all enjoy loving each other. They would all be made in His image—they would all have a little part of God to show to the world.

So God got to work! He made a beautiful world for the first people. And he said to them: Be happy! Enjoy loving me and loving each other. Look after and enjoy the earth, too! God continued creating people— all were made in His image. And all of them were different. Some were boys. Some were girls. Some liked reading. Some had darker skin. Some had lighter skin. Some liked riding bikes. Some had curly hair. In fact, God made every person!

And God is still doing this—He had the very good idea to create you! You are a part of God’s very good idea!

We are all different, but we are all the same, too. People might look different or speak different or play different. But they are all made in God’s image. God created each of us equally with dignity, value and beauty. He did this so we can love Him and love one another! We are part of God’s very good idea!

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • Every person is made by God.
  • Every person is made to enjoy loving God and loving each other.
  • Every person is made in the image of God.
  • We are all different—with unique interests and characteristics.
  • We are all the same—humans made by God!
  • We are a part of God’s very good idea!

To reinforce these truths in accessible kids language, we recommend God’s Very Good Idea, by Trillia Newbell.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 11.57.43 AM.png

Jesus Was Born

Last week, kids at Antioch learned about a prophet named Isaiah who wrote promises from God about the coming Messiah, Jesus. God promised a Savior and finally after all the years of waiting, Jesus was born! This week, kids were invited to think about the night Jesus was born into the world.

He wasn’t born in a hospital. And he wasn’t born in a warm home. Instead, he was born in a stable, which is a lot like a barn or even a rock cave. When Jesus was born, he wasn’t greeted by a doctor or a nurse. Instead, there were animals sharing his newfound space.

Jesus was born as a baby, just like we were. He had to learn to talk just like we did. He had to learn to walk like we did. He had to do work and chores like we do. He became hungry and thirsty like we do. He laughed and cried, felt pain, and probably even got sick sometimes, too. He lived like us in many ways. But Jesus was unlike us in many ways, too.  Though He was fully human, He also is fully God. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

Imagining God is very hard! When Jesus came to us, it gave people the chance too see and know God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He came to Earth so we could know that God is real, that God is good, and that God can be trusted.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday where we celebrate Jesus coming to earth. But the funny thing about Christmas is that we can’t fully celebrate it without Easter! Easter is when we remember the death and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus showed his power—he took all the sin, sadness, and sickness of the world and paid the price for them. It cost him his life—and he did this on purpose. But he didn’t stay dead— he came back to life and invited every person—that means you and me!— to turn from our sin and trust God.

Now we are waiting for the day when another of God’s promises will be fulfilled—the day when Jesus will return and fix the whole earth and gather His people to live with Him forever in His perfect Kingdom.

If there’s one thing the Christmas story teaches us, it’s that God always keeps His promises. Our God is a good God who left heaven and came to Earth so we would know His love. That is a great reason to celebrate. As you remind your child of this story, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • People were expecting the Messiah.
  • An angel told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus the Messiah!
  • Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem for a census.
  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
  • An angel announced that God’s promise had been fulfilled: Jesus was born!
  • Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
  • Jesus told people to turn from their sin and trust God.
  • We can always trust God!

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 11.45.00 AM

Anticipating the Coming King

This week, kids at Antioch will learn what Isaiah said about the coming Messiah. God promised a Savior, but then the people had to wait. From our perspective, some promises take a very long time for God to fulfill, but His timing is absolutely perfect. God’s promise to send Jesus seemed to take a very long time to come to pass, but it happened at the perfect time.

You probably know how the Bible starts: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Then God made Adam and Eve and put them in the garden of Eden. Not long after that, Adam and Eve sinned, which is the first time we hear about the One who will come to rescue people from sin. A lot happened between sin entering the world and Isaiah’s writing

When Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah, it wasn’t something that was going to happen the next week or year. He told about the Messiah 700 years before Jesus was even born! God’s people were waiting for God to keep His promise. Each generation looked forward to the Messiah’s arrival. Now, thousands of years later, we can look back on Jesus’ birth and celebrate that God kept his word. Jesus, our Messiah, came!

When we are in desperate situations, it’s so easy to panic and let fear control us. When we hear that help is on the way, we are relieved. When Isaiah was alive, the world was in big trouble. Sin had broken nearly every single part of it. Isaiah told the people not fret—help was coming! When Jesus was born, he left heaven and came to Earth to help us.

Likewise, our sin leaves us in a desperate situation because no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop sinning. We need someone to help us!  When Jesus came, He died on the cross to pay for our sin and invite us back to God. But Jesus’ restoration of the world isn’t done yet. One day Jesus will return to fix the things that are still broken! We can feel relieved knowing that Jesus has come and is coming again. We can trust in Jesus to free us from the power and penalty of sin now. We can know that someday we will even be free from the presence of sin too!

As Christmastime nears, we celebrate because Jesus chose to be born so He could make a way for our sins to be forgiven. We celebrate at Christmas because it’s proof of God’s fulfilled promise! We can always trust God.

As you remind your child of this story, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • Isaiah was given a message for the people.
  • The message told of the Messiah!
  • 700 years later, Jesus–our Messiah– was born!
  • God kept His promise.
  • We can always trust God.

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 11.44.43 AM