God Brought His People Home

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This week, kids at Antioch will learn that God brought His people back home. For 70 years God’s people had been living in Babylon. Some of God’s people were born in Babylon, but they knew that Israel was their home. Everyone was waiting for God to set them free and lead them home.

Finally, the time had come for God’s people to go back home.

Cyrus was the new king. The Lord did something amazing in Cyrus’s heart. God changed his heart and Cyrus declared that everyone from Israel was free to return home. The exile was over! King Cyrus even gave God’s people enough money and supplies to get home and to rebuild their city, their temple, their lives.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they began working to rebuild the temple. Once the foundations of the temple were completed a great celebration of God’s faithfulness happened. The priests dressed in special robes and the people cheered and cried. God had given them a home.

The temple was the place where God met with His people on earth. God wanted His people to be with Him and the people wanted to be with God. This isn’t the only time God lead His people and then invited them to return to Him. He has done that for you and I, too! When Jesus came, it was God’s way of reminding the world that we are made to be with Him and was His invitation to return to Him. We are made to be with God, and He knows we ought to be with Him. Right now, He is with us in spirit. And when Jesus returns, he will restore a greater home for all of His people, and we will spend eternity with Him.

We encourage you to remind your kids about this Bible story and reinforce these key points:

  • God changed the king’s heart and the king freed the people of Judah.
  • God brought the Israelites back home.
  • Zerubbabel led the people to build the temple.
  • Jesus came to give us a new home with Him forever.

Daniel Was Rescued

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This coming Sunday at Antioch, kids will learn about how God rescued Daniel from hungry lions. The people of Judah had been in captivity for a long time now. A new king, name Darius was on the throne. Daniel was much older now and King Darius trusted Daniel with the important job of being a supervisor over a large part of the kingdom.

Daniel was very good at his job. So good, in fact, that King Darius planned to put him in charge of the entire kingdom. The other supervisors and governors were jealous of Daniel. These jealous leaders wanted Daniel to mess up and get fired. Daniel was good and did the right thing every time.

Since Daniel was not messing up, the other leaders came up with a plan to get Daniel into trouble. They convinced King Darius to make a law saying people could only pray to the king for the next 30 days. If the people prayed to anyone else, they would be fed to the king’s lions. Daniel chose to honor God by only praying to God. Daniel’s jealous co-workers caught Daniel praying to God and turned Daniel in to the king. The king had no choice but to throw Daniel in to the lion’s den, even though the king did not want to.

Daniel was in the lions’ den all night long. When morning came, the king rushed to find out what happened to Daniel and discovered that Daniel was alive and unharmed! God protected Daniel and the king made it ok to pray to Daniel’s God.

Like Daniel, we can choose to trust and honor God. We can know that God alone is able to save us. God showed us His power to save from death when He brought Jesus back to life.

Take time this week to talk with your kids about these points in the story:

  • People were only supposed to pray to King Darius.
  • Daniel would not pray to anyone but God.
  • Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and God rescued Daniel.
  • God rescues us and give us life.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

This week, kids at Antioch will continue to learn about Daniel and his friends. Last week we learned that King Nebuchadnezzar invaded the nation of Judah and took them into exile in the land of Babylon. Daniel and three of his friends were part of the exile and chose to obey God in this new land.

It is while they were still in exile that this next story takes place. As you might imagine, the king felt as if he was on top of the world. He had experienced victory after victory, his riches were unfathomable, and he was feared throughout the land. With this highly inflated ego, he built a tall gold statue and issued a new law: “When you hear music, you are to fall down and worship the statue.” The penalty for defying this law was severe. “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire” (Dan. 3:6).

When music played, all the people bowed down and worshiped the gold statue. Well, almost everyone. Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to bow down and worship the statue. They would only worship the one true God. They knew that only He was worthy of their worship.

Some locals told on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But not even the threat of death could convince the three friends to renounce their loyalty to God. The friends’ trust in God enabled them to stand firm no matter what—even as they were tied up and thrown into the fire.

Then something miraculous happened. King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the fire! They were walking around, unharmed! The Lord not only rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, He was with them. God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire. Only He could rescue them.

As you review this story, help you child understand that:

  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego loved God.
  • When given an option, they chose to worship God.
  • God kept the friends safe from the fire.
  • God wants us to only worship Him.
  • God helps us obey Him.

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Daniel and His Friends Obeyed God

This week in Antioch Kids, we will begin learning about the life of Daniel. 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 as warned, the people were 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 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. 39:5-7.)

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, which was against the dietary laws of the Old Testament.

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. Help your kids understand that obedience is not always easy, but we trust God to give us strength to obey Him. As you review this story, remind your child that:

  • Daniel and his friends loved and obeyed God.
  • It is not always easy to obey God–but it is always best to obey God.
  • God helps us obey Him.
  • How can we obey God? We trust God to help us obey Him.

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Ezekiel Told About a Future Hope

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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.




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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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