The following lesson about Nehemiah helps students discover that God protects His people. This lesson was taught to a small group of children ranging from 5-10.
Bible Passage: Nehemiah 3-4, 6
Bible Story Title: God uses Nehemiah to lead His people to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls
Target Age Group: Ages 5-11 (K-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
Supply List: Bibles, picture or diagram of Jerusalem during Nehemiah’s day, index cards, activity pages, crayons, markers, building blocks,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that God protects His people.
Learning Activity #1: While students are waiting for others to arrive allow them to use building blocks to build a wall.
Learning Activity #2: (Prepare index cards before class with 2 sets of the names of the gates: Sheep, Fish, Old, Valley, Dung, Fountain, Horse, East, Inspection (if you have non readers use a picture with the text)) Memory Game-have the index cards with the names of the gates face down. Allow students to take turns finding matching gates.
Learning Activity #3: Activity pages
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Nehemiah 6:16 “And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.”
Bible Lesson: God uses Nehemiah to lead His people to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls
(Begin with prayer)
There was a time when cities built strong, high walls around their city for protection. Guards could stand on the high walls and see far into the distance to know if danger was coming toward their city.
Today do people still build walls to protect cities? (No) Why not? (Walls are no longer the best way to protect our cities because we have planes and other ways to attack a city) How do cities protect themselves today? (Answers will vary)
Last time you learned about Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king of Persia who lived in Susa. His brother Hanani and some other Jewish men came to visit him. Nehemiah asked about the Jews that had returned to their land and what was happening in Jerusalem. Nehemiah found out that the walls and gates were broken down and the Jews were in great trouble. This news made him very sad. Nehemiah fasted and prayed. When the king asked why he was so sad he told him about the condition of Jerusalem. The king allowed Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.
God uses Nehemiah to lead the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. (Chapter 3)
With the walls and gates ruined God’s name was not honored by the enemies who lived around Jerusalem. It was an opportunity for them to mock God and the Jews because His city Jerusalem was a mess. They might have said, “If God is the One True God why is His city lying in ruins? Is He not powerful enough to protect His people and His own city?”
We know from our study through the Old Testament that God is indeed the One True God. He is a holy God and must punish sin. His people sinned over and over again and did not repent and turn back to Him to be forgiven. He punished His people by allowing enemies to come in and attack them and destroy Jerusalem. Many Jews were taken to Babylon to live for 70 years. God allowed His people to return to Jerusalem after the 70 years were over.
Let’s turn to Nehemiah 3. Nehemiah was God’s leader who encouraged the Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The work of rebuilding the walls and repairing the gates was going to be a lot of work. It would take many people to work together to complete this job.
Nehemiah 3 tells us of the people who participated in rebuilding the walls and repairing the gates. The work was done by priests, leaders, and ordinary people (goldsmiths and perfumers (3:8), women (3:12)). Unfortunately, there were some important leaders in Tekoa who would not help Nehemiah do the work. (3:5)
(Show a diagram of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time) As we look at this diagram we can see how each section was repaired by groups of people and families all around the wall. The high priest and the other priests began repairing the Sheep Gate. There are many unfamiliar names in this chapter but each name is recorded to remind us that God used them to do His work. This reminds me of our lesson from Esther a few weeks ago when we learned that God uses ordinary people to carry out His plans. This work was important because God would use this wall to protect the Jewish people from their enemies and show them that God was with them (Neh. 1:9).
God uses Nehemiah to lead His people to be prepared for the enemies’ attacks. (Chapter 4)
There were some people who could see the Jewish people working to repair the walls. They did not like it one bit. In fact the sight of the walls and gates being repaired made them very angry. Let’s read Nehemiah 4:1.
God has an enemy. Do you know who His enemy is? (Satan, the evil one, the devil) God’s enemy wants to stop God’s plans and keep Him from being honored by others. Jesus says that the devil is a liar and a murderer. (John 8:44) The devil’s goal is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Peter tells God’s people to be awake and alert because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Sanballat and Tobiah made fun of God’s people and said that if a fox climbed up on their wall he would break it.
Nehemiah knew the work was God’s and He prayed for God to punish their enemies for mocking the Jews. Nehemiah and the Jews continued to work on the wall.
When the enemies saw that the wall was continuing to be built they planned to secretly attack Jerusalem and cause confusion.
God used Nehemiah to lead His people to set protection around them day and night.
The work was hard without the stress of knowing that the enemies could attack the Jews at any time. Let’s read 4:10-11.
Nehemiah placed people with swords, spears, and bows in the open places and around the wall to be ready to protect against the enemies’ attack.
Nehemiah told the people to “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families.” (4:14)
The enemies learned that their plan to secretly attack the Jews was found out and they were prepared to defend themselves. God’s people got back to work on repairing the walls and rebuilding the gates.
While the people worked Nehemiah had half of the people who stood guard armed for battle and the other half worked on the wall. Those who worked on the wall worked with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other. Nehemiah told the people that if they heard a trumpet blast they were to gather together. He reminded the people that “Our God will fight for us.” (4:19)
God used Nehemiah’s strong character to stand against his enemies. (Chapter 6)
When the enemies of God’s people could not keep them from working on the wall, they turned their attention to the leader of the rebuilding project, Nehemiah.
Sanballat sent Nehemiah an invitation to join him in the plain of Ono. Nehemiah knew that they intended to harm him so he refused their invitation and sent them with this message, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” They asked Nehemiah 4 times to come to Ono and 4 times he said no.
Next Sanballat sent a letter that said that Nehemiah and the Jews were planning to rebel against the king and that’s why they were rebuilding the wall so that Nehemiah could be their king.
Nehemiah sent back a message to Sanballat saying that nothing like that is happening because he was inventing the rumors himself.
Let’s read 6:9: For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Nehemiah’s prayers to God protected him from the enemies’ tricks.
The attempts of the enemies continued to fail, yet they didn’t stop trying. Nehemiah went to Shemaiah’s house. Shemaiah suggested that they go to the temple and lock the doors to hide because the enemies were coming to kill him in the night.
It was not appropriate for Nehemiah to run away from his enemies and he wouldn’t hide in the temple to protect himself. Nehemiah knew that God had not given Shemaiah this message. Sanballat and Tobiah hired him to cause Nehemiah to be afraid and sin so they could give him a bad reputation as the leader and make fun of him.
God was using Nehemiah to lead His people to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. The work was hard and the enemies made it more difficult by mocking and threatening the Jews and Nehemiah.
It was God’s work and He protected His people and they completed the wall in 52 days.
Read 6:16 “And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.”
The Jews had a physical wall that could protect their city. God is more powerful than any wall and promises to protect His people from their enemies.
The same enemy that tried to stop God’s work in Nehemiah’s day is the same enemy at work in our world today. The devil wants to stop God’s work. He doesn’t want people to be saved from their sins and become a part of God’s family. He blinds eyes of those who do not believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world (2 Cor. 4:4). He also tries to keep God’s people from doing the work God has given them to do.
Sin is our greatest enemy. If we do nothing about the sin in our lives we will be punished for our sins. We can build ‘walls’ by doing good works, being a nice person, giving money to the church, going to church etc. but none of those ‘walls’ will protect us from being punished for our sins. God must punish sin. “The wages of sin is death.” The ‘walls’ of doing good works, being a nice person, giving money or going to church will not protect you from the day God punishes sin.
God has provided a ‘wall’ of protection that will keep us safe from our deserved punishment of sin. Jesus came to the earth as fully God and fully man. He was sinless and died on the cross, shedding His blood so that all who believe in Him will be saved. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Just as the Israelites who put blood on their door posts were protected from death, Jesus shed blood cleanses us and removes our sins so we will not be punished for our sins and separated from God forever.
Close in prayer.
- Why did cities have walls around them during Bible times? (Protection)
- What kind of walls did Jerusalem have at the beginning of our story? (Broken walls, burned gates)
- Who were some of the people that worked to repair the wall and rebuild the gates? (priests, leaders, ordinary people, goldsmiths & perfumers)
- True or False every person living in Jerusalem helped repair the wall. (False the nobles from Tekoa would not do the work)
- Who became angry when the wall began to be repaired? (Sanballat and Tobiah)
- How did Nehemiah lead the people to protect themselves from the enemy? (Set people with weapons in place to protect the people day and night, people who were working worked with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other)
- How did Sanballat and Tobiah trick Nehemiah? (Asked him to come to Ono-planning to kill him, made up lies that Nehemiah was building the wall to become king, used Shemaiah to scare Nehemiah to run and hide in the temple)
- How did Nehemiah protect himself from these tricks from the enemies? (Prayed)
- How long did it take to rebuild the walls and gates? (52 days)
- Why were the nations around Jerusalem afraid? (They realized that it was God who helped the Jews rebuild the walls)