Bible Lesson: Returning to the Word of God (Nehemiah 7-8)

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Returning to the Word of God (Nehemiah 7-8 Bible Lesson)
As students study Nehemiah 7-8 they will discover the importance of God’s Word in our daily lives to protect against the destructiveness of sin.  This lesson was created for older elementary students. You are welcome to modify it for any teaching context. We welcome your feedback in the comment section and tips for other readers.

Bible Passage: Nehemiah 7-8
Bible Story Title: Returning to the Word of God
Target Age Group:  Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
Credits: Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media

Supply List:  Bibles, dominoes (for closing activity), pens/pencils, word puzzles
Learning Goal:  Students will learn that remaining in God’s Word daily protects our lives from being destroyed by sin.
Learning Activity #1:  Ezra reads the Law word puzzle
Memory Verse:  Nehemiah 8:3 “He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand.  And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.”
Review what has been learned from Nehemiah:
Who is Nehemiah? (Cupbearer to the king)
Why did he mourn, fast and pray? (He learned that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down)
Who helped rebuild the wall? (The Jewish people, families, priests, goldsmiths, perfume-makers)
What made the work difficult? (Sanballat and Tobiah tried to get them to stop using different tactics)
How did Nehemiah handle the difficulties? (Prayed, stationed armed guards, kept working)
How long did it take to rebuild the walls? (52 days)

Bible Lesson:  Returning to the Word of God (Nehemiah 7-8)

We have just answered a few questions to help refresh our memories about what we have been learning in Nehemiah.  Questions help us to think and remember or to seek out the answer if we don’t know.
Sin Destroys
Why was Jerusalem in need of repair in the first place? (Enemies came in and destroyed the city and took the Jewish people as captives to live in Babylon) We can find the answer to this question in 2 Chronicles 36:15-21.
God had promised Abraham that someone from his family would be the Savior.  The Jewish people were men and women born from Abraham’s family.  God gave the Jewish people His Laws and told them how to live a life that pleased Him.  He told them if they obeyed Him they would be blessed.  He also told them if they disobeyed He would punish them (they would be cursed).
God always keeps His promises and even though the Jewish people sinned against Him again and again, He was kind and merciful to them.  (“The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place.” 2 Chr. 36:15)
God Restores
With God’s help the Jewish people led by Nehemiah were able to repair the walls in 52 days.  Now that the walls were repaired the city was protected from their enemies.

  • When a person places their faith in Jesus to save them from their sins, God makes them into a new creation the moment they believe. (2 Cor. 5:17, Eph 2:1-5)

Although rebuilding the walls was hard work, there was more work for the Jewish people to do. Let’s read Nehemiah 7:1-2.  What character traits are mentioned about Nehemiah’s brother Hanani?  (Man of integrity and feared God more than most men do) Would people say this about you?  Are you trustworthy?  Do you trust and obey God?

  • Once a person becomes a believer he/she still has work to do.  A few weeks ago we talked about building up our faith and building up other believers.  What do we need to do to build up our faith? (Read, study and obey God’s Word)

The rest of Nehemiah 7 is about registering the families that were once exiles living in other countries and returned to Jerusalem.  God had promised that the Messiah or the Savior of the world would be born from one of Abraham’s descendants.  Throughout the Bible we see records of families. Records of families are called genealogies.  We might find reading lists of families boring but these records were important.  For example let’s look at Neh. 7:7.  Now let’s flip over to Matthew 1:12.  What name is written in both of these verses?  (Zerubbabel)  Matthew 1 is the genealogy of Jesus the promised Savior.  The Jewish family records had been saved over thousands of years and they are used in Matthew 1 to show that Jesus was born from the family of Abraham.
Before we move into Nehemiah 8 (where the focus of our lesson is going to be) let’s look at Neh. 7:61 & 64.
If a family could not be found in the Jewish family record (genealogy) they were excluded from the privileges of priesthood.

  • A believer’s name is written down in the Book of Life to protect them from being punished and spend eternity in the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11-15)
  • A believer becomes part of a royal priesthood because they belong to God. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Return to God’s Word
Turn to Nehemiah 8.  The walls have been rebuilt, the people have been registered and now they want to hear God’s law read.  Read verses 1-3.
Where did the people gather? (Water Gate)
Who brought out the Book of the Law of Moses? (Ezra)
Who made up the group of people who gathered? (Men, women and all who were able to understand)
How long did Ezra read the Word of God? (Daybreak till noon)
How did the people listen to the Word of God? (Attentively)
When you are hearing God’s Word taught how would others describe the way you listen?
Read verse 4.
What did Ezra stand on? (A high wooden platform)
How many people stood on the platform with him? (13)
Read verses 5-6.
How were all the people able to see Ezra? (He was standing above them)
What did the people do when Ezra opened the Book of the Law? (Stood up)
When Ezra praised the Lord how did the people respond? (Amen! Amen! Bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Most people in Nehemiah’s day did not know how to read.  It had been a long time since they heard God’s Word read to them.  As they heard Ezra read God’s Word and the Levites helping the people understand what they were hearing they began to weep.
Read verses 9-11.  Why do you think the people began to weep? (Allow responses.) When the people heard God’s Law they realized how unfaithful they had been.  They understood that they had disobeyed God’s laws.  Because they had disobeyed His laws they had been punished and their city had been destroyed.
Rejoice in God’s Faithfulness
Why did Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites tell the people not to weep?  (The day is sacred to the LORD your God) Even though the people were very sad about their disobedience the day was to celebrate God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people.
Read verse 12.  The people obeyed and celebrated with great joy.
As the people gathered and listened to God’s Words they realized that they had not been celebrating a feast that God had instructed them to keep.  The celebration is called the Feast of Booths.  This feast would remind God’s people of His faithfulness as they camped in the desert and were being led to the Promised Land.
The people were so excited to be able to celebrate this feast.  They went out and gathered branches and built booths on their roofs and stayed in them for 7 days.
As we finish this chapter let’s read verses 17-18.  As the Jewish people returned to God’s Word they were able to rejoice in remembering His faithfulness.
God’s people had turned away from Him and didn’t obey His Words.  When they began to disobey Him it eventually destroyed them and their city was ruined and they were scattered to live in lands where people did not worship the One True God.
Disobeying God is sin.  Sin destroys our lives.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day.  He came to rescue us from eternal destruction.  When we believe in Jesus He makes us into a new creation.  When we become believers it is important to daily study God’s Word and obey to protect our lives from the destruction that sin brings.
As we close in prayer let’s take a few minutes to confess any sin that God has brought to our attention as we studied Nehemiah.  Ask Him to help you remain in His Word daily so you can guard your life from sin.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:
What part of our study interested you the most? Why?
When you hear God’s Word being taught during church what will you put into practice from this lesson?
Closing Activity:
Gather students in a circle on the floor and place fallen dominoes in a circle.  Talk about how the fallen dominos remind us of the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed because the people disobeyed.  Have the students work together to build a wall with the dominos.

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