Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones coming to life to teach children about hope, including our ultimate hope, in God.
Needed: Bibles, clay or Play-Doh for each student, Fluxx card game or soft balls
Intro Activity: Re-Making
Give each student some clay or Play-Doh and tell them to make whatever they want. When they’re finished, have them show their creations. Then, tell everyone to roll their creations into a ball and start over. Tell them to try to make the exact same thing over again.
When they’re finished re-creating their creations, ask, Was it easy or difficult to make the exact same thing over again?
Was your first creation better or was your second creation better?
If something that God made gets destroyed, He can always remake it to be the exact same. He can even make the second one better if He wants to.
Ask, Can anyone think of some bad things that have happened to you? Some things that made you sad?
The two kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been conquered. God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer Israel and Judah because the people of Israel and Judah had done so many bad things. They had believed in and worshipped fake gods instead of the real God, and they had done all the wrong things that God didn’t do want them to do. So, God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer their kingdoms and carry the Israelite people back to Assyria and Babylon.
But even while the people were in Assyria and Babylon, God gave them prophets to teach them and to tell them the right things God wanted them to do. One of those prophets was a priest named Ezekiel, and one day, Ezekiel saw something very strange.
(Read Ezekiel 37:1-10 with your students.)
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’
“I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, You alone know.’
“Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”’
“So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”’ So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.”
What happened to the bones and the skeletons? (God made them come back to life.)
The Israelites and the people of Judah were very sad to have been conquered and to have to live in Assyria and Babylon, but God told Ezekiel that just like He could bring skeletons back to life, so He could bring the Israelites and the people of Judah back to their own country. Even though God had punished the Israelites, He would forgive them and bring them back. Even though they were sad for now, God would make things better later.
Did you know that God can always make things better for us?
Whatever sad thing happens to us, God can always make it better.
And just like God brought those skeletons back to life, the Bible tells us that one day, Jesus is going to bring everyone who has ever died back to life.
Jesus is going to come back down from Heaven, and He’s going to bring with Him the spirits of everyone who has died and gone to Heaven. Then, He’s going to make their bodies come back up from the grave and make them live again. They’ll look just like they did when they were alive, and they will never die again. They won’t even get hurt or get sick or get old. Their bodies will be perfect.
And if we believe in Jesus, then Jesus will make our bodies perfect too, so that we can live forever and ever with Him.
That’s pretty neat, isn’t it?
So, remember that no matter what happens to us, God can always make things better. God can even bring dead people back to life.
Game: Resurrection Tag
Pick one student to be It. That student is Death. Pick another student to be Jesus. When Death tags someone, they fall down and lie on the ground like they’re dead. Jesus can then come tag them, and they can get back up. If Death tags Jesus, Jesus must count to three (because Jesus was dead for three days), but can then get up again. If Jesus tags Death, the round is over. Play until everyone has had a chance to be both Death and Jesus or as long as time permits.
Remind students that Jesus will come back one day and will raise everyone who believes in Him back to life.
Game: Rule Reversal
Here are two versions of how you can accomplish this activity.
This simple card game requires players to gain two cards to win, but the cards they need constantly change based on what they or other players do. It’s a great game to illustrate the point that even when we’re in a bad situation, God can turn it around instantly.
Dodge Ball Points
If you don’t want to use the card game, you can illustrate the point by playing any familiar game, but then, as one team or student is about to lose, change the rules so that they’re winning. For example, if you’re playing dodgeball and one team is about to lose, announce that they were actually playing a version of the game in which teams score a point for every member of their team that gets hit with a ball. It’s an instant-game changer and shows that God can always turn our situations around.
Father God, You can do anything. Even when things are going bad for us, You can make things good again. One day, You will even bring everyone who believed in You back to life. Help us to trust You and to look forward to that day. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Hope in Exile.