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This thread of posts is for lessons, ideas and resources for teaching about Ezra.



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Ezra doesn't have a lot of material here at our site because it is not a popular story in the Rotation Model.


Here's why:


Because we teach EACH story for four to five weeks in a row, we have to prioritize which stories we will teach our children. Over a four to five year period, we will only get to cover 40 or 50 stories (and some of them repeats, like Exodus, Advent, and Holy Week stories).   


Where some Rotation churches 'make up' for this scheduling issue is during the summer... by offering two or three week 'Rotations' on "minor" stories (which isn't to say "unimportant" stories), or by covering these extra stories outside of Sunday School (such as in a fellowship or children's sermon).

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer
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Ezra Summary for Children and Teachers

The story of Ezra takes place just after the story of Daniel in the Bible. Ezra's story is really part of a trilogy of leaders who helped RE-establish the Jewish faith in Jerusalem after so many years of Exile.

The three "rebuilders:"  Zerubbbabel -> Ezra -> Nehemiah

Possible Themes and Teaching Insights:

Who's our authority for what we do?  King Artaxerxes?

Do you simply "rebuild" or do you improve on what was there before?

What did your "exile" (time away and experienced living without) teach you about the importance of traditions, gatherings, what's really important?

If you were restarting our church, or the Christian Church, what part of the "the past" should be left in ruins, or built over, or rebuilt better than before?  What traditions would you keep, update, or do away with?  What else would you change?

As Christians, we do not look to a "place" or location like the Jews looked toward Jerusalem. Where's our "spiritual home"?  Are we ever truly "in exile"?   What do we look forward to? What's the future that we envision.

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God, our spiritual home, was already here and growing. What does Jesus want us to BUILD for him?  

Does Jesus' Kingdom have walls? 

What is the purpose of "gates" (to welcome). How are you welcoming others into our church? Into your life? 

"Ezra" means "helper." How are you helping to build Jesus' Kingdom?

Ezra was commissioned by the King to "teach the law to those who do not know it."  How do you teach God's law to those who do not know it?  What is God's Law?  (Think about Jesus' condensing of the Law into "Love the Lord with all your.. and Love your neighbor as yourself.")

You can teach the story of Ezra within Nehemiah's story:

Nehemiah 8 tells the story of Ezra READING THE LAW before the people. Nehemiah tells them "not to weep" but to go celebrate.  The next section of Nehemiah describes that FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES (there's a Cooking workshop or Drama workshop for you!)

"Ezra" means "Helper"

  • Who are our helpers? How can you "help"?  
  • Plan a way for children to help in the next worship service.
  • How do we know we're doing the right thing in church? worship?  Who decides?
  • What is your authority for making choices?
  • What do you do when you encounter people who are doing things the wrong way?
  • What is God calling you to change/rebuild about YOURSELF?
  • Why do some people DISLIKE RULES?  Why do we celebrate God's Rules?  (we know we need them to live right)
  • Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt the Walls and Temple.  Walls were defensive necessities in those days. What do we need to "fix" to keep people safe? keep us safe?

Nehemiah means "Yahweh Comforts"

  • How does God comfort exiles?
  • How does "coming home" bring you comfort?
  • What is it about "home" that is comforting?   
  • Where is God's "home" ? 
  • Where do you feel most spiritually "at home" (comfortable, at ease)? 

Highlights from the Story of Ezra and Nehemiah

from Wikipedia

Ezra 1-6

God moves the heart of Cyrus to commission Sheshbazzar "the prince of Judah", to rebuild the Temple; 40,000 exiles return to Jerusalem led by Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest. There they overcome the opposition of their enemies to rebuild the altar and lay the foundations of the Temple. The Samaritans, who are their enemies, force work to be suspended, but in the reign of Darius the decree of Cyrus is rediscovered, the Temple is completed, and the people celebrate the feast of Passover.

Ezra 7-10

God moves king Artaxerxes to commission Ezra the priest and scribe to return to Jerusalem and teach the laws of God to any who do not know them.

Ezra leads a large body of exiles back to the holy city, where he discovers that Jewish men have been marrying non-Jewish women. He tears his garments in despair and confesses the sins of Israel before God, then braves the opposition of some of his own countrymen to purify the community by dissolving the sinful marriages.

Nehemiah 1-6

Nehemiah, cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes, is informed that Jerusalem remains without walls. He prays to God, recalling the sins of Israel and God's promise of restoration in the land. Artaxerxes commissions him to return to Jerusalem as governor, where he defies the opposition of Judah's enemies on all sides - Samaritans, Ammonites, Arabs and Philistines - to rebuild the walls. He enforces the cancellation of debts among the Jews, and rules with justice and righteousness.

Nehemiah 7-10

The list of those who returned with Zerubbabel is discovered. Ezra reads the law of Moses to the people and the people celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days; on the eighth they assemble in sackcloth and penitence to recall the past sins which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the enslavement of the Jews, and enter into a covenant to keep the law and separate themselves from all other peoples.

Nehemiah 11-13

Nehemiah takes measures to repopulate the city and returns to Susa after 12 years in Jerusalem. After some time in Susa he returns, only to find that the people have broken the covenant. He enforces the covenant and prays to God for his favour.


Last edited by Neil MacQueen

Posted by member Lisa

Storytelling/Drama Workshop idea on the Exile

I would check out the story of the "exile and return" in the book/curric "Young Children and Worship" by Jerome Berryman and Sonja Stewart (Godly Play).

They tell the story with small wooden people figures. The exile is symbolized with a heavy piece of chain. The people are moved out of the homeland and the chain keeps them from going 'home'. Then God speaks to the Persian king and the people are allowed to return. The telling of the story is very simple--you could add the details you think are necessary.

Beginning with the above idea the story could be reenacted, as noted below.

A large heavy rope or chain (plastic 1 ½" chain can be purchased cheaply by the foot at your local hardware store) could be used.

On one side of the room the children could gather in 'family' groups. They could list or act out the things they like about or are important to them about their 'home'. The adults could be the invaders taking each family group to the other side of the room and then placing the rope or chain to show they cannot go home. The 'exiles wail and cry out. The list of things they will miss from home are read and they respond to each loss. When the word comes that they will be allowed to return they pantomime getting ready to return. You may want to think of a way to demonstrate the passing of time--people growing old new generations growing up in exile.
The rope is removed and the exiles return, singing and dancing and ready to rebuild Jerusalem.
The session could climax with music, dance, expressing the joy of return or with a feast of celebration.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Suggestions originally posted by Neil MacQueen

Please add to this list.

Workshop Brainstorms:


Collage of things that we 'build' today to keep people safe.  Ezra/Nehemiah rebuilt the walls.

Walls built out of people and things in the church.


Feast of the Tabernacles (aka "Shelters")  celebrated after Ezra's reading of the Law (Nehemiah 8)


Make sackcloth and dramatize the "sackcloth and ashes" scene described in Nehemiah which occurs after Ezra's reading of the law, and the feast.   (Flour is a good substitute)

"Sackcloth and ashes" is rich and familiar biblical imagery, and is common metaphor in English speaking cultures as well.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

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