My head is spinning from how much life changes, but we’ll get to that in our wrap-up portion of the week. This week our Sunday School lesson has been Ezra and Nehemiah. I always pair those two in my mind, even though they are two separate books, but they take place at mostly the same time.
In terms of where this happens choronologically in the Bible, it’s more or less after Daniel.
Lessons from Ezra
Ezra and Nehemiah have very similar themes, God is supreme over all, even foreign kings; stand strong in your faith despite the trials, follow hard after God.
But Ezra is different from Nehemiah. If you’re looking at the prophet/priest/king split up of ministry, he is quite clearly the prophet or priest. Ezra sees what is wrong and guides the people to what is right. While slogging through all of the names in Ezra it’s a good reminder to see that Ezra kept on going and pointed everyone back to God through every single problem.
Lessons from Nehemiah
I like Nehemiah a lot. He became one of my favorites, even if there’s 4 chapters of names, a few yeas ago. Nehemiah saw a problem, Jerusalem couldn’t defend itself, and God had put Nehemiah in the right place to solve the problem. Nehemiah talked to the king and convinced him to fund the rebuilding of Jerusalem. He is quite clearly a king in the prophet/priest/king split up, planning and solving problems quickly and efficiently.
Many people came up against Nehemiah to stop their work, just as with Ezra, but Nehemiah organized the men to build the walls. Each person was responsible for a small part, and together they rebuilt the walls in 52 days. That’s a minor miracle there. They built with a sword in one hand and a shovel in the other.
How do you work to defend what you believe in? Back in the 1990s a movement arose called Promise-Keepers, these were men who said they would keep their promise and would “stand in the gap” to protect their marriage. I think that’s quite an amazing sentiment, and ever since hearing the phrase “Standing in the gap” I’ve been amused by it.
Ezra and Nehemiah activities
This week has been a little odd, so we didn’t get quite as much done as I’d wanted, and the pictures from this post are actually from last Christmas (we talk about Ezra as part of our Advent activities).
My kids’ all time favorite Ezra activities are rebuilding the wall and defending it. I give them a small section of room (about 3 feet long) and have them try to build a wall 3 cans high, or blocks, your building item of choice. Meanwhile the other team (Jeff and I, or whoever else is being drafted for the opposing team) tries to steal the wall. The kids defend with pillows and it’s a big messy fun game. I haven’t quite figured out how to scale this up to a Sunday School class, it’d be too violent and dangerous right now.
For Ezra we built ourselves a tabernacle out of chairs and blankets. In the book it says the people celebrated the feast of Tabernacles together, so what better way than to build our own giant tent. This particular time we did not build a model of the temple, but you could do that also.
Get your own Ezra and Nehemiah lesson here.
Ezra and Nehemiah resources
- What’s in the Bible? Volume 7 – Exile and Return
- Nehemiah video (from What’s in the Bible, seriously BUY these DVDs)
- Ezra Unit Study
- more resources are listed in the printable
Up next: Esther
What have we been up to for the past few weeks?
Well, in the Austin area news. Jeff and I went to a murder mystery party with a Jane Austen theme, at the end of the night we were quite shocked to learn Jeff’s character (Mr. Bennett) had committed the murder in a fit of anger. The next day we received news Tara’s Mom had died, so the rest of the week was bouncing back and forth between helping with funeral details, schooling the kids, and replanning our mini-vacation to Houston. Originally we were going to be gone for the whole weekend and would go to NASA, Battleship Texas, San Jacinto monument, Renaissance Festival, and a quick stop by the beach. It was going to be a glorious 4 day weekend, but we cut it short to come back for the funeral and help with all the last minute details.
NASA was everything Batman could have wanted, and it was perfectly timed for Poppins Book Nook on Monday, which is a space theme. We learned all sorts of amazing things on our trip including a new plan to visit Mars in the upcoming future, that’s our big assignment plan a trip to Mars. Come back Monday to learn all about that fun trip.
Friday we climbed all over Battleship Texas for several hours. It was rife with a chance to learn about history and more importantly to the kids’ mind, a chance to pretend to be sailors. They climbed all over, tried shooting guns, laid in the beds, pretended to cook. Generally had a good time. Jeff also found out about an overnight tour you can take called the “hardhat tour,” which he’s rather curious to try out.
We came back to news of our dog having played chicken with a car and lost. Thankfully he only had a cut over his eye and some pretty bad bruising. I’d like to think this taught him a lesson, but the truth is it probably didn’t. He’s still going to escape if he can.
Saturday was the funeral and it was as well done as a funeral can be. It was encouraging to hear all of her children and her brothers all say their memories and talk about how much she loved. It was a great testament of how much you can show God’s love just by your actions and your words. She always loved you. I think everyone who went to the service left encouraged and rather sad such a woman had left this world.
I’m still trying to put together my thoughts on homeschooling and grief,
put look for a post on that soon, it’s written now, or on the Bright Ideas Press blog (where I write once a month). I’ll just leave you with this tidbit, Illuminations has been a lifesaver these past few weeks as I’ve dropped everything in my attempt to help Tara through her grief.