I just taught one of the hardest Bible lessons I have ever taught to preschoolers! I have to brag on those 3 and 4 year olds who sat quietly and listened intently – they now know things about God’s Word that many adults never study The lesson is from Zechariah 1-14 about the 8 visions that God gave the prophet.
Zephaniah was sent by God to encourage the people of Israel as they began to rebuild the city of Jerusalem after returning from 70 years of captivity. They were facing adversity as they attempted this difficult task. Zechariah had 8 visions which were special messages from God to bring encouragement to continue their work.
Visuals are so helpful to interest the children in a story. I put 8 objects, representing each of the visions, into my purple bag I use each week for visuals. As we began our story time, the children were very intrigued by my bag which was obviously much fuller than usual. I pulled one object out at a time as I talked about each vision and its message of hope to the people of Israel. The children were such great listeners that after the lesson, they were able to tell me about the visions as I pointed to each object! Oh the power of visuals
1. A man on a horse (1:7-17)
Meaning: A messenger bringing the message that God still loves Israel and will restore their land
2. A dear antler to represent the 4 horns (1:18-21)
Meaning: God will defeat 4 enemies of Israel – Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Persia
3. A rope to represent a surveyor who was measuring the city (2:1-13)
Meaning: Jerusalem will measure larger and safer than before it was destroyed
4. A Bible character figure to represent Joshua the high priest whose filthy clothes were exchanged for clean (3:1-10)
Meaning: God will send the Great High Priest, the King of Kings, to cleanse us from our sins.
5. A candle holder to represent the golden lamp stand which was used in the Temple for worship (4:1-14)
Meaning: The Temple will be rebuilt and God will dwell among them.
6. A scroll made out of paper and sticks – the flying scroll (5:1-4)
Meaning: Those who were disobeying God’s law and stopping God’s work would be punished
7. A small basket with a lid to represent the woman in basket (5:5-11)
Meaning: Sin will be carried away
8. A horse-drawn chariot to represent the 4 chariots (6:1-8)
Meaning: God will overcome evil in the 4 corners of the world and bring rest
If you notice, all the visions spoke of hope. The main take-away or actual life application was that God always gives us hope in our difficult times. At this point we talked about some difficult things that we might face and that God gives us hope in the midst of them.
My final visual was a picture of Jesus. The ultimate hope for us all was predicted by Zechariah (this book has more predictions of Christ than any of the other minor prophets). In Zephaniah 9:9, Zechariah predicted 500 years before it happened, that Jesus would come riding on a donkey into the very town the returning exiles were rebuilding at the time. God sent Jesus to us all to take away sin and give hope!!!
If you are struggling with discouragement, read Zechariah. It is full of verses to give you hope. Here are two of our favorite verses from the book that brought much encourage to us during some difficult times:
Zech. 4:6 Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.
Zech. 9:12 Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.
For background info on Zechariah check out these sites:
Here’s a great pattern for making a booklet of the 8 visions:
(Appreciation goes to http://www.gospelproject.com/kids/ for challenging us to go deeper in God’s Word with our children)