The LORD had stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to release any Israelite exile who had the desire, to go to Jerusalem and build another temple to the LORD of hosts. Ezra and Nehemiah both record the families who joined this group as well as the amounts of silver and gold given in the free-will offerings. The worship was restored in the seventh month after their arrival but the actual building of the temple did not get started until the second month of the second year. There was much rejoicing when the foundation was finally laid.
There were many adversaries that rose up to thwart the Jews and the building stopped for 14 years until Zerubbabel and Jeshua , encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, rose up and resumed the building. Haggai was given a word from the LORD for the people to get their hearts right. They would not prosper until they put God first for the LORD had called a drought on whatever the ground brought forth…on all the labor of their hands! When they obeyed Him by resuming the building of the temple, He would again bless them.
***IMPORTANT NOTE***(It is VITAL that you have allergy information on your kids before you engage in any craft where food items are used…I would use a different craft idea if one child could not participate due to his or her allergies)To start you will need to cover cardboard with foil. ( I used old photo album pages) Make sure your table is freshly scrubbed and the kids have washed their hands. Decide which scripture portions you would like to use and have black paper and silver gel pens available for the kids to be able to write their verses. The foundation stones can be made with peanut butter “playdoh” that you can make ahead and put 1/2 cup portions in baggies…enough to make 5-9 stones. This recipe makes enough for 6 kids: for each 18 oz. jar of creamy peanut butter add 2 cups powdered sugar, 6 tablespoons honey and 1 cup powdered milk….if your powdered milk is granulated in texture you will have to blend it until it is fine. Mix and add more dry or wet stuff until you get the consistency of real playdoh and it tastes good.. You want it stiff enough to be able to put your pretzels in, but you want it smooth so it does not crack. As the kids break off pieces to mold, the heat from their hands will help in the process…rolling tends to crumble your playdoh so you want a press and molding technique. Give each child a graham cracker to be the “guide” for where to place their stones. Purchased play-doh can also be used.
After your “foundations” are laid, pause and tell the rest of the story. The people were disheartened because of their crop failures and hostile enemies. They procrastinated by putting all their energy into building their own houses and neglecting the LORD’S.
Give each child a whole graham cracker for the roof. They will need a heaping tablespoon of frosting in a small yogurt container, plastic knife, 55 stick pretzels for the walls (stick these in the foundation stones) 1/4 graham cracker for the “door”, 1 1/2 tablespoons of chocolate chips…31 for trim and extra to eat.
After your walls are in place , dab a bit of frosting on the corners, frost your roof and add chips before placing roof on top. Add door if desired…doors that open will need to be cut with a large knife ahead of time. If you would like to add a courtyard you could glue some sugar wafers around your temple with frosting….my store did not carry these. Don’t forget to have the kids glue their verses down. You may make home-made buttercream icing or buy the frosting in a can. The pretzels might lean now and then but they will have fun regardless. For a sturdier project (but less edible) use regular play-doh for the foundation stones when building your temple. You can even divide the lesson in half . (part 1) Laying the foundation with peanut butter playdoh foundation stones from Ezra 3. (part 2) The prophet Haggai encourage the people to finish the temple from Haggai 1 and Ezra 5-6. (using regular playdoh, pretzels, frosting, graham crackers and chocolate chips)