Heartview Day 2: God Writes History (Ezra 1)
Directions: The group leader will read the lesson aloud. The words in italics are directions for the leader, not to be read aloud. It's recommended that you click on the words in blue to make sure that the links open before the session starts.
Say a brief opening prayer for God to show you what he's thinking about.
Read Intro: In this passage, God is telling us that he writes history. Turn to Ezra 1.
Do Highlights: Highlight “Jerusalem” in v3 and “Babylon” in v11 as important places. Create a cross reference in verse 2 by highlighting it with the purple “Cross Reference” highlight color from your Bible Highlighting Key. Now, each person choose one of the following two notation options: Option 1: your highlighting key is in Logos. If so,  click on the newest note (annotation) at the top of your “Notes” list. (Use the “Tools” menu to open “Notes.”)  Write “Isaiah 44:28 & 45:1,13” where it says, “Take a note…”  Make the note icon a purple paperclip. Option 2: your highlighting key is on paper. If so, write “Isaiah 44:28 & 45:1,13” in the margin near verse 2.
Here’s a picture of Option 1:
Map Activity: Here's a map of the route from Judah to Babylon. Can you see how the Jewish exiles had to travel along the rivers to get around the desert? Trace the route from Babylon to Jerusalem with your finger.
Play Audio Bible: (Children) Make the letter “J” with your hand when you hear the word, “Jerusalem.” (Teens & Adults) Where had Nebuchadnezzar put the things he had taken from God’s temple? (Play audio. Answer: The house of his gods, v7.)
Read Observations: Notice in verse 2 that Cyrus knew God had prophesied about his personal destiny about 150 years before he was born. Read aloud Isaiah 44:28, 45:1-2 and 45:13. This mentions by name the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Cyrus’s decree, as well as the release of the captives and the miraculous opening of the brass and iron gates of Babylon. (If you’ve never heard this story, you can wait until you have more time and find out from this article about the most amazing Biblical prophecy!) Today we will be listening to the story of Ezra. Although it is a sermon written for children, it is just as helpful for adults.
Reference Activity: Listen to Return and Rebuild!, stopping at 15:36. Did you notice at the end of the lesson that the Jews never worshipped idols again? The reason the Jews had spent 70 years as captives was that they had been worshipping idols before that. Generation after generation, they wouldn't receive God's correction. Once they had to work hard to rebuild their own country, though, they learned their lesson.
Application: Did you ever have to learn a lesson the hard way? Sometimes we have to let other people learn their lessons, too. God lets us experience the consequences of our wrong choices so that we will come to him. Next time something bad happens to you, whether it's your fault or someone else's fault, ask God how he sees the situation. He will show you what to do. You might have to receive correction, so that you remember not to make the wrong choice again.
Teens & Adults: God waited seventy years until a new generation of Jews had grown up before he told Babylon to send them back home to worship him (v2). This shows us that evil strongholds in our family line can stop at us, once and for all. Take a few minutes to think about your past from God’s perspective. You may have to fight hard to rebuild true worship in your family, like Ezra did, but now is the time to start. Talk with your group about the strongholds of sin in previous generations of your family. Which ones have been defeated and which ones are still standing? Ask God what’s on his heart for your next breakthrough and pray together.