Session 10: Return to the Land
In the last session we looked at a passage from Jeremiah. Before meeting in small groups, watch this video as a review. It summarizes the book of Jeremiah, which tells the story of Judah’s downfall leading to the Exile.
The Babylonian Empire rose to power, God’s people were taken into Exile, and during that time, Jeremiah continued to prophesy. Other prophets also prophesied to God’s people in exile, and some of those are recorded in the books of Ezekiel, Obadiah, Joel and Daniel.
From the point Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, they were never a free and independent country again. One empire after another subjugated, ruled, and taxed them. By the time of the New Testament, the people of Israel had been living in this state for over 500 years. Taking another look at this video may help you to see the rise and fall of power surrounding them. (You only need to watch until the Roman Empire.)
This session covers the early part of the Persian Empire when the exiles were allowed to return to the land and rebuild the Temple.
Return to Jerusalem
While they’re in exile, God tells His people to settle down, marry, even to seek the prosperity of the place that God has taken them into exile. He promises them that He has not abandoned them, and they will return to the land He had given them.
In the video below, you will get a brief overview of how Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah led the people back to Jerusalem. This session covers the early part of the Persian Empire when the exiles were allowed to return to the land and rebuild the Temple.
Shape of Israel’s History
In Small Groups
While we can be tempted to think of the Old Testament as irrelevant, it has tremendous value in helping us figure out how to live faithfully now. Scholars note that many of the books in the Old Testament were most likely gathered together during this period of time.
Renewing the Covenant
Once the Temple was built, Ezra led the people in a process of renewing their covenant with the Lord. As we listen to the different passages look for themes from earlier sessions.
Turn to page 91 in your Origins Booklet. Take turns reading the different passages.
Discuss the following questions:
- What are common themes from the passages?
- What is the significance of the people renewing the covenant at this time?
On page 92 you will see the outline to Ezra’s prayer of dedication. As a small group, come up with your own prayer of dedication following the pattern of Ezra’s prayer in Nehemiah 9. Once you have finished. Post your prayer on the Ezra’s Prayer Google Doc.
As you end your small group, spend some time praying for each person. You can even sing a song or two if you would like.