Warning: You are using an old browser. For the sake of the entire Internet and to ensure all functionality works properly, please upgrade your browser.

Upgrade Internet Explorer Download Google Chrome

Lesson Prep

Story Summary

This lesson is about the many prophets written about in the Old Testament.

We have already learned about several prophets - Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and Jonah to name a few. What did they have in common? They were people chosen by God to speak his message to the people (mostly to Israel and Judah, but sometimes to foreign countries as well). These were men who listened to the voice of God and were faithful to tell the word of God to those who needed to hear it, even if it meant they weren't very popular.

There are many stories in the Old Testament about prophets. In fact, there is an entire section of the Old Testament that we refer to as the "Prophets." They are mostly towards the end of the Old Testament, and they are known as either Major or Minor Prophets. Now, just because a book is referred to as a Major Prophet doesn't mean that the prophet was more important than one of the Minor Prophets. It just means that the book was longer!

Major Prophets Minor Prophets
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

Some of the prophets were told to speak God's word to the Northern Kingdom, and some to the Southern Kingdom. Some were called to speak to Israel and Judah in their captivities (we will learn more about that in the next lesson). Some were called to bring messages from God to other countries.

Take some time to reflect on the Old Testament history we have covered so far. What message do you think God wanted to send to Israel and Judah? Most often, it was a message of judgment (which is why prophets weren't exactly looked upon kindly sometimes). But sometimes it was one of a promised savior in the future. The theme of sackcloth and ashes as a symbol of mourning or repentance is seen many times in the prophets. Sackcloth was an extremely rough and itchy material used to make sacks. When they wore it as clothing and placed ashes on their head, they were intentionally making themselves uncomfortable to show their deep inner discomfort - either in mourning or because they were deeply sorry for their sins.

Here is an overview of the prophetic books and their major themes (adapted from Bible Gateway's tour of the Bible: Major Prophets and Minor Prophets)

Book Theme
Isaiah Isaiah called Judah and its kings to repent and come back to God or face judgment. There are many prophecies in Isaiah related to the coming Messiah (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Jeremiah Jeremiah was a "doom and gloom" prophet who warned Judah of judgment if they did not repent. Unfortunately, they didn't repent and the judgment he foretold came true.
Lamentations Lamentations is sort of like a long Psalm by Jeremiah about just one topic: Jerusalem and Judah's sin.
Ezekiel Ezekiel prophesied to Judah during their time in exile in Babylon. 
Daniel Daniel was also a prophet to Judah during their captivity in Babylon. We will learn about some of the more famous stories in the book Daniel in coming lessons.
Hosea Hosea called Israel back to God. Israel had begun worshiping other gods and was unfaithful to the one true God. Hosea is known for being a personal object lesson for Israel as God called him to marry an unfaithful woman to show Israel what they were doing to him.
Joel Joel was a prophet to Judah and warned them that they must repent or face judgment.
Amos Amos was a shepherd who was called by God to tell Israel to stop mistreating the poor among them.
Obadiah Obadiah is just one chapter long and is a prophecy against the nation of Edom because they were hostile to Jacob's descendants. Remember, Edom was the name given to Esau, Jacob's twin brother.
Jonah We just learned about Jonah in the last lesson. He was called to prophesy against the city of Ninevah.
Micah Micah warned Judah to turn back to God or face judgment.
Nahum Nahum prophesied against Ninevah as well, but this time after the Assyrians (Ninevah was in the Assyrian empire) had captured the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Habakkuk Habbakkuk is a book of questions that he had for God. It is similar to the Psalms as it is an honest conversation Habbakkuk is having with God about the evil in the world.
Zephaniah Zephaniah called Judah back to God and promised that the faithful could look forward to when God judged the wicked.
Haggai Haggai prophesied to Judah as they were coming back from exile in Babylon and beginning to rebuild Jerusalem.
Zechariah Zechariah prophesied to those who were returning to Judah from exile in Babylon. He gave some striking prophesies that were fulfilled in the person of Jesus (Zechariah 9:9-10)
Malachi Malachi prophesied to Judah after they returned from Exile in Babylon and called for them to repent.

 

What You Will Need

Supplies
sackcloth (burlap), ashes
Snack Suggestion
triscuits (like burlap), crushed oreos mixed with powdered sugar over pudding (like ashes)

Resource Sheet

Major & Minor Prophets Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts an Old Testament prophet praying and receiving a word from God and then telling that word to the people.

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Have you ever had to take a message from someone for your parents? What was the message? Did you remember to give the message to them?

Today, we are going to learn about the men in the Old Testament who had a job to bring a message from God to the people of Israel and Judah.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

This lesson is a bit different from most Teach Us the Bible lessons in that it doesn't revolve around a single story. You should give them an overview of the Prophets, with the information in the "Story Summary" above as a guide. The key things to get across to them are:

  1. Prophets heard a message directly from God and had to be obedient to give that message to the people
  2. Prophets told the people to repent or stop sinning or God would judge them (show sackcloth and ashes as you make this point)
  3. Prophets told the people of things that would happen in the future (including the coming Messiah, Jesus)
  4. Many books in the Old Testament were called Major or Minor Prophets, depending on the length of the book, and they recorded the messages God gave the people

The Egermeier's Bible Story Book contains a nice summary of some of the Minor Prophets in their story called "Five Other Prophets" that you could read to the children as well.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Jeremiah 1:1-10; Isaiah 53:4-6; Obadiah 1

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Who were the prophets in the Old Testament? (people chosen by God to tell Israel, Judah, or the surrounding countries his message)
  • What were some of the messages prophets delivered to the people? (repent and stop sinning or you will face judgment from God; there is a messiah coming who will bring salvation to Israel)
  • What is the difference between a Major Prophet and a Minor Prophet? (the length of the book in the Bible)
  • Can you name a couple of the Major Prophets? (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations [of Jeremiah], Ezekiel, Daniel)
  • Can you name a couple of the Minor Prophets? (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
  • Why would the prophets or the people of Israel and Judah wear sackcloth and put ashes on their heads? (to show their deep desire to repent or to mourn something bad happening)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • The major theme of the prophets was that the people of Israel needed to repent or face judgment. Also, another theme was that a coming Messiah would soon deliver them.
  • The person of Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah and he took the judgment we deserve for our sins on himself. Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:11-12

Reinforcement Activities

Sack and Ashes Craft

Scripture Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3 (ESV)

Supplies person outline sheet (see below), pieces of burlap, ashes

  • Glue burlap sack to cover the body of the person.
  • Using your finger, paint ashes onto the person's head.

Delivering a Message to Your Parents

Scripture Then the Lord reached out his hand. He touched my mouth and spoke to me. He said, “I have put my words in your mouth. Today I am appointing you to speak to nations and kingdoms. I want you to pull them up by the roots and tear them down. I want you to destroy them and crush them. But I also want you to build them up and plant them.” Jeremiah 1:9-10

Supplies construction paper, crayons or markers

  • Prophets delivered messages to the Israelites.
  • In this activity, children will deliver a message to their parents.
  • Give them each a sheet of paper and coloring supplies.
  • Tell them to draw a picture for their parents. Then ask them what message they want to give to their parents, or what they would like to say to their parents in the picture.
  • Have the children write their message on the picture, or if they are not able, write it for them and sign their name.

Major and Minor Prophets

Supplies scissors, glue, cut out sheet for each student (see below)

  • Have the students cut out the names of the prophets and glue onto the appropriate side (Major or Minor prophet)
  • All of the Major prophets are represented there, and a selection of Minor prophets

Telephone Game

Scripture Then the Lord reached out his hand. He touched my mouth and spoke to me. He said, “I have put my words in your mouth. Today I am appointing you to speak to nations and kingdoms. I want you to pull them up by the roots and tear them down. I want you to destroy them and crush them. But I also want you to build them up and plant them.” Jeremiah 1:9-10

  • Have students sit or stand in a line.
  • Whisper a message into the ear of the first student in line.
  • That student will whisper the same message in the ear of the person next to them and so on down the line.
  • Have them pass the message on fairly quickly.
  • The message gets mixed up by the time it gets to the end!
  • It is good thing prophets got a direct message from God to pass on to His people!

What's in the future?

Supplies drawing/coloring supplies, paper

  • What do you think the future will be like?
  • Times have changed a lot over history.
  • Have students draw pictures of cars, houses, ways of living, 100 years from now.
  • The prophets often told about events that were going to happen in the future.

Wearing Sackcloth and Ashes

Scripture Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3 (ESV)

Supplies burlap sack, ashes

  • Cut a hole in burlap sack to fit over your head.
  • Cut holes in the sides for arms.
  • Have students take turns putting on the sack.
  • They will feel how itchy it is and uncomfortable it makes them feel.
  • Place a bit of ashes on each of the student's foreheads.

Listen Carefully!

Scripture That’s what the glory of the Lord looked like. When I saw it, I fell with my face toward the ground. Then I heard the voice of someone speaking. Ezekiel 1:28b

Supplies loud ticking clock

  • Prophets had to listen carefully to God.
  • Hide a loud ticking clock or other object that makes a quiet noise.
  • Students must listen carefully to find the clock.
  • OR
  • clap and pat a rhythm and have students listen and copy the rhythm.

Simon Says

Scripture Then the Lord reached out his hand. He touched my mouth and spoke to me. He said, “I have put my words in your mouth. Today I am appointing you to speak to nations and kingdoms. I want you to pull them up by the roots and tear them down. I want you to destroy them and crush them. But I also want you to build them up and plant them.” Jeremiah 1:9-10

  • The Prophets not only had to listen to God, they also had to be obedient in speaking His words to the people.
  • Play Simon Says.
  • Children must listen and follow actions correctly.

Repentance Game

Heads up! large play area

Scripture So I will judge you people. I will judge each of you in keeping with what you have done,” announces the Lord and King. “Turn away from your sins! Turn away from all of the evil things you have done. Then sin will not bring you down. Get rid of all of the evil things you have done. Let me give you a new heart and a new spirit. Then you will be faithful to me. Why should you die, people of Israel? Ezekiel 18:30-31

  • Have students line up on one end of playing area.
  • Have an adult go to other end of playing area, with back to students.
  • Have one child call out "What time is it?"
  • The adult at the other end calls out a time.
  • If adult says 10:00, then students take 10 steps forward. 2:00 means take 2 steps, etc
  • Before any student reaches the end, yell out "REPENT!"
  • All the students must turn around and run back to the starting line, without getting tagged by adult.
  • Any students that get caught are out.
  • It is good to use an adult as the tagger because it allows for you to choose whom to tag out. You don't want your slowest children to be the only ones tagged each time.