Dark in the Valley: Stack chairs in 2 rows to create a valley in between, where the kids will sit. Turn off the lights to illustrate how dark it is in the valley.
Dodge ball (older kids) Get kids to line up in 2 lines, facing each other, forming a long “valley”. Get 1 kid to try to get from one end of the “valley” to the other. Give kids 1-2 plastic balls; they have to try to throw the balls at the kid in the “valley” (below knees only). The kid in the “valley” has to get from one end to the other without getting hit. Once the kid is “hit”, he’s out.
2. STORY: The Gospel in the Gates (Nehemiah 3:13)
We’re following the adventures of Nehemiah as he and the people of Israel work together to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
There were 10 gates mentioned in the rebuilding of the walls. We looked at what these gates were used for and how they remind us of Jesus and His finished work on the Cross!
So far, we’ve covered the:
Sheep Gate: reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Fish Gate: reminds us that Jesus died and resurrected after 3 days (just as Jonah was in the belly of the big fish for 3 days).
Old Gate: reminds us that Jesus makes us New Creations
Today, we are looking at the 4th gate — the Valley Gate
Nehemiah 3:1313 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars,
When Nehemiah first went to examine the walls of Jerusalem, he went out through the Valley Gate (Neh 2:13)
The Valley Gate is probably named that because it overlooked the Hinnom Valley, one of the several valleys surrounding Jerusalem.
What does the Valley Gate remind us of?
Jesus is with us in the Valley
A valley is a low area of land between hills or mountains. It can be a beautiful place with streams of water, but it is often seen as a dangerous place too.
Dark: Sunlight is blocked by the surrounding hills/mountains, so it can get quite dark.
Dangerous: The sheep and people walking through the valley are often vulnerable to predators and robbers who are hiding in the hills/mountains.
When we talk about mountain tops, we usually associate them with victory or success or good times, e.g. “I’m on the top of the world!”
When we talk about valleys, we normally associate them with the low and tough times in life. All of us will go through difficult times. Our parents will go through difficult times. Sometimes it’s health issues, school issues, friends issues, parents issues, money issues. We’ll feel sad or tired or angry or afraid.
But in Psalm 23, David (the shepherd boy who became king) writes about the Good Shepherd and how He takes care of the sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are all like the helpless little sheep. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The Good Shepherd takes care of the sheep, provides for their needs, brings them to green pastures and cool waters.
Then David writes, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
Doesn’t the “valley of the shadow of death” sound scary? Not just valley, but a valley of shadows; not just shadows, but shadows of death! After all, death can be a really scary thought.
But did the sheep feel scared? No! Why not? Because the Good Shepherd is with Him.
Yes, we don’t have to be afraid when we go through valleys. Because Jesus is with us. His rod and His staff comfort us. Whatever difficult and tough times we go through, Jesus is there to take care of us and to protect us, and He will bring us through the valley!
The Valley Gate reminds us that Jesus is with us in the Valley!
4. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS:
Memory Verse activity: Psalm 23:4 “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”