Nehemiah (how to dramatize)
Nehemiah was sad when he heard that Jerusalem was still in rubble. He was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, the same king who had commanded the building of Jerusalem to be stopped years before. So when Nehemiah asked the king if he could go rebuild Jerusalem, he was scared. He had prayed for four months about it before asking the king, and he prayed during his conversation with the king as well.
My children dramatized this scene by having a king dressed in costume, sitting at his table, with a crown on his head. Nehemiah was handing a goblet to the king, while looking very sorrowful.
Surprisingly, King Artaxerxes let Nehemiah go. He wrote a letter for Nehemiah to take with him, to prove that he had the authority to be the governor of Jerusalem. So Nehemiah started on his long journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. My kids walked around for a long time.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to inspect the walls at night. He rode on a donkey. (Yes, we have a donkey costume. You can see it in our YouTube video of “Balaam's Donkey.”) He made a plan as to how he would get the walls rebuilt as soon as possible. The next day he told all the nobles and officials what he was planning to do.
The people rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days, which was a miracle. (We built the walls with blocks.) They had to wear swords while building because the bad guys (Sanballat and Tobiah) kept ridiculing them, sending nasty notes, and declaring war on the people trying to build the wall. Several times the enemies tried to make Nehemiah sin, but he refused to fall into their traps. One of the traps was to come down to a meeting where he would be killed (or at least hurt). Another time they paid a prophet of Jerusalem to tell Nehemiah to hide in the Temple, which was forbidden. Nehemiah must have been worn out from so much intrigue.
Ezra the scribe read the law of God to the people, and the people stood up, lifted their hands, then fell on the ground with their faces to the dust. I LOVE this reaction to the Word of God. This reaction is correct, because our God deserves awe. Furthermore, the people started crying because they were convicted of sin. Even the children were quietly listening to the pure Word of God being read. The priests told the people not to be sad any more, but to rejoice.
After a few years went by, Nehemiah traveled back to Babylon to see King Artaxerxes. While he was gone, the people broke all their promises and put their fellow Jews into bondage again, did commerce on the Sabbath, and intermarried with pagan nations. All of these things they had taken an oath that they would never do. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he was so mad that he yelled at them, cursed at them, and pulled out their beards. (Yes, read it for yourself. The Word of God is very lively.)
Also, Tobiah (one of the bad guys) made a comfy room for himself in the Temple. He wasn't supposed to do this, because God said that only priests were allowed in the Temple. Nehemiah literally grabbed all of Tobiah's stuff and threw it on the dirt outside. He ordered the rooms to be cleansed, and he put back all the utensils and other Temple supplies that were supposed to be in that storeroom. Nehemiah was so fed up at the idiocy of the people. It was as if they didn't care about the holiness of God.
Thus ends the book of Nehemiah, with him furious at the sins of the people.