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Sunday School Lesson
 
 
 
June 21
Lesson 3 (KJV)
Receive Wisdom’s Gifts


 
 
Devotional Reading: Job 28:12–28
Background Scripture: Job 1; 42; Proverbs 8
Proverbs 8:8–14, 17–21


8. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

9. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

10. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

11. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

12. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

13. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

14. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
17. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

18. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.

19. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.

20. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:

21. That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.




Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.—Proverbs 8:10, 11

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Describe the blessings of godly wisdom.

2. Explain why the benefits of godly wisdom far outweigh those associated with material wealth.

3. Write a prayer on behalf of someone that godly wisdom will guide his or her lifestyle.

Lesson Outline

Introduction
A. Dispersal of Wealth
B. Lesson Context
I. Wisdom’s Words (Proverbs 8:8–14)
A. Based on Truth (vv. 8, 9)
B. Better Than Riches (vv. 10, 11)
C. Bringing Discernment (vv. 12–14)
Temperamental
II. Wisdom’s Wealth (Proverbs 8:17–21)
A. Promised to Seekers (v. 17)
B. Providing Real Treasure (vv. 18–21)
A Different Inheritance
Conclusion
A. … And Wise?
B. Prayer
C. Thought to Remember


HOW TO SAY IT
 
 
choleric
 
kah-lay-rihk.
 
Ecclesiastes
 
Ik-leez-ee-as-teez.
 
Hippocrates
 
Hih-paw-cruh-teez.
 
melancholic
 
mehl-ahn-kah-lik.
 
phlegmatic
 
flehg-ma-tik.
 
sanguine
 
san-gwin.
 
Solomon
 
Sol-o-mun.
 

Introduction

A. Dispersal of Wealth


My father passed away several years ago, my mother in December of 2015, and my older sister in the summer of 2017. My sister’s passing left me to serve as executor of my parents’ estate. My wife and I handled the sale of Dad and Mom’s house, which closed title in May of 2018. About a month later, we closed the estate by distributing to the designated family members the money that remained in Mom’s account.
While I appreciate what Dad and Mom were able to do to provide for their children financially, that is not the most valuable legacy that they left us. Both of them were faithful Christians who regularly took us to Sunday school and church. They taught us the wisdom that the book of Proverbs calls its readers to obtain and cherish; they were conscientious of the importance of laying up treasures in Heaven.
My parents stewarded both physical and spiritual wealth well. However, others are not so wise. Many are extraordinarily rich in the things that will not last and exceedingly poor in eternal wealth. How do we invest in the riches that come only through the pursuit of godly wisdom?

B. Lesson Context

Wisdom was highly valued in the ancient Near East. Most nations had wise men who held high rank in government because of their skill (examples: Exodus 7:11; 1 Kings 4:30, 31, 34; Jeremiah 18:18; Daniel 1:19, 20). The Old Testament mentions wise women as well (examples: 2 Samuel 14:2; 20:16). The people who filled these positions in government and society were considered exceptional in wisdom.
Wisdom such as that found within the book of Proverbs is not limited to a specialized class of people. It is intended for everyone to live by and practice, regardless of their social status. Proverbs describes four animals that are said to be “exceeding wise” (Proverbs 30:24–28). These are not exceedingly brainy creatures, but they do have skills in practical areas of living that help them survive and thrive. The wisdom God has provided in Scripture helps us do the same. Thus, wisdom is far more than intellectual prowess. This practical knowledge guides as we navigate through life in this broken, sinful world—by instructing us how to act, speak, and respond in a wide variety of situations.
Today’s lesson from Proverbs continues the appeal to follow the path of wisdom that is grounded in the fear of the Lord. The principles are found in the introductory nine chapters of the book (see Lesson Context in lesson 1). In these chapters, Wisdom is personified thrice as a woman and pictured as making her own appeal (see Proverbs 1:20–22 and commentary on lesson 1; 8:4–36, partially included in today’s lesson text; 9:4–6 and commentary on lesson 4). Wisdom’s foil is the seductive woman who can be referred to as Folly, whose tempting words lead to disaster.
Wisdom is described again as calling out and raising her voice (Proverbs 8:1; see 1:22–33). And as was the case in Proverbs 1:21, Wisdom is positioned at prominent, public locations so that her cry cannot be missed (8:2, 3).

I. Wisdom’s Words
(Proverbs 8:8–14)

A. Based on Truth (vv. 8, 9)


8. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

Wisdom has previously described her words as “excellent,” “right,” and “truth” (Proverbs 8:6, 7). Wickedness, in contrast, is “an abomination to [Wisdom’s] lips” (8:7). A similar declaration occurs in the present verse. The claim is comprehensive; all of Wisdom’s words are grounded in righteousness. Froward is a synonym for perverse (compare Job 5:13; 2 Samuel 22:27). (Long ago, this word referred to a person who was obstinate or contrary.) The rightness of everything Wisdom says excludes any falseness, even from merely twisting the truth or omitting key details.
 
 
What Do You Think?
What steps can we take to ensure that our words live up to the standard of Proverbs 8:8?

Digging Deeper
How might this verse speak to the concept of a “little white lie”?
 

  1. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

    Though some assume that gaining wisdom is a complicated, high-level pursuit, Wisdom asserts that her ways are plain to those who understand. Wisdom’s counsel is also plain in her straightforward goals. There is no hidden agenda or anything to be ashamed of when following Wisdom. There is no fine print to entrap someone later.
    Words that are right appeal to those who are guided by understanding and knowledge—the kind of knowledge that begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Such individuals see no need to debate the worth or value of these words; they make perfect sense. The only appropriate response to them is obedience.

    B. Better Than Riches (vv. 10, 11)

    10, 11a. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies.

    Wisdom presents herself as the first of two choices facing a person. The second choice is the best material this world has to offer, represented by the precious metals silver and choice gold (implying gold of the finest quality; compare Psalm 19:9, 10) and the costly jewels rubies (compare Proverbs 3:13–15).
    The offer of such abundant wealth would be hard to refuse. Yet wisdom possesses more lasting value and produces far more genuine pleasure and enjoyment than anything the world has to offer (see Job 28).

    11b. And all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

    This is perhaps the boldest statement in today’s lesson text. Though the kind and amount of things people owned was different in biblical times, the desire for stuff, especially valuable stuff, still existed. All this and more amounts to nothing compared to the value of wisdom. This is true even if one were to obtain every desirable thing imaginable (compare Ecclesiastes 2:8–11).
     
What Do You Think?
What appointments should appear in the schedule of someone committed to grow in wisdom rather than to the pursuit of material wealth?

Digging Deeper
What is your reaction to this witticism: “Money is only a means to an end, and when you don’t have it, that’s the end”?
 

Centuries later, Paul will have much to say to Timothy about the temptations associated with riches. The apostle will counter those who believe that “gain is godliness” by declaring that godliness with contentment is itself the great gain (1 Timothy 6:5, 6). Those who set their hearts on obtaining riches are subject to many harmful desires that ultimately destroy them (6:9). In fact, the love of wealth is “the root of all evil” (6:10). If people desire to be rich, Paul will write, then they should seek to be “rich in good works” (6:18). The key questions are these: What do you love? Do you desire to be rich as God defines the term, or as the world does?

C. Bringing Discernment (vv. 12–14)

12. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.


The father has encouraged his son to practice wisdom by keeping good company and avoiding those who would entice him into sinful practices (Proverbs 1:10; see lesson 1). Now we learn that Wisdom herself keeps good company. Prudence speaks of a person who is discerning in making choices, cautiously deciding what is right.
Wisdom also claims to be familiar with witty inventions. A form of the Hebrew word translated with this phrase is rendered “discretion” in Proverbs 1:4 (compare Proverbs 3:21). This alternative translation leaves open the possibility that a positive meaning is intended here. In Proverbs 2:11, discretion is said to “preserve” the person who possesses it. The present verse may then be highlighting Wisdom’s ability to provide one with the necessary insight to spot harmful influences or people when they are encountered and take steps to avoid them.
The writer of Hebrews characterizes mature individuals as those who have practiced wisdom so that they can “discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). This aligns with Wisdom’s words here. Though the wise person will be innocent of evil, he or she must also recognize evil in order to avoid it (Matthew 10:16).

13. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

The wisdom of demonstrating a healthy fear of the Lord is emphasized throughout the Old Testament (examples: Deuteronomy 6:2; Psalm 128:4; Jeremiah 26:19). The assumption is that a proper reverence and respect for God will result in obeying Him (examples: Genesis 22:12; Exodus 20:20). One cannot keep His commands without learning to hate evil (compare Job 28:28; Jeremiah 44:4).
 
 
What Do You Think?
What are some tangible ways that we should express our hatred of evil?

Digging Deeper
Is it possible that hating evil can become its own misguided form of evil? Why, or why not?
 

The attitudes cited in this verse are all sins that are part of the evil way. They each detract from the life of blessing that is the fruit of prioritizing wisdom over material wealth. Pride and arrogancy are used synonymously. This is the only place in the Old Testament where these two words occur together. Pride in particular is condemned because it stands in the way of the humble heart that the Lord both requires and honors (see Proverbs 6:16–19; 16:18). The evil way and the froward mouth are built on pride and arrogancy (compare 8:8). Speech that is froward goes against what the Lord finds pleasing. It is counter to the kind of speech that Paul will state later that followers of Jesus are to demonstrate (Ephesians 4:29).

14. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

Wisdom continues to make her case for earning both hearing and heeding from her listeners. The blessings that come with obtaining wisdom contrast sharply with what the Lord and Wisdom both hate (see Proverbs 8:13). The understanding and strength of wisdom elsewhere are said to overthrow entire cities (21:22; compare 16:32; Ecclesiastes 7:19).
 
 
What Do You Think?
If you suddenly had double the amount of godly wisdom you have now, what would neighbors notice differently about the way you live?

Digging Deeper
What would you be willing to give up in order to make time to devote to “wisdom doubling”?
 

Temperamental

Four centuries before Christ, Greek physician Hippocrates tried to explain why people have differing temperaments. He hypothesized that personality variations are related to internal secretions of one’s body. The four temperaments he identified were caused by an imbalance of blood (a “sanguine” temperament), yellow bile (a “choleric” temperament), black bile (a “melancholic” temperament), or phlegm (a “phlegmatic” temperament).
Using these ancient terms, a sanguine person is optimistic, active, and social. Choleric individuals are independent, decisive, and goal-oriented. Melancholics tend to be deep, very traditional, and orderly. Finally, a phlegmatic individual tends to be relaxed and easygoing. Hippocrates suggested that these characteristics were balanced in an ideal personality type, with no one characteristic dominating.
Centuries before Hippocrates, Solomon described godly wisdom as a balance of personality characteristics. “Wisdom” and “prudence” coexist; “knowledge” and “witty inventions” work together, as do “understanding” and “strength” (Proverbs 8:12–14). Have you found balance in wisdom?
—J. E.

II. Wisdom’s Wealth
(Proverbs 8:17–21)

A. Promised to Seekers (v. 17)

17. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.


Wisdom never spurns anyone who truly loves her (compare 1 Samuel 2:30; John 14:21–24). This verse also commends those who seek Wisdom, a challenge that was included in the previous study (Proverbs 2:4, 5 in lesson 2; compare 1 Chronicles 16:11; Matthew 7:7–11). Preferably, the seeking begins early in one’s life so that an individual can gain the maximum benefit from wisdom (compare Ecclesiastes 12:1).
The quest for wisdom is not an impossible, idealistic dream walk. It is very much within our grasp if we turn to God. Our search is governed by our respect for God and His ways. Our goal is to know God and His ways more fully so that we may better follow them. This is a happy, joyous journey, the lifelong pursuit of godliness.

B. Providing Real Treasure (vv. 18–21)

18a. Riches and honour are with me.


Wisdom promises that riches and honour result from obeying her invitation. One is reminded of Solomon’s request for wisdom. God not only granted the king’s request but also gave him much that he had not asked for, including “both riches, and honour” (1 Kings 3:5, 10–14; compare Deuteronomy 8:18).
Some look at the promises of riches and honor that are associated with wisdom as an assurance that material wealth and prosperity will come to anyone who chooses to obey the Lord and live by His wisdom as found in Scripture. Other verses appear to offer such a guarantee (Proverbs 3:9, 10, 16; 10:22; 22:4).
Like all proverbs, however, caution must be exercised in interpreting these as guaranteed rewards for faithfulness. The proverbs in Scripture express principles that find fullest reward in eternity and do not always result in an easy life. One must not overlook the role that human free will and sin have in impacting how certain proverbs actually play out. For instance, Proverbs 22:6 speaks of a child being well taught and still living in wisdom in old age. Yet we all know of cases where children went astray in spite of their parents’ wise teachings. Or a statement such as “A soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) does not describe what happened to Jesus at His trial prior to His crucifixion. He gave such an answer to His opponents, and they still crucified Him (see Luke 23:3–32).

These exceptions do not negate the truth found within a given proverb; they simply illustrate that we have to be cautious in expecting an ironclad guarantee in every case. For this reason, we must not be surprised that not everyone who lives a wise and godly life will experience material prosperity or even a perfectly peaceful life. One example of this is Jeremiah. Though he clearly lived his life in fear of the Lord and therefore wisely, the prophet suffered much in his ministry (examples: Jeremiah 26:8, 9; 38:4–6; 40:1). In contrast, the wicked often live prosperous and seemingly carefree lives (compare Ecclesiastes 7:15; 8:14).

18b. Yea, durable riches and righteousness.

If we are ever troubled by circumstances, rest assured that we are not alone. The psalmist wrestled with the same issue and came to understand that material prosperity is only temporary; it ends when the Lord carries out His righteous judgment (Psalm 73:16–20). Real wealth, found in wisdom, is durable. Like the treasures in Heaven, wisdom’s riches cannot decay or be stolen (Matthew 6:19, 20).

19. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.

The comparison with fruit goes well with wisdom’s earlier portrayal as being a “tree of life” (Proverbs 3:18). Wisdom bears worthwhile fruit throughout one’s life and provides invaluable insights for any age, stage, or circumstance of life. Once again, its reward is compared favorably to precious metals (compare Job 28:12–19; Proverbs 3:13, 14).
It is important when considering the promises of riches and wealth in Proverbs to examine another book that has much to say about wisdom: Job. The man himself is described at the outset as being of exemplary and upright character (Job 1:1). Yet we know the tragedies that befell him in the course of a single day. Though he was wise and praised God through all his trials, he still went through those trials. Wisdom did not save him from the sorrows that Satan visited on him (1:12–2:10). Job experienced an abundance of sorrow, in spite of conventional wisdom that said he would be blessed for his faithfulness (example: 4:7, 8).
Job’s account assists us in maintaining a proper balance when we read promises such as those cited earlier from Proverbs or found elsewhere in Scripture. Jesus spoke of seeking the kingdom of God first; then “all these things” (the material goods that “non-kingdom” people are so preoccupied with) will be provided (Matthew 6:33). But Jesus was also honest about the persecution that His followers would suffer (5:10, 11) and the cost that accompanies choosing to follow Him (Luke 9:23; 14:33). At such times, the true value of the gifts of durable wealth that godly wisdom offers will manifest itself.

20. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment.

Wisdom’s ties with righteousness have already been established (see Proverbs 8:8, 9, 18), as have her links to judgment (see 2:8, 9). Whether judgment is understood as judging right from wrong or as practicing justice in one’s daily contacts and circumstances, Wisdom feels right at home in the midst of such God-honoring decisions and actions.

21. That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

The word substance highlights the “durable” nature of Wisdom’s wealth (Proverbs 8:18). It is an inheritance that Wisdom bequeaths to those who sincerely, passionately seek her (8:17). Once again, treasures can signify the material benefits that accompany living by the counsels of Wisdom (15:6; 24:4). But these are not the primary riches for which Wisdom is to be known and followed. The inheritance Wisdom provides is one that can be passed on to one’s children with the understanding that, if pursued diligently, Wisdom’s treasures will become just as precious and valuable to them.
 
 
What Do You Think?
What opportunities do you have to teach children to distinguish worldly wisdom from godly wisdom?

Digging Deeper
How will you pray for the opportunity to do so?
 

A Different Inheritance

What happens to our wealth after we die? The usual answer is that it goes to our children. Some of the world’s wealthiest individuals have different plans, however.
Rock star Gene Simmons made his fortune with hard work. He wants his children to learn the value of work too. Martial artist and movie star Jackie Chan plans to give most of his wealth to charity and not to his son. His logic is clear: “If he is capable, he can make his own money. If he is not, then he will just be wasting my money.” Warren Buffett has promised not only to give away 99 percent of his wealth, he’s also partnered with Bill Gates to persuade other super-wealthy individuals to do the same! Most of Buffett’s fortune will go to charities, not to his children.
These and other incredibly rich people have expressed a Solomon-like wisdom when it comes to inherited wealth. Solomon recognized that the best gift we can leave our children is wisdom, not cash. When we live a life of righteousness, we ensure that our children will “inherit substance” (Proverbs 8:21), not a life of ease and irresponsibility.
—J. E.

Conclusion

A.… And Wise?


Some may ask, “Isn’t it possible to be wealthy and wise?” True, the biblical record includes individuals who were both (examples: Genesis 41:41–44; 1 Kings 3:10–14; Job 1:1–5; 42:12–17). But the Bible clearly warns us about the spiritual dangers that material wealth and possessions can pose. The primary issue is the impact that this has on one’s heart and thus on one’s relationship with God (compare Psalm 52:5–7; Mark 10:17–23).
In His parable of the sower, Jesus warns of the “deceitfulness of riches” that results in an individual’s becoming unfruitful after receiving the gospel (Matthew 13:22). Similarly, Jesus asked, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (16:26). Of course, the implied answer is, “Nothing.” To gain all the world has to offer at the loss of wisdom results in tragedy. That is true despite all the abundance that the whole world can offer.
All these teachings are consistent with Wisdom’s plea to choose her above any form of material wealth. No matter how many priceless artifacts we amass—or how useful the new gadgets, inventions, and technological devices are‌—‌all the things that we may desire cannot compare with the value of wisdom.

B. Prayer

Father, thank You for the abundance of gifts that You provide to those who choose to heed the call of Wisdom. Thank You for examples of that wisdom who have shaped us over the years. Help us to be such examples to those in our spheres of influence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Before wisdom’s gifts can be opened and treasured, they must be sought.
 
 
 
 
 

KID’S CORNER

Manmade Rules and Spiritual Blindness
 
Sunday, June 21, 2020
 

John 9:13-23

 
 
John 9:13-23
 
(John 9:13) They *brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind.
 
“They” were the neighbors of the “beggar” Jesus healed. We have no evidence that his neighbors praised God for his healing, but they were curious to learn how he had regained his sight. They showed no regard for the man personally and only regarded him as a blind man who used to beg (see John 9:8). Knowing that the religious leaders had determined that anyone who confessed Jesus would be put out of the synagogue, his neighbors brought the man to the Pharisees (see John 9:22). Their actions remind us of the man Jesus healed in John chapter 5. As soon as the man Jesus healed learned Jesus was the one who had healed him, he went immediately and told the religious leaders: “Therefore they began persecuting Jesus” (John 5:16).
 
(John 9:14) Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
 
Even though Jesus suffered persecution for doing good, Jesus continued doing His Father’s work on the Sabbath (John 5:17). The Pharisees had many manmade rules that they had added to the Law of God or the law given to Moses. They expected everyone to obey their rules, and they refused to even listen to other points of view or interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures. As the Son of God, Jesus expressed different interpretations of the Law of God from theirs and violated their self-centered rules, so they became furious with Jesus.
 
The Pharisees’ interpretations of God’s law violated the intention of God when He gave the law to Moses. God’s law requires people to love their neighbor as themselves, the Law of Love (see Mark 12:31). According to the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s law, a person could help keep a person from dying on the Sabbath, but it violated their Sabbath rule to make the person better. They considered making a person better a work. Thus, their interpretation made the Law of Love invalid. They considered it a sinful work to knead on the Sabbath, such as kneading bread, for that violated their Sabbath law. They forbid a person from rubbing their eyes with their spit on the Sabbath to make their eyes feel better or perhaps to remove dust, for that too was considered a work that violated their Sabbath law.
 
On the Sabbath, Jesus violated at least three and perhaps four or more Pharisaic rules. First, Jesus made the man better when He gave sight to the man who had been born blind. Second, Jesus kneaded when He took dust and spit and made mud to use as medicine for the man’s eyes. Third, Jesus worked when He used His spit to make medicine. Fourth, Jesus may have violated a Pharisaic rule when He told the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam on the Sabbath, which may have been more than a “legal” (according to the Pharisees) Sabbath day’s journey. The Pharisees considered a Sabbath day’s journey to be less than a mile (though they found “legal” ways to extend the distance on the Sabbath to benefit themselves). From where the man met Jesus (and John does not tell us where Jesus met him) he may have had to walk more than a ½ mile, and we know this too would have concerned the Pharisees, who were very particular about criticizing anyone who did not obey all their laws (see Acts 1:12, for the distance of a Sabbath day’s journey).
 
(John 9:15) Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”
 
The man who could now see clearly, bravely answered the Pharisees truthfully and succinctly. He probably knew that telling them much more than the basic facts would only get Jesus and him in more trouble with the Pharisees. Jesus had practiced medicine on the Sabbath and had made him better, for Jesus had healed him. Since putting spit on your own eyes to wash them on the Sabbath was considered sinful by the Pharisees, we can only imagine all the Pharisaic laws Jesus and the man probably broke when Jesus told him what he needed to do to be healed.
 
(John 9:16) Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.
 
Like the man’s neighbors, none of the Pharisees praised and thanked God for the miraculous healing of the man who had been born blind. He continued only as an object for debate and a means to attack Jesus. Some of the religious leaders did not praise God because they said Jesus could not be from God, for Jesus had violated their Sabbath rules. They believed anyone who did not adhere to their strict rules of conduct could not be from God (even as they looked for an opportunity to kill Jesus: see John 7:1). Others thought Jesus could not be a sinner because Jesus had performed this and other signs that showed He was doing God’s work. Both groups acknowledged that Jesus had probably healed the man, but one group wanted more evidence. They showed no concern for the man who revealed “God’s work in him” (see John 9:3). The Pharisees remained divided. The more objective group of Pharisees did not say much in defense of Jesus, because they knew the consequences of confessing Jesus as the Messiah. At some point, a Pharisee named Nicodemus (and other unnamed Pharisees) came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah (John 19:39).
 
(John 9:17) So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
 
The man Jesus healed revealed the work of God in him up to the level of his understanding. The Pharisees knew what they would do to the man (and so did the man) if he confessed Jesus. But the man who could see for the first time would not deny the One who had healed him. So, based on the sign Jesus had performed when He healed him, the man said he believed Jesus was a prophet. Jesus, who said He is the light of the world, healed the man, and the man could see light with first time in his life. Jesus gave the man physical light and spiritual light beyond the spiritual light of the Pharisees, who were spiritually blind.
 
(John 9:18) The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight,
 
After admitting that all the evidence pointed to the fact that the man had been born blind and Jesus had healed him, some of the religious leaders still refused to believe the man or that Jesus was a prophet. After they called his parents, they all believed Jesus had healed him, because the parents gave irrefutable proof the man born blind was their son. According to the Law of God, the Pharisees only needed two witnesses to prove something was true. They had the testimony of the man on trial before them who could see. They had the testimony of the man’s neighbors. They would soon have his parents’ testimony. They had more than enough witnesses to confirm that what the man told them was true. But some still refused to acknowledge that Jesus was from God because Jesus would not teach as they wanted Jesus to teach. Jesus did not endorse their religious views or rules, so they looked for more reasons to kill Jesus.
 
(John 9:19) and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?”
 
Looking for anyone who would dispute the man’s story about who healed him and how, the Pharisees called in the man’s parents. They asked them the same questions. His parents would not deny their own son and that he had been born blind, but they could not serve as eyewitnesses regarding how he could now see. They only had the word of their son, but they could have been character witnesses for their son and told the Pharisees that their son always told the truth.
 
(John 9:20) His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
 
The parents affirmed what everyone knew. Their affirmation took some courage because the Jews of that day thought that the parents of blind or disabled people were sinners. Their acknowledgment that the man born blind was their child would have confirmed for the judgmental Pharisees that they were sinners and worthy of condemnation. (Remember the disciples’ question about sin and the cause of the man’s blindness in John 9:2). By answering as they did, his parents opened themselves up to ridicule when they claimed the man was their son. Eventually, the Pharisees told the man (and his parents), “You were born entirely in sins” (John 9:34).
 
(John 9:21) but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.”
 
After admitting he was their son, they could truthfully say they had no firsthand knowledge of how he could see or who healed him. They quickly said, “Ask him,” for he was of age to answer the questions of the Pharisees. Without coercion or fear, the man did speak for himself when he spoke the truth about Jesus, but his parents were afraid of the Pharisees.
 
(John 9:22) His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.
 
John explained that his parents were afraid of the religious leaders for they (as well as their neighbors) knew that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah (and their son’s healing pointed to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah) would no longer be considered a part of the Jewish community (the synagogue). Not only would they no longer have access to God (as they supposed) for they could no longer worship in the synagogue or enter the temple, but they would also be shunned by their neighbors. Whatever they did to earn a living would be destroyed, for their neighbors would no longer be their customers. If they were put out of the synagogue, they would need to move away and hope no one discovered that they had been put out. Their son would no longer be able to beg and receive alms; of course, he would want to do meaningful work, but no one in their Jewish community would hire him for he too would be cast out of the synagogue (see John 9:34).
 
(John 9:23) For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
 
John carefully explained why the man and his parents answered the Pharisees with as few words as possible. On the one hand, we see the courage of the man who received his sight, and on the other hand we see the fear that the powerful Pharisees could instill in those who disagreed with them and their rules. Throughout the Gospel of John, we see the courage Jesus displayed when He always told the truth and looked for opportunities to always do the loving and merciful works of God.
 
 
 
Manmade Rules and Spiritual Blindness
 
Sunday, June 21, 2020
 

John 9:13-23

 
 
Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them (John 9:16—KJV).
 
Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them (John 9:16—NASB). Some of the Pharisees said, “This man (Jesus) is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided (John 9:16—NRSV). No one in Jerusalem had ever heard of a man born blind being healed, but when Jesus met a man born blind, He gave him physical and spiritual sight. Despite their knowledge of the Scriptures, many Pharisees did not have spiritual sight, so they became divided over Jesus whenever He healed on the Sabbath. The Pharisees made rules on how to keep the Law of God, but many of their rules radically departed from the Law of God and made the Law of Love almost impossible to obey, especially when it came to loving God and your neighbor. For example, according to their rules, it was legal to keep someone from dying on the Sabbath, but it violated their laws to make a person better on the Sabbath. Some Pharisees believed Jesus did not observe the Sabbath because He healed on the Sabbath and claimed to do the work of God. Because of their rules, when Jesus made someone whole on the Sabbath, they could not see Him revealing God through His healing work. Many Pharisees showed no interest in the people Jesus healed other than to seek reasons to kill Jesus for disobeying their rules. The Pharisees knew, and the Bible teaches, that not every miracle is a sign someone is from God. But, by what Jesus taught and did, those with spiritual sight recognized Jesus was the Light of the world. Some Pharisees, such as Nicodemus, loved God and their neighbors; therefore, they praised and thanked God whenever Jesus healed anyone.
 
 
 

Thinking Further

Manmade Rules and Spiritual Blindness
 
Sunday, June 21, 2020
 

John 9:13-23

Name _____________________________________

 
 
  1. What was the problem with Jesus healing someone on the Sabbath?
 
 
 
 
  1. How did the man born blind describe His healing?
 
 
 
 
  1. In what way were people divided after Jesus healed the man born blind?
 
 
 
 
  1. When asked, what did the man born blind say about Jesus? Why did this take courage?
 
 
 
 
  1. When questioned, why were the parents of the man Jesus healed afraid?
 
 
 
 
 
 

Discussion and Thinking Further

  1. What was the problem with Jesus healing someone on the Sabbath? There was nothing wrong with healing on the Sabbath. Jesus was doing the work of His Father. But the scribes and Pharisees had added so many manmade rules and traditions to the Law of God that they made it almost impossible for anyone to do good on the Sabbath without also breaking one of their traditions or rules.
  2. How did the man born blind describe His healing? Jesus put mud on his eyes, he washed, and then he could see.
  3. In what way were people divided after Jesus healed the man born blind? Some said Jesus could not be from God because He did not observe the Sabbath (according to their traditions). Some said that He could not be a sinner and perform such signs as healing the man born blind.
  4. When asked, what did the man born blind say about Jesus? Why did this take courage? The man said Jesus is a prophet. The man knew he could be put out of the synagogue for telling the truth and saying good things about Jesus.
  5. When questioned, why were the parents of the man Jesus healed afraid? They knew that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be excommunicated or put out of the synagogue. They were afraid they would be put out of the synagogue.
 
 
Word Search
 
Manmade Rules and Spiritual Blindness
 
Sunday, June 21, 2020
 

John 9:13-23

Name _____________________________________
 
 
 
S M B T W H N M X J S G C D J
 
O T F Z G O E D E B W E V E K
 
S K Y M Q Z I P U Y Q X S L Z
 
E X V U T V G R G I G U V E P
 
E B Y K I A H O O S S R B I D
 
S D C D Q J B P G B I O T X E
 
I J E W H W O H A J E G S U S
 
R D E X A G R E N Z M T N T S
 
A Q A S J V S T Y I N P Y S E
 
H C H F U Z E N S E T G M X F
 
P E W G K S U Y R H S Y S U N
 
D L Q N Z O C A E M X L Z V O
 
T M K B S H P M U S Y J X Q C
 
W F C Y X R K D I A R F A I V
 
P Y S A B B A T H D E N E P O
 
 
 
Neighbors
 
Pharisees
 
Sabbath
 
Mud
 
Washed
 
Eyes
 
Opened
 
Divided
 
Prophet
 
Signs
 
Parents
 
Afraid
 
Confessed
 
Jesus
 

Synagogue

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
True and False Test
 

Manmade Rules and Spiritual Blindness

Sunday, June 21, 2020
 

John 9:13-23

Name _____________________________________
 
 
 
Circle the True or False answers. Correct the False statements by restating them.
 
  1. The neighbors of the man born blind praised God for his healing and took him to the Pharisees so they could glorify God too. True or False
  2. The day Jesus healed the blind man was more important to the Pharisees than the blind man Jesus healed. True or False
  3. The blind man Jesus healed was so excited that he told the Pharisees many details about seeing Jesus and how he was healed. True or False
  4. The Pharisees were united in thinking Jesus was a sinner. True or False
  5. The man Jesus healed thought Jesus was a prophet. True or False
  6. Though the man born blind and his neighbors told the religious leaders that the man had received his sight, they refused to believe until after they called his parents. True or False
  7. The man’s parents admitted that their son had been born blind because of their sins before he was born. True or False
  8. The man’s parents were afraid of the religious leaders. True or False
  9. The Pharisees had no idea what to do with those who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah. True or False
  10. The man born blind was too young to speak for himself and be taken seriously. True or False
 
 
 
 

True and False Test Answers

  1. False
  2. True
  3. False
  4. False
  5. True
  6. True
  7. False
  8. True
  9. False
  10. False
 
 
 
 
Prayer

Father, thank You for the abundance of gifts that You provide to those who choose to heed the call of Wisdom. Thank You for examples of that wisdom who have shaped us over the years. Help us to be such examples to those in our spheres of influence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 
 
 
May 17
Lesson 12 (KJV)
Practice Justice


 
 
Devotional Reading: Psalm 86:1–13
Background Scripture: Jeremiah 21
Jeremiah 21:8–14


8. And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

9. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.

10. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

11. And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the Lord;

12. O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

13. Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the Lord; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?

14. But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.



Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Summarize Jeremiah’s message to the people and the royal court.

2. Explain why God’s covenant people sometimes suffered (or seemed to suffer) more severely under His judgmental wrath than did their pagan enemies.

3. Write a testimony of a time when negative consequences resulted in repentance and a long-term benefit.



HOW TO SAY IT
 
 
Ashurbanipal
 
As-shure-bah-nee-pahl.
 
Carchemish
 
Kar-key-mish.
 
Jeremiah
 
Jair-uh-my-uh.
 
Josiah
 
Jo-sigh-uh.
 
Nabopolassar
 
Nab-uh-puh-las-uhr or Nab-oh-poh-las-er.
 
Nebuchadrezzar
 
Neb-uh-kad-rez-er.
 
Nebuchadnezzar
 
Neb-yuh-kad-nez-er.
 
Nineveh
 
Nin-uh-vuh.
 
Pashur
 
Pash-uhr.
 
Zedekiah
 
Zed-uh-kye-uh.
 
Zephaniah
 
Zef-uh-nye-uh.
 

Introduction

A. “Unexpected” Misfortune


Some of the most disheartening, even frightening, times in life are those when we come face-to-face with the negative consequences of our poor decisions. Perhaps you can remember an instance in school when you didn’t turn in an assignment on time and ended up severely damaging your grade in that class. Perhaps you even acted surprised when you received the penalty or tried to tell your teacher that it wasn’t fair. In situations like this, the lessons we learn often turn out to be very valuable to us later on. And so it was—or should have been—with God’s covenant people of the Old Testament era.

B. Lesson Context: Historical

The prophet Jeremiah ministered from about 626 to 575 BC. That ministry was to a people‌—‌the Judeans—who had disobeyed the Lord on a level far beyond the mundaneness of a late term paper. As a result, serious consequences loomed. God had sent prophet after prophet to warn both kings and commoners of pending destruction. But they didn’t listen. They acted as though they had God’s favor no matter what; they viewed Jerusalem’s temple as a good-luck charm (Jeremiah 7:4).
The northern kingdom, Israel, had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:6). A century later, the survival of the southern kingdom of Judah was by no means assured. The Assyrians were still the dominant military and political power in the ancient Near East.
King Asnapper (Ashurbanipal) of Assyria died in 627 BC. Although he had been a strong ruler, his death laid bare serious internal weaknesses in Assyria. Disorder and revolt erupted in every part of that empire. Nineveh, the capital city, was destroyed in 612 BC (see the book of Nahum); the last vestiges of Assyrian might were wiped out at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC (Jeremiah 46:2).
The consequences of Assyria’s decline were felt in Judah. After a reign of about 30 years, King Josiah was killed in battle in 609 BC. That happened as he attempted to halt the Egyptian army from aiding the remnants of the Assyrian army (2 Kings 23:29). The Chaldeans (Babylonians) stepped into the power vacuum left by the collapse of Assyria under the Babylonian king Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadrezzar (reigned 626‌–‌605 and 605‌–‌562 BC, respectively). The son is also known as Nebuchadnezzar (see 25:1). Chaldea (Babylon) came to dominate much of Assyria’s old territory. The last kings of Judah reigned in subservience to the Chaldeans before the final exile of 586 BC (chap. 24; 25).
Jeremiah 1:2 places the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry at around 626 BC. The book of Jeremiah preserves a prophetic ministry that took place over the course of the next several decades—through the reigns of five Judean kings and a governor.

C. Lesson Context: Jeremiah 21

Jeremiah 21 is a coherent unit. The opening verses set the scene. Pashur and Zephaniah were sent by Judah’s final king, Zedekiah, to Jeremiah. Pashur (not the same Pashur as in Jeremiah 20) was a dogged opponent of Jeremiah, even trying to have him executed (see Jeremiah 38:1–4). Zephaniah, a priest (and not to be confused with the prophet of the same name), was not actively hostile to Jeremiah (see 21:1; 29:25–29).
The two emissaries intended to enlist Jeremiah’s help in order to ensure God’s aid against King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon (Jeremiah 21:1, 2). King Zedekiah apparently thought that he would be aided by the Egyptians if he rebelled against the Chaldeans (compare 2 Kings 18:21). The situation quickly became desperate when Jerusalem was besieged (25:1, 2).
Zedekiah and his messengers had some confidence in God’s willingness to help them, based on His past work. Since He had protected Jerusalem before (2 Kings 19:35, 36), couldn’t He be counted on to do so again? As Jeremiah’s response shows, the request demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of Judah’s standing with God.
Jeremiah’s response came in three parts. First came words against King Zedekiah himself (Jeremiah 21:3–7). The prophet was blunt: Jerusalem’s weapons will become a liability as the Lord himself fights against the city. Today’s text opens with the second section of Jeremiah’s response.
 
 
What Do You Think?
How should we respond, if at all, to those whose prayers reflect their own desired outcomes more than openness to God’s will?

Digging Deeper
How should our responses differ, if at all, when those prayers come from people having varying levels of spiritual maturity?
 

  1. To the People
    (Jeremiah 21:8–10)

    A. Choice to Make (v. 8)

    8. And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.


    Here in the second of Jeremiah’s three-part response (see Lesson Context), the prophet turns his attention from the king (without excluding him) to the people in general. God sets before them a stark choice between life and death. Similar expressions are common throughout the Scriptures, but this one seems to especially recall the words of Moses: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15).
    Jeremiah’s words of judgment and doom come in the context of God’s covenant with the people. The Lord still requires obedience and loyalty. The people’s oft-repeated refusals to render to Him their exclusive worship have brought them to this dire point.
    The choice presented to God’s people in the days of Jeremiah is also presented to us, collectively and individually, today. Jesus speaks of the choice between life and death as a choice between a wide gate and a strait way (Matthew 7:13, 14). Each of us is called to choose the path we take. Though choosing life seems a no-brainer, many still choose death by trusting in their own wisdom (contrast Proverbs 3:5–7). Only following Jesus leads to life (John 14:6, 7).

    B. Consequence to Consider (vv. 9, 10)

    9. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey.


    The choice that Jeremiah has just presented abstractly in the previous verse he now paints in real-life terms: to stay in Jerusalem and try to hold out against the Chaldeans will mean certain death. The three vehicles of death—by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence—are all typical of the results of a long siege (compare Ezekiel 5:12). Leaving the confines of the city and surrendering to the Chaldeans is the only path to continued life (compare Jeremiah 14:12; 38:17; 40:9).
    This is not the advice the people hope for in this situation. They want to stay in this city and be delivered by God. However, the ways of life and death that Jeremiah presents are the only options. God has decided to punish His people; there will be no deliverance from the Chaldeans (compare Jeremiah 27:11, 12).
     
What Do You Think?
In what contexts could you use the counterintuitive nature of this choice facing the citizens of Jerusalem to illustrate the two eternal paths that exist for everyone to choose between?

Digging Deeper
In what contexts could such an approach be ineffective? Why?
 

The phrase his life shall be unto him for a prey is a military figure of speech (examples: Jeremiah 38:2; 39:18; 45:5). A victorious army brings home booty like a predator brings home prey. A defeated army’s best possible outcome is the life of its soldiers. In this situation, if they surrender to the Chaldeans, the people will at least escape with their lives (compare 45:5).

10. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

Jeremiah’s address to the people closes with a sobering restatement of the truth as God has determined. The Hebrew phrase set my face is an idiom for single-minded determination (compare Jeremiah 44:11; Luke 9:51).
Doubtless the idea that God will work evil against His own people is a shock (compare Jeremiah 44:26, 27; Amos 9:4). Evil here should not be understood as morally detestable or in some way satanic. The concept is closely related to cursing, especially in contrast to doing good as a blessing. God’s harm is not intended only as retribution; it is intended also to correct His wayward children (compare Jeremiah 5:3; Hebrews 12:4–11).
Furthermore, we should understand that sometimes multiple layers are the nature of God’s wrath. Sometimes it’s purely retributive in nature. In those cases, God’s wrath has no redemptive element at all; it’s punishment simply because the one who receives the punishment deserves it (examples: Romans 2:5; 6:23; Colossians 3:5, 6).
The nation of Judah, represented by its capital city of Jerusalem, certainly deserves God’s wrath in a retributive sense; if the pagan nations deserve punishment for their idolatry, how much more Judah! And the Judeans’ preference to believe that God will punish only the enemies of the Jews‌—‌and thereby always deliver Judah—shows how badly they misunderstand what it means for God to be faithful. His wrathful judgment results from the actions of a people and their rulers who have received God’s word as no other nation has. They are without excuse in their repeated rejections of Him. What is happening to Judah now is the promised result of those actions (see Deuteronomy 4:25–28). Even so, God’s wrath in this instance is also corrective in nature (see 4:29–31).
 
 
What Do You Think?
What filters can we use to evaluate claims that a given disaster today is from the Lord?

Digging Deeper
What can happen if we fail to do so?
 

All of this is a reminder of the absolute sovereignty of God. Zedekiah, in seeking to inquire of God (Jeremiah 21:2), seems to assume that the Lord is on call to perform miracles whenever the people desire. But God cannot be manipulated. The destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of the king of Babylon will happen because God has determined that it should (compare 20:4; 32:28). Nebuchadnezzar will indeed burn the city (2 Kings 25:8, 9).

Groupthink

In 1979, I was called to be president of a Bible college in northern California. The campus was deteriorating and located in a declining area. A noisy, multilane highway had been built just a few yards away from our buildings.
My staff and I engaged in a years-long search for a perfect property. In hopeful consensus, we convinced ourselves that we should press ahead on one in particular. However, we soon began to have nagging doubts. We eventually concluded that God was speaking to us through others who were raising critical questions. We backed out of the negotiations. A few years later, an earthquake made that property totally unusable. What folly if we had continued in perfect agreement with one another!

The bad kind of consensus-building we had engaged in has a name: groupthink. This kind of interaction results from listening only to those who agree with the group. Judah had a long history of groupthink, listening only to themselves rather than to the prophets’ warnings. The result of their groupthink was the destruction of their nation. What kind of warning is there for us in all this?
—C. R. B.

II. To the King’s House
(Jeremiah 21:11–14)

A. Judgment (vv. 11, 12)

11. And touching the house of the king of Judah, say, Hear ye the word of the Lord.


The focus of Jeremiah’s message shifts again as he begins the third of his three sections of address (see Lesson Context). In speaking to the house of the king of Judah, the reference seems to be to all members of the royal court, those who live in the palace and assist in carrying out the affairs of state. They are not exempt from the indictment against king and commoner (compare Jeremiah 13:18).

12. O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

In two words Jeremiah sets forth God’s vision for kingship and for the responsibilities of the ruling elites toward the people. Those two words are execute judgment. This is to be the foundational role of the ruling elites toward the people.
The judgment (justice) spoken of here can be understood in a legal sense. That includes adhering to the Law of Moses with regard to how people are to be treated—especially those who are most vulnerable (Exodus 22:22; Leviticus 25:17; etc.).
The phrase in the morning is a Hebrew idiom that implies “daily” or “regularly” (see Psalms 5:3; 59:16). It is customary for cases to be adjudicated at the city gates in the morning. Starting each day with right judgments will help ensure that the people act in ways pleasing to the Lord.
All this certainly includes the royals and officials of the house of David thwarting the evil schemes of the oppressor. Such people seek to take what is not theirs. If human judges refuse to end this injustice, God’s fury will be like fire, and will burn as a result. Fire is not typically literal in contexts such as this (see Psalms 79:5; 89:46), but sometimes it is (see 2 Kings 1:10; Job 1:16). The latter will be the case here when Nebuchadrezzar, as an instrument of God’s wrath, burns Jerusalem.

B. Punishment (vv. 13, 14)

13. Behold, I am against thee, O inhabitant of the valley, and rock of the plain, saith the Lord; which say, Who shall come down against us? or who shall enter into our habitations?


The Lord addresses Jerusalem by way of its geographical characteristics. Both the valley and the plain make the inhabitants feel secure in the face of military advances. Jerusalem is bounded on three sides by deep valleys. Thus the city itself sits above its potential enemies on a defensive stronghold (compare Jeremiah 49:4).
The people of the city are overconfident in this situation (compare 2 Samuel 5:6, 7). The question Who shall come down against us? indicates just how little they understand about their vulnerability. This attitude is especially astounding given that it’s not a foreign army that’s the primary threat, but the Lord God himself. Can there be any worse words to hear from the Lord than I am against thee?

14. But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the Lord: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.

A reading of Joshua 5:13–6:27 should convince everyone that their walls offer no security against the Lord’s wrath! When the Lord desires to pass judgment according to the fruit of [their] doings, He cannot be thwarted (Proverbs 1:31; Isaiah 3:10, 11).
 
 
What Do You Think?
How would you respond to someone who says that the Lord’s promise to punish contradicts the claim that “God is love” in 1 John 4:8?

Digging Deeper
How would your response change, if at all, if talking with a sincere seeker rather than with a hardened skeptic who seems to have a list of “gotcha” questions?
 

Commentators disagree on what is being referred to as the forest, since there are no forests in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem. One possibility is a figurative reference to the royal palace as being “the house of the forest of Lebanon” in 1 Kings 7:2. It was referred to in this manner because of the quantities of cedar that went into its construction. Other homes were also constructed of wood, thus perhaps creating a kind of urban “forest” (compare 2 Kings 19:23).

Conclusion

A. The End of the Line


Today’s lesson brings us to one of the most somber moments in the history of God’s dealings with His covenant people. Jerusalem was beyond the point of repentance. The people’s trust in their own wisdom meant death.
Whether or not we are immunized against such a mind-set depends on whether we are willing to learn from history. And we realize that the grace of God may come to us in the mere fact that we avoided the worst possible outcome of a bad decision or a bad pattern of living. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22). May we, unlike the people of Jeremiah’s day, repent while there is time.

B. Prayer

Father, remind us daily that it’s either the narrow way of life or the wide gate of destruction. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Choose the way of life.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

KID’S CORNER

Jesus Is I Am
 
Sunday May 17, 2020
 

John 8:21-30

Name ______________________________

 
 
John 8:21-30
 
(John 8:21) Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.”
 
Jesus taught at various times and places in Jerusalem between the time of the Festival of Booths and the time of the Festival of Dedication (see John 10:22). John reported on some of these opportunities without always giving specifics. The Jews did not completely understand Jesus and neither did His disciples until after He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Jesus had no intention of telling the religious leaders all the details about His coming crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. After Jesus rose from the dead, they did search for Him and His body—not because they believed in Him—they wanted to find evidence that would discredit the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. They did not find any evidence that would discredit His resurrection, but those who still refused to believe in Him died in their sin. Because they refused to believe in Jesus when given the opportunity, they would die in their sins—unforgiven by God. They could only go where Jesus was going if they followed Him, and they refused to follow Jesus. They could not go where Jesus was going without believing in and following Him there.
 
(John 8:22) So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”
 
When Jesus taught these truths about himself earlier, the authorities asked themselves if Jesus intended “to go to the Dispersion” (see John 7:35). Now, they asked if Jesus was going to commit suicide. The Jews believed that a person who committed suicide would go to the deepest part of hell. Their thoughts about Jesus revealed their total rejection of Jesus and His teaching. Though they did not think so, these unbelieving leaders could also go to hell; perhaps even to the deepest part of hell (if there is such a place) for plotting the murder of Jesus. On their current path, they could not go to heaven where Jesus was going, because they did not believe in or receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior but totally rejected Him, the Messiah and Son of God.
 
(John 8:23) And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.
 
The Jews were humans, from below. From two earthly parents, they were born humans and would always be humans. Jesus came from above, from heaven, from His heavenly Father. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary (see Matthew 1:16, Luke 1:31-38). Jesus is the Father’s only begotten Son, full of grace and truth (John 3:16 & 1:14). By birth, Jesus is fully human and fully divine. The first part of Jesus’ reply related to their and His location and their and His Jewish parents. The second part of His reply related to the moral and spiritual condition of those who refused to believe in Him. They were immoral. They were sinners. They were not forgiven and were not cleansed from their sin. They were committed to living by “this” world’s selfish, self-centered standards. Jesus had no part in this world’s immoral behavior. He followed God’s standards, which we find revealed in the Scriptures, and especially revealed by Jesus life, death, and resurrection as recorded in the Scriptures. Our challenge as followers of Jesus Christ is to live by God’s standards as revealed in the Bible with the guidance, help, and power of the Holy Spirit.
 
(John 8:24) “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am  He , you will die in your sins.”
 
Jesus told them they would die in their sins because He knew they would never repent of their sins, believe in Him as Messiah and Son of God, and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Jesus knew they would never repent of their sins and turn to Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them,” He prayed for those who did not know who He was and so they mocked and crucified Him (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed they would repent of their sins and believe in Him and receive the gift of eternal life. Only by believing in Jesus and who Jesus revealed himself to be can we receive forgiveness, cleansing from sin, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, eternal life, and go to be with Him in heaven. In this verse Jesus clearly sets out what someone must believe and do to be saved.
The Greek New Testament records what Jesus said of himself and what people must believe about Him, and Jesus said of himself, “I AM.” He used the divine name for himself here and in other places in the Gospel of John. The Greek “I AM” in Jesus’ words are variously translated in English: “I am He,” “I am the One” or “I am Who I am.” The King James Version and the New American Standard Bible rightfully indicate that “He” has been added in the English translation. In Exodus 3:14, we read, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I AM” has sent me to you.’” The Father sent Jesus, “I AM,” into the world, and Jesus is greater than Moses. Learn and remember John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (NASB).
 
(John 8:25) So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?
 
After just telling them who He is, they asked Him, “Who are you?” Jesus had just told them who He was, He is, “I AM,” which was beyond their comprehension. Translated “I am He” or “I am the One” at the very least should have meant to them that He was the Messiah, the One they expected. Jesus saw no benefit to explaining any more about His use of the divine name “I am, Who I am,” or “I AM,” to them. After all the signs Jesus had given that He was from God, and after all He had previously told them, Jesus knew that His speaking to them made no difference in leading them to believe Him—so He asked them why He should speak to them at all.
 
(John 8:26) “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”
 
In Matthew 23:13-19, Jesus spoke about the “woes” or “sorrows” that would come upon the scribes and Pharisees because of their hypocritical behavior. Jesus did not come to condemn people, but as John the Baptist had done, Jesus condemned sinful behavior and pointed out the sins of the self-righteous, which hopefully would move them to repent, turn back to God, believe in Him, and live right. Because of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ preaching about sin and repentance, many did repent, believe, and were baptized. Some Pharisees did eventually repent and believe, as did Nicodemus. Sometimes Jesus told people exactly what they needed to stop doing so they could turn to God and believe in Him. Jesus is the Truth and His Father is True (also the Truth). Jesus told the truth about the true God. The total being of God is true and the truth. The Father and Jesus are unlike human beings who have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:21-26). Jesus declared what He heard from His Father, and both the Father and the Son agreed about the sins of people and what people needed to do to receive their forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
 
(John 8:27) They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.
 
At that time, Jesus did not fully explain truths they would only twist and misuse to attack Him further and more viciously. Jesus spoke indirectly to them; yet, if their hearts had been open to God and to living according to the truth, they would have understood Jesus and believed. When His hour came, we see something of the cruelty they would have inflicted on Jesus sooner if He had given them the opportunity. Because we know the rest of Jesus’ life and teachings, we know that Jesus was speaking about His heavenly Father. Jesus interpreted parables and explained His teachings to His disciples who believed in Him, followed Him, and who would teach His parables and explanations to those they led to faith in Him. After Jesus went away, back to His Father, where the scribes and Pharisees could not find Him, His disciples explained and preached directly what Jesus said truthfully and directly about himself and His good news mission in the world. Some truths are only received and fully understood by believers in Jesus and not before they believe in Him. Some truths are understood only during the process of followers following Jesus in a variety of situations.
 
(John 8:28) So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am  He , and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
 
Jesus spoke to them using the messianic title “Son of Man,” which would partially answer their question, “Who are you?” He openly declared that He was the Messiah they expected, but not as they expected. He again used the divine title, “I AM,” about himself, “I am He.” Jesus spoke no more and no less to unbelieving hypocrites than His Father told Him to teach them. Jesus was not just sharing some ideas of His own; He was sharing truths from His Father suited to the situation. They would only realize the truth about who Jesus is after they had “lifted up the Son of Man,” the Messiah. Some would believe in Jesus as the Messiah and God’s Son only after they had lifted Him up on a cross to kill Him. During Jesus’ crucifixion and death, Jesus and the Father gave many signs that He was “the Son of God”—even the Roman centurion believed Jesus is God’s Son by the way Jesus died (see Matthew 27:50-54). Some would not believe in Jesus until after He had been lifted up to heaven, from where He sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. On that day, as Peter preached, they were cut to the heart for their sin of crucifying the Messiah and they cried out for knowledge on how to be saved (see especially Acts 2:36-41).
 
(John 8:29) “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
 
The Jews thought of their temple as the dwelling place of God, where they could go to worship and be with God. Within forty years, the temple was destroyed. Jesus said the Father was with Him wherever He went, and the Father never left Him. Jesus’ presence with believers replaced the temple as the place to meet God (the Father and the Son). Jesus is the Son of God, the Word of God, who believers can always be with because He is always with them wherever they live. Jesus also claimed to be perfect for He said He always did what was pleasing to God the Father. The truths Jesus taught, the people He healed, the signs and works He did, the people He called as His disciples, what He said about God the Father and himself were always pleasing to God. No human being can say that they have always done what was pleasing to God. As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus honestly and truthfully said that He always pleased God.
 
(John 8:30) As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.
 
The Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus, and lived within Jesus, and the Father was always with Jesus. Jesus was never alone or apart from the Father or the Holy Spirit; therefore, working together they influenced people. Some people’s minds and hearts were opened to receive Jesus’ words as the Word of God up to the level of their understanding at that time and they believed in Him. John said, “many believed in Him.” Obviously, many were not offended by Jesus’ words and knew His signs substantiated what He taught about being sent by God. We do not know how many continued to believe in Him after Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified, but those the Father gave to Him remained true to Him. Remember, in John 6:38-40, Jesus promised, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” Even today, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell with and within every believer in and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers can be with God wherever they are—to love, glorify, worship, adore, and serve God the Father and God the Son in the loving power of the Holy Spirit.
 
 
 
 
 
Jesus Is I Am
 
Sunday May 17, 2020
 

John 8:21-30

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24—KJV). Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins (John 8:24—NASB). I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he (John 8:24—NRSV).
 
When Jesus told the religious leaders that He was going away and they could not go where He was going, they asked contemptuously, “Is He going to kill himself?” They thought those who killed themselves went to the lowest place in hell, and they thought Jesus should go to hell too. They also thought they could never go there. In reply, Jesus told them that they would die in their sins. Jesus knew they would never believe what He taught about himself or believe in Him; so, they would die in their sins. They would die before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, during its destruction, or soon thereafter. Because they would die in their sins, they could not go where Jesus was going—back to His Father in heaven. Jesus told them why they would die in their sins, saying, “you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am.” Using the Greek language of Jesus’ day, one could simply say with one word, “I am,” or for emphasis use two words. When Jesus applied God’s name to himself, Jesus used two words with the emphasis on “I.” Rather than preserve precisely only the two Greek words in English translation, the footnotes of most English Bibles show that English translators added “he” in italics after “I am.” In addition to applying God’s name to himself, in John 8:29, Jesus claimed to be perfect, for He said that He always did what was pleasing to His Father who sent Him. Jesus always pleases His Father whenever He gives eternal life to those who believe in Him.
 
 
 

Thinking Further

Jesus Is I Am
 
Sunday May 17, 2020
John 8:21-30
 

Name ______________________________

 
 
  1. Where was Jesus going, to whom was He going, and when was He going?
 
 
 
 
  1. Why would some of Jesus’ listeners look for Him, not find Him, and die in their sin?
 
 
 
 
  1. What does Jesus declare to the world?
 
 
 
 
  1. In what way did Jesus use the divine name for himself?
 
 
 
 
  1. How did Jesus tell His listeners that He was the Messiah, and when did He say some of them would realize who He was?
 
 
 
 
 
 

Discussion and Thinking Further

  1. Where was Jesus going, to whom was He going, and when was He going? Jesus was going away to heaven, to His Father, after He ascended into heaven (following His crucifixion, death, burial, and rising from the dead).
  2. Why would some of Jesus’ listeners look for Him, not find Him, and die in their sin? After He rose from the dead, some wanted to find Him or find His body and disprove His resurrection, which they failed to do—they would die in their sin. Some would look to find the resurrected Jesus to learn more from Him or to test Him, but it would be too late for they had missed their opportunity. They would not find Him because He had ascended into heaven to His Father. They would die in their sins because they would not repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as He revealed himself as recorded in the Bible, that He is “I AM,” the Messiah, the Savior of the world, Lord and other titles.
  3. What does Jesus declare to the world? Jesus declared to the world what He heard from His Father, the One who sent Him. Through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, Jesus still declares the good news of salvation for all who will hear and believe in Him.
  4. In what way did Jesus use the divine name for himself? Jesus told people they would die in their sins unless they believed that “I AM,” which is the literal translation of the Greek New Testament that is sometimes translated “I am He,” or “I am the One,” or “I am who I am.” He also said, “I am the light, and “I am the bread of life,” and used “I am” in other ways that we will learn about in future lessons.
  5. How did Jesus tell His listeners that He was the Messiah, and when did He say some of them would realize who He was? Jesus used the title, “Son of Man,” and He said some of them would realize He was the Messiah and Son of God after they “lifted up the Son of Man;” that is, crucified Him. Some learned that at the foot of the cross and others on the Day of Pentecost and later.
 
 
Word Search
 
Jesus Is I Am
 
Sunday May 17, 2020
 

John 8:21-30

Name ______________________________

E X W I O A P D A S I O Q B R
 
R I N S T R U C T E D F D N H
 
A W G D E M L S D R Q H Q Z U
 
L E U Z A I J V U J W C U E I
 
C V Q F J B D Q B S O F P K Y
 
E G O I N G Y N O N E H D H S
 
D N Y T O S R U D M B J C W F
 
U J X J L D K E O J U R E A E
 
K A E P S I M C D B A J T N U
 
P G Q Z L N Y L N E E H E I D
 
W K X L S B R Q S Z E L V S A
 
Z I J A Y O S I U R P I O R T
 
V R C L W D Q Z V G C T B W O
 
Q H A V M L O I P E W R A H J
 
X P R U G U P H L Z O Z E Q L
 
Search
 
Die
 
Sin
 
Jews
 
Kill
 
Going
 
Come
 
Below
 
Above
 
World
 
Speak
 
Condemn
 
Declare
 
Father
 

Instructed

 
 
True and False Test
Jesus Is I Am
 
Sunday May 17, 2020
 

John 8:21-30

Name ______________________________

 
 
Circle the True or False answers. Correct the False statements by restating them.
 
  1. Jesus warned that after He went away He would come back and search door-to-door for those who had refused to believe in Him. True or False
  2. Some who saw and heard Jesus teach died in their sins. True or False
  3. Those who refused to follow Jesus would not go where He went. True or False
  4. With persevering prayer and trust in God, Jesus fervently hoped that those He taught would not turn and kill Him. True or False
  5. All the Jews perfectly understood every truth that Jesus taught, so they did not need to ask Him questions. They heard and believed. True or False
  6. Jesus said that He was from above and not from this world. True or False
  7. If you do not believe Jesus, you will die in your sins. True or False
  8. Jesus taught what He heard from the Father. The Father instructed Him, and the Father is true. True or False
  9. Most of the time, Jesus did what was pleasing to His Father. True or False
  10. To test Him, the Father left Jesus alone every Sabbath afternoon. True or False
 
 
 
 

True and False Test Answers

 
 
  1. False
  2. True
  3. True
  4. False
  5. False
  6. True
  7. True
  8. True
  9. False
  10. False
 
 
 
 
Prayer
Father, remind us daily that it’s either the narrow way of life or the wide gate of destruction. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
May 10
Lesson 11 (KJV)
Promising Peace


 
 
Devotional Reading: Zechariah 8:18–23
Background Scripture: Zechariah 8
Zechariah 8:1–8, 11–17


1. Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying,

2. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

3. Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

4. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.

5. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

6. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.

7. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;

8. And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

11. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts.

12. For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

13. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

14. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not:

15. So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

16. These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

17. And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.


Key Verse

Again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.—Zechariah 8:15

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Describe the expressions of the peace that God promises.

2. Explain why jealousy is not a sin or character defect when applied to God.

3. Write a couplet that dedicates his or her life to embracing God’s “new normal.”


 
 
HOW TO SAY IT
 
 
athazagoraphobia
 
ay-thaz-uh-gor-uh-foe-bee-uh.
 
Haggai
 
Hag-eye or Hag-ay-eye.
 
Zechariah
 
Zek-uh-rye-uh.
 

Introduction

A. Don’t Forget Me!

There’s a little-known psychiatric condition called athazagoraphobia. It refers to an irrational fear of being forgotten. The associated anxiety can be debilitating. Sufferers may feel the need to check in with family constantly while traveling. Or they might excessively remind a coworker about an upcoming meeting. Changes in plans can bring on panic attacks. Sufferers’ lives are filled with anxiety and fear.
A few passages of the Bible speak of a fear of being forgotten by God (example: Lamentations 5:20); many more speak of the reality of people forgetting Him (example: Jeremiah 3:21). That fact speaks directly to an important role of prophets: pointing out the reality of God’s memory and its implications for us (example: Zechariah 10:9).
B. Lesson Context
By one count, there are at least 30 men in the Bible by the name of Zechariah. The one who wrote the book of today’s study was a prophet from a priestly family; his recorded ministry occurred after the Babylonian exile (Ezra 5:1, 2; 6:14; Nehemiah 12:12, 16). The datings in Zechariah 1:1, 7; 7:1 compute to a time between late 520 BC and late 518 BC.
The setting in post-exilic Jerusalem is essential to understanding the book of Zechariah. Twenty years after the return from exile, signs of God’s continued favor seemed to have disappeared (Ezra 4:24; Haggai 1:1–11). Many of those who had returned from exile undoubtedly wondered if God had forgotten them.

I. Stability
(Zechariah 8:1–8)

A. Return to Zion (vv. 1–3)


1. Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying.

The phrase the word of the Lord … came to occurs dozens of times in the Old Testament as a standard introduction to a prophecy. Much rarer is inclusion of the description of hosts, most occurring in this book (compare Isaiah 39:5; Zechariah 7:4; 8:18). It serves to stress God’s power. God is therefore both fully present and fully capable to accomplish whatever He determines to do.

2a. Thus saith the Lord of hosts.

As if to doubly stress the Lord’s power, the prophet uses the phrase the Lord of hosts again. This is a favorite phrase of Zechariah, occurring more than 50 times in his book.

2b. I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

There is no doubt in the prophet’s mind that the Lord has the right to be jealous for His people; they are His exclusively (see Joel 2:18). God’s jealousy is not like that of a boy who has a fit if he sees his girlfriend flirting with someone else. The biblical concept of jealousy when applied to God indicates a profound sense of caring and commitment.
This is even more apparent where a word in the original language is translated “jealousy” in one passage but “zeal” in another. For example, the Hebrew noun translated “jealous” here and “jealousy” in Ezekiel 8:3, 5 is rendered “zeal” in Isaiah 9:7; 37:32; 59:17; 63:15. The Greek noun translated “jealousy” in 2 Corinthians 11:2 is the same one translated “zeal” in Philippians 3:6.
Overlap in meaning is affirmed in English by a dictionary entry that offers one meaning of jealousy as “zealous vigilance.” The common idea is one of fervency. God’s jealousy implies His right to protect His people and to be angry at those who would hurt them (Zechariah 1:14, 15). God will show what it means to have Him fully present in His infinite power, intent on keeping safe those who are His own.

3a. Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.

Zechariah’s ministry includes encouraging the returned exiles to finish rebuilding the temple (see Ezra 4:24–5:2). When God declares His intention to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, He refers to the temple as the specific place of His dwelling (see also Zechariah 1:16). Zion can refer to the entire city of Jerusalem or to only the temple area. Both of these represent the entire nation. For the returned exiles, God’s presence signifies the restoration of His favor (compare Isaiah 52:8; Zechariah 2:10; contrast Ezekiel 10).

3b. And Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth.

Though the Jews had suffered judgment, Zechariah reinforces God’s intentions on their behalf. God’s renaming of Jerusalem uses a term that evokes themes of loyalty and trustworthiness (compare Isaiah 1:26; Jeremiah 33:16). Post-exilic Jerusalem is to have a reputation of residents who keep faith with one another. That trustworthiness is to be without limit as the covenant between God and His people is fully honored.
In the New Testament, the “new Jerusalem” represents the final, complete fulfillment of God’s intention (Revelation 3:12; 21:2, 10; compare Galatians 4:26). In this sense, the city reflects the mountain about which Zechariah prophesies next.

3c. And the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain.

The renaming continues. The mountain to which Zechariah refers is the hill upon which the temple will be rebuilt. A comparison of the date in Ezra 6:15 (which computes to March 12, 515 BC) with that in Zechariah 7:1 (which computes to December 7, 518 BC) indicates that this rebuilding project is not yet complete.
To designate the mountain of the Lord of hosts as the holy mountain serves to set it apart from normal human activity; it is to be reserved wholly for God’s use. Such an image of God’s holy mountain shows up several times in prophecy in this regard (examples: Isaiah 66:20; Ezekiel 20:40; Joel 3:17; contrast Isaiah 65:11).
The redesignations of both the city and the mountain project the idea of uncompromised loyalty to God—true faithfulness.

B. Restoration of Jerusalem (vv. 4–8)

4. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.


A noticeable effect of God’s active presence will be the longevity of God’s people. Only a country enjoying peace and stability sees its citizens reach old age. Disease, war, and injustice attack the hardest those least able to protect themselves, and this certainly includes those of advanced age. But in the future prophesied, no one is neglected.

5. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

Similarly, there will be no injustice in the city to threaten the safety of boys and girls. Referring to the oldest and youngest is a way of expressing the totality of the security and stability in God’s kingdom (compare Jeremiah 30:20). All God’s people are to be deeply invested in extending His security and care toward one another. From the last generation to the next, all are to be safe from harm (compare 31:13). This is a powerful promise for those who had experienced the violence of exile.
 
 
What Do You Think?
What’s the single most important thing your church can do right now to make it a welcome haven for people of all ages?

Digging Deeper
Is it important to know the demographics of your area before taking that action? Why, or why not?
 

  1. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.

    The new normal God is instituting is so marvellous as to seem fantastical, even impossible, to the original readers. The original word being translated “marvellous” is also translated “wonders,” referring to miracles, in Psalm 78:11. People will undoubtedly struggle to believe what God promises to do. Perhaps doubt is here expressed in the model of Gideon’s question in Judges 6:13. But for God it is no problem; the Lord of hosts has the power to fulfill each promise He makes.

    7. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country.

    Again we see the imagery of extremes. The phrasing from the east … and from the west indicates a complete whole (compare Psalm 107:3; Isaiah 43:5). For the returned exiles, this likely recalls their fellow Israelites’ being taken into exile in Assyria, as well as other migrations that seem permanent (compare 11:11).
    The word translated save is frequently used in contexts of liberation from foreign oppressors (examples: Exodus 14:30; Judges 6:14). This association causes problems in the first century AD for those who think of this connection rather than that of being saved from the oppression of sin (compare and contrast Luke 1:71; Acts 1:6; Colossians 1:13).

    8. And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

    The powerful themes presented thus far are repeated. To exist fully as God’s people suggests their taking His characteristics of truth and righteousness as their own. God’s loyalty to His people is thus to come full circle in their loyalty to Him. That has been God’s intent since the first sin (compare John 12:32). In the New Testament, God’s intent to include Gentiles is sharply clear. Even so, that inclusion is nothing new, as underlined by quotations from the Old Testament in the New (see Acts 13:47; Romans 15:12; etc.). Zechariah’s prophecy finds its ultimate fulfillment in the church.

    II. Prosperity
    (Zechariah 8:11–17)

    A. Reversal of Fortunes (vv. 11–15)

    11. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts.


    Here God moves the new normal a step further. This time of restoration will not follow any pattern expected by the residue (same word translated “remnant” in lesson 10). God has a change in mind that vastly exceeds what their recent experience may predict. Thus far, they have faced the uphill battles of reclaiming their land, rebuilding their heritage, and maintaining priorities while doing so (see Ezra 4; Haggai 1:2–4). The result has been poor harvests and inadequate clothing (1:5–11).

    12. For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

    This promise reads like a reversal of the curse God put on all the earth after Adam and Eve’s sinning (Genesis 3:17–19). Similar prophecies draw even clearer parallels (see Ezekiel 34:25–29; Haggai 2:15–19). Lists of blessings elsewhere reflect similar promises (example: Leviticus 26:3–10).
    The promise of good harvests goes hand in hand with the promise of stability in the land. That in turn implies no war, no raids, and no political unrest to destroy the fruitfulness of the land.
     
What Do You Think?
What can Christian teachers do to head off misunderstandings of the “remnant” concept?

Digging Deeper
What forms might such misunderstandings take? Why do you say that?
 

Used to Be Poor

When I was a kid, my family was poor. But we didn’t know it because all our friends were also poor. I was born in the midst of the Great Depression. My parents provided for us what they could and taught us to be grateful to God.
When the post-World War II recovery came, being not quite as poor as we used to be made us think we were rich. How much richer could a family be than to have a new Chevrolet in the driveway, a 10-inch (black and white) television set in the living room, and two pairs of shoes for every child in the family?
Zechariah’s people knew what it was to be poor. They had been political exiles and had returned to a land that had been plundered by the enemy. So when the prophet told them of peaceful prosperity that was coming, they would appreciate it as God’s gift when it became reality.
What “poor” experiences help you anticipate the spiritual riches God is yet to give you?
—C. R. B.

13. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.

Bringing the themes of blessing and curse full circle, God reminds His people of His original promise to bless the nations through Abraham (Genesis 12:2, 3). They had been a curse in that while claiming to belong to God, they were disloyal and followed every kind of wrong behavior.
No one could have looked at pre-exilic Judah and understood either who God is or what belonging to Him really means. Instead of drawing the nations toward God, their behavior ridiculed Him. But now God’s people will prove His love and His power in this new normal of living in God’s presence. Just as Abraham was a blessing to the world by demonstrating a life lived in loyalty to God, so will they be. Despite their history of disobedience, God promises restoration without fear of reprisal.
Hands is frequently a symbolic reference of strength and ability in the Old Testament (see lesson 10). To strengthen one’s hands is to renew one’s power and motivation to act. This results in a person being encouraged and empowered to act confidently in the service of God.

14. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the Lord of hosts, and I repented not.

God reiterates the old pattern of relationship that characterized Israel and Judah before their exiles (compare Zechariah 8:11, 13, above). We note that repented is not in the normal sense of “regret for having sinned,” since God is sinless. Rather, the idea is that of “comfort,” as the same Hebrew word is translated in Isaiah 52:9; 66:13; etc.

15. So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

Passages such as Jeremiah 4:27, 28 reveal God’s former resolute intention to punish the people of the covenant. In something of a parallel, the verse before us now reveals God’s resolute intent to do the polar opposite. On fear ye not, compare the discussion on fear in lesson 10.
 
 
What Do You Think?
What are some ways to respond to those who resist the gospel on the basis that God is inconsistent in bestowing blessings?

Digging Deeper
Which contexts of response will call for discussion of Scriptures (such as Matthew 20:1–16) and which contexts will not (example: Acts 17:16–33)? Explain.
 

  1. Renewal of Responsibility (vv. 16, 17)

    16, 17. These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.


    God’s people must reflect His character in their relationships. This is why the themes of judgment (justice) and peace turn up again. These two concepts go hand in hand and should define the lives of God’s people.
    The word gates refers to a city’s entrance where legal issues were settled (example: Ruth 4:1, 2, 11). To practice justice there is to set the proper example for everyone watching to do so as well. There will be no bribes, no partiality shown to anyone (see Exodus 23:8; Isaiah 33:15, 16; etc.). For God to state what He hates establishes boundaries of human behavior. This is reminiscent of other blessing/curse and love/hate declarations (examples: Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22; Proverbs 6:16–19).
    Ancient covenants established between kings and citizens frequently listed the positive attributes and actions of the ruler before listing the expected reciprocal responsibilities of the citizens. Zechariah’s prophecy is essentially a covenant in miniature: it institutes a new normal of peace in light of God’s presence with His people.
     
What Do You Think?
Which kind of change should you work on most: learning to love what the Lord loves, or learning to hate what the Lord hates? Why?

Digging Deeper
With two weeks having passed since posing this same question in lesson 9, is your response now the same, or different? Why?
 

Conclusion

A. God Dwells with Us


When a relationship needs to go from bad to good, someone has to make the first move. The text for today tells of a time when God did just that. The bad relationship between God and His covenant people was wholly the fault of the people. Logically, therefore, they should have made the first move. But God in His compassion took the initiative, promising great things to His people. And so it still is: God promises great things for us when we actually deserve quite the opposite. He is determined to redeem all who are willing to acknowledge Him as sovereign Lord. Do you?

B. Prayer

Father, may our allegiance be to You alone! Strengthen us to reflect that value and Your character daily. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Only God offers true restoration and peace.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
KID’S CORNER
 
Jesus Gives Light and Life
 
Sunday, May 10, 2020
 
John 8:12-20
 
 
 
John 8:12-20
 
(John 8:12) Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
 
In John 1:3, we learned that all things came into being through Jesus. When God created the world, in Genesis 1:3, God’s first words were, “Let there be light.” Jesus created the world’s light and all the sources of all light throughout the universe. Jesus is also the spiritual light and life of the world. To avoid walking in or practicing a way of life described as darkness, we must follow Jesus day-by-day. In John 1:5, we learned that the darkness cannot comprehend or overcome the light. Jesus’ use of “I am” in this verse is His reference to His deity as in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.” The LORD provided bread in the wilderness to feed the Israelites after He freed them from slavery in Egypt. The LORD also led them with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. Jesus is the spiritual light and life that leads us through the moral and spiritual darkness of this world. Moses led the Israelites out of physical slavery and into the Promised Land. Jesus leads His followers out of spiritual slavery and slavery to sin into eternal life. To have spiritual life and light we must follow Jesus.
 
An often-used synonym for the spiritual light that Jesus gives is “truth.” When we follow Jesus, we follow the truth—the truth of Jesus’ words in the Gospels and the truth of the whole of Scripture. Spiritual darkness includes the moral darkness and spiritual falsehoods that lead to death, but the truth of Jesus can lead us out of moral and spiritual darkness and into the truth of God and all reality (for Jesus created all the reality of the world). Those of whom the Bible calls “this world” walk in moral and spiritual darkness. When Jesus spoke to the religious authorities and unbelievers in John 8:23, He said, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of ‘this world,’ I am not of ‘this world’.” Therefore, without the help of the Holy Spirit unbelievers will not comprehend the light (the truth) that they often seek to overcome when they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
 
As Christians, to help unbelievers we must pray for them as well as teach them the truth of the Scriptures. Those who follow Jesus do not walk in moral and spiritual darkness; rather, they become lights that shine in the darkness. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” To let our lights shine we must walk in the truth of Jesus that includes Jesus’ words and deeds. As Christians, we must walk in the eternal life and light that Jesus gives us now. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If we follow Jesus and His teachings daily, we will have the light we need to walk in this life, and we will always be with Jesus.
 
(John 8:13) So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.”
 
The Pharisees did not refute the truth of Jesus’ words, for they could not overcome or comprehend the truth. They challenged Jesus by saying His testimony (like a witness in a trial) was not valid (legally acceptable). Because it was not valid, they said His testimony should not be accepted. They said His witnessing about himself was not valid because it did not conform to the Law of Moses regarding testimony in a legal proceeding or trial. In Deuteronomy 19:15, we learn that to legally substantiate that something happened or is true there must be two witnesses. In their efforts to suppress the truth, the Pharisees wanted to completely disqualify Jesus as a witness for himself; they claimed that Jesus testified in His own behalf and there was no second witness.
 
(John 8:14) Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.
 
Jesus replied that He was emotionally, mentally, and spiritually qualified to testify in His own behalf because He knew where He had come from (from His Father in heaven) and where He was going (back to His Father in heaven) when His saving work in the world was done. Jesus knew himself, but because the Pharisees did not know Jesus, that He was sent by the Father and returning to the Father and that He was the Son of God, they did not consider His testifying about himself as valid. If they had known God and Jesus, they would have accepted His testimony as the testimony of the divine Son of God.
 
(John 8:15) “You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.
 
Jesus accused the Pharisees of judging by their own “this world” standards and not God’s standards. They claimed to judge by the Law of Moses, but their words and actions showed that they judged by their own sinful human standards. The standards of darkness and of this world motivated them to try to trap Jesus and kill Him on more than one occasion. Jesus revealed how they judged by human standards instead of God’s standards when they brought the woman caught in adultery for Him to judge and condemn. Following the Law of Love, Jesus did not come to judge and condemn sinners, but to save them, so He did not condemn the woman. The Pharisees did not really judge according to what the Bible taught; instead, they judged others based on their own human sinfulness, their Pharisee-made laws and rules that set aside the Law of God, the Law of Love—just as most governments (human and religious) of this world do today.
 
Jesus did not judge people based on human standards, but by God’s standards as revealed in the Scriptures, God’s Word (up to that time before Jesus’ commands in the Gospels were written). Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save it. In John 3:19-21, we learned, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” The Pharisees judged by human standards that were evil; therefore, they condemned Jesus who is “the true light of the world,” who came to save the world and not judge.
 
(John 8:16) “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.
 
Jesus said that even if He judged, and He will judge on the Last Day when He returns, His judgment is valid because He is not judging by himself. The Father and He, two witnesses, judge together; therefore, His judgment is valid according to the Law of Moses rightly interpreted and applied. Jesus and the Father together make valid judgments because of who they are: God the Father and the Son of God, who the Father sent to save and not condemn. Yet, judgment does come in relation to Jesus. In John 3:16-18, we learned, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
 
(John 8:17) “Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.
 
To substantiate what He taught (and as an example to all believers) Jesus referred to the Scriptures. Jesus always upheld the Law of God in the Hebrew Scriptures and gave the correct divine interpretation and application of God’s law. After making the claims about who the Father and who the Son were, and indicating that because of who they were their judgment was valid, Jesus referred them back to the Word of God written. As well as being divine, the Father and the Son fulfilled the Law of Moses in the Scriptures. They were God and they judged by God standards—not human standards or the standards of this world.
 
(John 8:18) “I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”
 
In several ways throughout John’s gospel, Jesus declared that He was the Son of God and His Father gave testimony that He was the Son of God. The signs and works Jesus did that accompanied His words about himself were some of the ways the Father who sent Him into the world gave witness in behalf of Jesus. In John 10:37-38, Jesus told the Jews, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” The Father and Jesus always worked and spoke together in perfect agreement.
 
(John 8:19) So they were saying to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.”
 
For the most part, with Nicodemus being a notable exception, the religious leaders refused to believe Jesus or accept the signs He performed as from God. They chose to remain in darkness and suppress the truth Jesus’ signs pointed toward because their deeds were evil. Therefore, even though they knew many facts about God from the Scriptures, they did not know God. They knew neither Jesus nor the Father. Jesus then made the amazing statement to them (and to us) that means: to know Me is to know the Father. Throughout the Bible, Jesus perfectly reveals God the Father.
 
(John 8:20) These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.
 
The temple treasury was not where the priests stored the temple treasures or offerings. The treasury was where the priests collected offerings for various temple purposes in trumpet-shaped boxes. It was near, or in the place in the temple, where the women could meet but could go no further into the temple. By teaching in the temple treasury, Jesus could teach both men and women. The Pharisees wanted to arrest Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees tried to entrap Jesus. The temple police had been sent to arrest Jesus. The only significant reason that John gives for Jesus not been arrested after His stupendous claims about himself is “His hour had not yet come.” It was not God’s perfect timing, perfect place, and perfect way for Jesus to be arrested to fulfill the Old Testament prophets, and “His hour” eventually came when He glorified the Father and the Father glorified Him.
 
 
 
 
 
Jesus Gives Light and Life
 
Sunday, May 10, 2020
 
John 8:12-20
 
 
 
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12—KJV). Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12—NASB). Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12—NRSV).
 
 
 
Jesus drew parallels between His mission and the LORD saving the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In John 6:35, using the divine name “I am” for himself and comparing himself to the manna from heaven the Israelites ate in the wilderness, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” Like the pillar of fire that led the Israelites in the wilderness, in John 8:12, again using the divine name for himself, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” In John 1:3, we learn that all things came into being through Jesus, and in Genesis 1:3, God’s first words were “Let there be light.” Jesus created all the light that helps us live, provides warmth, and sustains life. Jesus gives spiritual light to His followers, and He promised that by following Him they can avoid walking in spiritual darkness. The LORD led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and Jesus frees believers from sinful living and leads them into life eternal. A synonym for “light” is “truth.” Jesus could have said, “I am the truth of the world” and those who follow the truth will not remained trapped in spiritual deception and falsehood. In John 14:6, Jesus told His followers that He was the truth and the life. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus told Pilate, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). Jesus’ statement to Pilate remains a stunning indictment of those who rejected Jesus and put Jesus to death. However, Jesus rose from the dead and remains the ultimate source of supernatural light and spiritual life.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thinking Further
 
Jesus Gives Light and Life
 
Sunday, May 10, 2020
 
John 8:12-20
 
Name ____________________________
 
 
 
 
 
  1. What types of light are there? What type of light is Jesus?
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. How can someone avoid walking in darkness? What kind of darkness did Jesus mean?
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. What standards did the Pharisees use when judging? What standards did Jesus use when judging?
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. Who were or what were Jesus’ two witnesses in His behalf?
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. If you know Jesus, who else will you know? Who did the Pharisees not know?
 
 
 
 
Discussion and Thinking Further
 
 
 
  1. What types of light are there? What type of light is Jesus? There is so-called natural light that Jesus created (see John 1:3 and Genesis 1:3). There is Jesus, who is moral Light, spiritual Light and the Truth (a synonym for light).
 
 
  1. How can someone avoid walking in darkness? What kind of darkness did Jesus mean? By following Jesus, the Light, in word and deed, you can avoid walking in darkness. Jesus meant moral and spiritual darkness, living according to the flesh or mere human standards and philosophies, instead of living according to God’s standards, the revealed will of God in the Bible.
 
 
  1. What standards did the Pharisees use when judging? What standards did Jesus use when judging? They used human standards that people devised; their standards were according to the flesh, their selfish emotions and desires. Jesus used divine standards; God’s standards as revealed in the Bible. Jesus obeyed the two great commandments, the Law of Love, Jesus loved God and His neighbors.
 
 
  1. Who were or what were Jesus’ two witnesses in His behalf? Jesus, who is the Son of God, and God the Father.
 
 
  1. If you know Jesus, who else will you know? Who did the Pharisees not know? If you know Jesus, you will also know God the Father. The Pharisees did not know God.
 
 
 
 
Word Search
 
Jesus Gives Light and Life
 
Sunday, May 10, 2020
 
John 8:12-20
 
Name ___________________________
 
 
 
I R C E K G H O E C P V I O G
 
W E X J W F T L R N X W Y N T
 
X H Y M C O R I E W J P I W E
 
J T Q G S H E G T Y A H R U S
 
W A J A V D A H D K C L M B T
 
K F S Y K L S T L A N S K A I
 
S G B R Z R U D E B W B I D M
 
X W E W X O R T R H U M A N O
 
N H O F M W Y R S A J N D B N
 
G J A L I K H W E W D S Q E Y
 
W F X O L L Q D O V Q N K L J
 
Z E K H K O B I K N E Y A E H
 
K F Y L V L F L O F K O S T D
 
C A J E S U S A R T P U H Y S
 
S D Q I P X N V C H S R N W E
 
 
 
Light
 
World
 
Whoever
 
Follows
 
Jesus
 
Walk
 
Life
 
Testimony
 
Valid
 
Human
 
Standards
 
Know
 
Father
 
Teaching
 
Treasury
 
 
 
 
 
True and False Test
 
Jesus Gives Light and Life
 
Sunday, May 10, 2020
 
John 8:12-20
 
Name ________________________________
 
 
 
  1. Jesus created light and He is the light of the world. True or False
 
 
  1. By following Jesus, we will have the light of life. True or False
 
 
  1. To practice immorality and live in deception and falsehood is to walk in darkness. True or False
 
 
  1. Sometimes the darkness comprehends and overcomes the light. True or False
 
 
  1. The scribes and Pharisees trusted Jesus to lead them out of the darkness and into the light. True or False
 
 
  1. To judge or live according to the flesh is to judge or live according to human standards instead of God’s standards. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus’ judgments were always true and valid. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus did not testify in His own behalf because the Father testified in His behalf. True or False
 
 
  1. The Pharisees did not know Jesus or His Father. True or False
 
 
  1. To know Jesus is to know His Father also. True or False
 
 
 
 
True and False Test Answers
 
 
 
  1. True
  2. True
  3. True
  4. False
  5. False
  6. True
  7. True
  8. False
  9. True
  10. True
 
 
 
 
Prayer

Father, may our allegiance be to You alone! Strengthen us to reflect that value and Your character daily. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
 
 
April 5
Lesson 6 (KJV)
A Just Servant
 
 

Devotional Reading: Psalm 98
Background Scripture: Isaiah 42
Isaiah 42:1–9

1. Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

2. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

3. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

4. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

5. Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

6. I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

7. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

8. I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

9. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.


Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Identify the Lord’s servant and the servant’s task.

2. Explain the fulfillment of the lesson text found in Matthew 12:15–21.

3. Sing a hymn or song that is based on Isaiah 42.


HOW TO SAY IT
 
 
Babylon
 
Bab-uh-lun.
 
Chaldean
 
Kal-dee-un.
 
Cyrus
 
Sigh-russ.
 
Davidic
 
Duh-vid-ick.
 
Isaiah
 
Eye-zay-uh.
 
Judah
 
Joo-duh.
 
Messiah
 
Meh-sigh-uh.
 
messianic
 
mess-ee-an-ick.
 
Nazareth
 
Naz-uh-reth.
 
Persia
 
Per-zhuh.
 

Introduction

A. Champions of Justice

A few years ago, the Consumer Attorneys of California created the “Champions of Justice Award” to honor extraordinary service among the association’s members. Sandra Ribera Speed received the award in 2015. This honor was awarded to her in part for her involvement in a case involving a runaway delivery truck that crashed into a family vehicle.
Sandra’s law firm at the time wanted nothing to do with fighting this case against a powerful company and its army of attorneys. But Sandra believed the case had merit and refused to give up. She used all her savings and incurred credit card debt in order to work on the case by herself for six months. She was so well prepared that the seven lawyers from the prestigious firm representing the delivery company settled the case on the first day of trial. In addition to serving her clients well, Sandra’s portion of the settlement allowed her to establish her own law firm.
About 2,700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the ultimate champion of justice. He would fight for, defend, and serve not just one person but all those who would accept His help.

B. Lesson Context

This lesson begins unit 2, which emphasizes God’s promises of a just kingdom. The prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah as the champion of justice. Such prophecies, of course, have direct bearing on Palm Sunday. As appropriate, some of these connections will be explored in the commentary below.
The prophet Isaiah, for his part, had a lengthy ministry, from about 740 to 680 BC. The book featuring his name as its title is comprised of two parts. Isaiah 1–39 has been described as the Book of Judgment; it focuses on the sins of the people of Judah. Isaiah 40–66, the Book of Comfort, looks forward about a century and a half to the time when Judah’s exile in Babylon is about to end. We keep in mind that the exile did not even begin until 586 BC.
The end of exile is foreseen in the chapter preceding our lesson text: God called a “righteous man” (Isaiah 41:2) to bring the captivity to its end. That man was Cyrus, the king of Persia who conquered Babylon in 539 BC (see 44:28 and 45:1, where he is designated “shepherd” and “anointed,” respectively). He issued a decree permitting the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem beginning in 538 BC (Ezra 1:1–8).
The word servant occurs more than three dozen times in the book of Isaiah. In chapter 41, the Lord applies it to Israel—“my servant” (Isaiah 41:8, 9). This servant was fearful. For that reason, God reassured the people of His love. They didn’t need to fear; their exile in Babylon was not evidence that God had cast them away forever. He promised Israel that they were still His covenant people. The Lord encouraged His helpless servant Israel by stating that the people need not fear, because God would help them (41:10, 13, 14).
The Lord then addressed, in a courtroom setting, the nations and their idols. He challenged the nations to provide evidence that idols had ever correctly predicted the future. After announcing judgment on the false gods, the Lord proclaimed that He had “raised up one from the north” (Isaiah 41:25)—surely once again alluding to Cyrus. Although the Persian emperor hailed “from the east” (41:2), he conquered several kingdoms north of Babylon before eventually attacking Babylon from that direction. Against this backdrop of a pagan king as an instrument of God to rescue an exiled people, Isaiah introduced the intriguing servant of the Lord.
Isaiah 42:1–9 (today’s text) is the first of Isaiah’s five “servant songs,” in which the servant is identified with the Messiah to come (see 49:1–6; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12; 61:1–4). These messianic songs highlight what the servant is to accomplish on behalf of the world.

I. Presentation
(Isaiah 42:1–4)

A. God’s Servant (v. 1)

1a. Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.


The servant introduced here bears some similarities to the anointed shepherd Cyrus and servant Israel in having God’s approval (see the Lesson Context). However, this servant is profoundly different from both; the quotation of Isaiah 42:1–4 in Matthew 12:18–21 establishes this to be Jesus. God both supports and delights in Him (Matthew 3:16, 17). This suggests the servant will be obedient and godly in a way like no other.

1b. I have put my spirit upon him.

Members of ancient Israel did not experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as Christians do today (see Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2:14–21, 38). Thus the servant is marked as special for a special purpose, and Jesus’ baptism clearly points back to this verse. On that occasion the Spirit will descend on Him after He rises from the water as the Father expresses His pleasure with His Son (Luke 3:21, 22; see also Isaiah 11:1–5).

1c. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

We cannot miss the servant’s mission of bringing judgment to the world, since it is mentioned three times in the first four verses of Isaiah 42. The concept of judgment encompasses much more than judicial equity, a fair redistribution of goods, etc. The judgment that the servant shall bring forth also includes making available the salvation of God. Isaiah’s prophecy includes Gentiles in this plan (compare Isaiah 42:6, below). Although Israel often found itself being enemies with surrounding nations, God’s plan ultimately is to make one people of many (compare Genesis 49:10; Romans 5:18, 19; Galatians 3:26–29).

B. Gentle and Just (vv. 2–4)

2. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

This servant of the Lord will be quite different from the typical king or conqueror who calls attention to himself through loud proclamations (example: Acts 25:23). No, he won’t even cry, nor lift up … his voice, or shout in the street. God’s answer to the world’s arrogance is not more arrogance.
 
 
What Do You Think?
What are some issues you believe the Lord doesn’t want you to voice publicly “in the street” in imitation of this characteristic? Why?

Digging Deeper
How do Matthew 5:14–16; 6:5; and 22:9 inform your response?
 

The crowds at Jesus’ triumphal entry will shout, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). Notice that while the crowd speaks “with a loud voice” (19:37), Jesus never says a word. He will be silent just as this prophecy says. Jesus will not speak up even to defend himself against false accusations (Acts 8:32–35, quoting Isaiah 53:7, 8).
As in ancient times, many people are attracted to leaders who draw attention to themselves, boasting of their abilities and accomplishments (see Acts 8:9–11). Christians do well to remember that Jesus didn’t boast. Paul also refused to boast about anything “save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14; compare 2 Corinthians 10:17, 18).

3a. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.

Instead of using his power to crush the mighty, the servant will be so gentle that He won’t even break off a bruised reed that is bent over (compare Matthew 11:29). With gentleness, the servant will support the weak and mend the broken.

A Piggyback Servant

On a trip to Israel, our church group had walked about 30 minutes to get to a site. A woman in the group slipped and fell. She was immediately in a great deal of pain, learning later that she had broken a bone in her foot.
The concerned group began discussing the dilemma of getting her back to the bus. Then Bill stepped forward and lowered himself to his hands and knees, indicating that he would carry her. When the woman was securely attached to Bill’s back, he stood up. He carried her, piggyback style, to the bus. Telling the story at Bill’s celebration, our preacher concluded, “Bill is one who comes alongside others and carries their burdens.”
Isaiah 42 introduces us to the Lord’s servant, one who would not break an already-damaged plant. How willing are you to follow the example of the Lord Jesus and “lower” yourself to support those who are weak or broken?

—A. S.
 
 
What Do You Think?
Which characteristic of Jesus most stirs you to act and speak on His behalf: that of Matthew 12:20 (which quotes Isaiah 42:3) or of Matthew 21:12, 13? Why?

Digging Deeper
What examples can you list of situations calling for a Matthew 12:20 response rather than one of Matthew 21:12, 13—and vice versa?
 

3b. He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

We are told again that the servant’s mission is tied to judgment. This is most fitting for a king who comes from David’s line (see David’s words in 1 Chronicles 16:14, repeated in Psalm 105:7; see further the words of his son Solomon in 72:2). But now the qualifier unto truth is added. Where servant Israel has failed (see Isaiah 48:1; 59:12–15), servant Jesus will succeed. Indeed, Jesus will prove himself to be the very embodiment of truth (John 14:6; compare 1:14, 17).

4a. He shall not fail nor be discouraged.

We see here a hint of the suffering the servant will experience, since this prediction presupposes the presence of things that can result in failure or discouragement. This finds full expression in the fourth servant song (Isaiah 52:13–53:12). Although surrounded by many chances to depart from God’s chosen path, the servant will faithfully and obediently remain true to God’s mission.

4b. Till he have set judgment in the earth.

Here we have the climax of Isaiah’s statements regarding judgment in Isaiah 42:1–4. The servant won’t merely preach justice as a desirable goal; he will enact it (compare Isaiah 9:7; 16:5; 54:14). Although the servant will be exceedingly gentle, he will not be weak. Establishing judgment‌—God’s divine order—in the earth is a huge task. It requires unimaginable power. It is not the power that is typically used when trying to establish governments (compare 2:4; 51:4).
Centuries later, the people in Malachi’s day will ask, “Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:17). Malachi’s prophetic response is fulfilled in John the Baptist, who prepares the way for the Messiah (see 3:1; Matthew 11:10). The Messiah in turn inaugurates justice (example: Luke 1:46–55).

4c. And the isles shall wait for his law.

Isles is likely Isaiah’s way of referring to distant places on the earth. These far places are meant to indicate that the prophecy concerns the entire world (compare Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:11; Matthew 12:17–21). The entire world is to have an opportunity to wait for and depend on the servant’s law, or instruction.
Humble Research
Does humility come with any benefits? Social scientists are inclined to say yes! Studies indicate that humble people tend to be secure in their identity. They have an accurate sense of their own strengths and weaknesses, which gives them stability in their character.
Humble people also are aware that they aren’t the center of the universe. Far from this realization getting them down, it allows them to enjoy their strengths and seek to improve their weaknesses.
Isaiah 42 reveals that the Lord’s servant is not like leaders who draw attention to themselves. Such people boast about their abilities and accomplishments, but Jesus calls us to follow His humble example. What steps do you need to take to reorient your beliefs and behavior to align with Christ’s attitude toward humility? How will you do that both in how you perceive others and in how you present yourself?
—A. S.

II. Commission
(Isaiah 42:5–9)

A. Called by the Creator (v. 5)

5. Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.


The Lord is not merely Israel’s God but is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1, 9; Psalm 102:25; Isaiah 48:13; etc.). On this basis, God rightly claims authority not just over the land and people of Israel but over all nations (Psalm 82:8; etc.).
More significantly, He is the one who gives breath and spirit to people (Genesis 2:7; compare Acts 17:24, 25). How sadly ironic that those very people in turn create idols that have no breath themselves (Jeremiah 10:14; 51:17), let alone being able to impart breath to others!
 
 
What Do You Think?
In what ways might your life change, were you to be more consistent at reminding yourself of God’s position and role of Creator?

Digging Deeper
How can your church encourage its members to do likewise?
 

  1. Called to Covenant (vv. 6, 7)

    6a. I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee.


    Having presented the servant and his mission, now the Lord addresses and commissions His servant. God has called the servant according to His own nature—His righteousness (compare Jeremiah 23:6). The servant doesn’t have to fulfill the mission by himself; God will hold him tightly by the hand and won’t let go (see Isaiah 41:9, 10, 13). The servant will do the Lord’s work in God’s power according to God’s will.

    6b. And give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.

    At the heart of that work is the fact that the servant will initiate a covenant. We know from other Scriptures that the Messiah is to fulfill the Davidic covenant and establish a new covenant through personal sacrificial death (compare 2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 55:3; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Hebrews 8:6–13; 9:15). This covenant is without end (Isaiah 54:10; 59:21; 61:8).
    The people refers to those who have already received God’s revelation—the Israelites (see Isaiah 49:8). Their role as a priestly nation is meant to draw other nations to the Lord (Exodus 19:6; compare 1 Peter 2:9). The scope of the servant’s ministry reflects this concern as He also becomes a light on behalf of the Gentiles (compare Isaiah 49:6; Luke 2:29–32; Acts 26:18, 22, 23).

    7. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

    Ancient prisons are extremely dark, both literally and figuratively. The light-imparting ministry of the servant will indeed be welcomed by them that sit in darkness (see Isaiah 49:9; 51:14). Light would come through freedom, not by the installation of lamps or windows. Blind eyes, whether physical or spiritual in nature, are to be opened by the servant as a sign of his identity and call (compare Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 32:3; Matthew 11:5).
     
What Do You Think?
What can you do to improve your ability to recognize the various physical, spiritual, and emotional prisons that restrict your fellow Christians’ effectiveness for Christ?

Digging Deeper
How do Galatians 3:23 and Hebrews 13:3 help define your task in this regard?
 

As is often the case with the Old Testament prophets, this prophecy likely carries a double meaning. In the first sense, Isaiah is probably looking about 150 years ahead to his people’s release from captivity in Babylon (Isaiah 48:20; 52:2; compare Zechariah 2:7). In the context of the calling of the servant, however, Judah’s deliverance from exile can only serve as a foretaste of the release of people from the bondage of sin and ignorance. While Cyrus, an instrument of the Lord, will provide deliverance from the oppression of Babylon, this servant will provide liberation from the bondage of sin (compare Acts 26:18; 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14, 15).
This fulfillment will come into sharp and dramatic focus when Jesus reads Isaiah 61:1, 2a in Nazareth (Luke 4:18, 19). God offers deliverance from the imprisonment of sin to everyone—whether Jew or Gentile—who accepts Jesus as the Messiah according to the biblical plan of salvation (John 3:16; etc.).

C. Called for God’s Glory (vv. 8, 9)

8a. I am the Lord: that is my name.


The Lord’s declaring of His name recalls the scene of Moses at the burning bush. There God revealed His personal name to Moses at the event that commissioned that man for his task. That task was to go back to Egypt so that the Lord could establish His covenant with Israel at Sinai (Exodus 3:13–15; 6:3; 19:1–6; compare Psalm 81:10; Isaiah 43:3, 11).

8b. And my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Isaiah’s own calling has surely impressed on him the fact that the Lord is holy and “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). God alone has all authority; graven images cannot share His glory or praise (compare Exodus 8:10; 20:4). Both the servant and Isaiah’s audience are reminded that the servant’s mission will confirm that God is beyond comparison.
 
 
What Do You Think?
What’s the best way for Christians to guard against glorifying anything or anyone except God? Or is there a single best way? Explain.

Digging Deeper
Considering texts such as Romans 16:3, 4, 6, 7, 10, and 12, how will you know when praise of a person crosses the line?
 

  1. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

    In Isaiah 41:22 (not in our lesson text), God challenges the idols to reveal the former things—the things God has revealed in prophecy and brought to pass later. Of course they cannot. God can reveal not only those things but also the ultimate end result. Events predicted about both Cyrus and the servant came to pass. This confirms the Lord’s sovereign authority.
    The new things of the Old Testament era likely point to Israel’s restoration following the end of the Chaldean (Babylonian) exile (see Isaiah 43:19–21). Once again, though, historical hindsight tells us that God’s plan for His people will remain largely unfulfilled until the coming of the servant Jesus and His perfect work. Because of this, there is hope for all the world.
    Regarding the beginning of the New Testament (new covenant) era, the Jews of Jesus’ day will hope for a militaristic Messiah to come and, like Cyrus, deliver them from the oppression of a foreign nation. To be rid of Roman rule would be the new start they want. During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people will cry out “Hosanna” (Matthew 21:9), which means “save” (compare 2 Samuel 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26). This is both an appeal of prayer and an exclamation of praise.
    Jesus is certainly worthy of loud and absolute praise (Revelation 5:12)! Yet the humble Messiah ends up being much different from what anyone expects. The past, present, and future king of the universe comes not as one to be served “but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

    Conclusion

    A. In His Steps


    The biblical concept of judgment represents God’s righteous world order. At His first coming, Jesus treated people more than justly; when Jesus walked the earth, He overcame enemies with gentleness and love. When He returns, He will judge the world based on how each person treated “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). At His first coming, the Lord’s servant inaugurated God’s just and right order from a position of apparent weakness when compared to worldly strength; in so doing, He is an example for us so that we can “follow [in] his steps” (1 Peter 2:21–23).


    The Holy Spirit, working through Scripture and circumstances, motivates Christ’s followers to take His gospel to the ends of the earth. For more than 2,000 years, Christians have borne witness to Jesus through evangelism (see Matthew 28:18–20) and ministries of mercy: establishing hospitals and schools, caring for prisoners and the poor, and participating in countless other charities (25:34–40).
    Particularly challenging for most of us is following the manner and attitude of the servant’s life and ministry. It’s not easy to surrender the self-centeredness and assertiveness that has been with us since birth in the surrounding culture. But God’s Word calls us to pattern our lives after His servant Jesus (Philippians 2:4–8). How will you follow the example of Jesus? How will you serve?

    B. Prayer

    We thank You, Father, for sending the promised servant to save us and inaugurate Your justice on earth. May the Holy Spirit empower us with the courage to follow Your servant’s humble example as we serve Him and those around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

    C. Thought to Remember

    Jesus is the champion of justice and the servant of all servants.
 
 
 
 

KID’SCORNER

The Law and the Will of God
 
Sunday 5, 20200
 

John 7:14-24

 
 
John 7:14-24
 
(John 7:14) But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach.
 
After the crowds had plenty of time to discuss Jesus and who He was at the Feast of Booths, Jesus went into the temple to teach. John did not record what Jesus taught, but we know Jesus taught in parables (see Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and Jesus also taught in figures of speech (see John). Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had cleansed the temple and driven out the moneychangers. In John 7: 7, Jesus had told His brothers that He testified that the world's works are evil, so He might have done continued to do that in the temple. Jesus may have taught from the Hebrew scriptures and encouraged people to repent of their sins, as John the Baptist had preached.
 
(John 7:15) The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”
 
The cheers “the religious leaders” are concerned about the “academic credentials” of their teachers. For example, the apostle Paul said his “academic credentials” included having Gamaliel has his teacher (Acts 22:3). As far as they could tell, Jesus had no “academic credentials.” He did not quote the teachers who had gone before Him as authorities. They did not know anyone who taught Jesus what He knew. Yet, they admitted and were astonished at Jesus’ knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and His application and interpretation of them.
 
(John 7:16) So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
 
Note carefully: Jesus did not say, “My teaching is mine.” No. Just as they had teachers, so did Jesus. Jesus said His teaching was the teaching of the one who sent him. We know the one who sent Jesus was the Father in heaven. The authorities could have understood that has what Jesus meant, but Jesus was humble and pointed people to the teaching of God, who had taught them the truth in their Scriptures. In John: 11, Jesus included the Father and himself when He told Nicodemus: “we speak of what we know and testify to what we’ve seen.” Jesus astonished people because Is teaching was the teaching of God.
 
(John 7:17) “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
 
Jesus gave the religious leaders a universal truth that applies to everyone at all times. To know the truth of God, the truth about God, to know God, you must first resolve to do the will of God. Notice: Jesus did not say resolve to obey the law of God, for these religious leaders had many interpretations of the law of God, and yet, they did not know God. If someone truly wants to do the will of God, the Holy Spirit, will find a way to lead them to Jesus and His teaching for His teaching is from God and not His own apart from God.
 
(John 7:18) “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
 
I have heard and read people who have said in so many words, “the Bible says [fill in the blank], but I believe [fill in the blank]” or “the Bible says it is wrong to [fill in the blank], but I think it is okay to [fill in the blank].” Jesus would say these people are seeking their own glory. They are placing themselves above the Bible and judging the Bible to be wrong. Jesus refused to do that. Jesus sought to glorify, honor, proclaim, tell the truth about, His Father (and our Father) who sent Him. The Father is true and Jesus was true to God and His Word. There is nothing false in the Father or the Son (See Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18). As Christians, we seek the glory of the Father and the Son. They are true and there is nothing false in them were in their words to us.
 
(John 7:19) “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
 
The religious leaders did not resolve to do the will of God; if they had they would have recognized that Jesus’ teaching was from God. They took pride in their knowledge of the law and of their “academic credentials” that they thought made them authorities on the right interpretation of God’s law. They thought Jesus was wrong. But as Jesus pointed out none of them were obeying the law of God. If they obeyed God’s law, they would love God and their neighbor, and they would live as Micah revealed in Micah 6:8 — “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Instead, Jesus knew that they plotted to kill Him; so He spoke to their conscience, which He knew they had hardened against Him.
 
(John 7:20) The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?”
 
The crowd could not see into the hearts or understand the intentions of their religious leaders. Instead, they thought Jesus was crazy to say such an outlandish thing, for they were listening intently to the discussion between Jesus and their leaders. Jesus knew the leaders hated Him and wanted to kill Him even before He left Galilee. Jesus did not defend himself or His teaching or answer their questions. Instead, Jesus kept His focus on the Hebrew Scriptures and spoke to their conscience (as hard as it was).
 
(John 7:21) Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel.
 
Jesus referred back to the work He performed at the pool of Bethsaida when He healed a man who had been held for 38 years. The healing of the man astonished them, especially the crowd who had probably heard of the man’s being healed by Jesus and perhaps knew the man. But, the religious leaders believe that according to their interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures Jesus had broken the Sabbath and deserved to die. They did not keep the law of Moses in their hearts, and they would soon kill Jesus.
 
(John 7:22) “For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man.
 
Jesus displayed part of his learning when he qualified that circumcision went back to the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not just as far back as the time of Moses. Male Jews were circumcised on the eighth day after they were born, even when they were born on the Sabbath when no work was to be done. Circumcision took precedence over the rule against working on the Sabbath.  Gentiles who converted to Judaism as adult males would also be circumcised on the Sabbath as taking precedence over the law of the Sabbath.
 
(John 7:23) “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?
 
When two ceremonial laws conflicted, the Jews decided the law regarding circumcision was the most important to obey. Circumcision was surgery on one small part of the body. If circumcision or surgery was allowed on one part of the body, Jesus said that healing a man’s whole body was even more important; therefore, healing could be done on the Sabbath as taking precedence over the law of the Sabbath; therefore, they should not be angry with Him. They did not know or want to obey the law of love that would heal someone whenever given the opportunity no matter what day of the week it was.
 
(John 7:24) “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
 
The “religious leaders” soft glory for themselves and thought Jesus was seeking glory for himself. They thought Jesus healing on the Sabbath was one way He was seeking to draw attention to himself. They judged by appearances. They thought Jesus had no concern about obeying the law of God; therefore, He violated the Sabbath laws. They judged by appearances. If they had just right judgment, they would have judged that Jesus acted in love to heal a sick man whenever He had the opportunity to matter what day it was. Obeying the law of love for God and others took precedence over obeying a ceremonial law or Sabbath observance.
 
 
 
The Law and the Will of God
 
Sunday 5, 20200
 
John 7:14-24
 
 
 
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17—KJV). If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself (John 7:17—NASB). Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own (John 7:17—NRSV). First, consider what Jesus did not say. Jesus did not say, “Anyone who resolves to do the law of God will know,” because this was the standard of judgment used by the scribes and Pharisees. The main occupation of the Pharisees was debating, defining, and defending the law of God as they understood it from previous teachers over hundreds of years. Based on their interpretation of the Law of Moses, they had already decided that Jesus was breaking the law of God. They accused Jesus of breaking the law of the Sabbath when He healed the sick on the Sabbath and of desecrating the name of God when He called God His Father. Now, consider what Jesus truly promised, “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know.” But what is “the will of God”? In general, we would say, “Love God and love your neighbor,” but that was the Law of Love the Pharisees also debated, so Jesus told them the Parable of the Good Samaritan to explain it (see Luke 10:25-37). Those Jesus spoke to desperately needed to understand and resolve to do the will of God as declared by the prophet in Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” If people truly resolve to do the will of God, they will understand whether Jesus’ teaching or anyone else’s teaching is from the Father, the Person who sent Jesus, or human philosophers and speculators.
 
 
 
 
 

Thinking Further

The Law and the Will of God
 
Sunday 5, 20200
 

John 7:14-24

Name _____________________________

 
 
  1. What is the Law of God?
 
 
 
 
  1. Is there a problem with the Law of God? Explain your answer.
 
 
 
 
  1. What is the Will of God?
 
 
 
 
  1. Is there a problem with the Will of God? Explain your answer.
 
 
 
 
  1. How can someone know if Jesus, or anyone else, was sent from God or not?
 
 
 
 

Discussion and Thinking Further

 
 
  1. What is the Law of God? The Law of God is the Law of Love: the requirement or rule of God to love God and our neighbors. The Law of Love sums up the Ten Commandments, also called the Moral Law of God, and the commandments of Jesus, which He often illustrated with parables.
  2. Is there a problem with the Law of God? Explain your answer. No. The problem is with people who misinterpret the Law of God, such as the Pharisees with all their traditions regarding the meaning and application of the Law of God: the religious elite who wanted to control others, but who did not obey the Law of God themselves. They loved neither God nor their neighbors.
  3. What is the Will of God? The will of God is that we rightly understand and resolve to rightly apply the Law of Love; such as, God’s declaration through the prophets like the Prophet Micah in Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Supremely, God wills that everyone repent of their sins, believe Jesus, and believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and their Lord and Savior.
  4. Is there a problem with the Will of God? Explain your answer. No. But some think the will of God is obeying the Law of God without truly loving God and their neighbors, without needing to turn from their sins and trust in Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, for salvation, to receive the power to become children of God, to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, to receive the gift of eternal life, and many wonderful blessings.
  5. How can someone know if Jesus, or anyone else, was sent from God or not? If a person wills or resolves to do the will of God, by the power of God and the truth of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, they will learn, believe, and come to know that Jesus was sent from God and Jesus was teaching the truth of God. They will know that Jesus was not speaking on His own. By the grace of God and the truth of God in the Bible, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, those who will to do the will of God will recognize a false messiah, a false prophet, or a false teacher of God—people that Jesus told believers to always be aware of and avoid.
 
 
Word Search
 
The Law and the Will of God
 
Sunday 5, 20200
 

John 7:14-24

Name _____________________________________

 
 
G P R I G U R A S L H A Y E A
 
Z T U W A V F Q U P F T V C G
 
F Y E T S Y S E V L O S E R O
 
C Q R A Q H K R X Q D G A L N
 
I N G O C F I N D E Y E K G B
 
R V A E L H L Z H N I T J E K
 
C W G J Z G L S S A B B A T H
 
U E P A P E I W E O J O M T P
 
M X Y H D N S L A B E Z W N O
 
C J E Z O K P L T L S M P E Y
 
I A B T B M V W A O U B F M R
 
S Z S I E N J E I F S J N G I
 
E A X T U R H K U L V O Q D G
 
S F J W Y O N F T R L E F U H
 
D E M O N R S R J Y T C V J T
 
 
 
Temple
 
Teach
 
Astonished
 
Resolves
 
Will
 
Glory
 
True
 
False
 
Law
 
Demon
 
Kill
 
Circumcise
 
Sabbath
 
Right
 
Judgment
 
 
 
True and False Test
 
The Law and the Will of God
 
Sunday 5, 20200
 

John 7:14-24

Name ________________________________

 
 
Circle the True or False answers. Correct the False statements by restating them.
 
  1. Jesus went to the Festival of Booths but did not enter the temple because of the large crowds that followed Him. True or False
  2. The religious leaders said Jesus had never been taught. True or False
  3. Jesus’ learning astonished the Jews. True or False
  4. Jesus said His teaching was the teaching of the one who sent Him. True or False
  5. Those who did the will of God knew that Jesus was speaking on His own authority. True or False
  6. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether Jesus’ teaching is from God or not. True or False
  7. Moses gave the law of God, but only the religious leaders kept the law of God because they knew the Scriptures and the crowds did not. True or False
  8. Since Jesus did not go into the temple, no one wanted to kill Him. True or False
  9. After hearing Jesus talk about people wanting to kill Him, the crowd said Jesus had a demon. True or False
  10. Jesus said that He had healed a man’s whole body on the Sabbath. True or False
 
 

True and False Test Answers

  1. False
  2. True
  3. True
  4. True
  5. False
  6. True
  7. False
  8. False
  9. True
  10. True
 
 
 
 
Prayer

We thank You, Father, for sending the promised servant to save us and inaugurate Your justice on earth. May the Holy Spirit empower us with the courage to follow Your servant’s humble example as we serve Him and those around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunday School Lesson
March 29
Lesson 5 (KJV)
Need for Just Leaders
 


Devotional Reading: Psalm 50:1–15
Background Scripture: Malachi 2; 3
Malachi 2:1–9

1. And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

2. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.

3. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.

4. And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.

5. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.

6. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

7. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

8. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.

9. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
Malachi 3:5, 6

5. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

6. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Key Verse

If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.—Malachi 2:2

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Describe the conduct of the Judean priesthood of the late fifth century BC.

2. Explain why God held the priesthood to a high standard.

3. Create a plan to improve one aspect of his or her own priestly ministry (1 Peter 2:5).



HOW TO SAY IT

 
 
Artaxerxes
 
Are-tuh-zerk-seez.
 
Levites
 
Lee-vites.
 
Levitical
 
Leh-vit-ih-kul.
 
Malachi
 
Mal-uh-kye.
 
Nehemiah
 
Nee-huh-my-uh.
 
Persia
 
Per-zhuh.
 
Shechem
 
Shee-kem or Shek-em.
 

Introduction

A. A Model for Leadership


In the late 1940s, Billy Graham’s ministry was becoming well known. Graham realized that he needed to hold himself and his ministry to an extremely high standard of conduct for the sake of the gospel message he proclaimed. In 1948, Graham and his staff created what they called the “Modesto Manifesto.” They pledged themselves to follow the highest standards of conduct in every area of their lives.
When the evangelist died in 2018, tributes to Graham poured in. Many of them cited his uncompromising integrity. Even those who did not accept Graham’s message had to acknowledge that he was a man who practiced what he preached. During a time when many public figures were caught up in scandalous behavior, Graham remained a consistent model of faithfulness to Christ.
In the days of the prophet Malachi, the leaders of God’s people took the polar opposite approach. What we might call “Malachi’s Manifesto” exposed the corruption of these leaders and called attention to what God has always desired.

B. Lesson Context

Malachi mentions no kings at the beginning of his book. This makes establishing an approximate date for the prophet’s ministry challenging. Even so, the book’s contents offer some clues.
The issues addressed by Malachi are similar to those facing God’s people in the time of Nehemiah in the fifth century BC. With permission from King Artaxerxes of Persia, Nehemiah had traveled from Persia to Judah around 445 BC to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
Some issues addressed by both Nehemiah and Malachi include mixed marriages (Nehemiah 13:23–27; Malachi 2:11), the failure to tithe (Nehemiah 13:10–14; Malachi 3:8–10), and corrupt priests (Nehemiah 13:4–9; Malachi 1:6–2:9). These similarities point to a date for Malachi that is post-exilic. That means the setting is an era after the exile in Babylon (Chaldea) ends in 538 BC (see Ezra 1:1–4).
Bolstering the conclusion that Malachi is post-exilic is the use of the title “governor” (Malachi 1:8). This was Nehemiah’s official title (see Nehemiah 5:14; compare Haggai 1:1; 2:21); before the exile, Judah had kings, not governors. Based on these and other facts, scholars conclude that Malachi is chronologically the last of the prophets, of about 430 BC.
The Babylonian (Chaldean) captivity occurred between the ministries of Micah (see lesson 4) and Malachi. The delinquent leadership against which Micah spoke so passionately had resurfaced in Malachi’s day. And it was just as displeasing to the Lord in Malachi’s time as it had been in Micah’s.

I. Failing the Call
(Malachi 2:1–9)


Up to the point where our lesson text begins, Malachi has written in dialogue format. This involves first stating a proposition from the Lord or presenting a scenario, then anticipating a response. That response is followed by the Lord’s rejoinder. Variations of this technique are found throughout the book. This is Malachi’s method of challenging his audience to rethink their practices and alter their way of living.

A. Hear the Lord (vv. 1–4)

1. And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

At the point where our lesson begins, Malachi has already said much about the poor quality of leadership demonstrated by the priests. When the prophet first mentions the priests, he describes them as despising the Lord’s name (Malachi 1:6). The priests are abusing their sacred office by offering defective, unacceptable sacrifices (1:7, 8).
God has made it clear in the Law of Moses that only the best is to be brought to Him in worship. In the case of animals, only those unblemished are to be brought (examples: Leviticus 1:3, 10; 3:1). But instead of finding delight in the privilege of preparing such offerings, these priests look on their work as a “weariness” (Malachi 1:13). The commandment about to be voiced is an invitation to hear God anew and repent. The verse before us therefore begins the transition from problem to solution‌—or consequences for allowing the problem to continue.

2. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.

The Lord issues a solemn warning to the delinquent priests. Their ministry is intended to bring glory to the Lord’s name (compare Matthew 15:7–9; 1 Timothy 6:16; Revelation 5:12, 13). He is the one they serve. The work they do is to be viewed as a privilege.
But if the priests are unwilling to lay it to heart—take seriously—what the Lord says, then the Lord will send a curse upon them and even curse their blessings (compare Deuteronomy 11:26; 28:20; Jeremiah 13:17). This may refer to the blessing that the priests are to pronounce on the Israelites (Numbers 6:22–27). If so, then God will make that declaration null and void. The unfortunate truth is that unholy priests cause suffering for all the people.
Another possible interpretation is that God will curse the harvest so that the crops will not produce as they should. This happened in the time of Haggai nearly a century earlier (Haggai 1:5–11). Since the Law of Moses commands that a tithe of the harvest be given to the Levites (Numbers 18:21), a poor crop means a reduced provision for them. (We remind ourselves that all priests were Levites but not all Levites were priests.)
 
 
What Do You Think?
What are some ways to discern a pending problem of cursed blessings today?

Digging Deeper
When difficult times do come, how will you determine if the problem is one of cursed blessings rather than random occurrence?
 

Referring to God as the Lord of hosts emphasizes His power, especially as a warrior in prophetic books (examples: Isaiah 10:24–26; Jeremiah 11:20; Nahum 2:13). So serious is the heart condition of these priests and the shameful conduct that is the outcome, God says He has already cursed their blessings.

3. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.

Sinful behavior of a person or group often has consequences for their seed (or descendants; example: 1 Kings 14:9, 10). God declared this to be so in His instructions that accompanied the second commandment (Exodus 20:4, 5). The Hebrew word behind the rendering corrupt is usually translated “rebuke” (examples: Genesis 37:10; Zechariah 3:2), and that is the sense here.
The Lord’s rebuke is depicted in a most shocking manner. Normally the dung of animals that are sacrificed, along with the contents of their intestines, is to be taken outside the camp of the Israelites and burned (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:11, 12). If human waste is in view rather than that of animals, the picture is more shocking still (compare Deuteronomy 23:12–14; Ezekiel 4:12–15). To have dung on one’s face is to be massively dishonored. The language is probably not to be viewed in literal, physical terms. Rather, it is a way of vividly describing how repulsed the Lord is by the priests’ conduct.
 
 
What Do You Think?
How can churches do a better job in the area of holding their leaders accountable?

Digging Deeper
Which of these texts best support your response: Matthew 18:15–17; Romans 16:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 5:11–13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15; 1 Timothy 6:3–5; Titus 1:10–16; 3:10? Why?
 

Take That!

In the early twentieth century, the pie-in-the-face sight gag was introduced as a staple of slapstick comedy. Later, it became an act of political protest. Though pieing was originally intended primarily to be funny, as a political act it is intended to make an opponent look foolish.
Thomas King Forcade was probably the first to employ this method of political protest. In 1970, he pied Otto N. Larsen, chairman of the Commission on Obscenity. Aron Kay witnessed the event and went on to have a storied pieing career himself, hitting the likes of William Buckley Jr., E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and Andy Warhol. Noel Godin, another noted pie thrower, hit Bill Gates and several others.
Malachi spoke of God’s threatening to smear the faces of His delinquent priests with something far less palatable than a whipped cream-topped pie! Such a humiliation would be accompanied with very real consequences.
In what way does your conduct most invite humiliation‌—or worse—from the Lord?
—J. E.

4. And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.

The delinquent priests have forgotten, either through passive carelessness or by active intent, the roots of their sacred office and heritage. The priestly covenant goes back to Jacob’s son Levi, some of whose descendants are assigned the priesthood (Numbers 3:5–13). Anytime a role is inherited instead of earned by merit, the danger is greater that a person will simply go through the motions. Those of the Levitical priesthood are not immune to this pitfall.

B. Fear the Lord (vv. 5–7)

5. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.


The special blessings promised to Levi were life and peace, spiritual blessings associated with the Levites’ special place in God’s service. Levi’s descendants in turn were to respond to these favors with fear, expressed as grave respect for the godly tasks they were given (compare Hebrews 12:28, 29).
When one looks at the life of Levi himself, he does not appear to exemplify a great deal of fear toward the Lord. He and his brother Simeon misused the covenant sign of circumcision to avenge the cruel treatment of their sister, Dinah, by Shechem (Genesis 34; 49:5). The Lord’s words here perhaps describe what was true of Levi’s descendants when Moses pronounced his final blessing on that tribe (Deuteronomy 33:8–11). Later, the Levites did prove themselves to be a God-fearing tribe (see Exodus 32:25–29; Numbers 25:6–13).

6a. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips.

Three important responsibilities for priests are highlighted in this verse. First, they are to teach the law of truth faithfully (Deuteronomy 33:10). That involves communicating the Lord’s requirements to His people (17:9–13). No iniquity is to be found in a priest’s speech, a characteristic highly commended by James for the new covenant era (James 3:2).

6b. He walked with me in peace and equity.

Second, the priest’s daily walk is to be consistent with his faith profession (compare Genesis 5:22). To be a person of peace goes hand in hand with loving God’s law (Psalm 119:165). The Hebrew word underneath the translation equity can also be translated “straight” as opposed to “crooked” (see Isaiah 40:4; 42:16), and that is the sense here. It indicates that the person is virtuous and lacks any deceit (compare John 1:47). The faithful priest exhibits high moral character (compare Psalm 25:21).

6c. And did turn many away from iniquity.

Third, the faithful priest is dedicated to helping others (compare James 5:19, 20). The priest is to set the kind of example that draws others to follow and imitate his righteous lifestyle.

7. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

The priests in Malachi’s day neglect and even abuse the divinely given role they are called to fulfill: every priest is the Lord’s messenger. Priests are, in a very real sense, the Lord’s representatives to the people as those priests bring God’s message (examples: Ezra 7:11; Nehemiah 8). Priests are to look to Him for the knowledge and instruction found only in His law (compare Leviticus 10:11).
 
 
What Do You Think?
In what ways is the admonishment to the priests applicable to Christians today, given the reality of our own priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)?

Digging Deeper
If no one seeks God’s Word from you as a messenger of the Lord, what problem and solution do you see?
 

Reliable Delivery

In most parts of the United States, packages can be delivered efficiently by car or truck. But in the central business districts of crowded metropolitan areas, motor vehicles can be hindered. In such areas, businesses often count on bicycle messengers for reliable delivery.
In 1945, one of the earliest recorded American bicycle courier companies was founded. Carl Sparks began Sparkies, an all-bicycle delivery service in San Francisco. By the late 1970s, bicycle messenger and delivery services existed in many of this country’s major cities.
Though the end of bicycle couriers has been predicted, technological innovation has not yet significantly reduced the demand for their services. Many items can be sent most efficiently by bike: corporate gifts, original artwork, clothes for photo shoots, and original signed documents are but a few. Some companies would rather send sensitive information by courier to avoid the risk of having their email hacked.
God established a type of delivery service when He founded the nation of Israel. Priests were to transmit God’s law from generation to generation. Theirs was precious cargo that the people needed. But there’s an even bigger picture to consider: the nation as a whole was to communicate the future arrival of the Messiah to the waiting world.


C. Follow the Lord (vv. 8, 9)

8. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.


The task of keeping the covenant of Levi means nothing to the delinquent priests (compare Jeremiah 2:8). Whether the problem is one of mere negligence or of active rebellion, the result is the same: many people stumble (compare 18:15; Hosea 4:6).
 
 
What Do You Think?
What are some good ways your church can acknowledge its leaders who are doing the opposite of Malachi 2:8?

Digging Deeper
What will be your part in this initiative?
 

  1. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.

    This verse makes the case that the problem is not just one of negligence; if it were, the verse could stop with the phrase ye have not kept my ways. The phrase but have been partial in the law points to conscious, intentional disregard of God’s ways (compare, from the era of the judges, 1 Samuel 2:27–33). To be partial in applying the law is abhorrent to the Lord; frequent warnings against doing so are found within the Law of Moses (examples: Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:19).

    II. Renewing the Call
    (Malachi 3:5, 6)


    The Lord does not merely state a problem and stop there. He goes on to state the solution, which begins in Malachi 3:1 (not in today’s text): His “messenger” will “prepare the way” before Him. John the Baptist is the one who will fulfill Malachi’s prophecy (Matthew 11:10).
    Malachi goes on to speak about a second messenger’s coming, actions, and results. The refining, purifying, and purging mentioned fit Jesus’ work in raising up in His church those who will faithfully serve Him (Malachi 3:3, 4). Though judgment will be brought against all individuals who have violated the covenant, the sons of Levi are still called out specifically (3:3); as teachers, theirs is the greater accountability.

    A. Trying Offenders (v. 5)

    3:5a. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers.


    This half-verse and the next elaborate on the judgment to be carried out by the second messenger (see Malachi 3:2, not in today’s text). Sorcery and related practices are strictly forbidden in the Law of Moses (example: Deuteronomy 18:9–14). This prohibition in part prevents Israel from seeking to manipulate the Lord with “enchantments” (examples: Exodus 7:11; Isaiah 47:9). Adultery violates the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14; compare James 2:11; 2 Peter 2:12–14); to swear falsely breaks the ninth (Exodus 20:16; compare Leviticus 19:11, 12; Jeremiah 7:9).

    5b. And against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

    The Lord also calls to account all who take advantage of the most vulnerable in Israelite society. The Law of Moses included specific directives to care for each of these groups (examples: Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14–22).
    Although the hireling, the widow, and the fatherless are likely fellow Israelites, the stranger refers specifically to someone who does not belong to the covenant people by lineage. God shows a special concern for the strangers who live in Israel. He calls His people to remember their own time of oppression while they lived as strangers in Egypt and to treat strangers in their own land quite differently (Exodus 22:21).
    Ultimately such disregard for these peoples in need and for the principles found in the Law of Moses can be traced to a lack of reverence for the lawgiver, the Lord himself (compare Deuteronomy 31:12, 13; Isaiah 1:2). The fear of the Lord has always been “the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7); lack of such fear leads to certain ruin (example: James 5:1–6).
     
What Do You Think?
In what ways can you use Malachi 3:5 as a source of comfort or encouragement in the face of today’s negative headlines?

Digging Deeper
In what ways can you be an empathizer in passing that encouragement along to the oppressed as named in this text?
 

  1. Unchanging God (v. 6)

    6a. For I am the Lord, I change not.


    God can change His mind (example: Jonah 3:10), but He does not change His character (see James 1:17). His standards of right and wrong always hold true. He will be consistent in carrying out judgment on those who violate these standards, as He has made abundantly clear throughout Scripture.

    6b. Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

    The sons of Jacob, referring to the Israelites, have not been consumed by God’s wrath—yet (compare Hosea 11:8, 9). The Lord is merciful because of His promises—and His unchanging character means He will keep those promises.

    Conclusion

    A. “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”


    Malachi’s words should serve as sobering warnings to leaders in the church. Dangers abound when we become casual about doing God’s work. It’s a small step from an attitude of indifference to one of antibiblical rationalizing by those who serve the Lord in leadership positions. The late Dallas Willard once observed, “The greatest threat to devotion to Christ is service for Christ.”
    Those who earn wages by serving the church or a parachurch ministry can come to see what they do merely as a source of income. They forget that theirs is a ministry done in service to the Lord and for His glory. Certain words and actions become part of the routine, of what is expected according to their job description. It’s a slippery slope.
    One source of help may be for the leader to arrange to meet with a group of fellow leaders (either within or outside of the congregation) for mutual prayer and encouragement. Many have found such accountability groups greatly beneficial in keeping them spiritually sharp and providing valuable counsel when temptations or other challenges occur (compare Malachi 3:16).
    Speaking honestly to one another can be of immeasurable value in avoiding the spiritual barrenness that brought God’s harsh criticism of the priests in Malachi’s day. Inviting candid feedback from a fellow servant of Christ is always preferable to being on the receiving end of God’s correction!

    B. Prayer

    Father, keep us from handling sacred duties in such a way that we lose sight of You. Empower our church to remember our covenant with You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

    C. Thought to Remember

    Working for God requires faithfulness.
 
 
 
 
 
 
KID’S CORNER
 
Why Some People Hate Jesus
 
Sunday March 29, 2020
 
John 7:1-13
 
 
 
John 7:1-13
 
(John 7:1) After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.
 
By teaching deeper and more personal truths, Jesus reduced His crowd size and had more time to teach His twelve disciples and those who saw the value of what He said and kept following Him. In Judea, Jesus would have faced constant debate and opposition that would have interfered with the time He had left on earth to teach those the Father drew to Him—eventually leading to His death. Jesus had come to die at His time, the time His Father and He chose before He came (during Passover), not the time of those wanting to kill Him in Judea. Jesus preferred to stay in Galilee and did not “wish” to go to Judea any more than He “wished” to die on the cross, but Jesus came into our world wanting to do the will of His Heavenly Father, and He chose to obey the will of His Father in heaven no matter how He was tempted to do otherwise or what the personal cost. Before His arrest in the garden, Jesus prayed and said in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want (or wish) but what you want (or wish).” May Jesus be our constant example and guide.
 
(John 7:2) Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near.
 
The Festival of Booths, also called the Feast of Tabernacles, was a harvest festival held in late September and/or early October. It lasted eight days from a Sabbath through the following Sabbath. The festival celebrated and remembered the LORD’s care for the Hebrews when they traveled through the wilderness after the LORD freed them from slavery in Egypt. In the wilderness, the LORD traveled with them and fed them manna while they lived in tents or tabernacles. According to the LORD’s instructions, Moses also constructed a tabernacle or tent for the worship of the LORD in the wilderness. During the festival, the Jews made tents or booths (sometimes out of palm branches) in which to live. The Festival of Booths was one of three required festivals for the Jews to attend in Jerusalem if they lived within fifteen miles of the city (Passover and Pentecost were the other two).
 
(John 7:3) Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing.
 
Jesus’ brothers may have been mocking Jesus when they told Jesus to go to Judea so His disciples in Judea could see the works He was doing. They may not have seen any of Jesus’ works or did not recognize Jesus’ works as signs that their brother was the Messiah. They may or may not have considered how dangerous it would be for Jesus to go to the festival. Even though they were His brothers, they certainly did not understand Jesus or His teaching. They thought Jesus was self-centered and seeking fame.
 
(John 7:4) “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”
 
Jesus’ primary goal was not to be “widely known;” otherwise, Jesus would not have taught truths that offended the crowds that followed Him. Jesus came to teach the truth despite opposition and give believers in Him eternal life. Jesus often healed people in secret so He would continue to have time to teach the truth to His disciples, for they would soon begin teaching His truths after His death and resurrection. Jesus did not intend to do things just to draw great crowds, which would interfere with His teaching. As unbelievers, Jesus’ brothers did not understand Jesus’ purposes. When they said, “ IF you d0 these things,” they expressed doubt that Jesus did the things that were reported of Him.  
 
(John 7:5) For not even His brothers were believing in Him.
 
In John 6: 41-44, we learned that the Jews claimed to know Jesus’ parents and brothers. In John 7:5, we learn that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him. In this verse, we learn why Jesus’ brothers misunderstood Him and why Jesus did as He did. Jealousy of their older brother may have blinded their eyes and stopped their ears from seeing and hearing the truth. Joseph, and later King David, also suffered ridicule from their brothers. Jesus was persecuted in this way too, and He must have felt deep sorrow for His brothers who rejected Him. In Galatians 1:19, we learn that after Jesus’ resurrection, James, the Lord’s brother, believed in Jesus; and he later wrote the Letter of James in the New Testament. We do not learn if any of Jesus’ other brothers came to believe in Him. Jesus put his mother, Mary, under the care of John (writer of this gospel), so it seems none of His brothers believed in Him before His resurrection from the dead (more good evidence to believe in the resurrection of Jesus and the truths He taught). Many would only believe in Jesus after they saw Him raised from the dead.
 
(John 7:6) So Jesus *said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.
 
The Greek word for “time” in this verse is closer to meaning “opportunity” or “opportune time” or “right time.” The “opportune time” or “right time” had not yet come for Jesus to go to Judea. Jesus’ brothers could go to the festival or visit Judea anytime they chose. The right time for Jesus to go to Judea had not yet come. Jesus’ brothers could go to any festival whenever they wanted because they were not in danger from the Jews and no one was looking for them or interested in them. Jesus needed to finish teaching His disciples as much as possible before He was crucified, and His time for doing anything was always based on the time set by His Father.
 
(John 7:7) “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.
 
Jesus told His brothers a general truth. The world hated and hates Jesus and all God’s children because this world’s works are evil. By the actions of Jesus’ followers, if not also by their words, the children of God testify or bear witness to the fact that the works of those committed to living according to “this world” are doing evil. God’s children are hated for speaking out against evil. Those of “this world” will not hate those who go along with the world to get along with the world. Christians follow the true God and the teachings of the Bible. Jesus did not wish to go where He was hated, though He knew He had to keep testifying that the works of “this world” are evil to influence people to repent and turn to Him for salvation from sin and doing evil works. Eventually, Jesus would go where He was hated, and His teaching would eventually lead to His crucifixion and death.
 
(John 7:8) “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”
 
This verse has confused some people who have concluded that Jesus told a falsehood. However, we know that Jesus never lied, but always spoke the truth. Jesus was telling His brothers that He was not going with them to the festival because it was not the right time or the opportune time for Him to go to the festival. If Jesus had gone with them, we can only imagine how His brothers could have mocked Jesus and have drawn unfavorable attention to Jesus as they traveled with the other pilgrims. It was not an opportune time for Jesus to travel with His brothers. His time had not fully come. Let us remember, for good reasons Jesus did not wish to go to Judea, and perhaps planned not to go to the festival when He spoke to His brothers. However, after His brothers left, Jesus’ Heavenly Father may have told Jesus that it was now the right time to go to the festival, for Jesus did go to the festival and began teaching about four days after the festival began. John does not tell us all the details of Jesus’ discussion with His brothers but abbreviated their discussion. We know that Jesus never told a lie despite what this verse seems to say. The Bible does not answer all our questions about the meaning of every verse, but we know Jesus’ character, and Jesus’ holy nature would not permit Him to tell a lie. It seems obvious to me that most probably Jesus only went to the festival when He did because after His brothers left His Father told Him it was time to go.
 
(John 7:9) Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.
 
Jesus did what He told His brothers. He remained in Galilee with His disciples. As the crowds made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Jesus continued to teach His disciples privately in Galilee. His time to go to the festival would not come until His Father said it was time for Him to go. Jesus always obeyed His Father and when it was time to go Jesus went, despite what He might have wished to do.
 
(John 7:10) But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret.
 
We learn in John 7:14, “About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach.” Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to go publicly and probably show works and do healings as He went to the festival and in Jerusalem at the festival. Like other unbelieving Jews, His brothers wanted Jesus to show signs, which, as unbelievers in Jesus, they doubted He could do. In Matthew 4:5-7, we learn how Satan tempted Jesus to make a big show in Jerusalem, which His brothers also tempted Jesus to do, but Jesus did not succumb to their temptations. Jesus obeyed His heavenly Father and did not go publicly to the festival. Jesus went secretly and quietly and about four days after the crowds arrived, He began to teach in the temple.
 
(John 7:11) So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?”
 
John often used “the Jews” when referring to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, for Jesus and His disciples were also Jews. Jesus always did what His Father wanted, and at the opportune time Jesus arrived at the festival while the Jews wondering about where Jesus was. Since the festival would have been a natural and obligatory place for Jesus to appear, they expected to see Jesus there. But Jesus would not enter Jerusalem in a public way that proclaimed He was the Messiah until Palm Sunday before the Passover Festival and His crucifixion.
 
(John 7:12) There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.”
 
Depending on your translation, there was considerable murmuring, grumbling, whispering, or complaining about Jesus at the festival. If Jesus had gone to the festival with his brothers, He probably would have experienced people complaining and demanding signs the entire way to Jerusalem. Before attending the festival, Jesus gave the crowds an opportunity to discuss among themselves what type of person they thought Jesus to be. Then, while they were wondering about Him, Jesus would begin teaching them publicly in the temple. Notice: Jesus gave people time and opportunity to consider carefully what He had done and what He had said before making decisions about Him. Jesus did not force people to make decisions about Him without giving them enough good evidence to satisfy reasonable minds. But at some point, people need to choose whether they will accept and receive Jesus as described in the Bible or not. At the very minimum, the crowds argued about whether Jesus’ actions, healings, and words indicated that Jesus was a good or bad person. Of course, Jesus is far more than a good person, and He would continue to reveal who He was to the people by His words and actions.
 
(John 7:13) Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
 
The people knew that the religious leaders, “the Jews,” opposed Jesus. They knew the consequences of saying very loud that Jesus was a good man. They could be expelled from the synagogue and shunned by others if they said a good word in Jesus’ behalf. Speaking openly in behalf of Jesus could lead to great hardships, economic hardships and persecution. They believed that if they were expelled from worship in the temple and fellowship in the synagogues that they would lose all access to God. They believed they would not be able to make the sacrifices required by the law at the temple to remain acceptable to God. To say Jesus was a good man or the possible Messiah was dangerous. Later, proclaiming the truth about Jesus would cost some believers their life or at least imprisonment. With the consequences of belief and unbelief being so high, by obeying His Heavenly Father, Jesus entered the festival in Jerusalem at the right or most opportune time under the best circumstances possible and began to teach.
 
 
 
Why Some People Hate Jesus
 
Sunday March 29, 2020
 
John 7:1-13
 
Name _________________________
 
The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil (John 7:7—KJV). The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil (John 7:7—NASB). The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil (John 7:7—NRSV).
 
From Jesus’ discussion with His brothers, who did not believe in Him, we learn the second and perhaps major reason the religious leaders in Judea wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus bore witness (testified) that their works were evil. The Pharisees enacted rules and regulations that reinterpreted and replaced the Law of God in the Scriptures. Whereas the Law of God required love for God and others, the Pharisees even reinterpreted the Law of Love so they would not need to help their parents if they became financially needy. When Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath, He revealed their selfishness. They did not love, know, or honor God, but they accused Jesus of evil for making himself equal to God. When they used religious accusations and debate to direct attention away from the fact that their deeds were evil, Jesus unmasked them. When they said they wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy, they really wanted to keep Jesus from exposing their hypocrisy. In much the same way, the works of the Sadducees, who also wanted to kill Jesus, were evil. As priests, the Sadducees collaborated with the Romans to maintain political power and wealth. The last thing they wanted was a Messiah to come and disturb their power over the people and the wealth they could gain from having turned the temple into a den of thieves. When Jesus cleansed the temple and exposed their corruption, they joined with the Pharisees to kill Jesus. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world; in doing so, Jesus revealed the evil works that must be turned from to turn to God.
 
 
 
Thinking Further
 
Why Some People Hate Jesus
 
Sunday March 29, 2020
 
John 7:1-13
 
Name _________________________
 
 
 
  1. Why did Jesus not wish to go to Judea?
 
 
 
 
  1. Why did Jesus’ brothers want Him to go to the festival?
 
 
 
 
  1. Why did Jesus choose not to go to the festival with His brothers?
 
 
 
 
  1. Why did the world then and the world now hate Jesus (and Christians)?
 
 
 
 
  1. What did the crowds say about Jesus during the festival?
 
 
 
 
 
 
Discussion and Thinking Further
 
 
 
  1. Why did Jesus not wish to go to Judea? The Jews (Jewish leaders) were looking for an opportunity to kill Jesus. His time had not yet come.
 
 
  1. Why did Jesus’ brothers want Him to go to the festival? They did not believe in Him and said that if He wanted to be widely known He needed to go to the festival to show himself and His works.
 
 
  1. Why did Jesus choose not to go to the festival with His brothers? His time had not yet come. He wanted to go secretly and not publicly. He wanted to go at the right time. His Father had not yet told Him the time to go, which He must have done later because Jesus would not tell a lie.
  2. Why did the world then and the world now hate Jesus (and Christians)? Jesus and Bible-believing Christians taught and teach the Word of God, which testify or bear witness that the works of this world are evil.
 
 
  1. What did the crowds say about Jesus during the festival? Some said He was a good man and others said He was deceiving the crowds.
 
 
Word Search
 
Why Some People Hate Jesus
 
Sunday March 29, 2020
 
John 7:1-13
 
Name _________________________
 
 
 
X K Y T I N U T R O P P O N D
 
L S Q O S U S E J U E A D Y S
 
C H A E W Z Q F Q E B M U P U
 
L U S T X A O M L I Q L D F S
 
P W F A J H S I W E J V Q G E
 
Z A B H D N L R V Y G K Y K J
 
G O E P L A U I L X I X B D X
 
H A N R G H K Z V N T R L Q W
 
D E C E I V I N G H O G L Y A
 
S K R O W X Y S P T O F I J M
 
M N A N A K H B H O B E K B L
 
J E W S Q T I E D S F C V N C
 
B A M G O H R P B W A Z Y I M
 
X J L O V S M O M J U D E A L
 
Y P B M D F E S T I V A L K U
 
 
 
Jesus
 
Galilee
 
Judea
 
Jews
 
Opportunity
 
Kill
 
Jewish
 
Festival
 
Booths
 
Brothers
 
Hate
 
Works
 
Evil
 
Good
 
Deceiving
 
 
 
 
 
True and False Test
 
Why Some People Hate Jesus
 
Sunday March 29, 2020
 
John 7:1-13
 
Name _________________________
 
 
 
Circle the True or False answers. Correct the False statements by restating them.
 
 
 
  1. Jesus did not want to go to Judea, because it was not yet time for the crowd to make Him their king. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus’ brothers believed in Him and wanted Him to show His good works to the crowds in Jerusalem so they would believe in Him too. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus’ brothers wanted Jesus to go to the festival publicly with them. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus told His brothers that they could go to the festival whenever they wanted to, but His time had not yet come. True or False
 
 
  1. The world hated and hates Jesus because He testifies against it that its works are evil. True or False
 
 
  1. Those of this world want to obey Jesus. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus’ time would fully come when it was time for Him to die and rise again. True or False
 
 
  1. Instead of going to the Passover Festival with His brothers, Jesus remained in Galilee. True or False
 
 
  1. Some people at the festival said Jesus was good, others said He was deceiving. True or False
 
 
  1. 10. The crowds thought they should vote on Tuesday so their leaders would do what ordinary people wanted done with Jesus. True or False
 
 
 
 
True and False Test Answers
 
 
 
  1. False
  2. False
  3. True
  4. True
  5. True
  6. False
  7. True
  8. False
  9. True
  10. False
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 8
 
Lesson 2 (KJV)
 
A Prayer for Justice
 
 
 
Devotional Reading: Psalm 73:1–3, 21–28
 
Background Scripture: Habakkuk 1
 
Habakkuk 1:1–4, 12–14
 
 
 
  1. The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
 
 
  1. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
 
 
  1. Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
 
 
  1. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
 
 
  1. Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
 
 
  1. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
 
 
  1. And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
 
 
 
 
Lesson Aims
 
 
 
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
 
 
 
  1. Summarize Habakkuk’s two complaints.
 
 
  1. Explain the specific issue of justice with which Habakkuk was wrestling.
 
 
  1. Watch and pray to see how God is working in difficult situations this week.
 
 
 
 
HOW TO SAY IT
 
 
 
Asaph
 
Ay-saff.
 
Assyrians
 
Uh-sear-e-unz.
 
Chaldeans
 
Kal-dee-unz.
 
Habakkuk
 
Huh-back-kuk.
 
Nineveh
 
Nin-uh-vuh.
 
 
 
Introduction
 
 
 
  1. What a (Sometimes) Wonderful World
 
 
Years ago the great jazz musician Louis Armstrong popularized a song entitled “What a Wonderful World.” With his trademark raspy voice, Armstrong sang of the beauty of creation. Most would agree with Mr. Armstrong’s sentiments‌—‌there is much about this world that makes it wonderful indeed: the people we love and the sights and sounds that add so much to our lives on a daily basis.
 
At the same time, there is much in this world that causes us great sorrow and pain. Some things are not wonderful in the least. As followers of God and readers of His Word, we understand that this heartache is the result of the curse brought about by humanity’s sin. That does not ease the hurt we feel. It can even cause us to question God and His purpose for the difficult circumstances that we or those we love endure. Our faith can be shaken to the very core.
 
 
 
  1. Lesson Context
 
 
Habakkuk is another of the 12 books at the end of our Old Testament, which we call the Minor Prophets (see Lesson Context in lesson 1). Unlike the prophet Amos (see lesson 1), Habakkuk mentions no kings of either Israel or Judah in his book. One benefit of this decision is to make the book more universal. Instead of being very obviously tied to a situation concerning this or that king, the book can be applied more generally to any similar situation.
 
Habakkuk is a challenging book to date. A key to placing this prophet historically is found in Habakkuk 1:6. There we read of God’s promise to raise up the Chaldeans from Babylon (compare Ezra 5:12; Isaiah 13:19) to inflict judgment on the wayward nation of Judah (the southern kingdom). The Chaldeans are described as a cruel and vicious people who let nothing stand in their way as they swallow up peoples and territories (Habakkuk 1:6–11, not in today’s text). Since the northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered by Assyria in 722 BC, Habakkuk’s complaints and God’s responses must concern the southern kingdom of Judah.
 
The Chaldeans had replaced the Assyrians on the center stage of world history by first gaining independence from the Assyrians in 626 BC and then eventually dismantling Assyria’s remaining control in a series of battles from 615 to 612 BC. Thus Habakkuk’s prophecy should likely be dated within the latter years of the seventh century BC as the Chaldeans’ growing dominance over the ancient Near East became clear. This puts his ministry in the same time frame as Jeremiah’s (see lessons 12 and 13). Both prophets interpreted the Chaldeans’ rising to power as ordained by God, to be used to judge Judah for its wickedness (compare Jeremiah 22:25).
 
 
 
  1. Dilemma
(Habakkuk 1:1–4)
 
 
 
These verses introduce Habakkuk and his complaint to the Lord. In his rather heated exchange with the Lord, Habakkuk’s manner of speaking resembles Job’s words when he expressed his own frustration with the Lord. Yet the reasons for these men’s questions toward God are grounded in different circumstances. Job’s anguish was rooted in the tragedy of his personal suffering (Job 1; 2). Habakkuk’s concern, however, is much broader in scope.
 
 
 
  1. God’s Inaction (vv. 1, 2)
 
 
  1. The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
 
 
Burden translates a Hebrew word that can refer to loads carried by animals (2 Kings 5:17; 8:9; etc.) or people (Numbers 11:11, 17; etc.). The word is used frequently to introduce prophetic messages that are threatening or ominous in nature (examples: Isaiah 13:1; Nahum 1:1; Zechariah 9:1; Malachi 1:1). Such messages may be seen as burdensome‌—weighing heavily on the prophet’s mind. He must speak them in order to relieve himself of the burden that he feels.
 
The Hebrew word behind the translation see is frequently used to describe the prophetic experience (Isaiah 1:1; Amos 1:1; etc.). The word can indicate that visions are seen or simply that a message is received from the Lord. It indicates that the prophet is a man of unique spiritual vision or insight; he sees with a vision that is empowered by the direction of the Holy Spirit (compare 2 Peter 1:20, 21).
 
 
 
2a. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!
 
 
 
Habakkuk wastes no time in getting to the heart of his burden. This is a prophet who is deeply troubled and believes that the Lord has ignored his concerns (compare Jeremiah 14:9). The phrase how long shall I cry indicates that Habakkuk has voiced these concerns to the Lord repeatedly (compare Psalms 6:3; 13:1, 2). The prophet fears that the only explanation for God’s apparent lack of concern is that He is choosing not to hear Habakkuk (compare 22:1, 2).
 
 
 
What Do You Think?
 
On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), what is your tolerance for waiting in line at a store compared with waiting for answers to prayer? What does this say about you?
 
 
 
Digging Deeper
 
What has to happen to get your tolerance for waiting on God’s answer up to a 10?
 
 
 
2b. Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
 
 
 
Habakkuk rightly assumes that the just and righteous God cares deeply when violence goes unchecked (see Genesis 6:11–13). Furthermore, the Lord is known as a God who will save His people when they call on Him (2 Chronicles 20:9; Psalm 107:13, 19; etc.).
 
 
 
  1. The World’s Iniquity (vv. 3, 4)
 
 
3a. Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?
 
 
 
This half verse introduces us to two of six words Habakkuk uses to describe the chaos he sees everywhere he turns (see verse 3b). Chaos stands in opposition to the order that God created in the world (see Genesis 1; 2; John 1:1–5; Acts 17:24–28). For this reason, the existence of chaos, especially in the land God promised to His people, is deeply problematic for Habakkuk (compare Job 9:23).
 
Habakkuk, like Job before him, asks questions of the Lord that presuppose God’s character (Job 3:11, 12, 20, 23; compare Habakkuk 1:13, below). Habakkuk’s questions are not primarily about why he sees iniquity and reasons to be grieved. The answer to that question is quite simple: people are sinful, and so Habakkuk sees sin around him. The subtext of this question, rather, is why the Lord has not put an end to these things.
 
Thus the questions are based in the assumption that God is holy and good. Given this fact, it makes no sense to Habakkuk that God is not acting to right the horrible wrongs that the prophet witnesses.
 
 
 
What Do You Think?
 
In what circumstances should you ask the same kind of “why” question that the prophet asks? What should be the motive for asking?
 
 
 
Digging Deeper
 
How can we keep our questions from crossing a line that results in God’s rebuke, as in Job 38?
 
 
 
3b. For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
 
 
 
Spoiling might be associated with warfare and the taking of plunder from others (examples: Isaiah 16:4; Hosea 10:14; Amos 5:9). When paired with violence, it emphasizes the horrible results often associated with war and violence (examples: Jeremiah 6:7; 20:8; Ezekiel 45:9; Habakkuk 2:17).
 
Strife and contention add explicitly chaotic overtones to Habakkuk’s description (compare Jeremiah 15:10). Taken together, Habakkuk longs for the order that the Creator has graced the world with.
 
 
 
4a. Therefore the law is slacked.
 
 
 
In an environment such as Habakkuk describes, there is clearly no respect whatsoever for authority or law (compare Isaiah 1:23; 29:21; Ezekiel 9:9). The Hebrew word translated slacked elsewhere refers to being made feeble (Psalm 38:8), and that is the sense here. The law is inactive and essentially lifeless. By pointing this out, Habakkuk hopes to see God move to action (compare 119:126).
 
 
 
4b. And judgment doth never go forth.
 
 
 
In parallel to the weakened law, judgment is also powerless. The word judgment is often paired with the word justice as similar concepts, and that is the sense here (compare Jeremiah 22:15; 23:5; Ezekiel 45:9). The situation is similar to the time of Amos, who expressed God’s desire that judgment and righteousness flow like a mighty stream (Amos 5:24; see lesson 1). Those qualities are as absent in Habakkuk’s surroundings as they were in Amos’s.
 
 
 
What Do You Think?
 
What problems may a person avoid by not using an absolute word like “never” in a prayer?
 
 
 
Digging Deeper
 
How will you guard against such problems?
 
 
 
4c. For the wicked doth compass about the righteous.
 
 
 
It is not hard to imagine that in the conditions described, the wicked appear to be in complete control. They compass about the righteous‌—‌surrounding them to suppress any effort the righteous put forth to express their concerns (compare Psalms 17:9; 22:16). Again, the situation is reminiscent of how Amos described his environment: “The prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time” (Amos 5:13). David also pondered the prevalence of wickedness (Psalm 11:1–3; compare Job 21:7–13). The reader might be reminded of the sad moral climate that prevailed during the time of the judges in Israel, when everyone did whatever they thought best (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
 
 
 
4d. Therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
 
 
 
Wrong judgment becomes the norm under such conditions. This is a perversion of what God intends for His covenant people to maintain in their courts (Deuteronomy 16:18–20; compare Isaiah 5:20).
 
 
 
  1. Deliberations
(Habakkuk 1:12–14)
 
 
 
In Habakkuk 1:5–11 (not in our printed text), the Lord responds to Habakkuk’s concerns. God intends to do things that Habakkuk could not believe even if the Lord revealed His plans to the prophet (1:5). The Lord tells the troubled prophet that He will raise up the violent Chaldeans to administer the Lord’s disciplinary measures to His wayward people (1:6, 9; see commentary on 1:12b). Thus God will respond to the violence in Judah by bringing the violence of the Chaldeans against it.
 
 
 
  1. Unmatched Sovereignty (vv. 12, 13a)
 
 
12a. Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die.
 
 
 
Habakkuk speaks again, reacting to the Lord’s planned discipline of His people. The prophet ponders what he knows to be true of the Lord. The phrase mine Holy One is unique in the Old Testament, occurring only here. Similar phrases emphasize God’s relationship with all Israel, not with one individual (Isaiah 31:1; 37:23). Habakkuk appears to be alone in referring to the Lord as his personal holy God. This confidence in his relationship with God probably explains Habakkuk’s frank speech.
 
God’s eternal nature seems to be the basis of Habakkuk’s assertion that God’s people shall not die. Because God is everlasting and has made everlasting promises, the prophet feels confident that God cannot really intend to destroy His people utterly (compare Psalm 118:17). Yet the situation around Habakkuk suggests that his confidence might be misplaced (contrast Isaiah 10:5–7).
 
 
 
12b. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
 
 
 
Habakkuk acknowledges the decision of the Lord in order to set up the prophet’s question in Habakkuk 1:13b, below. Them refers to Babylon. The facts as Habakkuk sees them are that the people are marked for judgment and correction, even though they would be the instrument to bring correction to Judah.
 
The Hebrew behind the word mighty is also translated “rock,” implying firmness, security, and changelessness (examples: Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 2:2). God’s history of interactions with His people has proven that He really is faithful and consistent. His decision to correct them seems to contradict His character to some degree.
 
One should note that Habakkuk has no reservations whatsoever about God’s people deserving to be punished for their many transgressions. The way they have trashed the Lord’s covenant with them and trampled on His law in the manner already described is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated (Habakkuk 1:2–4). But using the wicked Chaldeans to carry out the punishment certainly does not seem a fair or just punishment to Habakkuk.
 
 
 
13a. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.
 
 
 
Habakkuk’s words reflect once again his understanding of the holy, righteous character of God. God’s purity in regard to sin does not even allow Him to behold evil, meaning not that God does not see but that He does not see without action (see Psalm 18:26; Lamentations 3:34–36). How can the Lord who cannot tolerate the presence of any kind of iniquity allow the obviously despicable Chaldeans to overpower the people of Judah (contrast Psalm 25:1–3)?
 
Turning a Blind Eye
 
The idiom “turning a blind eye” has an interesting origin. Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758–1805) was a hero of the British Royal Navy. Nelson was known as a bold and unconventional leader. His tactics led to some decisive British naval victories, most famously at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where he was killed in action. Before that he had been wounded several times in combat, one wound resulting in blindness in one eye.
 
Nelson turned this disability into an asset at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. During the battle, Nelson’s commanding officer, who was on a different ship, signaled him to disengage the enemy. When Nelson’s crew pointed him to the signal, he lifted his telescope up to his blind eye. He told the men he did not see the signal and continued to fight. The result was a British victory. When Nelson’s superior was recalled, Nelson was promoted. And “turning a blind eye” has come to mean “intentionally ignoring undesirable information.”
 
When the Lord revealed that He was going to allow the ruthless Chaldeans to execute judgment on His people, Habakkuk was incensed! How could the righteous God turn a blind eye to the sins of a nation that was more wicked than faithless Judah? Yet God had already taken that fact into account (see Habakkuk 2:4–17).
 
God has no blind eye. He sees all. Any seeming defect in how He should act is our own blindness, not His.
 
—J. E.
 
 
 
  1. Unexplained Silence (vv. 13b, 14)
 
 
13b. Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
 
 
 
Habakkuk is incredulous as he considers the people whom God has chosen to chastise Judah. The Chaldeans are described with exceptionally derogatory language by the Lord himself (see Habakkuk 1:6–11). How can they be the ones whom God will use as the rod of discipline? To Habakkuk, to do so seems to compromise qualities that the Lord is known for.
 
True, the people of Judah deserve the Lord’s judgment, but so do the Chaldeans. Habakkuk, knowing his own people’s evil as he does, contends that Judah is more righteous than the Chaldeans. At least those in Judah are part of God’s covenant people; the Chaldeans are wicked idolaters. Habakkuk has not hesitated to voice his dismay over the Lord’s inaction toward Judah’s wickedness and His proposed course of action using Babylon to deal with that wickedness. Yet the Lord seems to hold His tongue and remain unmoved by what the prophet sees as obvious injustice (compare Job 21:7–13).
 
 
 
What Do You Think?
 
What methods can we use to keep from misinterpreting God’s silence?
 
 
 
Digging Deeper
 
When God seems to be silent, how do you know whether He wants you to do something rather than wait on Him—or vice versa?
 
 
 
Habakkuk and Jonah are an interesting prophetic pair: Habakkuk questioned God for using a pagan nation to punish His people, while Jonah questioned God for forgiving a pagan nation on the verge of facing His judgment. Jonah’s objections were the product of seeing the Assyrian people in Nineveh accept his message, repent of their sins, and thus escape the Lord’s wrath. He resented the Lord’s compassion toward the Assyrians, insisting that God ought to punish them instead of showing them mercy (Jonah 4:1, 2).
 
 
 
  1. And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
 
 
When God created the first man and woman, He gave them dominion over all other created beings, including the fish and all creeping things (Genesis 1:26). Habakkuk, in his bewilderment over God’s dealings with His people, wonders whether the Lord is treating human beings as no more than fishes and other creatures that are allowed to be captured and killed at random. Apparently there is no ruler to hold the Chaldeans accountable, or at least it appears that way to Habakkuk.
 
In the remaining verses of chapter 1 (not in this lesson), Habakkuk continues his marine metaphor by comparing the wicked Chaldeans to a fisherman who gathers fish in nets and takes great pleasure in doing so. The Chaldeans are portrayed as worshipping their net; that is, they are congratulating themselves and their ability to overpower whomever they please. They are as suited to violence as the fisherman is to fishing.
 
Power in Numbers?
 
Fish benefit from being a part of a school. Together they are able to detect nearby predatory animals, find food, or locate potential mates. But as every fisherman knows, schools of fish are easy targets for human predators. Productive fishing happens in places where fish are found in a group. Fishermen can lure and hook one after another! Those fishing with nets can lower them into a school, capturing dozens of fish at once. Lacking an alpha leader, fish swim around without leadership, almost begging to be caught!
 
Habakkuk used such imagery to compare Babylon to a fisherman and describe the nations they conquered as helpless fish. Just like fish that have no ruler are easily hooked or captured in a net, weak nations are easy prey for the strong and ruthless. So too a “school” of people suffer without the leadership of a knowledgeable teacher. How does your community stay connected to our great teacher and leader Jesus?
 
—J. E.
 
 
 
Conclusion
 
 
 
  1. The Prophetic Job
 
 
Habakkuk’s nation, Judah, was in a spiritual free fall, ripe for the judgment of almighty God. God’s method for providing that judgment was not at all wonderful in Habakkuk’s eyes. The prophet did not view it as an acceptable solution to the problem. Habakkuk struggled to reconcile his understanding of God with the uncertain world around him.
 
Habakkuk’s concern has been voiced repeatedly through the years. For example, Asaph, the author of Psalm 73, was deeply troubled over what he saw as God’s unfair treatment of the wicked. They appear to prosper and live carefree lives while completely oblivious to God and His ways. Psalm 10 begins by expressing similar disappointment in God’s seemingly uncaring attitude about injustices in the world. The wicked do just as they please and benefit from their evil while their victims suffer. Doesn’t God see? And if He does, doesn’t He care?
 
 
 
What Do You Think?
 
How do we know when it’s appropriate to cry out to the Lord (Psalm 22:2) vs. when we should keep silent (Habakkuk 2:20)?
 
 
 
Digging Deeper
 
Are you more likely to cry out when you should keep silent, or the opposite? What’s the cure?
 
 
 
This is a struggle with which nearly all of us can readily identify. When we find ourselves questioning God or His purpose for the circumstances we are confronting, we are in good company. Prophets like Habakkuk and righteous people like Job were some of the most outspoken in their questions and accusations directed toward the one who called them to His service (compare Numbers 11:10–15; 1 Kings 19:4; Psalm 13:1–4; Jeremiah 20:7, 8; Matthew 11:1–3).
 
 
 
 
 
Indeed, sometimes He even chooses to engage our questions, though the answers may not be what we hope to hear. With Habakkuk, our knowledge of the Lord can lead us to conclusions that seem correct but in the end require correction from God (compare Job 38:1–40:2).
 
In all of life’s circumstances, but especially in times of discipline, let us rest in the knowledge that God does not change (James 1:17). He is working in our world to accomplish His purposes for us and through us.
 
 
 
  1. Prayer
 
 
Father, our times often resemble those of the prophet Habakkuk. Many solutions are offered to address such problems, but most ignore Your wisdom and fail to see situations through Your eyes. Empower Your church by Your Holy Spirit to speak forth with courage and clarity the love of Christ and the power of the gospel. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
 
 
  1. Thought to Remember
 
 
Even when God seems far away, He is always working in our circumstances.
 
 
 
 
 
KID’S CORNER
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John 6:35-46
 
(John 6:35) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
 
 
 
Jesus told those who sought Him that their focus should not be on physical bread or physical drink or physical “things” that He could give them. Instead, their focus should be on Him, on personally receiving Him into their lives, for He is the bread or sustenance of spiritual and eternal life.
 
Jesus began His statement with the two words, name, or title “I am,” which is the Name of God that God gave Moses at the burning bush (see Exodus 3:14). From the seven ways Jesus used “I am” in the Gospel of John, we can see another way that Jesus rightly made himself equal to God (see John 5:18). In the coming weeks we will discuss more deeply these seven ways:
 
 
 
  1. “I am the bread of life” – John 6:35, 41
  2. “I am the light of the world” – John 8:12, 9:5
  3. “I am the door of the sheep” – John 10:7, 9
  4. “I am the good shepherd” – John 10:11, 14
  5. “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25
  6. “I am the way, the truth and the life” – John 14:6
  7. “I am the true vine” – John 15:1, 5
 
 
As the great “I AM,” Jesus offers himself to us, not something other than himself. The question remained for the crowd (and for us), “Would they receive Him?” Jesus is the Gift of God. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Nothing that God has ever sent into or given to the world is more important than Jesus, the Son of God. Knowing Jesus personally, believing in Jesus, believing the teachings of Jesus, having an eternal relationship with Jesus and God the Father should be our focus—not possessing “earthly things” or “spiritual things”—but on knowing and being known and possessed by Jesus our Lord and Savior and God our Father.
 
 
 
(John 6:36) “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
 
 
 
Jesus revealed himself to the crowds through His signs and teaching about himself. He showed forth the compassion, forgiveness, and love of God by healing people of all their diseases—while they were still sinners. They saw who Jesus was by His works. Yet, despite all Jesus did, they did not believe what He said about himself and His Father. They focused on what they wanted, and ignored what Jesus came to give them. They wanted a political Messiah who would give them everything they wanted for free; just like He had fed them loaves and fishes on the mountain. But no matter what the crowd wanted, giving people free loaves and fishes were not Jesus’ goals. Jesus’ gifts of physical food were signs of His ability to give people what really mattered, spiritual food, eternal life, if they would only receive Him.
 
 
 
(John 6:37) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
 
 
 
Jesus used the word “everything” instead of the expected word “everyone,” because “everything” includes all created existence. What the Father can give Jesus is without limit and includes everything. Within created existence are “everyone.” Without exception, everything and everyone the Father gives Jesus will come to Him. But how do we know if we are included in that number? Jesus anticipated that question and all questions about what He taught. We do not need to know or wait for an answer to that question. Jesus promised that anyone who comes to Him He will never drive away. Jesus will receive anyone who will come to Him. Jesus’ invitation was to everyone in the crowd and is to everyone throughout subsequent history. Jesus still invites everyone to come to Him today.
 
 
 
(John 6:38) “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
 
 
 
From the gospels of Matthew and Luke, we know how Jesus came down from heaven. Jesus never told the crowds how He came down from heaven, but Mary knew (and His disciples learned) the answer to that question. To have told the crowds how He had come down from heaven would have unnecessarily endangered His mother and subjected her to ridicule both before and after His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus came to do the will of His heavenly Father, with which He perfectly agreed in all particulars every moment according to His words to Nicodemus in John 3:16.
 
 
 
(John 6:39) “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
 
 
 
Jesus’ purpose in coming is cosmic and not just related to individuals and their personal salvation. Jesus came to eventually fulfill these words from the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 65:17, “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Seeing the future Jesus revealed to him, in Revelation 21:1, John wrote, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” It is the will of our heavenly Father that Jesus will not lose anything or anyone that the Father has given Him, and when the last day comes, everyone the Father has given Him will be raised with glorified human bodies—Jesus will make everything new. God the Father will make certain that everything Jesus came to do and will do in the future will be done. Jesus can be trusted absolutely, and so can our heavenly Father, to do what they say.
 
 
 
(John 6:40) “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
 
 
 
Remembering John 3:16, for the second of three times in our study of these verses, Jesus spoke about “the last day.” No matter what the Jews (or anyone else believed about Jesus); no matter what the Jews (or anyone else did to Jesus), before “the last day” Jesus would be raised from the dead to reign forever as King of kings in heaven, and from heaven Jesus will bless everyone who believes in Him. In John 5:29, Jesus said everyone will be raised from the dead: “and [they] will come out (from their graves)—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” In these verses, Jesus emphasized how anyone can avoid the “resurrection of condemnation” and receive the “resurrection of life.” To receive eternal life, one needs to “see the Son” or learn the truth about Jesus and “believe in Him” or believe the truth they have learned about Jesus and “come to Him” (see John 6:37). Jesus’ teaching continually points us back to John 1:12, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” Today, “to see” Jesus does not mean to have or to seek a vision of Jesus, or to see Jesus with our eyes as His listeners could see Him. Remember what Jesus told “Doubting Thomas” in John 20:29, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Today, if we learn about Jesus, receive Jesus, believe in Jesus, and come to Jesus, we will be blessed!
 
 
 
(John 6:41) Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”
 
 
 
Even today, some complain or grumble about what Jesus said and some even try to explain away the meaning of Jesus’ words about himself and want to make Jesus simply a great prophet, a miracle worker, an ethics teacher, or a moral example. But Jesus said He is the life-giving Person who came down from heaven to give eternal life to all who will believe Him and believe in Him. By combining two statements of Jesus, for a second time we read about Jesus saying, “I am the bread of life that came down from heaven,” which those complaining about Jesus refused to consider after they heard Him say so.
 
 
 
(John 6:42) They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?”
 
 
 
After Jesus left Nazareth, Jesus made His home in Capernaum (see Matthew 4:13). The Galileans and the Jews knew Jesus “complete” ancestry, as they supposed, because keeping genealogical records was important prior to the coming of the Messiah—so the Jews would know who was and was not of the line of David, and who qualified and did not qualify to be God’s promised Messiah. Since they knew Jesus’ father and mother (Joseph had adopted Jesus as his son), they did not understand how Jesus could have come down from heaven. Knowing all the possible consequences and because Jesus knew what was in every person, Jesus did not explain the nature of His miraculous birth to them (see Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:1-21).
 
 
 
(John 6:43) Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.
 
 
 
Once again, Jesus told them not to complain or grumble among themselves. There are still too many who seem to spend their time complaining and grumbling about Jesus and the Bible in order to lead people away from the truth. They grumble about truths they do not want to believe because their deeds are evil, as Jesus explained to His brothers in John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.” One of Jesus’ approaches to such people was to simply say, “Stop complaining,” because Jesus knew why such people grumble about whether the Bible or what He said is true or not. Jesus considered how best to use His time when speaking to people; so, He told people the truth or refused to answer some questions without becoming argumentative or belligerent.
 
 
 
(John 6:44) “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
 
 
 
From what we have studied in the Gospel of John so far, we have seen how the Samaritan woman and the people in her town were drawn to Jesus and believed in Him as the Savior of the world. We have also seen how a royal official was drawn to Jesus, how he traveled twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana to ask Jesus to heal His son, and how he and his whole household came to believe in Jesus. Without giving many details, Jesus told those complaining and grumbling about Him that those who come to Him are drawn to Him by the Father. None of those complaining about Jesus will come to Him unless His Father draws them to Him. What is one lesson for everyone here? If we are complainers about Jesus and the Bible (or perhaps anything else?), we need to stop complaining and start praying. Why is this important? When we start praying, we come to God, where we can find Jesus and believe in Jesus; then, Jesus will raise us up on the last day. How do we know this? God spoke through Jeremiah, and in Jeremiah 29:13, God promised, “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.” In Matthew 7:7, Jesus promised, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” If we will do what Jesus and the Bible have taught, we will know that our gracious heavenly Father has drawn us to Jesus to receive eternal life.
 
 
 
(John 6:45) “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
 
 
 
In Isaiah 54:13, God promised, “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.” Jesus used the divine “I am” title for himself earlier in John 6:35 (see also 6:41). Now, Jesus  tells the complainers and the crowd (with His disciples listening) that in, by and through His teaching they were being “taught by God.” Jesus told them that with His coming and by His teaching, people were learning directly from God, directly from God the Father. When Jesus taught, the complainers and the crowd were hearing God teach them, but many were not truly listening and learning. Complainers can read the Bible, but not hear God and learn from God. In John 14:10, Jesus told His disciples, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” If the Jews had rightly read the Scriptures, they would have heard and learned from the Father and they would have come to Jesus to hear directly from God. The same is true for all who will learn how to rightly read the Bible—they will come to Jesus.
 
 
 
(John 6:46) “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.”
 
 
 
Because Jesus had come down from heaven and had been sent directly by the Father into the world, He had seen the Father (John 6:38). Jesus was sent into our world directly from God to do the will of God and teach the word of God. This was not the way God had sent Moses to the Hebrews or the way God has sent any prophet to His people. Only Jesus has seen and known God the Father completely. Jesus, the Son of God, was with God in the beginning. Remember John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” For this reason and others, everything Jesus taught about God, about the Father, about himself, about the Holy Spirit, about what God requires of us, about the future, about the last day, can be trusted as the Word of God to the world “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Encouraging Words for the Lost
 
Sunday March 8, 2020
 
John 6:35-46
 
 
 
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37—KJV). All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out (John 6:37—NASB). Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37—NRSV).
 
 
 
Jesus’ words should encourage everyone. Jesus has promised us that if anyone comes to Him, He will never drive them away. We need to let that truth sink deep into our hearts and minds whenever we feel too unworthy to pray or too sinful to go ask Jesus to forgive us. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invites everyone, no matter how big their problems or disgusting their sins: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” The Samaritan woman, shunned by her neighbors because of her sins, went alone to Jacob’s well in the heat of the noonday sun. Why did she go there at that day and hour? In John 6:44, Jesus has given us the answer: His Father drew her to the well to meet Jesus. Every person the Father gives Jesus will come to Jesus and receive His warm-hearted welcome; therefore, if anyone is inclined to go to Jesus, if they go to Him, Jesus will not drive them away. When someone turns away from the ways of this world and comes to Jesus and believes in Him, it may indicate that our heavenly Father has given them to Jesus, and Jesus will not reject His Father’s gifts. In the Bible, Jesus gives us even more good news: God the Father has willed that Jesus will not lose anyone or anything that the Father has given Him. Not only will Jesus never lose us, but Jesus will raise us up and give us glorified human bodies on the day He returns to make all things new as He promised.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thinking Further
 
Encouraging Words for the Lost
 
Sunday March 8, 2020
 
John 6:35-46
 
Name _____________________________
 
 
 
  1. In what way did Jesus say He was necessary for life?
 
 
 
 
  1. In these verses, what are some benefits of believing in Jesus?
 
 
 
 
  1. What will not happen to the person who comes to Jesus?
 
 
 
 
  1. What did Jesus say was the will of His Father?
 
 
 
 
  1. How can a person be taught by God?
 
 
 
 
 
 
Discussion and Thinking Further
 
 
 
  1. In what way did Jesus say He was necessary for life?
He said He was the bread of life, and we know bread is the most basic food for sustaining physical life. Believing in Jesus is essential for us to have spiritual life, the most basic necessity for sustaining spiritual life. No other spiritual food can take Jesus’ place as the Giver of eternal life.
 
 
 
  1. In these verses, what are some benefits of believing in Jesus?
We will not be spiritually hungry or thirsty.
 
We will be raised on the last day.
 
We will have eternal life.
 
 
 
  1. What will not happen to the person who comes to Jesus?
Jesus will not drive them away.
 
 
 
  1. What did Jesus say was the will of His Father?
God’s will is that all who see and believe in Jesus may have eternal life and be raised on the last day.
 
 
 
  1. How can a person be taught by God?
By reading the Bible and by believing the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.
 
 
 
 
 
Word Search
 
Encouraging Words for the Lost
 
Sunday March 8, 2020
 
John 6:35-46
 
Name ______________________________
 
 
 
L C G J W I E D S O D X A V C
 
Y T P M C H L Q P K A B N R F
 
R E S K N I O S J T E I L S E
 
A V B A R E D E A Y R W E K F
 
I E T K L A Q T V P B N C Y I
 
S R N H Y D W R W E T O F Z L
 
E Y E J I G E U M Y R A G P F
 
N T V W E R C B K P M N I T J
 
L H A J F S S R E G F Y R H O
 
Z I E R T Z U T F L M O K X J
 
U N H V W F X S Y T I N T Z R
 
V G Y I P Q N Q E V Q E G J Y
 
T J L N I A L P M O C D V N M
 
Y L R H U N G R Y X L X W E A
 
V W G J V H P E L W F G T C S
 
 
 
Bread
 
Life
 
Whoever
 
Hungry
 
Thirsty
 
Believes
 
Everything
 
Anyone
 
Heaven
 
Will
 
Sent
 
Raise
 
Last
 
Day
 
Complain
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
True and False Test
 
Encouraging Words for the Lost
 
Sunday March 8, 2020
 
John 6:35-46
 
Name _______________________________
 
 
 
Circle the True or False answers. Correct the False statements by restating them.
 
 
 
  1. If we come to Jesus and believe in Jesus, we will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus gave eternal life to all who saw Him during His ministry.
True or False
 
 
 
  1. Not just people, but everything the Father gives to Jesus will go to Him. True or False
 
 
  1. Some who come to Jesus will have such an unworthy past that He will drive them away. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus came down from heaven into our world. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus came into the world to do the will of His Father who sent Him.
True or False
 
 
 
  1. Occasionally, when no one was looking, Jesus did whatever He wanted to do without thinking of the Father. True or False
 
 
  1. Jesus’ Father wills that Jesus raise up on the last day all who believe in Him. True or False
 
 
  1. The Jews complained when Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” True or False
 
 
  1. Those who come to Jesus are drawn to Him by the Father and Jesus will raise them up on the last day. True or False
 
 
 
 
 
 
True and False Test Answers
 
 
 
  1. True
  2. False
  3. True
  4. False
  5. True
  6. True
  7. False
  8. True
  9. True
  10. True
 
 
 
 
Prayer
 
 
 
Father, our times often resemble those of the prophet Habakkuk. Many solutions are offered to address such problems, but most ignore Your wisdom and fail to see situations through Your eyes. Empower Your church by Your Holy Spirit to speak forth with courage and clarity the love of Christ and the power of the gospel. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
February 23
 
Lesson 13 (KJV)
 

Ever-Persevering Petitions

 
 
Devotional Reading: Psalm 13
 

Background Scripture: Luke 11:1–13

Luke 11:5–13
 
 
 
  1. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
 
 
  1. For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
 
 
  1. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
 
 
  1. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
 
 
  1. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
 
 
  1. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
 
 
  1. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
 
 
  1. Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
 
 
  1. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
 
 

Key Verse

 
 
I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.—Luke 11:9
 
 
 

Lesson Aims

 
 
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
 
 
 
  1. State the main lesson of the parable.
 
 
  1. Explain how prayer is asking, seeking, and knocking.
 
 
  1. Identify one reason for lacking persistence in prayer and make a corrective plan.
 
 

HOW TO SAY IT

 
 
Cornelius
 
Cor-neel-yus.
 
Gentiles
 
Jen-tiles.
 
Judea
 
Joo-dee-uh.
 
synagogues
 
sin-uh-gogs.
 
 
 
Introduction
 
 
 
  1. Seeking a Blue Doorknob
 
 
A shaggy-dog story is a long-winded tale with an underwhelming punch line. The point of such a story is that the joke is on the listener, who has paid attention for far too long and has not been rewarded. One shaggy dog story tells of the search for a magical blue doorknob in the Empire State Building. The storyteller can stretch this joke to include as many of the building’s 102 floors as desired (each with dozens of doors with knobs). The story can end with the questioning of a janitor on the top floor who says, “Oh, they took out all the colored knobs years ago.”
 
Have you ever experienced frustrating and fruitless searches, quests that are like the punch line in what turns out to be a shaggy-dog story? Have you ever made repeated requests of someone and not received any kind of response? Have you ever knocked on a door when you knew someone was behind it but did not hear a word?
 
The fruitless search makes us think, Give it up! The ignored requests say, Don’t bother me! The unopened door says, Leave me alone!
 
Perhaps your prayer life has felt that way at times. Your prayers seem to float to the ceiling and no farther. Earnest petitions yield silence day after day. Lamentations 3:44 seems all too real: “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” What are we to make of these times when God seems slow to answer?
 
 
 

B. Lesson Context

 
 
Luke’s two books, Luke and Acts, have repeated mentions of people praying and frequent teachings on prayer. We cannot read these two books without noticing that Jesus was a man of prayer (see Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 22:40, 41, 44, 46; etc.) and that the first-century church was a community of prayer (see Acts 1:14; 13:3; 21:5; etc.). The Jerusalem church made prayer a priority (2:42). Cornelius, a Gentile, was a God-fearing man before his conversion, partly because he devoted himself to prayer (10:2).
 
The church inherited this reverence for prayer from its Jewish roots. Ancient Jewish synagogues and the temple itself were ideally to be houses of prayer (see Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46), dedicated spaces where people could pray alone or in community.
 
Prayer by Jesus and first-century Jews was rooted in the Scriptures (Genesis 21:16–18; Exodus 32:11–13; Jeremiah 10:23–25; etc.). The Old Testament shows prayer as addressing the Lord as the God who hears, cares, and is powerful to act (Exodus 2:23–25; Psalm 65:2; Daniel 9:19).
 
The previous lesson looked at the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9–15; see lesson 12); Luke’s parallel for that teaching opportunity (although not his version of the Lord’s Prayer itself) is the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17–49). Between that event and today’s lesson occurs a miraculous healing and a resurrection (7:1–17); interactions with various people (7:18–50); more teaching (8:1–21; 10:38–42); calming a storm (8:22–25); an exorcism, resurrection, and healing (8:26–56); sending of the 12 (9:1–9); a miraculous feeding (9:10–17); private conversations and the transfiguration (9:18–36); another exorcism (9:37–43a); conversations and opposition (9:43b–62); and the sending of the 72 (10:1–24). Only then do we arrive at Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer (also known as the model prayer) and today’s text that follows it.
 
As Luke 11 opens, Jesus was praying. When he had finished, a disciple asked Him to teach them how to pray. Jesus’ response was to offer the prayer of Luke 11:2–4. The text for today’s lesson offers further insights on prayer.
 
 
 

I. Persistent Request

(Luke 11:5–8)
 
 
 
  1. Inconvenience (vv. 5–7)
 
 
5, 6. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
 
 
 
The setting of this parable is that of the relationship of two friends who are also neighbors. These are people who are likely to have engaged in sharing and borrowing things from each other over many years. Such a relationship is to be assumed as normal and healthy by Jesus’ audience.
 
Midnight in Judea is truly the middle of the night. Because providing light after dark uses expensive oil for lamps, people rise shortly before sunrise and are in bed an hour or two after sundown. A normal day near the equator might begin about 5:00 a.m., and a household might be in bed by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. By midnight, families are sound asleep, having been so for four or more hours.
 
An unexpected visitor turns one friend into a host in this parable. Ancient customs of hospitality differ from ours. A person on a journey might drop in unannounced, leaving a host scrambling to provide food at unusual hours. A host’s failure to provide a meal for his visitor is a social error of inhospitality, even without prior notice of arrival (compare Genesis 19:1–3). Yet, we should not accuse the host of poor planning. His family may have eaten every piece of bread at the evening meal, assuming their supply would be replenished the next day. The unanticipated guest has created a crisis, and the rules of hospitality must be honored.
 
The host needs bread, three loaves. His claim to have nothing may be a way of saying that his food stock is quite inadequate. Bread is baked frequently, even daily. It does not keep long and tastes best when fresh. Friend A is hoping that sleepy Friend B has some bread left over from the previous day.
 
 
 
  1. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
 
 
Jesus’ disciples are undoubtedly surprised at the reaction of Friend B. They understand the inconvenience, but they also know that the expectation of village hospitality makes it imperative that the sleeping friend help, even at midnight. He says he cannot rise, but the truth is that he lacks the willingness to get up and help. The parable thereby contrasts an ungracious attitude to God’s graciousness as revealed in the model prayer (see Luke 11:3).
 
 
 
  1. Yielding (v. 8)
 
 
  1. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
 
 
Friendship alone is not a strong enough motivation for the man to help. Not even social customs of the day move him to action. What finally motivates him to action is his neighbor’s importunity.
 
The Greek word being translated, used only here in the New Testament, normally carries the sense of shamelessness. But that sense does not quite fit the context here. Rather, the sense is something closer to desperation that overrides shame. The word pushes past courteous politeness (that might easily take no for an answer) to ask again and again until the request is granted.
 
The point as it applies to prayer must not be missed: persistence is important. Prayer is a laying bare of the heart before God. If a request is not worth repeating as a daily petition, it may be deemed as whimsical or unimportant. Prayer that is persistent and personal is powerful in God’s eyes. Needs are daily; therefore our practice of prayer must be ongoing, never taking for granted the gracious provision of God.
 
We should take care here, though. Persistence in prayer is not effective because we somehow wear God down (see last week’s lesson). That’s not how it works with God. Persistence in prayer is a test for us, not for Him.
 
 
 

What Do You Think?

What are some ways to increase your bold persistence in prayer?
 
 
 

Digging Deeper

Considering passages such as Job 38:1, 2; Jonah 4; and Malachi 2:17, what guardrails should you put in place to ensure that your boldly persistent prayers do not cross lines that they shouldn’t?
 
 
 

Don’t Stop Believing

 
 
For two years, my oldest boy struggled. A small legal problem became a two-year string of escalating trouble. His trouble stemmed from continuing to seek out the wrong crowd and flouting every rule the county set forth. My family prayed constantly, but the situation just kept deteriorating. He lied and stole. He became violent. He had to be placed in a shelter; he was admitted to the hospital for an overdose.
 
I cried out to the Lord, for what seemed like the millionth time, to deliver my son and my family from the constant chaos. Like the neighbor in need, I persisted. I prayed. I asked for strength when my despair threatened to overcome me. I didn’t stop knocking until, in all His great mystery and love, God answered my prayer with a yes. My son began to improve and remains healthy to this day.
 
As Jesus tells us, we must never stop knocking. And unlike that frustrated friend who grudgingly got up to answer the door, Jesus is never reluctant to answer our prayers. His timing is perfect, and we err when we interpret a delayed answer with reluctance.
 
—P. M.
 
 
 

II. Tenacious Prayer

(Luke 11:9, 10)
 
 
 
  1. Asking, Seeking, Knocking (v. 9)
 
 
  1. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
 
 
The parable of the two friends gives context to the famous verse before us. It is the application of the parable (compare Matthew 7:7). The host has asked for bread, sought bread, and knocked on his neighbor’s door until it was opened for him. All of these are presented by Jesus as commands of what we are to do: ask, seek, knock. All three have a sense of continuation: keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
 
In this chapter, it is unmistakable that the asking, seeking, and knocking are referring to prayer. This persistence is unlike the prayer practices of pagan Gentiles of Jesus’ day. Greek and Roman religions often view prayer as a device to manipulate or cajole a god or goddess to shower fortune on the person praying. For this reason, Jesus previously warned His disciples not to follow these empty practices (Matthew 6:7). Fundamentally, the Gentiles are unsure their gods hear them or will want to help even if they are listening. Jesus’ disciples need have no such fears; unlike the inhospitable neighbor, our God loves to give us what we need when we ask (6:8, 11).
 
 
 

What Do You Think?

What are some steps to strengthen the process of asking, seeking, and knocking?
 
 
 

Digging Deeper

Will it be important in answering that question to distinguish asking from seeking from knocking? Why, or why not?
 
 
 
  1. Receiving, Finding, Opening (v. 10)
 
 
  1. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
 
 
The potential for misunderstanding here is great. So it bears repeating that we must not see these verses as teaching that we can wear down God by endless, repeated requests until He gives in. Prayer in that case is not a conversation with our Father. Rather, it becomes a tirade that will not cease until demands are met. This danger of misapplication is also a caution for the similar parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8). The thrust of this parable is that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (18:1).
 
The thing to remember is that in both of these parables the persons who grant the requests are not sterling role models for us. Jesus’ listeners do not want to be the inhospitable and insensitive sleeping friend of the two-friends parable. They also abhor the judge who does not care about justice. Does this, then, teach us anything about God? Is God, who hears and grants our requests in prayer, anything like these two men?
 
The answer is obviously no; God is not like this (Jonah 3:6–10; 4:2). The parables, at one level, set forth a lesser-to-greater comparison: if the lesser individual grants the request, how much more is the greater individual (God) willing to do so! At another level, these parables teach us about the nature of prayer and how we should practice it. We must be persistent. A prayer life that makes a request once then abandons it is not much of a prayer life.
 
God is always faithful to respond appropriately to our needs. But let’s be honest: Are we sometimes too proud to ask God (or anyone else) for help? Do we think we always should try to meet our own needs without God’s help? Though asking for what we need goes against cultural expectations of rugged individualism, God expects us to ask Him for what we need each day. We do not have access to the decision-making process of God when it comes to our prayer requests. But in all cases, we can remain confident that God is hearing us every time we pray and giving us the answer that best suits His purposes and our needs.
 
An important point in this and the previous verse is that a specific kind of person is in view here. Today’s lesson text occurs within a long teaching section that deals with how Jesus’ disciples are to think and behave. Thus when Jesus refers to people who ask, seek, and knock, He is referring to the kind of person who has the sort of relationship with God that Jesus has been describing all along. In other words, these verses are directed to the kind of people who ask, seek, and knock while having godly motives and goals.
 
 
 

What Do You Think?

What are some ways to model persistence in prayer when you yourself have not yet received, found, or had doors opened?
 
 
 

Digging Deeper

At what point in a Christian’s prayer persistence should he or she reexamine the nature of the unanswered prayer itself?
 
 
 

III. Faithful Response

(Luke 11:11–13)
 
 
 
  1. Imperfect Givers (vv. 11, 12)
 
 
11, 12. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
 
 
 
Jesus begins a second illustration about prayer to make a different point. Only a heartless father would ignore the pleas of a hungry child; only the cruelest of fathers would respond to cries of hunger with the substitutions of a stone for bread, a serpent for a fish, or a scorpion for an egg. Beyond being not edible by a child, such things are outright dangerous: teeth would be broken on biting a stone; a snake would bite a child rather than the reverse; a scorpion would sting.
 
 
 

What Do You Think?

How can we encourage those who feel God has given them “a scorpion” for “an egg”?
 
 
 

Digging Deeper

As you encourage such a person, how will you know when the time is right or wrong to point out passages such as Psalm 13; Jeremiah 20:7–13; and/or Romans 8:28?
 
 
 
  1. The Perfect Father (v. 13)
 
 
  1. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
 
 
Jesus drives home His major point: even comparatively evil human fathers can and do give good gifts to their children (compare Matthew 7:11). This principle is also true of the sleepy friend of the parable just considered and of the unjust judge in Luke 18. Even the worst of humans sometimes do the right thing, the good thing. However grudgingly, they are able to give good gifts to others. This is a bit like saying that even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. An endorsement, but not a glowing one!
 
Yet even the best of people are evil when compared to the Lord (Romans 3:5, 10–18, 23). Thus, Jesus employs a lesser-to-greater argument: if certain good things about us frail humans are true, then how much more will good actions come from our perfect heavenly Father, who has no human weaknesses?
 
Moreover, the Father’s capacity to grant requests far exceeds giving loaves of bread, pieces of fish, or boiled eggs. Our Father in Heaven gives believers a gift far greater than the most wealthy and generous parent on earth can: His Holy Spirit. Our God cannot fulfill not only our physical needs, He can also satisfy our greater spiritual needs. The gift of the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest blessings of the Christian believer. Luke expands on this in Acts 1:8; 2:38; 5:32; 15:8; etc. Focusing on the gift of the Holy Spirit calls Christians to hope even when in material want.
 
A caution: Jesus’ teaching is not that God is required to better our lives through material possessions. A popular perception of God says that if you want a better car or a bigger house, all you need to do is ask for it in faith. This theory carries the assumption that God promises us health and wealth; it is a “name it and claim it” view of the gospel. But there is no such promise in the New Testament. Jesus is teaching us how true disciples understand the nature of God; Jesus is not teaching that we can get from God all we want simply by virtue of persistence.
 
 
 
What Do You Think?
 
What are some things your church should be more persistent in asking of the Lord? Why?
 
 
 

Digging Deeper

How will you need to change your own prayer priorities so you can best help your church change its prayer priorities?
 
 
 
Good, Good Father
 
 
 
A few years back, work transferred my husband to Nebraska. The family soon followed. We felt God’s hand in all of it, despite having to uproot our lives. We—two adults, two teenagers, a cat, and a dog—were staying in a hotel room with two double beds and a kitchenette while we searched for a permanent home. But we were struggling to get credit approval.
 
When an apartment we had been hoping for turned us down, a feeling of worthlessness filled me. As I prayed through those despondent emotions, I remembered who God was. I remembered His clear desire to move our family. Suddenly, I was no longer worried about where we would live. I knew who my Father was.
 
The next Sunday, the call came that we had been approved for the only rental house available within our children’s school district. Just like that, we had a home. I have a good, good Father in Heaven, one who knows how to give good gifts. Do you?
 
—P. M.
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
 
  1. How Should I Pray?
 
 
There are many misconceptions about prayer among Christians. These erroneous beliefs can become debilitating. Some say that if God knows all, including our needs, we don’t need to ask for anything. What can we tell God if He already knows everything? “Nothing!” some say. Therefore, this logic says, prayer is pointless. We don’t want to pray wrongly, and we don’t want to suffer from prayer paralysis. We also don’t want to oversimplify prayer, for it represents a relationship with our heavenly Father.
 
Jesus used two analogies, images we would not expect, to teach us about our prayers to God. First, He spoke of borrowing loaves of bread. Second, He referred to a father providing wholesome food for his child. Sandwiched between (pun intended!) is one of Jesus’ most profound teachings on prayer in all the Bible: His admonition to ask, seek, and knock without giving up. Jesus ends with a reference to the Holy Spirit, presenting this as the ultimate answer to prayer and the gift of the Father.
 
Just as the unprepared host did not stop knocking or give up his search for bread, so we should not give up on asking God for the things we need. Prayer must be an ongoing conversation with the Lord. Jesus taught the disciples to ask for “daily bread” (Luke 11:3), leaving us to conclude that this request must be done every day. Prayer is a lifetime of activity, not an essay we write and file away forever.
 
Jesus teaches us that we are not abandoned by God. For this reason, we do not need to devise effective prayer strategies on our own. He has given us examples, and He has given us His Holy Spirit. Paul notes the value of this for us when he teaches that even though we are inadequate in our prayer lives, God’s Spirit will intercede for us to make up for our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). God not only hears our prayers, He will help us if we let Him.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Visual for Lesson 13. As you discuss verse 9, point to this visual and ask how the image relates to the discipline of asking, seeking, and knocking.
 
 
 
Jesus’ encouragement in Luke 11 is to never give up on prayer, no matter how unfruitful it may seem on any given day. The key is that we keep praying. We keep asking God, seeking His will, and knocking on the doors of Heaven with our requests (using James 4:3 as a caution). Few of us would count ourselves as giants in the world of prayer, so we can make this same request: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)! Jesus was both a master teacher and the greatest pray-er of all time. His centuries-old words still guide us in this crucial spiritual matter today.
 
 
 
  1. Prayer
 
 
Father God, we do have daily needs, things like food and drink that our bodies require. We have personal needs, to be loved by others and to have others to love. Most of all, we have spiritual needs that will only be satisfied by Your Holy Spirit. We knock on Your door to ask that You supply all our needs, all that we seek. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who graciously taught us to pray. Amen.
 
 
 
  1. Thought to Remember
 
 
“The worst sin is prayerlessness.”
 
—P. T. Forsythe (1848–1921
 
 
 
 
 

KID’S CORNER

Follow God or Follow the Crowd
 
Sunday, February 23, 2020
 

John 6:15-24

 
 
John 6:15-24
 
(John 6:15) So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
 
The two most important acts by Jesus on the mountain that meant most to the crowd were His healings (for which they followed Him) and His unexpected and miraculous feeding of 5,000 people (or more) using five barley loaves and two fish (which moved them to want to make Jesus their king by the use of force). The teaching that John recorded during this time related to Jesus teaching His disciples by testing and example. Jesus probably also taught the crowd that had gathered, for He “came into the world to testify to the truth” (see John 18:37). Jesus was their King sent from God the Father, but the crowd seemed more interested in wanting Jesus to be the kind of king that would overthrow their oppressors (the Roman Empire) and restore their prosperity. In response, Jesus went back up the mountain where He customarily prayed to His heavenly Father. Those who profess to be Christians might ask themselves in what ways they are different from the crowd that wanted to make Jesus a king in their way.
 
(John 6:16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,
 
John gives us a more abbreviated version of the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee than the versions we find in Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6:45-56. John saw no need to record everything in Matthew and Mark, and he did not record Jesus’ instructions to His disciples in Matthew 14:22, which reads, “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” Jesus’ disciples did not decide to simply abandon Jesus on the shore and go alone across the sea; rather, they followed Jesus’ directions. Jesus probably sent them on ahead to teach them more about His character and nature, which Mark 6:51-52, implies when writing about the results of their journey: “Then Jesus got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” They needed to learn more about and trust more Jesus’ compassionate love for them (character) and Jesus’ power as the Son of God and King of the universe (nature).
 
(John 6:17) and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
 
The disciples obeyed Jesus and started across to Capernaum (located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee) where the royal official lived whose son Jesus healed and where Jesus lived during His Galilean ministry. John made clear that by the time they departed, Jesus had not come to them. Before coming to them, Jesus dismissed the crowd and then went up the mountain to pray. John emphasized that the disciples were alone in the boat without Jesus, not that they expected to see Jesus walking on the water to join them in the boat.
 
(John 6:18) The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
 
The disciples who were fishermen, such as Peter, Andrew, James and John, had sailed or rowed their boats through storms before.  Prior to the experience John related here (reported also in Matthew 14:22-33), we know from Matthew 8:23-27 that once when a storm arose Jesus was asleep in the boat and so great was the windstorm that the boat began to fill with water. After the disciples woke Jesus, He stilled the storm, and in Matthew 8:27, we read. “They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’” (see also Luke 8:22-25). In this situation, the disciples might have begun to think, “If only Jesus were with us, He could still this storm!”
 
(John 6:19) Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they *saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.
 
Jesus would not abandon His disciples to the waves and the wind. Jesus did not still the storm from the mountain top as He could have done easily. Rather, Jesus wanted them to remember that He loved them and would care for them always, even if that meant walking on the water through a storm to help them. When Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father, in John 17:12, Jesus told His Father, “While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.” John’s account of Jesus walking on the water illustrated one of the ways Jesus protected His disciples. On March 8, 2020, God-willing, we will study John 6:39, which reads, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus was determined not to lose any of His disciples in a storm. After rowing about three or four miles, the disciples, exhausted and afraid because of the storm, were terrified when they saw someone walking on the sea toward their boat. In Matthew 14:26, we learn why they were terrified, “When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear.”
 
(John 6:20) But He *said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
 
Jesus needed to speak only a few words. Jesus’ presence calmed their fears and assured them that they had not seen a ghost; rather, He had come to their aid. John did not teach about Peter walking on the water after he saw Jesus (Matthew had already written about Peter doubting and needing more faith). By demonstration, John achieved His purpose which he clearly stated in John 20:31, “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” Matthew 14:33, summarized the disciples’ reaction: “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”
 
(John 6:21) So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
 
When the disciples learned that they had not seen a ghost, but Jesus coming to cast out all their fears and save them, they became willing and wanted to take Him into the boat. The very moment they took Jesus into the boat, the boat reached land where they were going. In a moment, Jesus got them exactly where they needed to be and met their needs. The moment we truly receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, as God’s Messiah, as the Son of God as revealed in the Bible, Jesus gives us the power and right to become children of God—immediately we receive the gift of eternal life.
 
(John 6:22) The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone.
 
The crowd knew that Jesus had worked a miracle and had fed them with enough food left over for His disciples; therefore, the crowd wanted to make Jesus their king by force. They probably wanted to do so even more the next day. Jesus had sent His disciples on the ahead of Him by boat to Capernaum. Then, unseen by the crowd, Jesus had walked on water, gotten into their boat, and traveled with them to the other side of the sea. The crowd did not know where Jesus had gone or how He had left them.
 
(John 6:23) There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
 
Tiberias was about 6 miles south of Capernaum on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. Those who arrived from Tiberias soon learned that Jesus had fed a large crowd there after saying a prayer, which John described as giving thanks. They probably also learned that the people Jesus had fed wanted to make Him their king. Those Jesus had fed may have recruited some who had newly arrived from Tiberias to take them to Capernaum to search for Jesus. Capernaum was located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.
 
(John 6:24) So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus.
 
After searching diligently for Jesus, the crowd got into the newly arrived boats from Tiberias and went to Capernaum in Galilee (where Jesus had made His new home). They were probably motivated to find Jesus because of the free food that He had given them. The free food that He gave them was easier to get than food from fishing, from harvesting grain, or from baking bread. With Jesus’ abilities, they knew they would not need to work or pay taxes to the Romans again, so they wanted to make Jesus their king.
 
 
 
 
 
Follow God or Follow the Crowd
 
Sunday, February 23, 2020
 

John 6:15-24

 
 
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone (John 6:15—KJV). So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone (John 6:15—NASB). When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself (John 6:15—NRSV).
 
 When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he offered Jesus a kingship over all the nations on earth, but of course Jesus would need to bow under the devil’s authority. After Jesus healed every disease of those who came to Him, and after He had fed about 5000 people using only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, crowds of people wanted to make Jesus their king. Jesus could do everything their religious and political leaders could not or would not do. Jesus could miraculously meet everyone’s physical needs, so Jesus may have been tempted to allow the crowd to raise an army and by force make Him king. However, Jesus knew that He had come to do the will of His Heavenly Father rather than follow the crowd. Jesus came to meet people’s eternal needs: people’s need to live forever free from sin in the presence of their loving God. Jesus knew that the kingdom of which He was already King was not of this world. Jesus knew that He had to teach people the truth about God rather than be made a king of this world in opposition to his Heavenly Father. Jesus knew that He came to suffer and die on a cross to glorify God and then rise from the dead so He could give the Holy Spirit to His followers. We do not know what Jesus prayed to His Father on the mountain, but He probably prayed for the continued strength and wisdom to do His Father’s will unto death—a strength and wisdom His Father gave Him.
 
 
 
Thinking Further
Follow God or Follow the Crowd
 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

John 6:15-24

Name ___________________________________

  1. Why do you think the crowd wanted to use force to make Jesus king?
 
 
 
 
  1. Why do you think Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself?
 
 
 
 
  1. Do you think the disciples right or wrong to leave Jesus and start across the sea to Capernaum by themselves? Why or why not?
 
 
 
 
  1. What may have the disciples learned after they had gone three or four miles?
 
 
 
 
  1. Why do you think the crowd left for Capernaum to look for Jesus?
 
 
 
 
Discussion and Thinking Further
  1. Why do you think the crowd wanted to use force to make Jesus king? They knew Jesus was a man of peace who was so humble that He probably would not assert himself to become a political king and raise an army to defeat the Romans; therefore, they wanted to use force to make Jesus their king. They probably also wanted someone who would give them free food, meet all their physical needs, and heal all their diseases.
  2. Why do you think Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself? Jesus did not want them to make Him a king by force, and He did not want to involve His disciples in the volatile situation, so He sent them on ahead. He wanted to be alone with His heavenly Father in prayer and receive the rest that only His Father could give Him.
  3. Do you think the disciples right or wrong to leave Jesus and start across the sea to Capernaum by themselves? Why or why not? The disciples were right to obey Jesus. Because John did not tell us everything we learn from the Gospel of Matthew (there was no need for John to repeat all that he knew Matthew and Mark had written), we might mistakenly think that the disciples went off on their own and left Jesus behind. By sending the disciples on ahead, Jesus knew He would be able to teach them more about himself as their Savior and Lord.
  4. What may have the disciples learned after they had gone three or four miles? They learned that it would have been helpful if Jesus had been in the boat with them, even if asleep, because they knew that if He had been with them, they could awaken Him and He would have quieted the storm. They would soon learn that Jesus loved them so much that He would even walk on water through a storm to protect and save them. They learned more about Jesus’ character and nature and gladly welcomed Him into their boat.
  5. Why do you think the crowd left for Capernaum to look for Jesus? The next morning, they were probably even more determined to make Jesus their king, and they may have learned from the disciples and/or Jesus that He had sent them to Capernaum, where they hoped to find Jesus. Or they may have known that Jesus had made Capernaum His home in Galilee and went there to search for Him.
 
 
 
 
Word Search
Follow God or Follow the Crowd
 
Sunday, February 23, 2020
 

John 6:15-24

Name __________________________________
 
 
D M E C R O F T K I N G Z G Z
 
N U G W Z K E I B Q N L V L Q
 
A A I T I W U Y T I B U W E W
 
L N S M N T D W A Y Q X V Z R
 
F R A F M T H T I S M E N D P
 
V E N E A E N D Q N N C M K A
 
T P M O L U D H R I D R X E Y
 
Q A B W O A T I N E M O S G X