Tuesday, September 7, 2010

“God's Covenant With Israel” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 12, 2010

Purpose: To understand that God has established a covenantal relationship with God's people that includes laws for human flourishing.

Scripture Text: Exodus 20:1-11 (NRSV)

Exodus 20:1-11
(1) Then God spoke all these words: (2) I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;(3) you shall have no other gods before me. (4) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (5) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, (6) but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (7) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. (8) Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. (9) Six days you shall labor and do all your work. (10) But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Each week my hope is that I can give those that read my “blog” a new insight into the scripture that we are studying, and it helps either in your teaching or in your own personal understanding. Today I will begin with a statement that may ruffle some feathers; all of humankind is created in the image of God. Therefore, we all have the capacity to do good. Goodness is not just an attribute of Christianity; Jews, Muslims and atheist are all capable of “doing good.” By the same token we are all born of man, with a sin nature of selfishness, which puts us all in conflict with a Holy God. I think all religions try to restore the relationship so that the will of the Creator God and their own wills are aligned. I realize I could be completely wrong with this statement, because I have not studied other religions, and those with degrees in such could poke holes in my statement. I am aware that I am taking a complicated thesis and making it sound very simple.

In God's effort to educate the entire world about Himself, He chose first a man, (Abraham) then a tribe, then a nation, and He created a covenant, with Abraham and his descendents, that He would be their God and they would be His people. The tribe and the nation chosen by God were not always obedient to the call of God on their lives and God's covenant was not always shared with each new generation, and this entire nation found itself in Egypt working as slaves because of selfishness, greed, and other sins that were in direct conflict with God's Holy nature. When God enlist Moses to help him free these stiff necked people and bring them out of Egypt, He knew they were going to need some guidance, on how to best get along as an individual, as a family, as a tribe, and as a clan, and as a nation. That brings us to today's lesson.

The journey out of Egypt had not gone very far before God, through Moses, gives this new nation a set of rules and regulations, much like when our country, The United States of America, became a nation; we first created our preamble, then our Bill of Rights, then our Constitution. And I might say it is this lack of organization that is holding back nations like Iraq from achieving real nationhood today. There must be a set of rules and regulations established, for government to succeed. Otherwise we revert back to our own old selfishness.

The first thing God wanted to establish was His own selfishness, or some might say sovereignty. “You shall have no other gods before me.” In addition, no idols were to be created by man or worshiped by man. God is a jealous and vengeful God, from our very first parent, a punishment of death was announced for disobedience. At the same time a reward for obedience was also announced, sweet companionship was awaiting the obedient.

The wrongful use of God's name carries a heavy penalty, but you would not know that today; if you watch television or go to movies you hear God's name being used frivolously, or cursed, (even on the golf course) or just used emphatically to make a point. Even many of our churches or other quasi organizations use God's name wrongfully, that is, they use His name for their own selfishness. Politicians invoke His name for selfishness.

The last verses of our lesson addresses another major flaw in our society today and that is the unholy way we keep and remember the Sabbath. How much stronger would our basic family unit be if we just obeyed this one commandment? Because we are created in the image of God, we must observe the Sabbath. If an all powerful God was in need of a Sabbath, then we that were created in his image are also in need of a Sabbath. The Sabbath does several things for us including, letting us know that we have worth in God's sight, and we deserve rest for our hard work and effort and to reflect on God's presence in our lives. Our worth and value come from the relationship we have with the Creator God. Remember God gave these commandments to His people, if you claim to be one of His people, they apply to you.

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