Monday, September 29, 2014

“Rejoice Anyway” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday October 5, 2014

Purpose: To affirm that no matter what difficulties we face, we can trust God’s assurance, seek God’s presence, and rely on God’s strength to persevere

Bible Lesson: Habakkuk 2:1-5, Habakkuk 3:17-19
Background Scripture: Job 1; Psalm 56; Habakkuk 1-3

Habakkuk 2:1-5 (CEB)
(1)I will take my post; I will position myself on the fortress. I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me and how he will respond to my complaint. (2)Then the Lord answered me and said, write a vision, and make it plain upon a tablet so that a runner can read it. (3)There is still a vision for the appointed time; it testifies to the end; it does not deceive. If it delays, wait for it; for it is surely coming; it will not be late. (4)Some people’s desires are truly audacious; they don’t do the right thing. But the righteous person will live honestly. 5Moreover, wine betrays an arrogant man. He doesn’t rest. He opens his jaws like the grave; like death, he is never satisfied. He gathers all nations to himself and collects all peoples for himself.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (CEB)
(17) Though the fig tree doesn’t bloom, and there’s no produce on the vine; though the olive crop withers, and the fields don’t provide food; though the sheep is cut off from the pen, and there is no cattle in the stalls; (18) I will rejoice in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance. (19) The Lord God is my strength. He will set my feet like the deer. He will let me walk upon the heights.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

In all my years of teaching Sunday school lessons, this is the first lesson I remember from the Book of Habakkuk. The book is only three chapters long and was written sometime between 626 and 622 B.C. The main country in power at the time was the Assyrians (Chaldeans) they had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Judah’s King Josiah kept the Assyrians from going into Judah and instituted his Temple reforms, (2 Kings 22-23) that postponed the onslaught until after his death.

Josiah was the greatest of all the kings. He came into power at the age of 8 and ruled for 21 years. He was killed in battle by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Josiah was succeeded by his son Jehoiakim, who went back to the wicked ways that Josiah had destroyed.

Habakkuk is not a Hebrew name but an Akkadian name. Akkad was a city-state near today’s Baghdad, Iraq. Perhaps at the height of his power the Emperor Nabopolassar of Assyria had forced all of his subjects to take Akkadian names. Of all the prophets, the least is known about Habakkuk. Some traditions have him as the son born of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4, and healed by Elisha. The basis for this theory is that Elisha' servant told the woman that she would "embrace" a son (2 Kings 4:16), and Habakkuk's name is similar to the Hebrew word for "embrace."

Our text begins with Habakkuk complaining to the Lord about the length of time it is taking for the Lord to respond to his complaint. That is quickly followed by the Lord’s answer to Habakkuk in the form of a vision.

The Lord’s timing is different than our timing, but his promises are always kept. The Lord reveals in the vision to Habakkuk that the righteous should continue to live righteous lives. The Lord’s judgment will come at the time appointed by him, not before and not after. Until then live honestly and righteously, but always know that the Lord will prevail in the end.

Learning to trust God in all circumstances is not easy, but when we live righteously and honestly in communion with him we can survive even the darkest of nights or years.

The verses recorded in chapter three are written as a psalm for use in worship. For that reason some think that Habakkuk was a Levite or one of the musicians used in temple worship. These verses point to a time when things have gotten as bad as they possibly could, but in the midst of all that Habakkuk says, “I will rejoice in the Lord.”

Interestingly, the Book of Habakkuk was one of the writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is possible the Essenes of Jesus time saw a similarity with what they were going through under Roman rule. Paul also quoted from Habakkuk 2:4 in both Romans and Galatians, “The righteous live by faith.”

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