International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 11, 2016
Purpose: To understand what it means to trust in God’s promise to end oppression
Bible Lesson: The Scripture for this lesson is printed below. The background text is Isaiah 25.
Key Verse: He will swallow up death forever. The Lord God will wipe tears from every face; he will remove his people’s disgrace from off the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)
Isaiah 25:6-10a (CEB)
(6) On this mountain, the Lord of heavenly forces will prepare for all peoples a rich feast, a feast of choice wines, of select foods rich in flavor, of choice wines well refined. (7) He will swallow up on this mountain the veil that is veiling all peoples, the shroud enshrouding all nations. (8) He will swallow up death forever. The Lord God will wipe tears from every face; he will remove his people’s disgrace from off the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken. (9) They will say on that day, “Look! This is our God, for whom we have waited–– and he has saved us! This is the Lord, for whom we have waited; let’s be glad and rejoice in his salvation!” (10) The Lord’s hand will indeed rest on this mountain.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This is our second of four passages from Isaiah, that helps us to explore the sovereignty of God. Isaiah wrote this at a time when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was being conquered by the Assyrians.
It is a message of hope for the future, regardless of what was going on in their lives, God was still in control.
In his book “The World’s Religions”, author Huston Smith asks the question, “What produced this love and joy in early Christianity?” His answer is that as a result of the faith, three oppressive burdens were lifted. First, fear (especially the fear of death) no longer weighed on God’s people. The good news had freed them from their fears. Second, the burden of guilt had been lifted by the news that they were forgiven. Third, the burden of ego was lifted by a way of life that demanded unselfishness and self-denial.
When those things that oppress us, whether external or internal burdens, are lifted, we cannot help but to experience freedom and joy!
When we are being oppressed by external or internal forces like: death, mourning, fear, guilt, ego, we look forward to their end. For example, consider the oppression of an illness. When we are suffering from an illness, we long for a quick end to the illness and a return to health. When the illness is long and we do not know when it will end, we have to wait. Waiting is not easy for most of us. While waiting, we can become impatient or even discouraged when the wait is long. Yet waiting is so much a part of daily life. We wait in heavy traffic, in lines at stores, for someone to return a call or an e-mail, and for countless other things. The question is, How do we wait? Do we wait with faith or with fear? To wait fearfully is to become impatient and discouraged. We might even give up and lose hope.
To wait with faith and trust is a different matter. Trust is a form of faith. To trust in a promise is to have faith in it. In Isaiah, we encounter God’s promises to save not only Israel but all peoples.
To wait with trust is to be patient for the fulfillment of a promise. To wait with trust is to refuse to give in to discouragement or anger when the time frame for fulfillment is lengthened. Note that the destruction of death and mourning, as well as other forms of oppression, has not yet occurred. It is a promise we are still awaiting. In fact, the promises we have encountered in these first two lessons are still in the future. However, as those who wait faithfully, we can still live toward those promises. Even though we still face death, we can do so knowing that God’s love embraces us. Even though we still mourn, we can find comfort from our faith that proclaims new life and resurrection come out of death. When it comes to God’s promises, we are always living between the “already” made and the “not yet” fulfilled. Even though the forms of oppression we have seen in this lesson are still with us, we can live with trust and hope toward the promise that, ultimately, God will help us overcome oppression.
My hymn for this week is one I have used often but it tells the story the best, My Hope is Built On Nothing Less, Than Jesus Blood and Righteousness.