Tuesday, December 14, 2010

“The Mission of the Servant” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending December 19,2010

Purpose: To celebrate the promise of the coming Messiah and anticipate God's peace and righteousness in the world.

Scripture Text: Isaiah 9:7; 11:1-8 (NRSV)

Isaiah 9:7
(7)His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 11:1-8
(1)A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. (2)The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (3)His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; (4)but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. (5)Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. (6)The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. (7)The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. (8)The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

The Book of Isaiah was written by the prophet Isaiah, but the words are God's words given to Isaiah by God. At the actual time of the writing, Isaiah may have thought these words applied to the excitement and anticipation of new ruler, King Hezekiah, and in fact they may have been written for the coronation of the new king. But since Isaiah was a prophet of God, and the words were given by God, they are not restricted to that particular moment in time. Today we look at these words given by God as foretelling the coming of Jesus and even further as the coming of a new creation.

Uzziah had been king of Judah for 52 years and it is at his passing that Isaiah starts writing. After Uzziah's death from leprosy, his son Jotham ruled for 16 years and was considered a good king, except, like his father, he did not remove the high places of idol worship. After Jotham came 16 years of rule by Ahaz, who did not rule like David, but rather ruled like the wicked kings of the northern kingdom of Israel, most notably building a new altar in the temple, one copied after an idol altar he had seen in Damascus.

Knowing all of the above you can see why Isaiah was excited about the new king Hezekiah, coming into power, a true son of David. And like our own excitement and anticipation when we have a change of power in Washington we speculate and hope for a new kind of ruler and for national peace and prosperity. Hezekiah did many good things, like cutting down the groves where the idols were worshiped. The bible tells us “he trusted in the Lord as no other king.” Because of the revival initiated by Hezekiah the kingdom of Judah would outlast the northern kingdom of Israel by about 120 years.

It is easy to understand Isaiah’s enthusiasm at the crowning of this new king. Finally a king we can put our trust in. Justice and righteousness would now prevail throughout Judah. Almost all of the things Isaiah writes about applies to his world at that time, but because it was God dictating the words they would mean so much more for coming generations and for generations still to come. Certainly not all of those things happened during the reign of Hezekiah, or even at the coming of Jesus, but they will all come about at some future time.

Today the challenge is for us to bring peace and goodwill in our lifetime and in our own communities and families. The poor and the meek become our responsibility as commissioned by Jesus. Today I met with a local group that feeds 1470 children every weekend here in our local county. It is an awesome responsibility that requires an entire community effort to succeed.

How are you being challenged to help the poor and meek in your community? All of God's work will get done, but each of us must listen and obey His commands, if we want to see peace on earth in our time.
God blessing on each of you that read this, this holy season and Merry Christmas to all.

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