Monday, September 12, 2016

Foundations of the Earth Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 18, 2016

Purpose: To explore the nature of God’s sovereign power

Bible Lesson: Isaiah 40:21-31

Background Scripture: Isaiah 40

Key Verse: Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. (Isaiah 40:28)

Isaiah 40:21-31 (CEB)
(21) Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? Wasn’t it announced to you from the beginning? Haven’t you understood since the earth was founded? (22) God inhabits the earth’s horizon— its inhabitants are like locusts— stretches out the skies like a curtain and spreads it out like a tent for dwelling. (23) God makes dignitaries useless and the earth’s judges into nothing. (24) Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely is their shoot rooted in the earth when God breathes on them, and they dry up; the windstorm carries them off like straw. (25) So to whom will you compare me, and who is my equal? says the holy one. (26) Look up at the sky and consider: Who created these? The one who brings out their attendants one by one, summoning each of them by name. Because of God’s great strength and mighty power, not one is missing. (27) Why do you say, Jacob, and declare, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord my God ignores my predicament”? (28) Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach, (29) giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted. (30) Youths will become tired and weary, young men will certainly stumble; (31) but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.

Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This is our third lesson in this quarter from the Book of Isaiah. Modern bible scholars, think the Book of Isaiah was written by three different authors, crediting Isaiah ben Amoz with the first 39 chapters. Chapters 40-55 were supposedly written 200 years later by another Isaiah, and then chapters 55-66 were written even later by a third Isaiah.

I don’t know if there is any truth to that theory, but I know God is responsible for it all. I guess modern theologians have a problem with such an accurate prophecy, their faith does not allow for someone writing something that becomes fact 200 years later.

Our story this week takes place about 40 years into a 70-year exile of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) by Babylon. An entire generation has no knowledge of Jerusalem or the Temple.

The writer, or God, wants to remind those in exile of His power and His sovereignty. So he asks some rhetorical questions. God also reminds those that have not seen His power, that God is so much superior to man and not just plain old men, but men of power and position.  We should be slow to condemn those that were living without hope, because that had not been witnesses to previous interventions of God.

It is easy to feel victorious, and full of hope when you are succeeding in life, but living in exile in a strange culture, it was surely more difficult to have any. Within the scriptures and teachings God offers a solution, “look up.”   While you may feel hopeless, because you think God has lost his power, nothing could be further from the truth. The vastness of God’s creation is all the witness we need to regain hope.

Isaiah says God gives power to the tired and revives those who are exhausted (verse 29). That sounds good, but we want to know how. How is God’s power given to us, and how can we put it to use?

Isaiah gives us a major clue in verse 31. He writes, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,” but it is not as if hope comes in a pill or a bottle and we simply take a dose of it and are empowered. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if hope could be dispensed whenever we need it!

Yet all of us have experienced the transformative power of hope. Hope can make a distressing situation seem endurable. Hope can lift us up out of despair and depression. According to Isaiah, hope gives us wings to fly and energy to run!

My hymn for this week is a rather new hymn called “The Hymn of Promise.” If it is new to you I hope you enjoy it. It is the message of Isaiah given to him by the God of creation.

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