Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 26, 2020) Solomon’s Blessing / Solomon Anticipates Praise 1 Kings 8:54-61

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson Solomon closes his dedication ceremony in much the same way as he opened it – by “blessing” the people.  Solomon is not a priest, he is not the high priest, he is not even a Levite but seemingly he takes on priestly roles by leading the nation in prayer, offering sacrifices, and giving a speech during the dedication ceremony.  Keep in mind that this is a dedication ceremony and the people have just had a worship experience. They have experienced a theophany. They have experienced the presence of God in the thick cloud and they have witnessed Solomon leading the nation in prayer in the presence of God.  Solomon had already reminded the assembly of his father David’s desire to make a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. He has prayed his prayer, he has made his nine pleas and requests known to God and now just as he began this dedication service by blessing the assembly, he closes the dedication service by blessing the assembly also.  One key idea surrounding this week’s text includes the term:  

The Sacrificial System

Background:  

This is the fourth and final lesson from 1 Kings eighth chapter in this quarter.  In this week’s background I give attention to the writer’s concern with faithfulness and the covenant.  In previous lessons (all in the eighth chapter) the unknown prophet who wrote this text mentioned both the Davidic covenant and the Mosaic covenant.  

Just as a refresher, The Lexham Bible Dictionary defines the Mosaic Covenant as “the covenant mediated between God and Israel at Mount Sinai when Israel received the Law (including the ten commandments).  It is also known as the old covenant or the first covenant.” Lexham defines the Davidic Covenant as “the promise made by Yahweh that he would establish for King David a “house” or a dynasty of kings who would perpetually reign over God’s people.”  

Both of these covenants are important to the writer of Kings and he is especially concerned with explaining how and why the nation of Israel and Judah can be blessed if they obey the commands of God.  Nelson’s Bible Handbook explains “the welfare of Israel and Judah depends upon the faithfulness of the people and their king to the covenant.”  In the view of the writer, keeping the covenant and being faithful to the covenant and God is of utmost importance in explaining how the nations had success and failure.  Keep in mind that 1 and 2 Kings covers a 400 year period from before the death of David to the ascension of Solomon on the throne, through Solomon’s death and subsequent dividing of the kingdom, to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.  And as I noted last week, this book came about through two editions over the 400 year history it covers.  This is a book of history. The writer is reflecting that history and he wants people to know that faithfulness to God and the covenant is what brings success.  Kings is one of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament and the writer is telling us a portion of the history of the kings of Judah and Israel.  

As I noted last week, previous lesson backgrounds included:

  •  The similarities between 1 and 2 Chronicles and 1 and 2 Kings.
  • How Chronicles uses Kings as a source.
  • How Kings covers almost 400 years of history.
  • When each edition of Kings was written (pre-exilic and during the exile).
  • How Kings is a theological interpretation of the Monarchy and of the kings of Judah and Israel until the reign of Ahaziah.
  • A brief explanation of God’s dwelling places
  • And The major divisions of 1 Kings.  

This eighth chapter of First Kings deals with the dedication of the Temple, Solomon’s speech at the dedication, his prayer of dedication, his blessing of the assembly, and his sacrificial offerings.  The focus of last week’s lesson was Solomon’s dedication prayer. This week our lesson tells the story of how Solomon blesses the assembly after he finishes his dedicatory prayer. An important term to consider about this text is:

The Sacrificial System

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week.    

 In last week’s lesson Solomon continued the Temple dedication service.  I noted how the dedication included worship, prayer, and praise. In Solomon’s dedication prayer he asked for God’s blessings, making nine specific petitions to God.  I also stressed that this event was a worship experience. Solomon and the people experienced a theophany – that is the visible manifestation of God. God made God’s self visible in the thick cloud that filled the Temple.  Solomon faced the Temple raised his hands toward heaven and began to pray his prayer of dedication. He knew exactly who he was praying to. Solomon was praying to the creator of the universe, who already owned all and knows all.  Solomon had no basis upon which to request anything except God’s beloved mercy. As he prayed he made known his nine petitions and led the people in prayer before God’s presence. Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “Solomon’s Blessing”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Anticipates Praise”. The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:54-61.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse fifty-four with Solomon having concluded his dedicatory prayer.  The people have experienced a theophany. They have experienced the presence of God in the thick cloud and they have witnessed Solomon leading the nation in prayer in the presence of God.  In this dedication they had a worship experience. Solomon has given a speech. He reminded the assembly of his father David’s desire to make a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord.  He has prayed his prayer, he has made his nine pleas and requests known to God and now just as he began this dedication service by blessing the assembly, he closes the dedication service by blessing the assembly also.  This verse notes that Solomon arose from kneeling on his knees.  Townsend Commentary notes that “this is the first mention in scripture of someone kneeling in prayer.”   

In verse fifty-five as he faces the Altar of the LORD, Solomon stands up and with a loud voice blesses the assembly of Israel.  Townsend Commentary notes that “to “bless the people” was the exclusive privilege of the priests (Numbers 6:23-27). Solomon’s “blessing” here was actually a prayer of blessing and praise to God.”  So it may seem as if Solomon is taking on priestly roles by leading the nation in prayer and seemingly blessing the people but he is not a priest and he performs all his acts of dedication and worship outside this newly built temple.  

In verse fifty-six Solomon declares “Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel.”  When Solomon speaks of this rest that the LORD has given, he is talking about peace in the land.  Solomon is praying that the unified nation would now enjoy a time of rest from war with its neighboring nations.  The Pulpit Commentary notes that “only under Solomon were the Philistines brought into complete subjection.”  This should be a time of peace and prosperity.  There is no need for a mobile tabernacle housed in a tent that can be moved from place to place.  If the nation is at peace they can have a permanent Temple – a building that doesn’t need to be moved.  Solomon continues – “not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses.”  Solomon is once again reminding the people that God is a covenant keeper.  God keeps God’s promises. 

In verse fifty-seven Solomon asks God to be with them as God was with his ancestors.  In other words, Solomon wants God to be the God that parted the Red Sea, he wants God to be the God that defeated Pharaoh’s Army, he wants God to be the God that blessed a young David to kill a giant named Goliath.  Solomon wants God to be with them the way God was with his ancestors.  He knows God is a miracle working God, a way-making God, and an omnipotent God.  Solomon continues, “may God not leave us nor forsake us”. Again, Solomon knows that if the people of Israel are to enjoy this rest, the presence, the power, and the protection of God must be with them.  

In verse fifty-eight Solomon says “that God may incline our hearts to God”.  He knows that they must be committed to God. Their hearts must be inclined to God not just in word and deed but in spirit also.  When their heart is inclined unto God and not unto their own ways and not unto the ways of the neighboring nations, then God will be their God and God will be their deliverer.  

In verse fifty-nine Solomon essentially says, let these words, these prayers I’ve prayed, these supplications I’ve made, let these words be close to you oh God.  He says this so that God might keep the cause or give success to Solomon and to the people of Israel.  

In verse sixty Solomon says “that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God.”  Solomon is standing before a newly built Temple. He has had a worship experience in the presence of God.  Solomon knows that God is the God of this universe and not just the God for Israel. In verse forty-three he said “43 then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and so that they may know that your name has been invoked on this house that I have built.”  Solomon wants God to show God’s self as not just the God of Israel but the God of all who will call upon God’s name.  

In verse sixty-one Solomon closes his blessing with a plea to the people to be completely devoted to God, keeping God’s statutes and commandments.  Solomon knows that if his people are to be blessed, that they will have to keep the covenant, to remain faithful, and to keep the commands of God.

Context

Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms defines “bless/blessing” as “to praise, petition for Divine favor, wish someone well, or convey favor.  Used biblically to describe God’s actions, as in the frequent blessings that Jesus conferred on people. A closing blessing or benediction has traditionally been a feature of Christian worship.”  

Our text today highlights Solomon offering a blessing that is really directed to God.  In what ways do we petition God for favor, to wish someone well or to convey favor? Are we blessing others also?  Or are we focused on requesting blessings only for ourselves? 

Key Word

The Sacrificial System – Scott Langston and E. Ray Clendenen write in The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary that Leviticus 1-7 gives the most detailed description of Israel’s sacrificial system, including five types of sacrifices.  The sacrifices and offerings that were brought by the people were to be the physical expression of their inward devotion. Those five types of sacrifice include 1) Burnt offering, 2) Grain offering, 3) Peace Offering, 4) Sin Offering, and 5) Guilt or Reparation Offering.  They continue noting that “the prophets spoke harshly about the people’s concept of sacrifice. They tended to ignore faith, confession, and devotion thinking the mere act of sacrifice ensured forgiveness.” 

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  When the LORD gives you rest.   

2.  Obedience and sacrifice.  

Question:  

Solomon made over 140,000 sacrifices at this dedication ceremony (vs 63).  Is there a sacrificial system in use for Christians today?  

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week, is the first lesson of Unit Three in the Winter Quarter.  The title of Unit Three is Jesus Teaches About True Worship. There are four lessons in Unit Three and three of those lessons will come from The Gospel According to Matthew.  Next week’s lesson is titled Single Minded Obedience and comes from Matthew 4:1-11.  

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Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 19, 2020) Solomon’s Dedication Prayer / Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing 1 Kings 8:22-30, 52-53

Solomon’s Dedication Prayer / Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson Solomon may be in a Temple dedication service, but worship, prayer, and praise is the focus.  In Solomon’s dedication prayer he seeks God’s blessings making nine specific petitions to God. I can’t stress enough that this is a worship experience.  Solomon and the people experience a theophany – that is the visible manifestation of God. God has made God’s self visible in the thick cloud that filled the Temple.  Solomon faces the Temple raises his hands toward heaven and begins to pray his prayer of dedication. He knows exactly who he is praying to. Solomon is praying to the creator of the universe, who already owns all and knows all.  Solomon has no basis upon which to request anything except God’s beloved mercy. As he prays he makes known his nine petitions and leads the people in prayer before God’s presence. Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Altar

Dedicate

Background:  

This is the third lesson of four from 1 Kings eighth chapter.  The background of the previous two lessons revolved around:

  • The similarities between 1 and 2 Chronicles and 1 and 2 Kings
  • How Chronicles uses Kings as a source
  • How Kings covers almost 400 years of history
  • When each edition of Kings was written (pre-exilic and during the exile)
  • How Kings is a theological interpretation of the Monarchy and of the kings of Judah and Israel until the reign of Ahaziah
  • And a brief explanation of God’s dwelling places

In this week’s background I focus on the major divisions of 1 Kings and what dedication means.

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains “1 and 2 Kings can be divided into three mains sections:  the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 1:1-11:43); the divided monarchy (1 Kings 12:1 – 2 Kings 17:41); and the Kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 18:1-25:30).”  The focus of unit two of our study is dedicating the Temple so I’ll only highlight the first of the three major divisions. 

The reign of Solomon did not start with a smooth transition from his father David.  When King David was old “Adonijah exalted himself saying I will be king” (1 Kings 1:5).  Joab (David’s nephew) and the priest Abiathar supported Adonijah but the priest Zadok, Benaiah, the prophet Nathan, and David’s own warriors did not side with Adonijah (1 Kings 5-8).  Of course high drama ensues between the competing camps. In this struggle for power the winner is not who would ordinarily have succeeded.  After interventions from Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba, Solomon one of the younger sons of David, is anointed King and ascends to the throne.  

Before his death King David gives Solomon instructions, including who to kill and who not to kill (chapter 2).  After David dies, Solomon consolidates his power, prays for wisdom, and becomes famous for his wisdom all before building the Temple.

Solomon builds the Temple according to the instructions given to him.  The NISB notes “the construction began in the month of Ziv (april – may).  The Temple was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high with three rooms:  The vestibule or entrance was 30 feet by 15 feet, the nave, also known as the holy place was 60 feet long; the inner sanctuary, also known as the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high, a perfect cube.  I encourage you to watch the “Temple” YouTube video created by The Bible Project.  It does a good job explaining aspects of God’s temple. 

Many years after the death of his father King David, King Solomon is in the process of dedicating this newly built Temple.  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define dedicate as “to consecrate or set apart for a specific use or function.  Often used in a religious context to indicate the devoting of life and energies to a specific vocation, task, or service.”  The specific use of this new Temple would be the permanent home of God. It would be the place for God to dwell among and with the nation of promise and covenant. Solomon knows that regardless of how magnificent, grand, and opulent this new Temple is, it is all useless if God does not inhabit the Temple.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains “in the Old Testament people who were set apart included all israel (Exodus 19:5, 6), the priests (Exodus 29:1-37), the altar in the Tabernacle (Num. 7:10-88), silver and gold (2 Sam. 8:11)” as well as other people and things.  Today we dedicate buildings, people, and things that have been set apart for the service and use of God.  

Our focus last week was how God keeps God’s promises and God honors God’s covenants.  This week Solomon prays a prayer of dedication as we continue in the dedication service surrounded with worship, praise, and prayer.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Altar

Dedicate

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week.    

In last week’s lesson Solomon spoke to the assembled congregation in the midst of a worship experience.  Solomon gave a speech that reminded the congregation of his father King David’s heart. He reminded them that it was his father’s heart’s desire to build a house for the LORD God of Israel.  God may have made the covenant with King David but Solomon was now the King standing before the nation of Israel to make that dream a reality. Finally, after many years Solomon had secured a permanent place for God to dwell.  Even though it took many years for Solomon to achieve, God keeps God’s promises and God honors God’s covenants. Solomon honored God, acknowledged his father and he blessed (or salutes) the people in this worship experience. God occupied the Temple in the presence of a thick cloud and the dedication continued.  Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “Solomon’s Dedication Prayer”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing”. The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:22-30, 52-53.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse twenty-two.  Solomon stands as he begins his prayer of dedication.  Keep in mind that Solomon is the King. He is not the high priest, nor a Levite nor a priest.  Yet he is leading the gathered leaders, officials, elders, and people of the nation.  He is standing before the Altar of the LORD which is outside the Temple. Even though he is King, he still has no place inside the Temple.  As Solomon stands, he spreads forth his hands toward heaven. This is a worship experience!  Solomon and all the people have just experienced a theophany – the visible manifestation of God to humans.  They know that God is in their presence.  God has manifested God’s self in the thick cloud and now Solomon stands up, raises his hands toward heaven and begins his prayer of dedication.  

In verse twenty-three Solomon begins his prayer addressing God with words that could never be more true.  He says “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath.”  God is above all, in all, omnipotent and omniscient.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways.  Truly there is no god and no one, that can compare to the God Solomon has just experienced.  Solomon acknowledges that God keeps God’s covenants and God’s love is steadfast or unchanging.  

In verse twenty-four Solomon’s prayer mentions the Davidic covenant.  He talks about how God made the covenant with God’s servant David and how God promised with God’s own mouth to fulfill the covenant.  Solomon acknowledges that the covenant is fulfilled that day by God’s hand. The NISB explains that “the Davidic covenant declared that the LORD chose David to be king and had chosen David’s city to be the location of the Temple.” 

In verse twenty-five Solomon makes the first of nine petitions in his dedicatory prayer.  He prays that God would honor the Davidic covenant and forever have a descendant of David on the throne of Israel.  But also notice that he says “if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.”  In other words, Solomon recognizes that in order to have this blessing that THEY had to keep God’s commands. In Solomon’s prayer there are obligations and responsibilities that must be adhered to by the people of Israel.

In verse twenty-six Solomon continues by saying “let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant, my father David.”  Solomon is simply saying O LORD God, do what you said you would do. Or let it be the way you said it would be.

Solomon begins verse twenty-seven with a rhetorical question.  He asks “will God indeed dwell on the earth?” Solomon knows who he is praying to.  He knows that God is the creator of the heavens, the earth, and all that dwells therein.  He acknowledges that even with all of its glory, majesty, and opulence, this temple as great as it is can not contain God of all creation.

In verse twenty-eight Solomon pleads the case for another of the nine petitions he mentions through verse fifty-three.  Here, Solomon asks God to hear his prayer. He says “that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house.” In other words, whenever God’s people are praying toward this Temple that God would hear their prayer.  In my own prayers I often ask God to hear my prayer and move on my behalf. I get the same sense from this prayer of Solomon. He wants God to hear not only his prayer but the prayers of all of Israel and be their God protecting and delivering God.  

Verse twenty-nine begins with “that your eyes may be open.”  In previous verses Solomon spoke of God’s hand and God’s mouth.  Now he gives the uncontainable God of creation eyes. This is called anthropomorphism.  Westminster’s define it as “the attribution of a human quality to God, such as “eyes,” “hands,” or “arms.”  It uses analogous and metaphorical language (Gen. 3:8, Ps 18:15).” Again, Solomon knows who he is praying to.  But sometimes, mere words are inadequate to express what God can and should mean to us. He wants God’s “eyes” to be open to the Temple so that God can see the worship and hear the prayers of God’s own people as they pray and worship at the Temple.  Solomon declares this because this is the place where God has set God’s name.  

In verse thirty Solomon again pleads for God to hear his prayer and the prayer of God’s people when they pray toward the Temple.  But note that he continues “hear in heaven your dwelling place.” All of the people of Israel have spent enormous amounts of resources to create this Temple specifically as a symbolic place for God to dwell.  Solomon is not confused. He knows that the God of the universe cannot be contained in a mere building built with human hands. So he asks God to hear their prayers even in God’s dwelling place in heaven.  

The lesson skips to verses fifty-two and fifty-three where Solomon again anthropomorphizes God by saying “let your eyes be open”.  Solomon has made his requests known to God in prayer.  In this close of his prayer he pleads again that God would hear his prayer and the prayers of the people of Israel.  In the verses before fifty-two he made nine petitions to God. He closes by again asking God to hear his prayer.   

Context

Solomon offers a prayer of dedication.  In his prayer he makes nine petitions but I think Solomon understood that even with all of the magnificence of the Temple and all of the gold and silver and wealth of the Temple and of his own personal wealth, that he still had nothing with which to bargain with God.  Solomon knew who he was praying to. He knew that he could only plead on the basis of God’s beloved mercy. Likewise we can’t bargain with God. We have nothing with which to bargain. God already owns it all. The Temple was a magnificent and beautiful edifice set apart for service to God.  But in all of Solomon’s petitions he still knew that it would be God and only God if any of them came to pass. We can ONLY plead on the basis of God’s beloved mercy.

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion):  

Altar- The raised place on which sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament period.  In many churches, a raised table as the place where the bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated.  

Dedicate – To consecrate or set apart for a specific use or function.  Often used in a religious context to indicate the devoting of life and energies to a specific vocation, task, or service.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  Dedicated to You.      

2.  Laying it all before God.            

Question:  

Solomon makes nine petitions in his prayer of dedication.  On what basis did he believe God would answer his prayer?  

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week, again, we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off.  As we study the final lesson of Unit Two with its theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we will study Solomon’s blessing.  The lesson is titled “Solomon’s Blessing” and “Solomon Anticipates Praise”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:54-61. 

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Christianity, religion, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (December 15, 2019) Building God’s House / David’s House 1 Chronicles 17:1, 3, 4, 11-14; 21:18, 21-27

David’s House / Building God’s House 1 Chronicles 17 and 21

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  This week’s Sunday School Lesson features the roles King David, the Prophet Natan, and the Angle of the LORD play in building God’s house.  Across the years God had been good to David and now David wants to honor God by building a house for the Ark of the Covenant. David soon finds out that God has other plans.  Instead of David building God a house, God would build an eternal house for the dynasty of David. David meant well, and he was well capable of building a house for the Ark. But just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Covenant

Prophet

Background:  

This is the third lesson in Unit Three where we are considering how David honors God.  It is also our third lesson in 1 Chronicles. The background highlights from the previous two lessons include how 

  • Most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.
  • This book was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles.
  •   I also discussed of the three major themes in this book the concern for continuity with the past is perhaps most important.  

The focus for this week’s lesson is building God’s house.  What would eventually become the central place for the presence and worship of God started out in the tabernacle built by Moses.  The Ark of the covenant of God was then housed in a tent made by David. As we see in this week’s lesson David desires to build a temple that honors God but God had other plans.  God’s other plans are related to one of the three theological themes that continually appear in 1 Chronicles (NISB).

The concept of retribution or retributive justice is the third theological theme in 1 Chronicles and is related to this week’s text also.  Retribution or retributive justice is the idea that good will be rewarded and evil will be punished. However, the NISB notes that this concept is “neither as mechanical nor as simplistically applied as previously thought”.  For example, when Satan incited David to conduct a census it displeased God and God struck Israel with a plague. God’s retribution for David’s sin was the plague. But note also that God is concerned with repentance and restoration.  When David repented of his sin God stayed the hand of the destroying angel. Note also that although David is called a man after God’s own heart, he would not be allowed to build a Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant of God.  That would be a job God would assign to David’s son. David’s life was known for bloodshed and war (1 Chronicles 22:8).

The portions of our lesson in the seventeenth and twenty-first chapters of First Chronicles deal with God’s Covenant with David, and David’s Altar and Sacrifice.  Keep in mind the Chronicler is giving his listeners a history lesson. This text closely follows 2 Samuel 7:1-29. The Chronicler is reminding them of how God used David and Solomon to build what was a magnificent Temple.  The people the Chronicler is talking to no longer have the tabernacle and they no longer have the Ark of the covenant of God. But they do have what remains of the Temple and they can come together to rebuild it to its former glory.  

God’s covenant with David promises him an eternal dynasty.  After David’s death God will raise up and establish one of David’s descendants to rule on the throne forever.  David’s selection and payment for the altar and his sacrifice of burnt offerings and offerings of well-being “concludes the first half of his preparations for the construction of the Temple.  

 Some important words to consider from this text include:

Covenant

Prophet

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:

Last week I noted how the Chronicler wrote to show David’s gratitude.  I noted how it was important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they had been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future was still bright with God on their side.  The Chronicler wanted the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon was their God and they were God’s people.  He wanted them to know that even though their forebears fell into sin and were punished; God had not forsaken them.  They had been through great pain and distress and they wanted to know their place in the universe. They were back in Jerusalem and they wanted to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor was still their God.  

Last week’s lesson opened at verse eight of 1 Chronicles 16 with David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Verse eight began by exhorting the recently returned people to give thanks, to call on God’s name, and to make known God’s deeds among the people.  After going through what they had gone through the Chronicler reminded them of how King David gave thanks and called on God. I noted how the point for us was to know that when God has been good to you, you ought to tell somebody.  The Israelites had been hurt and defeated but now they were back in Jerusalem and the Chronicler wanted them to know that somebody ought to praise God for it.  

In verse nine I noted how Praising God is active whether singing with a loud voice or a quite praise.  But more so when we begin to talk about the wondrous works that God has done for us, praise just happens.  

Verse twelve told us to remember God’s marvelous works, God’s wonders and the judgements of God’s mouth.  I noted how It’s good to remember. It’s good to remember what God has done for you. It’s good to remember how God brought you through.  It’s good to remember when and where God delivered you.  Remembering the mighty and marvelous works of God in our own lives leads us to a grateful heart and a thankful praise.  

I noted how verse twenty-one is a verse I’ve often heard quoted referring to preachers and other ministers of God.  Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm does not mean every preacher or minister is above criticism or even condemnation whey they are outside God’s will.  In other words, it’s not a get out of jail free card for preachers or ministers who are in the wrong.

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five declare that God is great and greatly to be praised.  I noted how a great God deserves a great praise. And a great praise will tell the saints and sinners what God has done.   

Verses twenty-six and twenty-seven closed the Townsend Commentary lesson with David’s psalm reminding the people that idol gods are essentially useless.  Idol worshipers can talk, but God worshipers can point to the heavens and the earth to declare that their God made the heavens and the earth and this God deserves all the glory and all the honor.  

This week’s lesson continues the story of how the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD came to have a house.  The plans for what would eventually become the Temple begin with King David. But King David would not be the one to build the place to house the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD.  Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “Building God’s House”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s House”. The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 17:1,3,4 11-14; 21:18, 21-27.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 17 with verses one, three, and four.  In verse one after David is settled in his luxurious house he tells the prophet Nathan about his desire to build a house for the Ark.  David knows how good God has been to him. He is living in luxury and the Ark is in a tent. God has brought David from the fields as a young shepherd boy and now that David has arisen to King and made his throne in Jerusalem he wants to honor God with a house he believes suitable for the Ark.  Even though David has good intentions, he means well, and he is well capable of building a Temple, God does not approve of his plans. I think that helps us to understand that sometimes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There are things we are well capable of doing, but we need to make sure it’s in God’s will for our lives.  

The lesson picks up at verses eleven and twelve with David learning that after he has joined the ancestors, God will raise up from his descendants a dynasty.  A son that will rule on the throne. David meant well, he had good intentions and was well capable of providing a house for God but it turns out that God would be the one providing a “house” for David.  In Verse twelve the Chronicler recounts David learning that it will be one of his sons that will build a house for God and that God will establish his throne forever.  

In verses thirteen and fourteen the Chronicler recounts the prophet Nathan saying how God will be a father to David’s son and how God will not take his love from him, as God did with Saul.  He also recounts God establishing the covenant with David. How David’s dynasty will be established forever. God’s covenant with David didn’t require anything from David. David is not required to meet any responsibilities or obligations.  This covenant is simply based on who David is and what God wants to do through David.  

The lesson then moves to chapter twenty one, verse eighteen where the angel of the Lord tells Gad to tell David that he should erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Or’nan.  The Angel of the Lord is a messenger of God. Altar is defined as “The raised place on which sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament”. So while the tabernacle and the Ark of the covenant is significant, so is the altar upon which sacrifices are made to God.  The location of this altar is divinely chosen.

In verses twenty-one and twenty-two David meets Or’nan and asks for the site to build the altar.  He offers to pay full price and adds “so that the plague may be averted from the people”. This plague was retribution from God for David’s sin.  See verses one through seventeen concerning David’s census and the plague.  

In verse twenty-three Or’nan tells David to take it.  But not only does Or’nan offer the threshing floor, he offers the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for a grain offering.  Or’nan has already seen the Angel of the Lord and he knows this is important. When King David shows up Or’nan freely and willingly offers anything and everything that might be helpful for God’s purposes.  Or’nan doesn’t hesitate or equivocate, he gives for the purpose of God. In verse twenty-four King David tells Or’nan he will buy all of it for full price. David doesn’t want to offer a cheap sacrifice to God.  He knows how good God has been to him and he knows he can afford to bless Or’nan with the full price and much more.  

In verses twenty-five, twenty-six, and twenty-seven David paid Or’nan six hundred shekels of gold by weight.  This was not just for the threshing floor but for the whole site on which the temple will be built. Note Second Samuel 24:24 to compare and contrast the two payments made.  David builds the altar, he presents burnt offerings and he presents offerings of well-being. God responds with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. In some cases fire from heaven is a purifying force.  David has repented of his sin, God has accepted his repentance and God stays the hand of the angel.   

Context:

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Although David had good intentions it was not David’s destiny to build a Temple for the Ark of the Covenant of God.  Sometimes having good intentions just isn’t good enough. David desired to honor and bless God with a house he thought was more suitable but God wasn’t having it.  That’s the point. It may not be our place to do every good thing that crosses our mind. We should first prayerfully seek God and then seek the counsel of wise saints of God.  If you believe God is saying yes and saints filled with wisdom are in agreement then you’re off to a good start. 

Key Characters in the text: 

King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend).  

Nathan the Prophet – A prophet in the court of David.  David informs Nathan of his plans to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant.  Later, Nathan informs David that God would not accept his plans but would instead build a house (dynasty) for David.    

Key Words:  

Covenant– A formal agreement or treaty between two parties that establishes a relationship and in which obligations and mutual responsibilities may be enacted.  

Prophet –   One who speaks on behalf of God to God’s people, most prominently the Hebrew prophets whose writings are found in the Old Testament.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

When God changes your plans.        

Question:  

David refused to take Or’nan’s gift without payment.  Do all sacrifices cost us something?      

Concluding Thought:

The Chronicler is writing to people who no longer have the tabernacle nor do they have the Ark of the Covenant.  But they do have what remains of the Temple. He writes to give them purpose and a mission to both recall the former glory and to strive for the restored and future glory of God’s place and presence among them in a rebuilt and restored Temple.    

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Sunday School Lesson (December 8, 2019) A Heart Filled With Gratitude / David’s Gratitude 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27

A Heart Filled With Gratitude / David’s Gratitude

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Sunday School Lesson The Chronicler writes to show us David’s gratitude and how we can have a heart filled with gratitude.  The Chronicler writes an encouragement for the children of Israel to keep hope alive.  It’s important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they have been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future is still bright with God on their side.  The Chronicler wants the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon is their God and they are God’s people.  He wants them to know that even though their forbears fell into sin and were punished; God has not forsaken them.  They have been through great pain and distress and now they want to know their place in the universe.  Now that they are back in Jerusalem they want to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor is still their God.  The Chronicler gives them a history lesson that shows the greatness of God and the great blessings of God when God’s people live in obedience.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms: 

Gratitude

Psalm

Background: 

As I noted last week most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.  Last week I explained how this book was originally named “The Events of the Days” was later named “The Things Omitted” and then finally named First and Second Chronicles by the translator of the fourth century Latin Vulgate.  What I did not mention last week are the theological themes that continually reappear in this text.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes these three themes as

“The concern for continuity with the past.”

“A concern for “all Israel.””

“The chronicler retains from Samuel and Kings the concept of retributive justice.”

The concern for continuity is perhaps the most important of these three themes.  Chronicles is written after the children of Israel have been defeated, exiled, and then returned to Jerusalem.  Chronicles is written to the post-exilic community (those who remain or have come back after the exile to Babylon).  The NISB notes “following the Persian defeat of the Babylonians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, [the Israelites have] returned from Babylon to live under Persian rule in Jerusalem and worship in the rebuilt Temple.”  Dr. Renita J. Weems writes in The Africana Bible Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora “the writer [creates] a narrative that instilled a sense of mission, national pride, and divine purpose in a people that had once been displaced from their homeland and robed of their cultural memories.”  Dr. Weems continues “the Chronicler was eager to inspire the inhabitants of Judah to hope again and to throw themselves behind a national effort to rebuild and to restore order to their homeland.”  So it’s important for the Chronicler to help this nation understand that even though they have been defeated and taken captive in the past, that the future is still bright with God on their side.

  I think the one verse that captures that image more than any other in this text 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  The Chronicler wants the Hebrew nation to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of King David and King Solomon is their God and they are God’s people.  The Chronicler wants them to know that even though their forbears fell into sin and were punished; God is still their God. 

The NISB explains “instead of asking “Why did this happen to us?” they want to know about their relationship with the past:  “Who are we?” “Are we still the people of God?” “What do God’s promises to David and Solomon mean for us today?””  So, these are a people who have suffered and endured great pain and distress.  They no longer rule themselves; they have been ruled by the Babylonians and now they are ruled by Persians.  They need answers about their place in the universe and the Chronicler writes to help them understand their relationship with their painful past and their present God.  This sixteenth chapter of First Chronicles deals with the Ark of the Covenant of God placed in the tent David prepared for it and David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  This chapter is the “conclusion to the Chronicler’s Ark narrative and it institutes public worship (NISB).”  Additionally, the NISB notes that David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving quotes portions of Psalm 105 and Psalm 106. 

Some important words to consider from this text include:

Gratitude

Psalm

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:

In Last week’s Lesson King David worshiped God in Jerusalem in ways that had never been done before.  David’s worship was heartfelt and sincere.  He had built luxurious houses for himself and the city of Jerusalem.  And he wanted the Ark of God in Jerusalem also.  David wanted to honor God.  He was determined to get the ark of God in Jerusalem so all Israel could worship God with the symbolic presence of God in their midst them.  David gave the Levites specific instructions; he told them to bring singers, musicians, trumpets, harps, lyres, and cymbals.  David was going to have a grand celebration, he was going to honor God and he was going to worship God with all Israel joining him in a great and grand celebration of thanksgiving and praise. 

Last week I also quoted Townsend commentary and Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms noting that “the city of David was originally known as Zion or Jerusalem” and that Zion is “used in the Old Testament for all or part of Jerusalem. 

I noted how carrying the ark of God was the responsibility of the Levites and David had already learned from his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem that the rules had not changed.  God had not changed God’s mind about who was to minister to God. 

Verse sixteen gave us an idea of the kinds of instruments that would be used along with singers all from the Levites.  There would be singers playing on musical instruments, there would be harps, lyres, and cymbals to raise loud sounds of joy.  This was going to be a grand celebration worthy of the occasion.  The lesson then skipped to verse twenty-five.

In verse twenty-five David and the elders of Israel, and the commanders of thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with rejoicing.  I noted how David included the elders of Israel.  He was king and he had absolute authority, but he did not neglect the elders nor did he neglect the leaders of his military.  This was a celebration for all of Israel.

This week’s lesson continues last week’s with the Ark of the Covenant of God now placed in the tent David had prepared.   

Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “A Heart Filled With Gratitude”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s Gratitude”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27. 

What Takes Place in This Passage: 

The Lesson opens at verse eight with David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define psalm as “A hymn, sacred song, or poem.  The Book of Psalms (the Psalter) is composed of 150 religious poems of prayer and praise of ancient Israel, arranged in five books.” 

Verse eight begins by exhorting these recently returned people to give thanks, to call on God’s name, and to make known God’s deeds among the peoples.  After going through what they have gone through the Chronicler reminds them of how King David gave thanks and called on God.  The point for us to know is that when God has been good to you, you ought to tell somebody.  These people had been hurt and defeated but now they are brought back to Jerusalem and somebody ought to praise God for it. 

Verse nine continues with “sing, sing psalms unto God, talk of all God’s wondrous works.  These are action words.  Praising God is active whether singing loud voice or a quite praise.  But more so when we begin to talk about the wondrous works that God has done for us, praise just happens. 

Verses ten and eleven tell us to glory in God’s name, to rejoice, and to seek the LORD.  In these first four verses I see a lot of glory, a lot or rejoicing, a lot of seeking God.  This is a clear example of a grateful heart.  David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving flows from a grateful heart. 

Verse twelve tells us to remember God’s marvelous works, God’s wonders and the judgements of God’s mouth.  It’s good to remember.  It’s good to remember what God has done for you.  It’s good to remember how God brought you through.  It’s good to remember when and where God delivered you.  Remembering the mighty and marvelous works of God in our own lives leads us to a grateful heart and a thankful praise. 

In verses nineteen, twenty and twenty-one, David’s psalm reminds the people that the children of Israel didn’t start out as a mighty and strong nation.  They came from humble beginnings.  From those humble beginnings with the help of God they grew into the mighty nation that King David once ruled.  In verse twelve the psalm told them to remember.  Now, in these verses the psalm tells them what to remember. 

Verse twenty-two just like verses nineteen through twenty-one is a word for word quote from Psalm 105: 12-15.  Twenty-one is a verse I’ve often heard quoted referring to preachers and other ministers of God.  Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm does not mean every preacher or minister is above criticism or even condemnation whey they are outside God’s will.  In other words, it’s not a get out jail free card for preachers or ministers who are in the wrong.

Verse twenty-three elevates the praise from personal to all the earth.  Psalm 24:1 reminds us “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”  It tells us to proclaim God’s salvation day after day.  In other words, never forget how God delivered you. 

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five declare that God is great and greatly to be praised.  In other words, a great God deserves a great praise.  And a great praise will tell the saints and the sinners what God has done.  Everybody ought to know that God has been good, that God has delivered and that God is great above all other gods. 

Verses twenty-six and twenty-seven close the lesson with David’s psalm reminding the people that idol gods are essentially useless.  Idol worshipers can talk, but God worshipers can point to the heavens and the earth to declare that their God is the one true God.  It is their God who has made the heavens and the earth and this God deserves all the glory and all the honor. 

Context:

Townsend commentary defines the Hebrew word for rejoice as “being glad; associated with dancing, singing, clapping, playing, and external movement consistent with festival celebrations.  In other words, rejoice is party language.”  At first glance I found the description of party language a bit amusing.  But I had to ask myself why?  Parties aren’t inherently bad and it’s great that God’s people know how to party in the Lord.  A heart filled with gratitude and should lead us to want to party for the LORD.

Key Characters in the text:

King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend). 

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion): 

Gratitude – The response to God and God’s blessings that is an expression of praise and devotion.  In the Christian context, believers respond in gratitude for the “indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:19) of Jesus Christ, who is the supreme expression of God’s grace. 

Psalm – A hymn, sacred song, or poem.  The book of Psalms is composed of 150 religious poems of prayer and praise of ancient Israel, arranged in five books.    

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

1.  A great God deserves a great praise.      

Question: 

1.  Remembering what God has done for you is important.  Do you remember a time when mother or father couldn’t do it?  But God did.    

Concluding Thought:

The Chronicler writes to encourage the children of Israel to keep hope alive.  They have been through great pain and distress and now they want to know if God is still on their side.  Now that they are back in Jerusalem they want to know if the same God that brought King David to power and King Solomon to great splendor is still their God.  The Chronicler gives them a history lesson that shows the greatness of God and the great blessings of God when God’s people live in obedience.  The same God who reassured the broken and defeated people of Israel back then is here to reassure us today.

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

The lesson for December 15th continues just as last week’s lesson by going to the very next chapter in Chronicles.  Next week in chapter 17 and chapter 21 I will consider the Chronicler’s description of the roles of The Prophet Nathan and King David as David desires to build a Temple for God.  Public worship has been instituted and now David believes the people need a Temple to worship God that’s worthy of God’s greatness.  The lesson is titled “Building God’s House” and “David’s House”.  The text is taken from 1 Chronicles 17:1, 3-4, 11-14; 21:18, 21-27.    

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Christianity, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (December 1, 2019) David Worships God in Jerusalem / David’s Worship 1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 14-16, 25-29a

David’s Worship / David Worships God in Jerusalem 1 Chronicles 15

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Sunday School Lesson King David worships God in Jerusalem in ways that had never been done before.  David’s worship is heartfelt and sincere.  David has built luxurious houses for himself and the city of Jerusalem.  And now he wants the Ark of God in Jerusalem also.  David wants to honor God.  But this isn’t the first time David tried to bring the ark to Jerusalem.  This time, he is determined to get it right and get the ark in Jerusalem so all Israel can worship with the symbolic presence of God among them.  David gives the Levites specific instructions; he tells them to bring singers, musicians, trumpets, harps, lyres, and cymbals.  He and the Levites dress in fine linen robes.  This is going to be a grand celebration.  David is going to honor God.  He is going to worship God and he intends for all Israel to join him in this great and grand celebration of thanksgiving and praise.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms: 

Honor

Worship

So this is the first lesson of the Winter Quarter.  And I just want to say, as we approach the holiday season, please be kind to others.  I just want to remind all of us that the holidays in particular can be difficult for some people who now have to go forward in life without their loved ones.  If you notice someone really struggling, if you can, help them to get help.  So that’s just a reminder for all of us as we approach the holiday season.  It’s a great season of love and joy but not everyone is celebrating all the time.  Remember to be kind to others.

Background: 

Most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes that the original composition was entitled “The Events of the Days”.  “The translators of the Septuagint (LXX) divided it into two books assuming it was a supplement to the earlier history of Samuel and Kings, and gave it the misleading title “The Things Omitted””.  The Septuagint is the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek completed approximately a century before Christ by seventy-two men (Septuagint).  It was the Bible of the early church and included the Apocrypha.  As it turns out, Chronicles is not supplemental or merely additional material that adds to Samuel and Kings.

The NISB notes that the Chronicler “is more selective than supplemental in his use of Samuel and Kings”.  Dr. Renita J. Weems writes in The Africana Bible Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora that “the fourth-century translator of the Latin Vulgate suggested that the name “Chronicon or “A Chronicle of All of Sacred History” more aptly described the book and thus gave it the name “Chronicles””.  So these two books began as one book entitled “The Events of the Days”, was later renamed “The Things Omitted”, and later still renamed to what we now have as First and Second Chronicles.  The NISB notes that no one knows who the original chronicler was.  Nelson’s Bible Handbook proposes the author was Ezra but acknowledges not all scholars accept the theory of Ezra’s authorship. 

Dr. Weems also notes the book / books cover “a period stretching all the way from Adam to Cyrus the Great (538 B.C.E)”.  So this text has had several names and as Dr. Weems also notes was “edited in its final form during the fifth-century Persian domination”.

The fifteenth chapter of 1 Chronicles deals with King David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem.  This isn’t the first attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.  On the first attempt God was angered when Uz’zah put out his hand to hold the ark when the oxen shook it (1 Chron. 13:10).  This time David ensures only the Levites touch the Ark.  Townsend Commentary notes that “While only the Levites could carry the Ark, David involved the entire nation in the celebration.” 

David has prepared a tent for the Ark of God.  After David built luxurious buildings for himself and the city of Jerusalem he recognized that the symbolic representation of God was not in the city.  David wanted the Ark of God in the city of Jerusalem.  It would be a grand celebration.  A celebration worthy of what David thought was best for what this ark represented among them.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Honor

Worship

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:

Last week’s lesson opened with 2 Peter 1 verse 1.  At verse one Peter described himself as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.  I noted how Apostle is a high title today and the point is you don’t get too high or too big to serve.  I also noted how Peter explained the righteousness of God and precious faith was given by God.  It’s precious in the sense that a price has been paid for this righteousness.  The righteousness of God and Jesus Christ is not cheap.  It’s been purchased with the precious blood of God’s only begotten son, Jesus who is the Christ. 

I also noted how even in the salutation, he knows his death is coming.  But he wants these saints to know God’s grace and peace in abundance.  We all need grace.  We all need peace.  I noted how we can have all the riches of this world, but if you don’t have peace you don’t have much of nothing

I noted how in verse four Peter tells the saints through knowledge and God’s precious promises they are able to escape the corruption of this world.  I don’t know how bad corruption was in Peter’s time.  But I know it’s bad today.  Corruption, violence, sickness, and disease seem to be on every hand.  If there is any chance to escape any of this corruption Peter wanted the saints to know about it and to be able to participate in what he called the divine nature. 

In verses five, six and seven Peter was essentially saying because of this corruption make every effort to support and strengthen your faith.  Then he lists these seven actions – goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love.  I noted how these may not be a road map to holy living but they are certainly building blocks on which holy living can be built.  I also noted how I like how these seven building blocks start with faith and end with love.   

Verse nine told us the problem saints have when they don’t have these building blocks.  It says if anyone lacks these things they are nearsighted and blind and forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.  In other words they would forget where God had brought them from.  When you are grateful for what somebody has done for you, you don’t soon forget what they did.  We ought to be grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and not soon forget what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

In verses twelve and thirteen Peter told the brothers and sisters that he intended to keep reminding them of those building blocks.  He intended to keep reminding them of the path to holiness.  He intended to keep reminding them of the things they already knew.  Some things you don’t need anybody to remind you of, you already know it.  You just need to do it.  Peter is so concerned that he essentially said as long as he’s living he’s going to keep reminding them. 

Verses fourteen and fifteen closed last week’s lesson with Peter telling the saints that he knew his death was coming.  And not only was it coming, but it was coming soon because Jesus Christ had made it clear to him.  Peter knew what he was facing.  He knew what lay ahead for him.  So while the blood was still running warm in his veins, he was going to do what he can do to help these brothers and sisters get on and stay on the right track with Jesus Christ. 

Last week Peter wrote to encourage and remind the saints to hold on and keep on holding on.  He outlined seven building blocks that moved from basic faith to a rich love that supports holy living.  The Apostle reminded the saints that God extends the invitation to faith in Jesus Christ to all people.  He reminded them that believers should confirm their salvation through Jesus Christ by carrying out God’s purposes.  He reminded them of how their faith is precious because it has been bought with a price.  This week we begin a new quarter with a new focus on honoring God in worship.  In this week’s lesson we consider the heart and attitude of King David as he desires a better place for the representation of God among the Israelites.  Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “David Worships God in Jerusalem”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “David’s Worship”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 14-16, 25-29a. 

What Takes Place in This Passage: 

The Lesson opens at verse one with the chronicler noting how David built houses for himself in the city of David.  Townsend Commentary notes that “the city of David was originally known as Zion or Jerusalem.  Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms explains that Zion is “used in the Old Testament for all or part of Jerusalem.  In both Old and New Testaments it refers to God’s heavenly city (Isa. 60:14; Heb. 12:22; Rev.14:1).  In the Christian church Zion is an image for heaven”.  So this helps us understand the long, deep, physical, literal and figurative relationship with this piece of land where David has pitched a tent for the symbolic representation of God to dwell.  Both in the Old Testament, New Testament and in the life to come Jerusalem is significant in the life of God’s people.  Note also that the Ark of God, the Ark of the Lord, and the Ark of the Covenant are the same thing.  Westminster defines it as “the chest carried by the Hebrews that contained the tablets of the law.  It was lost from history after the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Jerusalem (586 B.C.). 

In verse two David directs that no one but the Levites were to carry the ark of God.  This was a responsibility of the Levites.  Deuteronomy 10:8 says “at that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to him, and to bless in his name, to this day.”  David had already learned from his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem that these rules still apply.  God had not changed God’s mind about who was to minister to God.  I also noticed that the chronicler uses the ark of God and the ark of the LORD interchangeably. 

In verse three David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem.  In this verse the chronicler is careful to mention “all Israel”.  At this time David reigns over a united kingdom.  Later the kingdom would become divided into Southern and Northern Kingdoms.  The chronicler also now switches from the city of David in verse one to Jerusalem in verse three.  Townsend notes that the city was renamed city of David because this was where David was crowned king of Israel.  Our lesson skips verses four through thirteen which lists some of the descendants of Aaron and the Levites. 

In verse fourteen the priests and Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel.  Westminster notes that sanctify means to make holy by purifying from sin. 

In verse fifteen the Levites carried the ark of God on poles upon their shoulders.  It seems that this manner of carrying the ark is different than in chapter thirteen when it was possible for Uz’zah to put out his hand to hold the ark when the oxen shook it. 

Verse sixteen gives us an idea of what kind of instruments would be used along with singers all from the Levites.  There would be singers playing on musical instruments, there would be harps, lyres, and cymbals to raise loud sounds of joy.  This was going to be a grand celebration worthy of the occasion.  The lesson then skips to verse twenty-five.

In verse twenty-five David and the elders of Israel, and the commanders of thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom with rejoicing.  This wasn’t a celebration just for David.  Notice how he includes the elders of Israel.  David is the king and he has absolute authority, but he does not neglect the elders nor does he neglect the leaders of his military.  This is a celebration for all of Israel.  Townsend notes that the ark had been in the home of Obed-Edom for three months before it was brought to Jerusalem.

In verse twenty-six the chronicler notes that because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark, the Levites sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.  2 Samuel 6:12b-19 also describes this event but in a different way. 

Verse twenty-seven describes the clothing of David and the Levites and singers as a robe of fine linen. It also notes that David wore a linen ephod. 

Verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine (a) close this lesson with a description of how they brought the ark up.  It was with shouting to the sound of the horn, trumpets, cymbals and loud music on harps and lyres.  You get the idea that David really outdid himself with this celebration.  Not only did David intend to honor God by bringing the ark to Jerusalem.  He intends to worship God with a great celebration in the process.  It reminds me of Psalm 150:6 – Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD.  As Mi’chal looks out the window to see David praising God we are reminded that her father Saul did not honor God in the way David is doing. 

Context:

You have probably heard someone say “when praises go up, blessing come down.”  I like this saying.  I don’t know how theologically accurate it is and it certainly isn’t a scripture in the Bible.  But still… I like what it conveys.  God is worthy of our praise.  God is worthy of our praise in the good times and in the bad times.  We don’t praise in order to get blessings; we praise God simply because God is worthy.  Not only did King David honor God by bringing the ark to Jerusalem, he worshiped God with singing, dance, and praise.  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Key Characters in the text:

King David – The central figure as he conquers the City of Jerusalem and builds a place to keep the Ark of the Covenant (Townsend). 

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion): 

Honor – Glory or respect: it is also worship owed to God as the sovereign creator and redeemer.

Worship – The service of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition directed toward God through actions and attitudes. 

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

1.  When praises go up, blessings come down.      

2.  Let everything that has breathe praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6)             

Question: 

1.  David honored God by bringing the ark to Jerusalem.  In what ways do you honor God today?    

Concluding Thought:

Worship, honor, and praise are closely related in that all are a part of our life and interaction with God.  In each of these parts we have a heart of thanksgiving toward God.  It’s a heart of thanksgiving not only for what God has done and what God can do, but also for simply who God is.  Worship, honor and praise is personal.  To you, maybe God is your healer, or maybe God is your provider or your protector.  Whoever God is to you give God thanks, in worship, honor, and praise. 

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week’s lesson continues in the very next chapter of 1 Chronicles.  In Chapter sixteen the Chronicler reminds us to give thanks to God and to praise and worship God with gratitude.   The lesson is titled “A Heart Filled With Gratitude”.  The text is taken from 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 19-27.    

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Christianity, religion, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (November 24, 2019) Stick To Your Faith / Faith That Escapes Corruption 2 Peter 1:1-15

Stick To Your Faith / Faith That Escapes Corruption 2 Peter 1:1-15

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Sunday School Lesson Peter writes to essentially tell the saints to stick to your faith and to have faith that escapes corruption.  Peter is essentially saying if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.  Peter is concerned about these brothers and sisters.  In this first chapter he outlines seven building blocks that move from basic faith to a rich love that supports holy living.  The Apostle reminds the saints that God extends the invitation to faith in Jesus Christ to all people.  He reminds them that believers should confirm their salvation through Jesus Christ by carrying out God’s purposes.  He reminds them of how their faith is precious because it has been bought with a price.  The righteousness and faith of God and Jesus Christ is not cheap.  It’s been purchased with the precious blood of God’s only begotten son, Jesus, who is the Christ.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms: 

Corruption

Remember

Background: 

Just as in last week’s lesson in 1 Peter, the author of The Second Letter of Peter is also credited to its namesake – the Apostle Peter.  Jesus gives Simeon the name Peter in Matthew 16:18.  Peter is sometimes called Simon Peter because his name was originally “Simeon bar Jona” which means Simeon “son of Jona”.  Simeon is the Hebrew form of Simon.  The Aramaic name Cephas means “rock” and is translated “Peter”.  The Greek name Petros also means “rock” and is translated “Peter”.  So whether he is called Simon, Simon Peter, Cephas, or Petros he is still the same impetuous, hot headed, passionate, knife carrying fisherman from the outskirts of Galilee.  Also just as in last week, the authorship of 2 Peter is debated.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes “even more emphatically than in the case of 1 Peter, most interpreters doubt that the apostle was the actual author”.  Again, the Apostle may not have crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s but this letter conveys the thought and intent of the Apostle. 

This first chapter of 2 Peter deals with the Christian’s call and election.  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define “call, general” A term used by John Calvin to indicate the invitation God extends to all people to have faith in Jesus Christ.  It defines election as “God’s choosing of a people to enjoy the benefits of salvation and to carry out God’s purposes in the world (1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Peter 1:10).  So in this first chapter of 2 Peter, the Apostle is reminding us that God extends the invitation to faith in Jesus Christ to all people.  Secondly he reminds us that believers should confirm their salvation through Jesus Christ by carrying out God’s purposes.  As this chapter deals with the Christian’s call and election we should be mindful of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which makes our calling possible and the grace and mercy of God that extends the invitation to all humanity.  Peter writes this letter to remind the saints of this before his impending death.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Corruption

Remember

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:    

Last week’s Lesson was taken from 1 Peter 1 and opened at verse thirteen with Peter telling the scattered saints of Asia Minor to prepare their minds for action.  I noted how the King James Version says “gird up the loins of your mind” and that term gives you the picture of someone preparing to go to work.  So Peter was essentially saying discipline yourselves, prepare your minds for work, and set your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring when he returns.  I explained how Peter was essentially saying things might be tough right now but you just hold on a little while longer – Jesus is coming back and when he gets back he’s going to make things right.  The saints in Asia Minor were to endure their hardship and persecution with the hope of knowing that Jesus is going to set things straight when he returns. 

In verse fourteen I noted how important obedience was to holy living.  Peter had mentioned obedience in verse one and mentioned it again in verse fourteen.  So while the chapter was about holy living and encouraged the saints to live holy lives with a faith that is focused, we also saw how important obedience was to holy living. 

In verses fifteen and sixteen Peter quoted the Old Testament law of Leviticus 11:44-45 and 19:2.  He reminded them that God had already said “you shall be holy for I am holy.”   Peter was telling the saints to imitate God.  He reminded them that God is holy and since God is holy they should be also.  This was their call to holiness.  It was the central purpose of why he wrote 1 Peter.

In verse seventeen he reminded the saints to keep the faith during their exile.  He reminded them to have a reverent fear of God knowing that God would be their Judge when Jesus returns.  I noted how you might have heard the old folk say something like “I’m just a pilgrim passing through.”  That was the idea I got when I read this verse.  Peter was telling the saints you’re just passing though.  Do what you need to do, do what you have to do, to get through the other side.

In verses eighteen and nineteen he reminded them of the price that was paid by Jesus.  They were ransomed from the futile ways of their ancestors.  They weren’t ransomed with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ like that of a lamb without spot or blemish.  Peter was reflecting back on Old Testament practices of sacrificing animals as atonement for sins. 

In verse twenty Peter told us that Christ was destined before the foundation of the world.  That reminded us that God knows the ending before our beginning.  Peter wanted to reassure the saints that their suffering and persecution was not unknown to God.  And just as Jesus Christ was foreordained to suffer Calvary for the redemption of all humanity their present suffering was not lost on God and it would be made right in the coming return of Jesus Christ. 

In verse twenty-two Peter brought up obedience again.  He told the saints that their souls had been purified by their obedience to the truth.  It was because of this truth that Jesus Christ was coming again that they should have genuine mutual love and that they should love one another deeply from the heart.  So while this chapter told the saints to live holy lives with a faith that is focused, we also see how important obedience is to living holy.

In verse twenty-three he reminded the saints that they had been born again.  In the same way he reminded them in verse eighteen that they had been bought with the imperishable blood of Jesus Christ in verse twenty-three he reminded them that they had been born again with the imperishable seed of the living word of God. 

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five closed last week’s lesson with a quote from Isaiah 40:6-8.  Peter reminded the saints that life is fleeting.  But God is eternal.  I noted how this verse reminded me of the saying “only what you do for Christ will last.”  Everything we know about life is in transition.  It is either growing up or growing old, increasing or decreasing.  Life is fleeting but God is steadfast and eternal.

What Takes Place in This Passage: 

The Lesson opens at verse one with Peter describing himself as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.  These days apostle is a title, it’s not just a title but a high title.  So not only did Peter carry this title but he also called himself a servant.  The point is… You don’t get too big to serve.  Not only was Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ he was also a servant of Jesus Christ.  He continues by addressing those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.  It’s important to note that he says it is through righteousness of God and Jesus Christ that their faith was received and also that their faith was precious.  It’s precious in the sense that there is a price that’s been paid for this righteousness.  The righteousness of God and Jesus Christ is not cheap.  It’s been purchased with the precious blood of God’s only begotten son, Jesus who is the Christ. 

In verse two he mentions grace and peace be yours through the knowledge of God and Jesus.  Listen, Peter is talking to these saints.  Even in this salutation, this greeting in the second verse of the first chapter of this letter; he knows his death is coming.  But he wants these saints to know grace and peace in abundance.  We all need grace.  Grace is unmerited favor.  Grace is – I didn’t deserve it… But God gave it to me anyway; God blessed me anyway.  And we can have all the riches of this world, but if you don’t have peace you don’t have much of nothing.  Peter wants them to know the blessings of God’s grace and God’s peace. 

Verse three tells us God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life.  That’s living holy.  That’s what the godly life is, it’s living holy.  And we are able to live that godly life through knowledge of who called us.

In verse four Peter tells the saints through knowledge and through God’s precious and great promises they are able to escape the corruption of this world.  I’m not sure how bad corruption was in Peter’s time.  But I know it’s bad today.  Corruption, violence, sickness, and disease seem to be on every hand.  If there is any chance to escape any of this corruption Peter wants the saints to know about it and to be able to participate in what he calls the divine nature. 

In verses five, six and seven Peter is essentially saying because of this corruption make every effort to support and strengthen your faith with goodness, and strengthen your goodness with knowledge, and your knowledge with self-control, and your self-control with endurance, and your endurance with godliness, and your godliness with mutual affection, and your mutual affection with love.  This may not be a road map to holy living but these are certainly building blocks on which holy living can be built.  The foundation of these seven building blocks is faith and I like how it starts with faith and ends with love.  All of these seven actions are helpful with supporting faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and growing us to better saints. 

In verse eight Peter tells us why these building blocks are important.  He says if these seven action words are yours and they are increasing in you won’t be ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Verse nine tells us the problem saints have when they don’t have these building blocks.  It says if anyone lacks these things they are nearsighted and blind and forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.  In other words they forget where God has brought them from.  Listen; when you are grateful for what somebody has done for you, you don’t soon forget what they did.  We ought to be grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and not soon forget what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

In verses ten and eleven Peter tells the brothers and sisters to be eager to confirm your call and election.  In other words, he has laid out for them the building blocks, he has told them the actions they need to take, and if they follow the instructions they won’t have to worry about their calling and election from God.  And if they get this right, the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ will be theirs. 

In verses twelve and thirteen Peter tells the brothers and sisters that he intends to keep reminding them of these building blocks.  He intends to keep reminding them of the path to holiness.  He intends to keep reminding them of the things they already know.  Listen; some things you don’t need somebody to remind you of, you already know it.  You just need to do it.  Peter is so concerned that he essentially says as long as he’s living he’s going to keep reminding them. 

Verses fourteen and fifteen close this lesson with Peter telling the saints that he knows his death is coming. And not only is it coming, but that it’s coming soon because Jesus Christ has made it clear to him.  Peter knows what he is facing.  He knows what lay ahead for him.  So while the blood is still running warm in his veins, he is going to do what he can do to help these brothers and sisters get on and stay on the right track with Jesus Christ. 

Context:

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.  Peter is telling these sisters and brothers to stick to your faith.  There are some things that are yes or no, black or white and no grey area in between.  The building blocks Peter lays out for these saints will help them navigate the grey areas of life.  The areas were the answer is yes but also, or no but on the other hand.  Through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, though the knowledge of Jesus Christ and God’s word we have the building blocks to stick to your faith and to have faith that escapes corruption.    

Key Characters in the text:

Peter – One of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Originally named Simon, Peter was a Galilean fisherman, the son of John and brother of Andrew.  (Townsend)

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion): 

Corruption – The theological description of the manifestation and result of human sin. 

Remember – a verb – To have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past).

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

1.  If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.    

2.  I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord (Psalm 77:11)             

Question: 

1.  How have you had to take a stand for your faith? 

Concluding Thought:

We have to stick to our faith to have faith that escapes corruption.  Corruption in this life seems to be everywhere.  It is our reminder that there is a new heaven and a new earth that we can look forward to one day.     

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week begins the first lesson of the winter quarter.  Through the months of December, January, and February the overarching theme will be honoring God.  Next week we move to the Old Testament book of Chronicles and explore how David honors God by bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The lesson is titled “David Worships God in Jerusalem”.  The text is taken from 1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 14-16, 25-29a.    

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Sunday School Lesson (November 17, 2019) Live Holy Lives / Faith That is Focused 1 Peter 1:13-25

Live Holy Lives / Faith That is Focused

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Sunday School Lesson 1 Peter is written to the scattered saints in Asia Minor to encourage them to live holy lives with a faith that is focused.  In what is modern day Turkey these saints were being persecuted, mistreated, and misunderstood.  This letter is written to encourage them, to tell them to keep the faith, and to let them know that God knows about their suffering.  They are encouraged to keep on holding on because their suffering can be endured in the hope of Jesus Christ.  When Jesus returns, things will be made right.  Just as last week’s lesson encouraged the Thessalonians to imitate Paul, Silas, Timothy and Jesus; this week’s lesson encourages the saints to imitate God.  Peter reminds them to be holy just as God is holy.  It is the central point and purpose of why this letter is written.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms: 

Holy

Truth

Background: 

The author of The First Letter of Peter is credited to its namesake – the Apostle Peter.  Peter was a Palestinian fisherman who was well known for being impetuous, hot headed, and passionate for what he believed.  Of all of the twelve disciples of Jesus, Peter is perhaps the most well-known.  Peter was also one of the first disciples, coming after John and Andrew (John 1:35-42).  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes

“Although attributed to Peter, modern scholars debate 1 Peter’s authorship because the Greek used in this letter is among the most literary and sophisticated of the entire New Testament, an accomplishment unlikely for a 1st-century Palestinian fisherman, even if he did speak some Greek.  Additionally, personal references in the letter to Peter’s own experience as a follower of Jesus are rare and oblique.  It is more probable this letter was written in Peter’s name by someone influenced by his ministry.  This person evokes the apostle’s authority on behalf of the letter which was not unknown in the ancient world and in the Bible itself.  This was a sign of reverence for the attributed author’s authority.”

So the authorship is debated but this letter still carries the thought and intent of the Apostle Peter.  Peter likely didn’t dot the I’s and cross the T’s but the thought and intent of the letter is likely his.

This first chapter of 1 Peter is a call to holy living.  Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms define “holy” as that which is regarded as sacred or able to convey a sense of the divine.  Also, that which is set apart for God’s will or use or that which is godlike by being spiritually whole, well, pure, or perfect.  Townsend commentary defines “holy” as saint; pure; or morally blameless.  The idea of holiness is that it is not what is common to humans.  In other words, holiness does not come in the absence of God’s presence.  1 Peter 1:1 tells us this call to holy living is written to the exiles of the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1).  These exiles are Christians who had been scattered abroad because of persecution.  Peter writes to encourage them even in the face of hardship.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Holy

Truth

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week:    

In Last week’s Sunday School Lesson the Apostle Paul showed us faith that set an example and the Thessalonians showed us how to be examples of the faith.  Paul began his letter with thanksgiving for how the Thessalonians had kept the faith and endured despite the suffering and persecution they experienced.  He complimented their faith, how they had turned from worshiping idols to the true and living God, how the whole region knew about their faith, and how they had imitated him and ultimately Jesus Christ.  These Thessalonians were doing the work.  Paul patted them on the back for doing the work so well, and they deserved the accolades and compliments he bestowed upon them.  They were imitators of Christ. 

I noted how Paul wanted them to know that he is praying for them.  And if you really believe in the power of prayer, that had to be a comforting feeling.  It had to be a comforting feeling to know that the person who organized their church, the one who led them to Christ, was praying for them. 

I noted how Paul remembered them.  He remembered their work of faith, their labor of love, and steadfast hope in Jesus Christ.  And that was important because sometimes it takes work to have faith.  Sometimes it takes labor to have love, and sometimes it takes patience to have hope.  Paul remembers them and it’s good to remember good things.  These Thessalonians were doing good things and Paul wanted them to know, that he knew.

I noted how Paul gave the Thessalonians an enormous compliment.  He told them that they were an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  And if you are an example to all the believers in the place where you live, that’s high praise and that’s saying something. 

I also noted how these Thessalonians deserved their pat on the back.  They were being persecuted!  But they didn’t give up and they didn’t give in.  They persevered and kept the faith and endured the hardship of living a faithful life in Christ.  They deserved Paul’s praise and it was clear that Paul was proud of how they were holding up.  

Last week Paul showed us faith that set an example and the Thessalonians gave us a glowing example of the faith.  Paul wrote an inspiring letter to encourage the Thessalonians.  This week Peter writes to encourage the scattered Christians of Asia Minor to live holy lives with a faith that is focused.  In the same way Paul told the Thessalonian’s to imitate him, Silas, Timothy and Jesus now Peter tells the saints to imitate God by living holy.  Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “Live Holy Lives”.  Standard Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Faith That Is Focused”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Peter 1:13-25. 

What Takes Place in This Passage: 

The Lesson opens at verse thirteen with Peter telling the scattered saints of Asia Minor to prepare their minds for action.  The King James Version says to gird up the loins of your mind.  Gird up the loins of your mind gives you the picture of someone preparing to go to work.  So Peter is essentially saying discipline yourselves, prepare your minds for work, and set your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring when he returns.  Peter is telling these saints to hope with expectation that when Jesus returns grace will rule.  He’s essentially saying, things might be tough right now but you just hold on a little while longer – Jesus is coming back and when he gets back he’s going to make it alright.  These saints are to endure their hardship and persecution with the hope of knowing that Jesus is going to set things straight when he returns. 

In verse fourteen Peter mentions obedience again.  He mentioned obedience upfront in this first chapter in verse 2.  So while this chapter is about holy living and encourages the saints to live holy lives with a faith that is focused, we also see how important obedience is to holy living.  It is an obedience to Jesus Christ not their former way of life. 

In verses fifteen and sixteen Peter quotes the Old Testament law of Leviticus 11:44-45 and 19:2.  He reminds them that God has already said “you shall be holy for I am holy.”  Again, this chapter is about holy living and Peter is telling the saints to imitate God.  He reminds them that God is holy and since God is holy they should be also.  This is their call to holiness.  It is the central purpose of why he writes this letter.

In verse seventeen he reminds them to essentially keep the faith during their exile.  He reminds them that God as Father, judges all people impartially according to their deeds.  That’s good news for those who live according to the ways of Jesus Christ.  And he continues that thought by reminding them that they should have a reverent fear of God knowing that God will be their Judge when Jesus returns.  You might have heard the old folk say something like “I’m just a pilgrim passing through.”  That’s the idea I get when I read this verse.  Peter is telling them you’re just passing though.  Do what you need to do, do what you have to do to get through the other side.

In verses eighteen and nineteen he reminds them of the price that was paid by Jesus.  They were ransomed from the futile ways of their ancestors.  They weren’t ransomed with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ like that of a lamb without spot or blemish.  Here, Peter reflects back on Old Testament practices of sacrificing animals as atonement for sins.  The blood of Jesus was a one-time sacrifice and for all humanity. 

In verse twenty Peter tells us that Christ was destined before the foundation of the world.  That reminds us that God knows the ending before our beginning.  Peter wants to reassure the saints that their suffering and persecution is not unknown to God.  And just as Jesus Christ was foreordained to suffer Calvary for the redemption of all humanity their present suffering is not lost on God and would be made right in the coming return of Jesus Christ. 

In verse twenty-one Peter continues the previous thought reminding the saints that through Jesus they have come to trust God because it was God that raised Jesus from the dead. 

In verse twenty-two Peter brings up obedience again.  He tells the saints that their souls have been purified by their obedience to the truth.  It is because of this truth that Jesus Christ is coming again that they should have genuine mutual love and that they should love one another deeply from the heart.  So while this chapter tells the saints to live holy lives with a faith that is focused, we also see how important obedience is to living holy.

In verse twenty-three he reminds the saints that they have been born again.  In the same way he reminded them in verse eighteen that they had been bought with the imperishable blood of Jesus Christ here he reminds them now that they have been born again with the imperishable seed of the living word of God. 

Verses twenty-four and twenty-five close this lesson with a quote from Isaiah 40:6-8.  Here Peter reminds the saints that life is fleeting.  But God is eternal.  I’m reminded of the saying that “only what you do for Christ will last.”  Everything we know about life is in transition.  It is either growing up or growing old increasing or decreasing; life is fleeting but God is steadfast and eternal.    

Context:

Something must happen for us to live holy lives or have faith that is focused.  Neither can happen without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  It is the spirit of God that makes us able to live holy.  One definition of holy is being morally blameless.  Our morals, ethics, beliefs, and principles are based in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Like these saints in Asia Minor, we have hope in a returning Jesus Christ who will reward the morally blameless when he returns.  Like them we don’t know the day nor the hour but we do know by faith that Jesus is coming back. 

Key Characters in the text:

Peter – One of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Originally named Simon, Peter was a Galilean fisherman, the son of John and brother of Andrew.  (Townsend)

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion): 

Holy – that which is regarded as sacred or able to convey a sense of the divine.  Also, that which is set apart for God’s will or use or that which is godlike by being spiritually whole, well, pure, or perfect.

Truth – That which accords with reality or is genuine.  The Hebrew Old Testament emphasis is on trustworthiness and reliability, supremely God’s (Deut. 32:4).  In the New Testament, Jesus is truth (John 14:6).  The church seeks to understand the truth of God’s revelation in Scripture. 

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

1.  Enduring the hardship for the prize. 

2.  Being holy in an unholy land.             

Question: 

1.  The saints in Asia Minor fully expected the return of Jesus Christ to set right the persecution and suffering they had experienced.  Is there a difference from their expectations and ours?

Concluding Thought:

How can we live holy lives?  We can live holy lives with a faith that is focused on living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Both holy living and focused faith are the keys to every saint’s success in this life.   

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week’s lesson comes from 2 Peter first chapter.  In this lesson we remain on the topic of faith and how it leads to holy living.  Next week’s lesson is titled “Stick To Your Faith”. 

If you want to support this work I accept correspondence and gifts at

1590 Jonesboro Rd SE

Box 150032

Atlanta, GA  30315