Christianity, religion, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 12, 2020) Solomon’s Speech / Solomon Speaks To The People 1 Kings 8:14-21

Solomon’s Speech / Solomon Speaks To The People 1 Kings 8

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s lesson Solomon speaks to the people in the midst of a worship experience. Solomon’s speech reminds them of his father King David’s heart.  He reminds them that it was his father’s hearts desire to build a house for the LORD God of Israel. God may have made the covenant with King David but it would be King Solomon that would build the Temple and secure a permanent place for God to dwell.  Even though all of this took many years God keeps God’s promises and God honors God’s covenants. In this worship experience Solomon honors God, acknowledges his father and he blesses (or salutes) the people. God has occupied the Temple in the presence of a thick cloud and now the dedication can proceed.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Omnipresence

First Temple Period

Background:  

This week’s lesson begins where last week’s lesson ended.  The four lessons of Unit Two are focused on dedicating the Temple of God.  Each of these four lessons come from 1 Kings Eighth chapter. So in this week’s  background I will highlight some of the broad background of Kings and then focus on the history of the Temple.

I mentioned last week how the New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains that Kings covers “almost 400 years of Israel’s history, from the ascension of Solomon to the throne, before the death of David, to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.”  This book containing almost 400 years of history has several editions. The NISB notes that “Kings was composed in different stages. The first edition was finished in the pre-exilic time, probably before the death of Josiah.  A second edition was written when the Jews were in exile, around 550 BCE, a few years after the release of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 25:27-30).”  

The NISB also notes “as a historical book, 1 Kings is a theological interpretation of the monarchy and of the kings of Israel and Judah until the reign of Ahaziah.  The book describes the kingdom under Solomon and gives the religious reasons for the division of the united monarchy (1 Kings 11:1-13).”  You probably remember that King David united the kingdoms of Judah and Israel but under the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam the united kingdom would divide.  The writers of Kings provide theological reasons for why the kingdom divided.  For example, “every king in the Northern Kingdom allowed the religious innovation of Jeroboam to remain and as a result each was judged as having done what was evil.”  In other words, the kings in the Northern Kingdom of Israel did not follow the ways of God like the kings in the Southern Kingdom of Judah and for the writer of Kings, this explains their continuous downfall and evilness.   

Since this unit is focused on dedicating the Temple I provide a brief history of God’s dwelling place also.  In Exodus 25:8 God tells Moses “Have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them”. Moses built a tabernacle (tent).  The NISB notes “The plans for the tabernacle were a pattern of the Lord’s heavenly home. Construction of the tabernacle allowed the LORD to descend to earth; thus it connects heaven and earth.”  So the tabernacle was a temporary home for the presence of God and was a connection point between God’s heavenly abode and earth.  Moses built the temporary tabernacle. About 500 years later King Solomon would dedicate a newly built permanent Temple to God. This Temple is known as the First Temple.  Dr Stephen Breck Reid notes in The Africana Bible Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora 

“When the northern kingdom, Israel split off, it developed its own temple (922 BCE).  When the colonial Persian Judean regime wanted to consolidate their power, they refurbished the temple (515 BCE).”  What Dr Reid calls the colonial Persian Judean regime is when Zerubbabel returned with the exiles and rebuilt the first Temple.  Zerubbabel’s rebuilt Temple marks the beginning of the Second Temple period and that lasted until 70 CE. Dr Reid continues “Through poor intelligence, the Seleucids believed they could transform the temple into a Greek/Hellenistic temple without any political consequences (168 BCE).  Herod the Great again consolidated his power with the people through an extensive expansion of the temple (20 CE).  The Roman general Titus has his army sack the temple (70 CE).”

So over time the place for God to dwell transitioned from the Tabernacle that Moses built to the Temple that Solomon built.  The Temple that Solomon built would eventually be destroyed and the place for God to dwell would transition to every believer in Jesus Christ.  First Corinthians 3:16 reminds us “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  

In Acts the 7 chapter before Stephen was stoned to death he reminded his persecutors

44 “Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, (Stephen is talking about the tabernacle) 46 who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands;…” 

And that’s Stephen’s record before he is stoned to death reminding us that now, God does not dwell in houses made with human hands. God is omnipresent and now dwells within every believer in Jesus Chirst.  

Our focus last week was how King Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant from Zion to the newly built Temple.  This week Solomon speaks to the people as he continues the dedication of this newly built Temple.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Omnipresent

First Temple Period

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

In last week’s lesson Solomon finally had a place for the Ark.  Solomon summoned the Ark from Zion to the newly built Temple in Jerusalem.  Cherubim and the shekinah glory of God were highlighted in the text as the entire nation of Israel participated in the dedication of the new Temple.  It was about 40 years earlier when King David dreamed of a great Temple for God’s permanent dwelling place.  David had the dream, but his son Solomon fulfilled the dream.  The hebrew people had worshiped at the non-permanent tabernacle for about 500 years.  Now the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the ancestral houses would lead the procession and dedication of this magnificent new permanent Temple.  The tabernacle was the symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites, now that symbol would be the Temple.  This Temple would become the national sanctuary.

Last week, Solomon finally had a place for the permanent Temple.  This week he speaks to the people as he dedicates what God had provided for God’s own dwelling place according to God’s promise.  Solomon recognizes the role God plays in making this dedication possible and he recognizes the people of God who were the hands and feet God used.  Townsend and  Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “Solomon’s Speech”.  Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Speaks To The People”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:14-21.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse fourteen.  The writer begins with “then the king turned”  Solomon turned because he had been facing the Temple where the priests could not stand and the shekinah glory of the Lord had filled the Temple.  Keep in mind that this is a worship experience. God manifested God’s self in a thick cloud and filled the house of the LORD. The priests couldn’t stand, the glory of the LORD filled the house, and Solomon along with the people are no doubt in amazement of the presence of God filling the Temple.  

Solomon turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel.  Townsend Commentary notes that “Solomon’s “blessing” of the people is a loose use of the word since it was typically priests, not kings, who were authorized to pronounce a blessing on the people.”   Townsend continues, “Solomon was really expressing a blessing to the LORD.”  

In verse fifteen, Solomon offers praise to God.  Again, this is a worship experience. Solomon declares the LORD God of Israel to be blessed and declares that God with God’s hand (or power) has fulfilled what God promised to his father David.  Solomon knows that God keeps God’s promises. Even though God made the promise to Solomon’s father, and even though it took many years to finally fulfill, God is still a promise keeper.  

In verse sixteen Solomon recalls the words of God spoken to his father David.  Solomon tells the gathered assembly how God had not chosen a city from the tribes of Israel since God brought them out of Egypt.  But when God chose David to be over his people things changed. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures by John Peter Lange et al explains “after He had chosen David to be king, and brought His people by him to the full and quiet possession of the promised land, it was fitting that He, as well as the nation, should have an abiding dwelling-place.”  

In verse seventeen Solomon reminds the assembly how his father David had it in mind to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.  Solomon is reminding them of his father’s hearts desire. King David’s heart was in the right place, he had good intentions to honor and glorify God’s name with a permanent house.  

In verses eighteen and nineteen Solomon recalls how the LORD acknowledged David’s good intentions but nevertheless denied David’s desire.  Solomon is recalling the history that has led them up to that present moment. Solomon wants them to know that this is the LORD’s doing and it didn’t just start with him.  It started many years ago with a King who was a man after God’s own heart.

In verse twenty Solomon declares that the LORD has kept the promise and that he has fulfilled his part to build God’s house.  Solomon has risen in the place of his father, he now sits on the throne of Israel, and he has built the house of the LORD his father desired.  David dreamed the dream and it was David’s heart’s desire, but his son Solomon is the one who completes the dream.  

This lesson closes at verse twenty-one with Solomon proclaiming that he has provided a place for the ark.  It is in fact, a magnificent place. The ark Solomon puts in this magnificent place represents the covenant of the LORD that God made with Solomon’s ancestors.  He is essentially saying this has been a long journey. A journey all the way from when God brought us out of Egypt. But God is here now and this is where God belongs.   

Context

Fidelity is defined as “faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.”  I think the operative term in this definition is “demonstrated by”.  Faithfulness must be demonstrated. Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day, week, month and year God demonstrates faithfulness to God’s people.  

Solomon understood and recognized God’s fidelity.  God is a promise keeper. The promise may have been made to his father King David, but it was through Solomon that the promise would be kept.  God honors God’s covenants and God keeps God’s promises.  

Key Words:  

Omnipresent – God as an infinite spirit being everywhere present in the cosmos (ps 139:7-10; Jer 23:23-24).  

Temple, Jerusalem –   The structure in Jerusalem that was the center of worship and the national life of Israel from the 10th century B.C when it was built by Solomon, until its destruction by Rome in A.D. 70.  It was rebuilt twice and had three periods, during which the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod stood.   

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  A promise keeping God.    

2.  Complete and wholehearted devotion (dedication).          

Question:  

Solomon dedicates the new Temple to God.  What can we personally dedicate to God?   

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off.  As we continue studying Unit Two’s theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we see the second part of what Solomon has to say as he addresses the assembly of Israel.  Next week Solomon’s prayer of dedication links the Davidic Covenant and the covenant at Mount Sinai. The lesson is titled “Solomon’s Dedication Prayer” and “Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:22-30, 52-53.    

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Christianity, Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (January 05, 2020) A Place For The Ark / Solomon Summons The Ark 1 Kings 8:1-13

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Happy New Year and welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this first lesson of the new decade Solomon finally has a place for the Ark.  Solomon summons the Ark from Zion to the newly built Temple in Jerusalem.  Cherubim and the shekinah glory of God are highlighted in the text as the nation of Israel participates in the dedication of the new Temple.  About 40 years earlier King David dreamed of a great Temple for God’s permanent dwelling place.  David had the dream, but his son Solomon would fulfill the dream.  After worshiping at the non-permanent tabernacle for about 500 years the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the ancestral houses lead the procession and dedication of this magnificent new permanent Temple.  The tabernacle was the symbol of God’s presence among the Hebrew people, now that symbol would be the Temple.  This Temple would become the national sanctuary. Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Shekinah

Cherubim

Background:  

In this week’s lesson we remain in the Old Testament moving from First Chronicles to First Kings.  In the same way First and Second Chronicles were originally one book, First and Second Kings were originally one book also.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains, Chronicles like Kings, were divided into two books when the “Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek” by the septuagint.

As I discussed last week, the book of Chronicles comprises two of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament.  Just as in Chronicles, the book of Kings also comprise two of the twelve books of history in the Old Testament. The NISB explains how Kings covers “almost 400 years of Israel’s history, from the ascension of Solomon to the throne, before the death of David, to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.”  I also noted how the books of Samuel and Kings were sources the Chronicler used to write Chronicles. So in some ways, the Chronicler retells the same stories as Samuel and Kings but the Chronicler is focused on different aspects of those stories.  The Chronicler retells these stories because he wants his listeners to know that this God – the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and the God of King David and King Solomon is still their God and that they are still God’s people.  

The NISB notes Kings covers almost 400 years of Israel’s history.  To comprise this history, Kings uses several sources. Those sources include “the Book of the Acts of Solomon (I Kings 11:41); The Books of the Annals of the Kings of Israel (mentioned 18 times beginning with 1 Kings 14:19; and the books of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (mentioned 15 times beginning in 1 Kings 14:29).  The NISB also explains “Other unnamed sources were also used, some of which provide information about the prophets Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and other prophets.” Those 400 years of history include familiar stories such as Solomon’s wisdom as he deals with two women and a baby, how the united monarchy divided, Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah Ascending to Heaven, Elisha and the widow’s oil, the fall and captivity of Judah and many others.  

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 our lesson today tells the story of how the Ark of the Covenant was brought up from David’s tent to the completed Temple Solomon prepared. Some important words to consider from this text include:

Shekinah

Cherubim 

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

In last week’s lesson the Chronicler wrote about King David’s prayer.  As David sat before the Ark of the Covenant, he was probably in awe of what God was doing in his life.  He was probably in awe of what it meant for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name.  I mentioned how I had a picture in my mind of David entering the tent, sitting down, and simply saying God, you’ve been good to me.  David went into the tent, sat down in front of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and he prayed his prayer. He began by thanking and praising God for the present, then he looked back on what God had done and where God had brought him and the nation of Israel from.  And then he closed his prayer by looking toward the future. I also mentioned that as this decade draws to a close, David’s prayer is a good model for us. With the new decade on the horizon, entering the new decade in prayer should be a good way to get it started.  

Last week, David sat in the tent and prayed his prayer where the Ark of the Covenant was housed.  This week Solomon, David’s son, brings that same Ark of the Covenant up from his father’s tent to the magnificent temple he has built for the Ark.  What David dreamed of doing, his son now does. Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson “A Place For The Ark”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Solomon Summons The Ark”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Kings 8:1-13.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 8 verse one with the word “then”.  Then Solomon assembled the elders…  In the verse immediately preceding the eighth chapter the writer tells us in 7:51 “Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord.”  THEN Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites.  It seems obvious to me that Solomon would call the leaders and the heads of the tribes. What is not so obvious is why he would also call the elders of Israel.  These elders are senior citizens, not persons holding a religious office. I think this is an important recognition. We would be wise to acknowledge the shoulders upon which we stand today.  

Solomon assembles these elders and leaders because this Temple would become the national sanctuary.  All the tribes contributed to building this great Temple with all of its costly magnificence and grandeur.  This was the national sanctuary and it would replace the venerated holy tabernacle the Israelites had used for hundreds of years.  This Temple would replace the tent and become a permanent house for the symbolic presence of God.

Verse two notes that all the people of Israel assembled to Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.  Townsend Commentary explains this festival was the “Feast of Booths / Tabernacle and it was a week long celebration remembering the journey from Egypt to a permanent home in Canaan.”  Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms explains that there are three Old Testament or Hebrew annual feasts. They are the feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), Weeks (First Fruits), and Booths (Tabernacles).  

Verses three and four explain that the elders came and the priests carried the Ark.  Solomon remembered the lesson his father learned about who was permitted to carry the Ark.  The priests and the Levites brought up the Ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and the holy vessels that were stored in the tent.  It was the job of the Levites to handle the Ark of the Covenant and all the relics inside it. The Pulpit Commentary notes that the Ark of the Lord “had been nearly 40 years in the tent that David prepared.”  So David may have dreamed the dream of providing a permanent house for the Ark but it would take nearly 40 years between David’s preparation and Solomon’s completion.  

Verse five leaves us with a picture of literally hundreds if not thousands of animals being sacrificed on the move from the tent to the Temple.  Perhaps Solomon sacrifices these animals in an attempt to please God or perhaps it is an attempt to repent for the sins of the nation.  

In verse six the priests bring the Ark of the Lord to its final resting place in the inner sanctuary of the house.  This inner sanctuary is also called the most holy place or the holy of holies. The Ark of the Covenant rests beneath the wings of the Cherubim.  According to Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms, Cherubim is a Hebrew term for supernatural beings associated with sacred contexts in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Ezekiel 10:3; Heb 9:5).  I encourage you to check out the Angels and Cherubim YouTube video created by The Bible Project.  It does an excellent job explaining what these supernatural creatures are.

Verses seven and eight offer more detail about the construction and function of the Cherubim.  They spread their wings covering the Ark and its poles. Covering the Ark prevents it’s open appearance and/or provides shadow or darkness for the Ark.  

Verse nine tells us there was nothing in the Ark except the tablets of stone Moses placed there on Mount Horeb.  Hebrews 9:1-5 adds additional items. It reads:

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. 4 In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.

Verses ten and eleven describe the Lord’s presence when the priests come out of the holy of holies.  At this point, the Lord has come into the Temple and the Lord’s presence indicates God’s acceptance of the Temple as a permanent dwelling place in the same way God’s presence was represented in the tabernacle.  This filling of the Temple with the glory of the Lord in a cloud is God’s shekinah glory.  

In verses twelve and thirteen King Solomon closes this lesson telling us the Lord has said he will dwell in thick darkness.  This helps us understand that the presence of God is universal. Whether in light or darkness, God can be found and should be sought out.  Solomon closes by acknowledging that he has built an exalted house for God to dwell forever.  

Context

A new year, a new decade and a new YOU!

Many people bring in the new year with new year’s resolutions.  Some people pledge to lose weight, get in shape, budget better, spend more time with loved ones and a host of other meaningful and thoughtful desires.  It’s great when those resolutions are actually achieved. You can and should celebrate.

King David dreamed of a permanent Temple for the house of God.  But it took about forty years for that desire to come to reality and even then it wasn’t David that completed it.  Perhaps, if our dreams and goals are large enough to require family or community effort to achieve them, maybe… perhaps… we might make our world a better place.  

Key Words:  

Shekinah – A term that in the writings of the rabbis came to mean the presence of God.  It occurs as a manifestation (revelation) of God. Though not found in the Old Testament the term may be used in reference to God’s glory filling the Temple.    

Cherubim –   a Hebrew term for supernatural beings associated with sacred contexts in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Ezekiel 10:3; Heb 9:5).  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  Dedicated to You.    

2.  A new place to meet God.        

Question:  

In the new year and new decade are there new ways for you to dedicate yourself to God? 

Now, for the Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week we continue in the same chapter and pick up where we left off.  As we continue studying Unit Two’s theme of “Dedicating the Temple of God” we will see what Solomon has to say as he addresses the assembly of Israel.   The lesson for January 12th is focused on Solomon’s speech as he and the nation continue dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem. The lesson is titled “Solomon Speaks To The People” and “Solomon’s Speech”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:14-21.    

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Sunday School Lesson (December 29, 2019) David’s Prayer 1 Chronicles 17:16-27

David’s Prayer 1 Chronicles 17:16-27

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this last lesson of the decade the Chronicler writes about King David’s prayer. As David sits down before the Ark of the Covenant, he is probably in awe of what he is realizing.  He is probably in awe of what it means for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name. I have this picture in my mind of David entering the tent, sitting down, and simply saying God, you’ve been good to me.  David goes into the tent, sits down in front of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and he prays his prayer. He begins by thanking and praising God for the present, then he looks back on what God had done and where God had brought them from.  And then he closes his prayer looking toward the future. As this decade draws to a close, I think David’s prayer is a good model for us. There is a new decade on the horizon and entering the new decade in prayer is a good way to get it started.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Covenant

Dynasty

As always, we begin with the Background for today’s text:  

This week’s lesson takes us back to First Chronicles in the Old Testament.  This is our fifth lesson in the Winter Quarter and the fourth lesson from First Chronicles.  Just as a refresher, First Chronicles is one of the books of history in the Old Testament. The Old Testament begins with the five Books of Law, then we have the twelve Books of History followed by the five Books of Poetry, then the books of the Major Prophets, and then the Books of the Minor Prophets.  

One of the major points of First Chronicles is the Davidic Covenant which is also recorded in Second Samuel seventh chapter.  As we studied two weeks ago, the Davidic Covenant was established by God and promises that one of David’s descendants would be established in God’s house and in God’s kingdom forever (1 Chronicles 17:14).  As we studied last week, Jesus is that descendant.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.  

So just a quick refresher of the background material we have already covered with First Chronicles.  In this fifth lesson of Unit One of the Winter Quarter we continue to study how David honors God. Some of the highlights from the previous lessons background include 

  • Most scholars agree that First and Second Chronicles were originally one book.
  • This book of history 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.  In other words, the Chronicler wants them to know that God is still their God and they are still God’s people.
  • Additionally, this book was written after the Israelites had been defeated in battle by the Babylonians, exiled from their homeland, and then returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians.  

The focus for this week’s lesson is David’s prayer.  It is a continuation of the lesson from two weeks ago when God established the Davidic Covenant in this same chapter in verse fourteen.  God’s covenant with David didn’t require anything from David. David was not required to meet any responsibilities or obligations. This covenant was based on who David was and what God wanted to do through David.  The Davidic Covenant meant that through one of David’s descendants David’s throne would be established forever.

The Ark of the covenant of God is now in Jerusalem, housed in a tent prepared by David.  David’s desire was to build a temple that would honor God but God had other plans. Building a temple would be a job God would assign to David’s son Solomon.  Our lesson this week is about David’s prayer after he realizes how God is establishing an eternal dynasty with one of his descendants. David praises God in his prayer.  Some important words to consider from this text include:

Covenant

Dynasty

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

Last week’s Sunday School Lesson featured Mary the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth.  We saw a humble Mary who realized the significance and importance of what was about to happen to her.  She had come from little but after the angel Gabriel visits her she knew that she would hold a place in history.  Mary had a song in her heart and she sang the praise of a gracious and merciful God. Luke’s record of Mary’s praise helped us understand how the Lord is with us.  Emmanuel means God with us. Mary and Elizabeth experienced a miraculous intervention by God for the children they would birth. An old married woman beyond childbearing age and a very young unmarried, and at best teenage, Mary both conceived their children by the power of the Holy Spirit.  These two women had a Spirit filled encounter. Mary’s song described God as “a warrior and as a God who was merciful, who remembered the lowly, and cared for the needy.” In her patriarchal society Elizabeth was certainly needy and Mary was certainly lowly. Townsend, Boyd’s, and Standard Lesson Commentary title this week’s lesson “David’s Prayer”.  The scripture text comes from 1 Chronicles 17:16-27.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 17 verse sixteen at the beginning of David’s prayer.  David had sought to honor God but it turns out that for some reason, God has decided to honor David.  God establishes this eternal dynasty in David’s name and with this covenant David has no responsibilities or obligations that he has to fulfill.  God is just good to David and God has decided to bless David. David’s prayer is that God’s promise will be established forever.  

In verse sixteen David sits down before the Ark of the Covenant, probably in awe of what he is realizing.  He is probably in awe of what it means for God to establish an eternal dynasty that would bear his name. When David says “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far” David knows he isn’t worthy of this great blessing. He knows that this is God’s doing and this admission of “who am I” at least demonstrates some humility on David’s part.

In verse seventeen when David says “even this was a small thing in your sight O God” he’s talking about all that God had already done for him. David knows where God has brought him from.  He had to wait about 15 years from the time he was first anointed by Samuel to the time he became king over Judah. And then it was another seven years before David was anointed king over all Israel. So this journey to King over all Israel and establishing his throne in Jerusalem has been well over 20 years.  This wasn’t an overnight success for David.  He has worked long and hard to get where he is.  When David says “You regard me as someone of high rank, O Lord God!”.  I feel like he is saying God, you treat me so good.  David appreciates what God is doing in his life.

In verse eighteen when David says “you know your servant” he knows that God has been with him down through the years.  God was there in the heat of the day and in the cold dark nights. David gives thanks that God has honored him by blessing him with this dynasty.  

In verse nineteen when David says “all these great deeds and all these great things” he is acknowledging the greatness of this dynasty God has blessed him with.  He knows God has been and is a great God and does great things.  Keep in mind that this is David’s prayer.  In his prayer he tells God how great God is.  I think that’s a good example for us today. Not that God needs to know how great God is, but more so to help us keep our own lives in perspective.

Verse twenty begins with “There is no one like you O Lord”.  All I can really say about that is ain’t that the truth! There is no one like our God.  David continues by saying “according to all that we have heard with our ears.”  In other words, David is essentially saying I’ve never heard of anybody as good as my God is.  

In verse twenty-one as David sits before the Ark of the Covenant praying his prayer, he remembers the past of the nation of Israel and how God delivered Israel.  He remembers how God brought him from a small shepherd boy, and how God has brought this people from 12 brothers to this great nation that is now unified under him as their king.  

In verse twenty-two David declares God made Israel God’s people.  He praises God that since Israel is God’s people, God will be their God forever and if God is the God of Israel forever, David’s dynasty will last forever.  

In verse twenty-three David continues to give thanks.  In the previous verses David gave thanks for things in the present and things in the past; now in these last verses David looks to the future.  In this twenty-third verse he essentially says as far as what you have said about me and my house, do it Lord, just like you said you would. David knows that if his name will be a great name, it will be great because God made it great.  

In verse 24 David looks again to the future.  He calls God the Lord of Hosts which is a title for God that emphasizes God’s sovereignty over all creation and all creatures as well as God’s rule in history.  In other words, God is the God who rules over heaven and earth and has done these great things through Israel’s past. God has brought them to this present and God will see them through the future.  

In verse twenty-five as David says he has “found it possible to pray before God” he is essentially saying God, this is why I’m here.  David went in and sat down before the Lord. Today we might say something like “I’ve come with my head bowed and heart turned to you oh God.”  

Verses twenty six and twenty seven close the lesson with David closing his prayer essentially saying to God that it was God’s idea to give him this good thing.  He closes by essentially saying “I pray God that it pleases you, to bless me like this. And I pray that it will forever please you because you have blessed me and you are blessed forever.  

Context

You treat me so good!  

I think everybody wants somebody to treat them good.  When someone treats you good, it’s only right to at least try to show your appreciation.  Sometimes mere words don’t seem to be enough.  And when somebody is really, I mean really, good to you, all you can do, at least all I can do is thank God for them.  I hope somebody has been good to you.

When David walked into the tent to pray his prayer it was with the full knowledge of how good God had been to him and to his people.  I can imagine David sat in awe of the goodness of God.  I can imagine him thinking how good God had been to him down through the years.  At this point, all he could really do was thank God and give God praise.  

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.  

Dynasty–   a line of hereditary rulers of a country.  

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas:  

1.  You’re so good to me.  

2.  Pray your prayer        

Question:  

Christmas was a few days ago.  How can you show appreciation for gifts from friends and family and how can you show appreciation for the gift of Jesus Christ?        

I want to encourage you to go back to the December 1st lesson and read or watch it again.  I think it will really sharpen the focus of this final lesson in Chronicles.  

Now, for the Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

In the first lesson of the new decade we begin unit two.  In this unit we study dedicating the Temple of God. We’ve studied how David honored God with the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle, and now we continue with how God will be represented in this Temple made with human hands.  The lesson for January 5th is focused on King Solomon dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem.  The lesson is titled “A Place for the Ark” and “Solomon Summons the Ark”.  The text is taken from 1 Kings 8:1-13.    

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Sunday School, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (December 22, 2019) The Lord Is With You / Mary’s Praise Luke 1:39-56

Mary’s Praise / The Lord is With You – Luke 1:39-56

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  This week’s Sunday School Lesson features Mary the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth. We see an humble Mary who realizes the significance and importance of what is about to happen to her.  She has come from little but knows now that she will hold a place in history. Mary has a song in her heart and she sings the praise of a gracious and merciful God. In this encounter Luke records Mary’s praise and helps us understand how the Lord is with us.  These two women experience a miraculous intervention by God for the children they would birth. An old married woman beyond childbearing age and a very young unmarried, and at best teenage, Mary would both conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. These two women are about to have a Spirit filled encounter.  Mary’s song describes God as “a warrior and as a God who is merciful, who remembers the lowly, and cares for the needy.” I imagine both Mary and Elizabeth agree that God does indeed care for the needy.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms:  

Emmanuel

Praise

Background:  

This week’s lesson comes from the Gospel according to Luke.  Luke was a Gentile physician so he does not have Jewish heritage.  His perspective is unique. The New Interpreter’s Study Bible notes “The Gospel of Luke is most noteworthy for its length and the narrative of the birth of Jesus”.  

  • Luke is the longest book in the New Testament.  It has fewer chapters than Matthew and Acts but contains more verses and words.  
  • It’s narrative of the birth of Jesus is the most detailed of the four Gospels.
  •   The NISB also notes “its unrelenting interest in the marginalized and the dispossessed”.  
  • The NISB notes that “Although the other Gospels report many of the same events, more than half of Luke contains information that is found nowhere else.  Without Luke, certain periods of Christ’s life and ministry would be unknown to us”.  

So Luke is especially important because of its detail of certain events not covered elsewhere and its length.  

It’s important to know how Luke tells his story.  The NISB notes “The real beginning of the story of Jesus lies not with Jesus’ birth but in the ancient past, God’s ancient plan to bless the nations.  Luke as a Gentile picks up the scriptural story from Abraham and brings the scripture forward to his present day. The birth of John and Jesus is just the latest development in God’s plan” (NISB).  So in other words, Luke is making it real and present day for his listeners. He wants both the Jewish and Gentile community he is addressing to know that the life of Jesus is applicable and relevant to them.  And he ties it all to the crux of the Abrahamic covenant.  

       The author of the Gospel according to Luke is not named in the book.  Luke is likely written about 70AD. Additionally, Luke is a Gentile and not necessarily concerned with Jewish traditions.  Instead Luke is concerned with Gentiles. Notice that the angel Gabriel finds Mary in Nazareth of Galilee. “This was Gentile territory and neatly coincides with Luke’s birth scene, where Jesus is born among the common people” (Boyd’s Commentary).  Furthermore, Luke ties the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to the Hebrew Scripture so that all may understand Jesus as the Savior of the world (not just Israel). The NISB notes that Luke is the most socially minded of the gospels. Jesus cares for the poor, the hungry, and those who weep.  For Luke, the story of Jesus is absolutely connected to God’s ultimate and ancient plan to save the world through Jesus. Luke is telling us, this was God’s plan all along.     

Some important words to consider from this text include:

Emmanuel 

Praise

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

Last week’s lesson considered the roles King David, the Prophet Natan, and the Angel of the LORD played in building God’s house.  I noted how God had been good to David across the years and how David wanted to honor God by building a house for the Ark of the Covenant.  But David soon found out that God had 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 mean that you should. This week’s lesson takes us to the New Testament for the Gospel According to Luke’s account of Mary’s praise.  We see an humble Mary who realizes the significance and importance of what is about to happen to her. She has come from little but knows now that she will hold a place in history. Mary has a song in her heart and she sings the praise of a gracious and merciful God.  In this way, Mary honors God and she honors God with her belief. Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “The Lord is With You”. Standard Lesson Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Mary’s Praise”. The scripture text comes from Luke 1:39-56.  

What Takes Place in This Passage:  

The Lesson opens at Chapter 1 with verse thirty-nine.  In verses one through thirty-eight Luke addresses how the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus was foretold.  Here, at verse thirty-nine he describes Mary leaving with haste to visit a Judean town where she would find Elizabeth. Verse twenty-six notes that Mary is in Galilee.  So she travelled from Galilee to a Judean town in the hill country to visit Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. (just out of curiosity, I wonder if anyone knows how many miles that is)

In verse forty-one and when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, John the Baptist leaped in Eliazbeth’s womb.  Verse six told us that Elizabeth was already a righteous woman. Now, at the sound of Mary’s voice John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.  You can only imagine that these two women, who both share special miracles are about to have a grand and glorious time in the LORD. It took divine intervention for Elizabeth to conceive in her old age and it took divine intervention for Mary to conceive by the Holy Spirit.  In verse fifteen the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that Elizabeth’s baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. So not only was Elizabeth and Mary filled with the Holy Spirit, that holy child, John the Baptist was also.  

In verse forty-two Elizabeth exclaimed how greatly Mary has been blessed.  Elizabeth especially knows how great this blessing is since she had been barren for many years.  In Elizabeth’s patriarchal society, giving birth was one of the most important roles of women.  After all these years, Elizabeth now knows the blessing of being with child and she can share this joy with her young relative Mary.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible One Volume Commentary notes “it is especially remarkable the part played by two women and their conversation at the start of the narrative and anticipation of the end of the story, when women will be the first to proclaim Jesus’s resurrection (24:1-11).”  But in reality, women play an important role in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   

In verses forty-three and forty-four Elizabeth asks Mary “why has the mother of my Lord come to me, for as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting the child in my womb leaped for joy.”  So, we don’t know how she knows, but Elizabeth already knows that Mary carries the Savior in her womb.  

In verse forty-five Elizabeth continues with how blessed Mary is.  Elizabeth is describing Mary’s faith. She calls Mary blessed because unlike Elizabeth’s husband, when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary she believed immediately.  

Verses forty-six through fifty-three record Mary’s song.  This song is “known as the Magnificat and grounds her praise and God’s present activity in God’s faithfulness and ancient promise.”  In other words, this song of praise knows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant.  As we discussed in last week’s lesson, a descendant of David would sit on the throne for eternity.  Jesus Christ is that descendant.   

In verses forty-seven, forty-eight, and forty-nine, Mary declares that her soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God.  Mary is only a young woman. The NISB notes that “In Roman law the minimum age of marriage for girls was ten, and Jewish practices were similar.  Marriage generally took place before a girl reached twelve and a half.”  So while Mary might be a very young girl, she knows enough for her soul to magnify the Lord and her spirit to rejoice in God her Savior.  Not only that, but Mary is humble. Mary notes how God has looked with favor upon the lowliness of God’s servant. Luke helps us to know that God loves and cares for the humble and lowly people also.  This unmarried, at best teenage, young girl would become the mother of the Savior of the world.  

In verses fifty and fifty-one Mary’s song describes the mercy of God.  She knows that God has been merciful from generation to generation. As Elizabeth is now with child I can imagine that she could testify to the goodness and mercy of God. Elizabeth would especially agree with how God has “scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” after many years of being looked down upon by others for being barren.  

In verses fifty-two and fifty-three Mary’s song describes how God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry, and sent the rich away empty.  The NISB notes that Mary’s song describes God as “a warrior who engages in battle on behalf of God’s people and brings to them deliverance and as a God who is merciful, who remembers the lowly, and cares for the needy.”  I imagine both Mary and Elizabeth would agree that God is indeed a God who remembers the lowly and cares for the needy.  

In verses fifty-four and fifty-five her song describes how God helped Israel according to the promise made to their ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.  Mary is referring to the Arbrahamic covenant. God promised Abraham to make a great nation of him, and from him all the nations of the world would be blessed. Mary knows that the fulfillment of that covenant would be through her.  This unwed teenage girl has good reason to rejoice and for her soul to magnify God.  

Verse fifty-six closes the lesson noting that Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months before returning home.  Verse twenty-six noted the Angel Gabriel came to Mary in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy. So soon after Mary departs, Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptist.

Context:

Westmeinster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms define Emmanuel as a child in Isaiah’s writings, so named, as a sign of God’s presence and protection (Isa. 7:14, 8:8).  It is seen in the Gospel of Matthew as a prophecy of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ, who will be called “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). The conception and birth of Jesus Christ is a story of how God came to be with us.  Some call him Emmanuel. Others call him the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, the King of Glory, or the Prince of Peace. I like to call him Jehovah Jireh. I’ve known him to be a provider. Whether he is your provider, or healer, or way maker he is with us and we ought to do like Mary and give him praise.

Key Characters in the text: 

The Angel Gabriel – One of only two named angels in the protestant Bible.  The other is Michael. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel twice announces the birth of a son; first for the arrival of John the Baptist and secondly to the virgin Mary. 

 Mary – She is the young girl who conceives Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  She is considered an ideal believer because she did not doubt the Holy Spirit’s announcement of the conception of Jesus; she is obedient, believing, and faithful.  She is betrothed to Joseph.

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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 (November 3, 2019) Self-Examination / Faith That Is Tested 2 Corinthians 13:1-11

Self-Examination / Faith That is Tested 2 Corinthians 13:1-11

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and students! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Sunday School Lesson we see the Apostle Paul exhort the Corinthians to self-examination through his own faith that is tested.  Paul has had about enough.  This isn’t the first time he’s written to the Corinthians, it isn’t the second time he’s written and these Corinthians are seriously trying his patience.  At this point, Paul is likely frustrated.  He has had to deal with false accusations, he has had to deal with false theology, and he’s had to deal with personal attacks against him.  He’s had to deal with people questioning whether he’s really an apostle.  And he’s had to deal with sexual immorality with this church in Corinth.  Paul begins this letter to the Corinthians with a harsh warning and if they don’t get it together, he will be forced to show them what his authority as an apostle can really do.  Some of the ideas surrounding this week’s text include the terms: 

Apostle

Reprobate

Background 

The second letter of Paul to the Corinthians may not be his second letter after all.  It could be his third or even more depending on whether 2 Corinthians is really a combination of other letters.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains that “Paul alludes in 1 Corinthians 5:9 to another letter he has already written to Corinth, so the “First Letter to the Corinthians” is not really the first”.  That’s significant because we generally understand the First Letter to the Corinthians in a different context than what we call the Second Letter to the Corinthians.  The NISB notes “what we call 2 Corinthians mentions another lost letter (2 Cor. 2:3; 7:8-12) and perhaps fragments of (at Least) two other letters or more.”  So the point is, not only did Paul organize the Church at Corinth, he has also been in regular contact with the church to guide them in the ways of God.  As Paul writes the letter we call 2 Corinthians, he has already had some significant history and conversations with them.  This isn’t the first time he has written, it isn’t the second time he’s written and it is likely at least the fourth.  So at this point, Paul is likely frustrated.  He has had to deal with false accusations, he has had to deal with false theology, and he’s had to deal with personal attacks against him.  He’s had to deal with people questioned whether he’s really an apostle. And he’s had to deal with sexual immorality with this church in Corinth.  The NISB notes that this is Paul’s third-longest letter and while the First letter deals with pastoral issues, here the honeymoon is definitely over and all the problems of a long-term relationship are evident.”  The Corinthians complain that “his letters are strong, but his appearance is unimpressive and his speech is definitely a loser (10:10).”  In this letter Paul deals with his theology of weakness as he explains that Jesus Christ was weak in crucifixion but raised in strength by the power of God.  2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  Also significant in this letter is Paul’s defense of his credentials as an Apostle of Jesus Christ and the defense of his ministry.  The NISB notes that “Paul’s credibility at Corinth was at an all-time low.  In response he writes a letter of “tough love”, which Titus carried to them”.  There was conflict and dissention in the church at Corinth.  Dr. Guy Nave writes in True To Our Native Land An African American New Testament Commentary that “many Christians have a tendency to romanticize the world of the New Testament as though it represented a community of complete harmony with no bickering, or disagreeing over issues of race, gender, class, or sexual orientation”.  He goes on to explain that no such harmony ever existed.  In fact, many of the issues people notice and complain about in today’s church existed in the first century church.  Dr. Guy Nave writes “Members of the congregation not only disagreed with Paul but also questioned his authority and credibility”.  In Paul’s first letter he addressed a report of divisions among the Corinthians, a report of fornication and how it should be handled, and then varying thoughts on marriage, worship of idols, and the collection for Jerusalem.  Paul writes this second letter to the Corinthians (although Nelson’s explains this as his fourth letter to them) “in order to recount his former anxiety and to express his joy over the reform in Corinth” (Nelson’s).     

In this thirteenth chapter we see an Apostle Paul who is harsh.  He plainly warns the Corinthians in hopes of using his authority to build up the Corinthians when he arrives and not to tear them down.  Dr. Nave writes “A true indicator of strength is one’s ability and willingness to labor, struggle, and even suffer not merely for one’s own personal well-being but also for the well-being of those in need”.  Across the years Paul had suffered for the cause of Christ and it was Paul who organized this church.  At this point, it is Paul’s hope that the Corinthians will recognize that the Christ Paul introduced to them, is the Christ who lives in Paul and among them.  Paul exhorts the Corinthians to self-examination all while demonstrating faith that is tested. Some important words to consider from this text include:

Apostle

Reprobate

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week    

Last week’s lesson was taken from the seventh chapter of Luke.  The lesson opened at verse thirty-seven describing a woman in the city who was a sinner.  Verse thirty-seven specified that it wasn’t until she knew that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee’s house that she then brought an alabaster jar of ointment.  I highlighted that Jesus was eating with a Pharisee and Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms define Pharisee as a “Jewish party during Jesus’ time that obeyed the written law of Moses and its unwritten interpretations, known as the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:3).  They focused on holiness (Lev 19:2).  Some were hostile (John 7:32), others were helpful to Jesus (Luke 13:31).  I also highlighted that I often hear people use the term Pharisee as a pejorative.  In other words they look down on Pharisees in a negative way based on the Pharisee’s interactions with Jesus leading up to his crucifixion on the cross and several other places in scripture.  I noted that I wanted to caution us about using the word Pharisee in a negative way.  We shouldn’t say things like “that person is a Pharisee” in a negative way because there are a number of Jewish and Christian scholars who identify Jesus as a Pharisee.  Even though Pharisee’s are portrayed in a negative way in several scriptures we should be careful about using the term in a negative way.  In other words if Jesus was a Pharisee, maybe we shouldn’t call people a Pharisee or look down on Pharisee’s in a completely negative way.  Secondly, I highlighted that the jar of perfume was expensive.  This woman who was identified as a sinner entered the Pharisee’s house without an invitation and brought an expensive jar of perfume because she was intent on blessing Jesus.  She wasn’t invited, but she was going in anyway. 

I noted in verse thirty-eight how the unnamed woman wept at Jesus’ feet.  She wept enough to wash his feet with her tears.  And then she dried his feet with her hair.  And then she kissed his feet with her lips.  And then she anointed his feet with her expensive perfume.  She cried enough to wash his feet, and I added that she just cried her heart out.  She was broken hearted.  But more importantly, I noted that she cried because she knew who Jesus was.  She knew Jesus was the Messiah.  She knew Jesus could heal her broken heart.  And I believe she cried because Jesus knew who she was.  Jesus knew her heart.  Jesus knew that she was a sinner.  But you didn’t see Jesus condemning her.  I reminded us of Psalm 51:17 that “the sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  That’s how this woman came to Jesus.  She came with a broken and contrite heart. 

Verse thirty-nine gave us an example of why Pharisee’s have a bad reputation.  Simon the Pharisee questioned whether Jesus was a prophet based on the fact that Jesus let this weeping, broken hearted, contrite, woman touch him.  Notice also that Simon “said to himself”.  He didn’t confront Jesus directly with his doubts.  Instead, he thinks these thoughts but Jesus knew what he was thinking.  Jesus didn’t judge the woman, but clearly Simon the Pharisee did. 

In verse forty, Jesus knowing the Pharisee’s thoughts said “Simon, I have something to say to you”.  Simon called Jesus “Teacher” and told him to say on.  I noted that at this point you knew the “Teacher” was about to take the Pharisee to school.  

In verses forty-one and forty-two Jesus began a parable explaining how a creditor had two debtors, one owing 500 denarii and the other owing 50.  When neither could repay the debt the creditor forgave them both.  Jesus then asked Simon the Pharisee “which of them will love the creditor the most”.

In verse forty three Simon the judgmental Pharisee said I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.  Jesus responded with you have judged rightly.  I noted that if Simon hadn’t gotten the point before, at this point it should be crystal clear by now.  This woman was a known sinner.  She knew her sins.  She knew what she had done and she knew what she had not done.  She owned it.  She didn’t place the blame on anybody else.  It was hers and she was sorry for her sins. 

I noted that in verses forty-four, forty-five, and forty-six class was in full session.  Jesus, this Rabbi, this Teacher was driving the point home.  He turned to the woman and told Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came to YOUR house and you didn’t give me water to wash my feet but she bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  I came to YOUR house but you didn’t give me a kiss and yet here she is kissing my feet since I’ve been here.  I came to YOUR house and you didn’t anoint my head with oil but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  If Simon wasn’t embarrassed, he should have been.  Hospitality was important to the Jewish people and a Pharisee should have and would have known that.  This sinner woman showed more hospitality in the Pharisee’s house than the Pharisee did in his own house.

In verses forty-seven and forty-eight Jesus tells Simon that even though her sins are many she has been forgiven because she has shown great love.  He then turns to the woman and plainly tells her “your sins are forgiven”.  I noted that I could only imagine the great joy this broken hearted and contrite woman must have felt to hear the words of Jesus’ forgiveness.  After all she had been through, after all she had done and failed to do, Jesus sees her and forgives her.  What does not get mentioned in the text is whether the Pharisee sought his own forgiveness.

Last week a woman who was a sinner found the healing and forgiveness she needed in Jesus Christ.  Her demonstrated love is profound in ways that are hard for me to comprehend.  This week the Apostle Paul responds to the Corinthians with a harsh warning in hopes they will understand his position of authority even in his weakness.  Townsend and Boyd’s Commentaries title this week’s lesson “Self-Examination”.  Standard Commentary titles this week’s lesson “Faith That is Tested”.  The scripture text comes from 2 Corinthians 13:1-11. 

What Takes Place in This Passage

The lesson opens at verse one with Paul noting this as the third time he is coming to the Corinthians.  He then quotes the law concerning witnesses, found in Deuteronomy 19:15 which says “A single witness shall not suffice to convict a person of any crime or wrongdoing in connection with any offense that may be committed. Only on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be sustained.”  So perhaps Paul is telling them this is the third time he is coming and this will be the third witness to establish guilt if necessary.  Just a few verses earlier in chapter twelve Paul said “he feared that perhaps there may be quarrelling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder there”.  Paul is concerned.  That’s a pretty long list of things to be concerned about and it seems that the church in Corinth has some of all of it. 

In verse two Paul gets to the point.  He has previously warned those who sinned and all the others and now he was warning them again.  This isn’t the first time he has warned them.  In fact, this isn’t the second time he has warned them.  So this time he is clear – “If I come again, I will not be lenient.  My wife and I have five daughters.  There have been many times we’ve said “don’t make me come in there!”  Verse two is the equivalent of Paul saying the same thing.  Paul is telling them, if he has to come again it won’t be nice. 

Paul continues in verse three seemingly in the same breath to say “since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me.  Paul’s warning here reminds me that I recently heard someone tell a young person “you don’t believe cow horns will hook”.  Paul has had about enough.  He has been disrespected, he has been criticized and he has been insulted.  Someone is demanding proof that Christ is speaking in him.  Keep in mind that it was Paul who organized this church in the first place and now someone wants PROOF that Christ is speaking in him.  His warning is so that “cow horns won’t have to hook” when he get there.  Verse three also deals again with Paul’s theology of weakness.  Just as Jesus Christ was crucified in weakness Jesus was raised in power and strength.

In verse four he continues with explaining his theology of weakness.  Just as Jesus was crucified but lives in power, so too, Paul is weak but in dealing with the Corinthians will be strong by the power of God.

In verse five Paul exhorts the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith.  In verse two, someone wanted proof from Paul that he was in the faith.  In verse five Paul turns the question back on them and tells them to examine themselves!  He continues – “Do you not realize that Christ is in you unless you fail to meet the test!”  Paul isn’t questioning their salvation.  He is pointing out the obvious – that Christ is in them and it should likewise be obvious that Paul is speaking for Christ.  Note also that the King James Version used the word reprobate.  Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms define reprobate as “Those who are passed over in their sinfulness by God and do not receive salvation.  In medieval theology they are those of whom it is foreknown that they will not accept divine grace and will therefore die in a state of sin.”  Paul is telling them they need to be concerned about their own salvation rather than trying to examine his worthiness. 

In verse six Paul tells the Corinthians that he hopes they will find out that we have not failed.  In Paul’s mind, if they have failed he has failed.  Paul is their apostle and as such he is responsible for them.  Conversely, if they are found in good standing so is Paul. 

In verse seven Paul continues with his hopes that they will not do anything wrong.  He doesn’t want them to do something wrong just so he can prove his power in God.  He wants them to do right so he doesn’t have to use his power in God. 

In verse eight Paul acknowledges that he (and they) can’t do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.  Paul wants them to know that the truth is Jesus Christ appeared to be weak but arose in strength and power.  And just as Jesus arose in power, Paul has the authority to use the power given to him by God as their Apostle.

In verse nine he declares “we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong.”  In other words, he rejoices that he may be seen as weak as long as they are strong in the faith.  In fact, he says this is what we pray for, so that you may become perfect.  It is Paul’s hope that they will become fully restored.  Where there has been dissension, confusion, and rejection Paul prays for a full and complete restoration to the fullness and wholeness of one another in Christ. 

In verse ten Paul reminds them that he writes these harsh words now so that when he arrives in person he will not have to use his authority for tearing them down but to build them up. 

Verse eleven closes this lesson with Paul’s farewell.  He reminds them to put things in order, to listen to what he’s told them, to agree with one another, and to live in peace.  These final verses of this chapter and letter end in a much different way than how this chapter began.  It began harsh.  It closes in a different tone.    

Context

Don’t confuse meekness with weakness.  The meek shall inherit the earth.  The difference between the two is that meek people can do something but choose not to whereas weak people are not capable of doing a thing.  In this lesson Paul demonstrates meekness in a faith that is tested.  In this lesson Paul’s faith is tested in a people that had abused his niceness.  The Corinthians faith is tested as they are exhorted to self-examination.  As it turns out Paul’s meekness is not at all weakness and Paul hopes and prays for the sake of the Corinthians that he does not have to show his strength. 

Key Characters in the text

Paul – Formerly a leading persecutor of Christians from Tarsus who became the Christian Apostle to the Gentiles (Townsend). 

Key Words

Apostle – One sent to act on the authority of another.  Refers to the earliest, closest followers of Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4)

Reprobate – Those who are passed over in their sinfulness by God and do not receive salvation.  In medieval theology they are those of whom it is foreknown that they will not accept divine grace and will therefore die in a state of sin.

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas

1.  Meekness is not weakness.      

2.  Cow horns still hook.           

Questions

1.  In this warning to the Corinthians Paul hopes that he will not have to be harsh when he arrives in person.  Do church leaders have this authority today?

2.  An Apostle is defined as one who is sent to act on the authority of another and generally refers to the earliest closest followers of Jesus.  What apostolic authority exists today?    

Concluding Thought

We’ve all had failures and mistakes in life.  But this lesson is about leadership and followership.  Regardless of whether the Corinthians thought they were right, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle every problem.  Paul demonstrated patience wrapped in love toward these Corinthians.  But he was prepared to use his authority if necessary.  A good leader knows how to properly use authority and good followers know how to properly confront poor leadership. 

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson

Next week’s lesson comes from 1 Thessalonians first chapter.  Just as the Corinthians in this week’s lesson the church at Thessalonica faced challenges.  Unlike the Corinthian’s the Thessalonian’s handled their challenges in a much different way.  Next week’s lesson is titled “Be Examples of Faith”. 

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Christianity, religion, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (April 21, 2019) Called To Proclaim The Resurrection / Called To Believe The Resurrection Matthew 28:1-15

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and learners! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Lesson, two women rise early in the morning to see the tomb of Jesus.  They arrive at the tomb only to find an Angel who gives them what is perhaps the greatest news of all time

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said”. 

Certainly these women had heard Jesus talk about his resurrection on the third day.  Perhaps Matthew is trying to tell us that:

1.  It is women who first acted on the belief of the resurrection.

2.  It was women who first saw the risen savior.

3.  It is women who first proclaim that Jesus was raised from the dead. 

After receiving instruction from the Angel to go tell the disciples, the women leave but meet Jesus on the way.  The first Easter morning is certainly an exciting one for these women, who first received the message to go and tell that the Savior is risen.  Stay tuned to learn how we are called to proclaim the Resurrection and called to believe the resurrection. 

Background: The Gospel According to Matthew: 

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains that “although the name Matthew is linked with this Gospel about 100 years after it was written, it is not known who the real author is, when the text was originally written, or why this work is named Matthew”.  An illustrated biographical dictionary explains that “although Mark is the shortest Gospel, Matthew and Luke substantially use the same text as Mark but supplement it with additional writings”.  In this 28th chapter, Matthew is writing to Jewish Christians after the fall of the Temple.  They need to be reassured of God’s plan for them.  They have been in conflict with their Jewish siblings about the teachings and divinity of Jesus.  The Jewish Temple is destroyed and they are a distinct people of God separate from the Jews with a completely separate mission.  Their mission is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. “Matthew 28:19-20)”.  And that’s what Matthew does so well.  He takes a marginalized people, a people who are oppressed by the government and even their own brothers and sisters in the faith and he reassures them of God’s plan and points them toward a mission to save the world.

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

Last week we began with Jesus in Bethany about two miles from Jerusalem.  He was at the home of Simon the Leper when an unnamed woman anointed him with very expensive ointment for his burial.  His disciples are indignant that such expensive perfume has been used when it could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  While this was happening the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus.  Jesus once again has to plainly tell his disciples that he will be crucified and this act of love and devotion from the unnamed woman was because of his upcoming crucifixion.  Because of this unnamed woman’s great devotion and love, Jesus proclaims that she will be remembered wherever his story is told.  

On a separate note, last week was Holy Week for us.  Holy Week started Sunday, April 14, 2019 and ended Saturday, April 20, 2019. In Holy Week we celebrated Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  It is the last week in Lent, commemorating the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. It begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, prior to Easter.  This week we continue with the theme of being called.  This week our call is to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus and believe the resurrection of Jesus in our day to day living.  Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson Called To Proclaim The Resurrection.  Standard Commentary titles it Called to Believe The Resurrection.  The Scripture text comes from Matthew 28:1-15.

What takes place in this passage: 

This text begins with two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, walking to see the sepulcher where Jesus was supposed to be.  Significant for many Christians is that this was the dawn of the first day of the week.  Many Christians worship on Sunday because of the numerous accounts of important events on the first day of the week.  Most important of which is the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week.  I think it is also significant that women are the first to seek and to see Jesus.  Matthew records that the women came to “see”.  Mark records that the women brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  Certainly these women had heard Jesus talk about his resurrection on the third day.  Perhaps Matthew is trying to tell us that:

1.  It is women who first acted on the belief of the resurrection

2.  It was women who first saw the risen savior.

3.  It is women who first proclaim that Jesus was raised from the dead. 

There was a great earthquake, the earth shook.  And this is certainly earth shaking news.  The angle of the Lord rolls back the stone of the sepulcher and tells the women “Don’t be afraid; I know that you’re looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He’s not here; for he has been raised, as he said”.   Note that the Angle of the Lord ignores the guards and speaks directly to the women.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have arrived at the burial place of Jesus and find an angel instead of the body of Jesus.  And this angel of the Lord announces perhaps the greatest news of all time

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said”.

Furthermore, the Angle of the Lord gives these women instructions for the disciples to follow.  The Angel tells them to “go quickly and tell the disciples that he is risen from the dead; he will meet you in Galilee”.  The women leave to proclaim the resurrection and as they went to tell his disciples, Jesus met them along the way.  They women hold him by the feet.  By holding his feet perhaps they are saying “we won’t lose you again”.  But Jesus reassures them by saying “don’t be afraid; go tell my brethren to go to Galilee and there they shall see me”.  This is twice now the women have been told about meeting in Galilee so it’s significance should not be overlooked.  Matthew 4:13 tells us Jesus made his home in Capernaum.  Capernaum is a part of Galilee and Jesus would go back to his home district to meet the disciples after his resurrection.  Note also that Jesus calls the disciples his brethren.  He calls them brethren even after they have denied, rejected and fled from him in his time of trouble. 

Finally, the text describes how the priests attempt to cover up the resurrection of Jesus by bribing the guards to say his disciples stole the body while they slept.  Boyd’s Commentary describes two groups leaving the tomb.  “The women have a message of hope and victory for the disciples, while the guards have a message of confusion and failure for the chief priests”.  The Roman Empire has crucified Jesus.  They thought they had solved their problem.  The Jewish religious leaders conspired and plotted to kill him.  They thought they had won.  Yet these women go forth proclaiming the victory of Jesus.  He lives!

Context:

I’m a witness.  A witness is “one who testifies of what is known to be true, especially in relation to the Christian gospel”.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first witnesses of the risen Savior.  We should be witnesses to the truth of God in each of our own lives.  As witnesses we should proclaim that truth also and then “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  The good news is that Jesus is with us.  He is risen and lives in and with us through the Holy Spirit.  The Angel of the Lord told the women to go and tell the disciples.  Our task today is to go and tell our neighbors, friends and acquaintances the good news of Jesus. 

Key Characters in the text:

Jesus Christ – Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and according to the Christian church the incarnate second Person of the Trinity.  He was crucified on a cross and raised from the dead by the power of God (Acts 3:15; 13:30).  His followers (Christians) worship him and seek to obey his will.

Mary Magdalene – She is named in all four Gospels as a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus.  She accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and is from Magdala, a town located on the Sea of Galilee.  She had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.  Mary Magdalene stood by Jesus as he was dying on the cross, saw him buried, and came to the empty tomb. 

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

Crucifixion – Method of execution used by the Romans and to which Jesus Christ was subjected.  It was regarded as shameful and was extremely brutal.   

Redemption – A financial metaphor that literally means “buying back”.  Used theologically to indicate atonement, reconciliation, or salvation wherein liberation from forms of bondage such as sin, death, law, or evil takes place through Christ. 

Gospel – The central message of the Christian church to the world, centered on God’s provision of salvation for the world in Jesus Christ.  Also Gospel, one of the first four books in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

Sepulcher – A term used in the KJV for graves or tombs.  Most prominently it denotes that of Joseph of Arimathea in which the body of Jesus was placed after the crucifixion and which was empty on Easter morning. 

Easter – The yearly Christian festival celebrating the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead three days after his crucifixion.  It is preceded by Good Friday.  Easter is the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after March 21.  The date varies between March 22 and April 25.  Theologically it celebrates the victory of Christ over death and evil as well as Christian hope. 

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

  1. Be a witness / I’m a witness
  2. Believe the women
  3. Go tell that

Questions: 

1) What does the significance of women as the first to see Jesus and proclaim his resurrection mean to you? 

2) Even after the disciples denied Jesus and fled from his crucifixion Jesus calls them his brethren.  Why?      

Concluding thought:

The resurrection of Jesus brings hope to a world that seems filled with evil.  When evil is present in the world we have hope that because Jesus arose; one day justice will arise also.   Even though our present challenges may be tough and even if obstacles may seem insurmountable, there is always hope in a resurrecting Jesus.       

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week we close this study of Matthew’s Gospel and move into The Acts of the Apostles.  Before moving into Acts we study the final pericope of the final chapter of Matthew with a focus on the call and commissioning of the disciples.