judgement

Worthy! - 1 Samuel 5:1-6:16

(Create a display of items that can become idols: a football, a guitar, a credit card, a family photo, picture of children, money, etc.)

1.      What do these items on the table have in common? (These are things that are common in all of our lives, to some extent, that we use and love.)

2.      How would you define the word “idol”? (1-An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. 2-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.)

I would add this definition: Anything or person that is placed above God in our lives.

3.      How can each of these things become an idol in our lives?

Anything we put before God has become an idol in our life! In today’s study, we will discuss the importance of putting God first by giving Him the respect He deserves.

In Isaiah 48:11 God says: “I will act for My own sake, indeed, My own, for how can I be defiled? I will not give My glory to another.”

 

Last week we studied about Samuel’s formal call by God to be His prophet. In 1 Samuel chapter 4 the Philistines killed 4,000 Israelites at Aphek in a resounding victory. So the Israelites decided to take the Ark of the Lord into the next battle with them, thinking with the Ark of the Lord they would be victorious. But they suffered an even greater defeat and 30,000 Israelite soldiers died along with Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas! And if that wasn’t enough, the Ark of the Lord was captured and carried off by the Philistines. When Eli received the news, he fell over backwards out of his chair, broke his neck and died!

The wife of Phinehas was pregnant and when she heard the news, she went into labor, gave birth to a son and then died herself. It was indeed a dark day for the Israelites!

4.      In what had the Israelites placed their faith? (The Ark of the Lord, not in the God, whose presence it represented!)

Let’s see what happens to the Ark in the hands of the Philistines, or better yet what happens to the Philistines in the hands of God!

 

The Holy God! Read 1 Samuel 5:1-5

 

1.      What did the capture of the ark signify for the Israelites?

In the Old Testament, the ark was God’s dwelling place on earth. It is where God met with the High Priest to give instructions for the people. The ark itself was not God, like other nations had man-made idols, but God used the ark to display His power and glory.

2.      How would you explain the taking of the Lord’s Supper to someone not familiar with this ordinance?

3.      How can its significance be exaggerated?

4.      How can its significance be understated?

5.      Should people regard the church building or a physical copy of the Bible as sacred?

6.      How might such ideas become dangerously exaggerated?

7.      How would you explain what happened when the ark was placed in the temple of Dagon?

8.      How would you describe to a friend the destructive effect of worshiping a false god instead of the God of the universe?

9.      How easy is it for us to be lured into actually worshiping something or someone other than the one true God?

 

Judgment Experienced! Read 1 Samuel 5:6

 

1.      By placing the arkat the feet of their idol Dagon, they were trying to say their god was superior. What happens when the holy things of God are treated as common?

2.      What does the glory of God mean to you?

3.      How would you explain the balance between God’s kindness and judgment?

4.      The ark was moved to three of the five major cities of the Philistines. By the time it was moved to the third city the people were trembling with fear. Do we have an appropriate fear of the Lord when we are disobedient to His laws?

5.      How would you explain the balance between God’s kindness and judgment?

We have seen terrible, horrific acts of violence in our own nation with increasing frequency. It is not for us to say that God is bringing judgment on any particular group of people. The violence that occurred in Orlando, FL this past week should be heartbreaking for all of us. While we don’t agree with the lifestyle of those involved, we are called to act with the love of Christ toward all people. The right to bring judgment on people is God’s and His alone. We also stand as sinners, and while we may try to live a holy life we too fail at times. The Baptist Pastor in California who basically said that we should not feel pity for those people and we should wish more had died was wrong! I am embarrassed that he calls himself a minister of the Gospel. He certainly does not show the love of Christ! We are to pray that somehow those people will hear the Gospel and respond positively by turning to Jesus.

 

The Philistines cried out to their leaders to send the ark back to the Israelites. So their diviners devised a plan that would determine if their problems were caused by Israel’s God or if it was just a coincidence. A cart pulled by two milk cows which had both just had a calf and had never been yoked to pull a wagon would pull the ark. If they went back to Israel then it was a “God” thing.

Instructions Followed! Read 1 Samuel 6:11-12

 

Living with God’s judgment and punishment, the plague of tumors for seven months, was long enough!

1.      In what ways have you witnessed God display His power in unlikely situations?

2.      What about us! We know God desires our obedience, so why do we sometimes choose to disobey? (At times disobedience might seem to be the easy road. Taking a stand against the culture and standing up for God can be a hard choice.)

Sometimes the shiny, sparkling enticement of sin seems to be fun. But it’s a short-lived pleasure that reaps a harvest of sorrow long term.

 

 

Worship Offered! Read 1 Samuel 6:13-16

 

1.      What was the people of Israel’s response to having the ark back in their possession?

2.      What does our attitude toward the holiness of God reveal to a lost world around us?

3.      Do you think the Philistines had a greater reverence for the God of Israel?

4.      Read John 4:24. What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth?

5.      Why are both elements of worship important?

6.      The Israelites were overjoyed when they saw the ark coming. How do we reflect the joy of salvation in our worship? (Emphasize that God deserves our very best in worship.)

One of the testimonies that believers give to a watching world is the heartfelt and dynamic worship of their Savior, Jesus Christ. Unbelievers’ exposure to true worship of God can plant seeds that have eternal impact on them.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How can we guard against idols in our lives today? (Carved idols are easy to avoid. Remember that idols are anything or any person whom we place above God in our lives.)

2.      If someone were to watch you closely from a distance for one month, what would they say you worship?

3.      Think about the ways you worship God. What step could you take to make your worship more joy-filled and meaningful?

 

There is a hymn written by Julia Cady Cory in 1902 called “We Praise You, O God, Our Redeemer.” The first verse is below:

We praise You, O God, our Redeemer, Creator

In grateful devotion our tribute we bring.

We lay it before You, we kneel and adore You,

We bless Your holy name, glad praises we sing.


Consider closing with the Doxology!

An Open Invitation - Matthew 11:1-30

1.      We all receive numerous invitations. How do you decide which ones to accept and which ones to decline?

2.      What are some reasons we ignore or decline certain invitations?

3.      How does the invitation to follow Jesus include both good news and bad news based on one’s response to the invitation?

4.      Why might people ignore the invitation that Jesus gave to follow Him?

 

Matthew 11 represents a great invitation that Jesus gave to people to follow Him. The invitation began with a warning for those who did not choose to follow Him, and then it ended with a call to the weak and weary to follow Him.

 

Promised Judgement! Read Matthew 11:20-24

 

(Locate each town mentioned on a map for the class or they could circle the towns in the Personal Study Guide.)

 

1.      Why do you think Jesus said it would be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom than the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum?

2.      How does Jesus’ teaching in theses verses line up with the image of Jesus that you have in your head or that is popular in our culture? (Jesus promised judgment for those who won’t repent. This is contrary to the image of “gentle Jesus” that is popular. While Jesus is kind, merciful, and loving, He is also holy and righteous.)

3.      What sins would you list as the five most grievous and destructive contemporary sins? (Murder, sexual immorality, pride, injustice, and lying are among the top.)

4.      Based on Jesus’ teaching here, where should rejection of Jesus rank on the list? (Number ONE! With great revelation comes great accountability!)

5.      Based on these verses, how could these cities have avoided God’s judgment? (It is simple, repent and accept Jesus.)

That same truth applies to each of us as individuals today! We will be held accountable for what we do with Jesus—accept or reject.

 

Promised Revelation! Read Matthew 11:25-26

 

The doctrines of “divine sovereignty” and “human responsibility” are two of the most difficult doctrines to bring into resolution. While they are both truths found in Scripture they are not contradictory. It is like looking down a railroad track that disappears in the distance. Although they are parallel they come together in the distance.

1.      What elements of “divine sovereignty” and “human responsibility” are found in these verses? (Only those whom God calls can receive the message. And yet repeatedly Jesus invited His audiences to have ears to hear. It is a glorious mystery of God’s wisdom how these doctrines are a work in salvation. There is no contradiction between the sovereign purposes of God and the need for personal, volitional faith in Christ.)

2.      What is the connection between those who arrogantly think themselves wise and those who are blinded to God’s wisdom? (They can’t hear because they refuse to hear.)

The theme of wisdom hidden from those who think themselves wise appears frequently in the Old Testament—Job 12:2; Isa. 19:11-12; Jer. 8:8-9; Ezek. 28:3-12.

3.      What is the meaning of “infants” in verse 25? (Those with child-like faith.)

4.      How does God react to those who come to Him by faith? (It’s His “good pleasure” to grant us wisdom into the truth of the gospel. God loves to save people, and our attitudes should reflect His!)

5.      Do you consider yourself “wise” or are you an “infant”?

 

Promised Relationship! Read Matthew 11:27

 

1.      What role does Jesus play in our relationship to the Father?

2.      How do we come to know God the Father? (Jesus reveals Him to us. He knows the Father and will lead us into a deep intimacy with the Father like He experiences.)

In putting our faith in Jesus, we are promised that we will know the Father and be brought into a relationship with Him. This is important because we will face periods of doubt and worry, especially when we are struggling with temptation. Here we are given hope and assurance for those times.

3.      What did Jesus reveal to us about God the Father as He lived on this earth?

4.      How do you respond when people label Christians as narrow minded and uncharitable for asserting that Jesus is the only way to the Father, with no other alternative?

5.      What implication does the truth that Jesus is the only way, have on our view of evangelism and missions?

People who don’t have Christ don’t have a relationship with God and are lost. Therefore, we must be intentional about sharing the gospel of Jesus with people who have no faith, and with people of other faiths, as Jesus is the only way to God and eternal life.

 

Promised Rest! Read Matthew 11:28-30

 

While verse 27 heavily emphasizes the sovereignty of God, these verses emphasize human responsibility, as Jesus invited all the weak and weary to come to Him.

 

1.      How did the description of Jesus in these verses contrast with other religious leaders of His day, including the scribes and Pharisees? (The Jews had expanded the Ten Commandments into 613 laws or rules you had to follow to be accepted by God. No one could be totally accepted by their rules. They overburdened the people rather than helping them.)

2.      What comes to your mind when you think of putting on a “Yoke”? (Work. Restriction.)

3.      What did Jesus tell the people about His yoke?

4.      Jesus promises that following Him is a life of rest, serving Him is an easy yoke, and bearing His burden is light. What factors make this true? (Usually a yoke was for two animals, so they could pull together. When we are in the yoke Jesus is on the other side. We are operating under his guidance and strength. Yes it is work but it brings joy, peace and contentment.)

5.      How does the character and promise of Jesus contrast with what the world offers us? (In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees heaped difficult rules and burdens on the people as they thought this was the way to salvation. Today, our world encourages us to achieve salvation ourselves, but this leaves us burdened because there is no way it can be attained apart from the grace of Jesus. Jesus on the other hand, shows us that the gospel is concerned not with our effort, but with faith in Jesus’ righteousness on our behalf.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      In light of Jesus’ invitation, how might you explain to a nonbeliever or a person who has been “burnt” by religion, that Jesus’ message and promise is different?

·         Explain that Jesus calls us to come to Him and rest in Him. He has done the work on our behalf.

·         Jesus asks for faith, while man-made religion demands that we do things to earn God’s favor. This is Satan’s ploy to convince us that it is useless to try.

·         The difference is that we can never do enough to earn God’s favor. Jesus instead asks us to stop, come to Him, rest in Him, and follow Him.

2.      In light of the truth that Jesus offers salvation to all who trust Him as Savior and Lord, what might we do that we are not doing now in efforts to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus?

 

There is a person in your life that needs a relationship with Jesus. Be intentional by making a conscious decision to pray for His or her salvation and needs every day this week. Also, make an opportunity to personally share the gospel with him or her.