This week”s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for December 12) is written by Ken Greene, vice president of enrollment services with Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
The Lord Is Our God (Isaiah 41:8-10, 17-20; 42:1-4, 9)
By Ken Greene
In early September, my region of North Carolina faced her first hurricane threat of the season with Earl. This storm had the potential to cause major damage, as everyone watched to see if Earl”s course would bring it across the Outer Banks. The area braced for the worst; community events were canceled and evacuation plans were discussed.
Some people acted out of fear of the unknown. This was obvious as people purchased everything they could in an attempt to be prepared.
The prophet Isaiah also found himself in a time and atmosphere of tension. The nation of Israel had been very prosperous. Yet, it watched Assyria become an incredible political force. Israel had begun flirting with other nations to foster alliances that would potentially bring protection. These associations also helped bring about political corruption, access to idols, and other forms of unholy living.
Isaiah”s purpose is revealed in his name, which literally means, “The Lord is salvation.” His focus was to teach the Israelites that God was their only hope for salvation. He wrote about salvation 26 times in this book, while other prophets refer to it a total of only seven times.
The book of Isaiah has been referred to as a mini-Bible. It has 66 chapters, mimicking the Bible”s 66 books, and two distinct sections, similar to the Old Testament and New Testament. Just as the Old Testament warns of condemnation, the first section of Isaiah (chapters 1-39) warns of judgment. The New Testament”s announcement of salvation echoes Isaiah”s second section (chapters 40-66), which offers prophecies of peace for God”s people. This part of Isaiah”s book emphasizes that true peace comes only through dependence on God.
Peace Comes as You Realize Your Value to God (Isaiah 41:8-10)
Pain and fear are realities in our world. Some estimate that, in all of history, the world has known peace less than 10 percent of the time. I”ve observed many people who are fearful and stressed by family situations, economics, politics, and many other things. They seek relief and peace in various ways, yet are often overwhelmed.
It is in scenarios such as these that Isaiah reminds his listeners that God has called his chosen. He loves his people, and they do not need to fear. In these difficult times, God will strengthen and hold in his hand those who love him.
God is our shield (Psalm 28:7) and our deliverer (Psalm 40:17). Peace not known by the majority of the world is found in the simple statement, “You are my servant; I have chosen you and not rejected you” (v. 9).
Peace Comes as You Recognize God”s Provision (Isaiah 41:18-20)
This passage begins with a description of people in need searching for a way to meet their basic necessities. I often hear individuals complain because wants and needs are not met, but how often do we genuinely search for an optimum solution?
Isaiah paints an incredible picture for those who are genuinely seeking nourishment. He says if you are really seeking, then God will respond extravagantly to your needs. The idea is if you need a drink of water in the desert, God will do better and provide pools and rivers of it. If your desire is for a break from the sun, God can offer cedars that were recognized for their height, shade, and beauty. The concept is that God can exceed even your imagination.
God goes to this length to reveal his power through his people. However, his people must admit their need, genuinely seek him, and then God will reveal himself through their lives.
Peace Comes Only After You Have Relinquished Control to God (Isaiah 42:1-4)
Isaiah was the evangelist of the Old Testament, and chapter 42 begins with what is referred to by many as the servant passages. Some debate whether the servant passages refer to Christ or to Israel. The passages refer to a wholeness that comes through justice and righteousness.
The text shares the message of peace for everyone. However, the message will not be shared in a boisterous manner or through authoritarian control. The idea is that a quiet and gentle spirit will bring forth peace. This concept of strength is contrary to what is typically presumed by society. It is this same concept used to describe the small voice of Elijah (1 Kings 19:12) and John the Baptist (Mark 1:1-3) as they shared God”s message.
What we can take away from this is that God”s plans will not follow our expectations, but his plan is the only way to peace in our world. We have God”s assurance that he will not be satisfied until his justice and righteousness are seen throughout the world. Christ the true servant will accomplish this as the gospel has prophesied. God”s desire is that Christ is manifested through us and that his presence empowers us despite the storms in our life.
Scripture quotations are from theÂ New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|Dec 6: 1 John 4:13-19|
|Dec. 7: 2 Chronicles 30:6-9|
|Dec. 8: Nehemiah 9:16-21|
|Dec. 9: Psalm 71:1-6|
|Dec. 10: Isaiah 41:1-7|
|Dec. 11: Isaiah 41:11-16|
|Dec. 12: Isaiah Â 41:8-10, 17-20; 42:1-4, 9|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: Ken Greene serves as vice president for enrollment services at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He holds a BS from Cincinnati (Ohio) Bible College; an MMin from Kentucky Christian College in Grayson; an MEd from Milligan College in Tennessee; and a DEd from Saint Mary”s University, Rochester, Minnesota.