Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the May 2020 issue of Christian Standard + The Lookout. (Subscribe to our print edition.)
Lesson Aim: Because you are his, seek him and you will find him.
By Mark Scott
God is good at only one part of hide-and-seek. He does not hide well. In fact, he wants to be found (Psalm 19:1-6; Acts 17:27; Romans 1:20; Matthew 7:8). But God is very good at the other part of the game: finding. He is always willing to search for what is lost (Genesis 3:9; Luke 15:4-7). He does this because his people are his treasured (peculiar, special, valued) possession.
His People Are Treasured Because of His Compassion | Deuteronomy 4:29-31
Deuteronomy 4 shows the contrast between Israel worshipping the Lord and the nations worshipping vain idols. God wanted Israel to seek (mentioned twice; it means “to desire” or “inquire of”) him with heart and soul (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4, 5). Even if Israel found themselves in distress (trouble or tribulation), they were given the privilege of returning to and obeying the Lord.
The reason Israel could do these things was because of God’s mercy. The word merciful means compassion like the kind a mother gives to a child. This mercy caused God not to abandon (withdraw), destroy (ruin), or forget his covenant to his people. The reason God would not do these things is because he confirmed it by oath (a phrase that appears 16 times in Deuteronomy). He can swear by himself because he is God (Hebrews 6:13).
His People Are Treasured Because of His Exclusion | Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Israel needed only to ask their forefathers about God’s uniqueness. I mean, who is like God? No one can compare with him. He is Creator. God challenged them to ask the far ends of the universe, “Is anyone quite like their God?” Who else had heard the voice of God? What other people on earth had seen God via fire and lived to tell it (Exodus 14:24)? What other people on earth had been brought out (or delivered) from their enemies via miracles (Exodus 7—14)?
What other nation on earth heard God’s actual voice and experienced his discipline (correction or reproof)? What other people were so chosen? What other God could cast out greater and stronger nations and give Israel the land of promise? The answer is, no one. God is God, and there is no other (mentioned twice in this text). His exclusivity is what made Israel God’s treasured possession.
This is why Israel was to acknowledge God and take to heart that God is God. This is why Israel was to keep his decrees (customs) and commands. God longed for it to go well for Israel. God’s desire for Israel was —live long in the land of promise.
His People Are Treasured Because of His Separation | Deuteronomy 26:17-19; Leviticus 20:26
Since God is holy (separate or distinct or other) he separated (divided) his people from other peoples so it would be clear that Israel belonged to the Lord. The context of Leviticus 20 is about God punishing the nations for their idolatry.
In contrast to the nations that worship idols, God was going to take Israel at their word. They would not worship other gods. Instead they declared (said) they would walk in obedience, keep his decrees, commands, and laws. This would be possible for them since they would give God their undivided attention (i.e., listen to him) and bring to God their tithes and offerings (the larger context of Deuteronomy 26). Since Israel declared for God, then God would “declare” for them. In fact, he would do more than declare for them. He would set them in praise, fame, and honor above other nations. “Set in praise” actually just means “praise.” God would praise his people. God would make them famous (i.e., give them a good reputation among the nations). God is distinct among the so-called gods, and Israel is distinct because God is their God.
His People Are Treasured Because of His Redemption | Leviticus 26:12, 13
This idea of redemption has been mentioned in our earlier sections, but it is the heart of this section. Four expressions are used to describe this redemption. God brought them out of Egypt. He made them no longer slaves (bondservants). He broke the bars of Egypt’s yoke. And he enabled Israel to walk with heads held high(literally, “made you walk erect”).
Since God’s people are God’s treasured possession and his inheritance (Ephesians 1:18), believers might want to ask, “How much of a gift are we to God?” For Israel, part of being a treasured possession meant inheriting the Promised Land. For the church, part of being a treasured possession means to inherit God himself.
Lesson study ©2019, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2019 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.