GOD PRESERVES HIS WORD
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 34:8–21; Psalm 119:11, Jeremiah 36:1–32
Memory verse: Psalm 119:11
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
Begin the study by doing a role-play of a person who would have lived about 200 years ago. Pretend you are writing a letter. Sit at a desk or table and place a lighted candle in front of you. Use a feather or a quill for a writing utensil. You may even want to pretend to dip the quill in a bottle of ink. You do not need to actually write; simply do the motions as if you were using the quill. Say the message aloud as you “write.” Make it a simple message, such as, “Dear (Name), I made it safely back home yesterday. I went through some dangerous places, but all is well now. Hope to visit you again sometime. Sincerely, (Name).”
When you have finished writing, fold the letter, put it in an envelope, and say, “If I get this to town by tomorrow, it will reach (Name) in about a month. Then they will know I am safe.” Blow out the candle and discuss the skit.
Point out that many things have changed through the years. Discuss some things that have changed. Life has more conveniences today than ever before. Today we have electric lights, computers, cell phones and an efficient mail system to help us get messages from one place to another. But it was not always that way.
Continue discussing messages, but change the focus slightly by asking the students how they might protect an important message from being lost or damaged. List the following items on the chalkboard and encourage the students to think of ways these messages might be protected today: last will and testament, special letter, business documents, secret information, news about a surprise birthday party. Ideas for protecting these items might include using heavy envelopes, sending them by registered mail, keeping them in a safe box, or hiding them when received.
Explain that a message was sent many, many years ago. It was so important that people thought of many clever ways to protect it from being lost or destroyed. Some people even went to jail or died to protect that message.
Hearing God’s Word
(Display a nice leather-bound Bible.) This is a beautiful Bible. Today you can buy Bibles in a variety of sizes and in a wide selection of covers and colours. You can get Bibles with small or large print and in different languages Bibles are available to fit all kinds of study needs.
But this has not always been the case. Many people have suffered terribly because of their desire to have a copy of God’s Word. They risked their lives to preserve the Bible for those in future generations to enjoy.
Tablets of Stone
The first copy of God’s law was written by God himself. (Ask a student to read Exodus 31:18.) God wrote the Ten Commandments and other important rules on stone and gave them to Moses for the Israelites.
This copy of the commandments was broken. Moses threw them to the ground in anger when he returned from the mountain and saw the Israelites worshipping a golden calf. After punishing the people, God made Moses another copy from two new stone tablets.
As time went by, people began to write messages on scrolls. These scrolls were long strips of papyrus attached to a pole on each end. When the scroll was not being read, it was rolled around the poles and tied together. Papyrus was made from a tall plant that grew near the Nile River. Strips of the papyrus plant were pressed together and dried to make brittle, paper-like material.
God’s servants wrote the Law on scrolls of this kind. They kept a copy of the Law in the temple in Jerusalem. However, God’s people had many kings who did not love and serve God. They worshiped idols and taught the people to do the same. After a time, few people bothered to go to the temple, and God’s Law was completely forgotten. The scroll on which it was written became buried in the dirt and rubble of the neglected temple.
At last a king named Josiah began to rule. Josiah loved God and obeyed Him. He sent men to clean and repair the temple.
As they were cleaning the temple, Hilkiah the high priest found the scroll containing the Law. He gave the scroll to a scribe, who took it to King Josiah and read it to him. How did Josiah react when he heard the Law? (Ask a student to read 2 Chronicles 34:19.) Josiah was distressed. He knew the people had not been obeying God’s law. King Josiah took immediate action to destroy all idols and restore worship of the true God.
Sadly, people were not always so willing to hear and obey God’s Word. A good example is given in Jeremiah 36. (Have students find this chapter in their Bibles.) At this time Jehoiakim (Juh-HOY-uh-kim) was king. He was not a godly man as Josiah was. He was a wicked king.
God gave the prophet Jeremiah a message. As Jeremiah spoke God’s message, a scribe named Baruch (Bah-ROOK) wrote what he said on a scroll. God’s message warned His people of the terrible things that would happen to them because of their refusal to obey God. Yet He promised to forgive them if they would stop worshipping their idols and serve only Him.
Jeremiah sent Baruch to the temple. “Read the message I have given you. Perhaps some of the people will then turn back to God.”
Baruch did as he was told. The news of the scroll’s message soon reached the king’s palace. Some of King Jehoiakim’s officials sent for Baruch. They wanted to hear the message.
After Baruch read the message, the officials told him to leave the scroll and go into hiding. Then they went to the king with the scroll. The king’s secretary began to read the scroll’s message to the king.
Ask: “How do you think King Jehoiakim reacted when he heard the message?” (Allow responses. Then instruct a student to read Jeremiah 36:23, 24.)
His response was the opposite of King Josiah’s response. King Jehoiakim refused to turn to God. He thought that by destroying the scroll he could stop God’s power.
But what did God tell Jeremiah to do? (Ask a student to read Jeremiah 36:28.) God gave Jeremiah the message a second time. No power can stop God or destroy His Word.
Copying God’s message onto a scroll must have been a big job for Baruch. But imagine the task of copying the entire Bible!
Yes this is exactly the work some people spent their whole lives doing. They were called scribes (writers). They had no computers to make their work easier. They wrote every word by hand. When the task was completed, they had no printing presses or copying machines to duplicate their work. They began the same procedure all over again.
Ask: “Why do you think these people spent so much time doing this tedious work?” (Allow response.)
They wanted everyone to have a chance to know God and the way to heaven. This gave them the determination they needed to do their best work. Some of the Bibles copies by hand were beautifully decorated—even in the margins.
God’s Word is Powerful
God’s Word has the power to change lives. Satan knows this and does everything he can to prevent people from hearing and learning about God. Satan has tried many times to put an end to God’s Word through rulers who attempted to destroy all the Bibles in their countries. All these attempts failed. God’s Word is eternal.
If we did not have a copy of God’s Word, we would not know the only way to heaven or know God personally. Yet we are so familiar with the Bible that we often take it for granted. It is easy to forget about the Bible until time for Bible class and church. How does God want us to use His Word? What does our memory verse tell us? (Let the students repeat the verse.) By hiding God’s Word in our hearts, we can resist doing wrong.
Ask: “How can we hide God’s Word in our hearts?” (Allow response.)
When we memorise God’s Word, we are hiding it in our hearts. Men may be able to take away our Bibles, but they can never take away what is in our hearts and minds.
Accepting God’s Word
Emphasise that knowing what the Bible says is of little value if we do not act on it. The Bible says the first step in knowing God is to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
We must realise that we are all sinners. Sin separates us from God, but Jesus took the punishment for our sin. If we are sorry for and stop our sinning and ask Jesus to forgive us, He will. After we receive Jesus’ forgiveness, His Word becomes our guide to tell us how to live and have a personal relationship with God. Ask if anyone wants to receive Jesus as Saviour. Pray individually with each student who responds.
Elders openly shared their concern with us. The current 3-year drought had taken its toll on their cattle herds, dying from the lack of good pasture. It was forcing them to sell their herds at a cheap price in order to get something back on their investment. Every Friday, trucks came from all over Kenya to the local cattle market, taking advantage of the bargain prices.
It will be very difficult for the Orma to rebuild their cattle herds. Cattle no longer offer security for the future. However in education, they see promise for a secure future. Even during drought, teachers continue their employment and a wide range of opportunities opens to the educated.
After sharing their concerns with us, the elders made their request for help in addressing this need.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Educational Opportunities for the Orma
1. A government school made available for children and youth,
2. Christian teachers appointed to Orma schools,
3. Good students to further their training at the university level.
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
Remember: GOD PRESERVES HIS WORD
Memory verse: Psalm 119:11
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
1. The Bible must not be destroyed.
2. Biblical truth must be preserved.
3. I will memorize Bible verses and hide them in my heart.
Pray for Educational Opportunities for the Orma.
Study 3 | Preach Christ/Our Bible | africaatts.org/go-teach