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God Speaks Part 1

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GOD SPEAKS THROUGH PROPHETS, # 1    

Scripture: Books of the; Isaiah 6:8–10, 53:2–5; Jeremiah 1:7, 10

        Memory verse: Jeremiah 1:7
"Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you."

Lead-In

Instruct the students to listen carefully to the following situation:

Imagine that while walking along the street of a large city, you glance down an alley and notice a briefcase sticking out of a trashcan. You decide it is still in good shape, so you pick up the discarded briefcase and return to your home. Inside your bedroom, you carefully unlock the case and open the lid. At first you are annoyed to find a stack of papers in a file folder. You decide to thumb through the pages quickly before throwing them in the trash. As you read, however, it becomes more and more clear that the papers belong to foreign agents who are plotting to overthrow your government! Realising you have stumbled onto information vital to your country’s security, you feel a great responsibility. What would you do?

Allow class discussion. Most of you would immediately report this kind of thing to your parents and then to the police. Then you would probably give the briefcase and papers to government officials.

Discuss real life situations in which a person learns of information that affects the welfare of others, such as a policeman who knows a bridge is out on a main road. Ask students what that person’s responsibility is.

Comment that the students will probably never find secret documents involving their country’s security. However, there were men in Bible times who came across important information affecting their country’s security. What did they do with this information? We will find out in our next two studies.

Hearing God’s Word

Ask: “Who can tell us what prophecy means?” (Allow responses.)

A prophecy is a message from God to be given to others. The prophet speaks, but the message is from God. In Bible times prophecy foretold future events or gave instruction or warning to people of that day.

Prophets and Kings of God’s People

In the early days, God spoke through leaders such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. But later, because so many of Israel’s leaders were evil, God sent preachers or prophets to be His voice. These prophets and prophetesses declared God’s message. The prophets lived during the period when kings ruled Israel and afterward during the Israelites’ captivity. The prophets fearlessly declared what God told them even though some of them were put to death by wicked men who did not like God’s warnings.

Of the 42 kings who ruled God’s people, 33 did evil in God’s sight. After King Solomon ruled, the nation divided into two kingdoms. Israel was in the north and Judah was in the south. Not one of the northern kings pleased God entirely. This was the condition of the society in which God’s prophets ministered.

Division of the Prophetic Books

Notice that the books of the prophets are divided into two groups: Major Prophets and Minor Prophets. However, there is no actual division shown in the Bible.

The Book of Isaiah and the next four books were written by men we call; the last 12 Old Testament books were written by men we call minor prophets. They are not called major and minor because of the importance of who they were or what they said, but because of the length of their books. The major prophets wrote longer messages than the minor prophet. We will focus on the major prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel—this week.

Isaiah

Isaiah was a prophet in Judah, the Southern Kingdom, at the time Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was destroyed by the Assyrians. He lived during the reigns of five kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh.

In the first 39 chapters of his book, Isaiah’s message is severe and his tone is stern. God’s wrath is strongly stated against the sins of His people. Because of their sins, God told the people through Isaiah that they would be ruled by enemy nations.

Chapters 40 through 66 contain a more positive message. One of the main themes of Isaiah (whose name means “God is salvation”) was that a great blessing would come from Judah to the whole world through the Messiah or Deliverer. Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming deliverer, Jesus Christ, was fulfilled about 700 years later in the Judean town of Bethlehem. (Ask the students to read Isaiah 9:6, 7 and Luke 1:30–33.)

Isaiah also spoke clearly of Jesus’ life and His great sacrifice for mankind. (Ask the students to read Isaiah 53:2–5; Matthew 8:16, 17; Mark 15:15–20.) Some have referred to the Book of Isaiah as the “Fifth Gospel” because of its many references to Jesus.

Jeremiah

Jeremiah came on the scene about 70 years after Isaiah. By this time Israel and much of Judah had fallen captive to enemy nations. Only Jerusalem was left unconquered. Day after day, Jeremiah warned the Jews they must turn from their wicked ways to avoid destruction. Through Jeremiah, God promised He would forgive the Jews if they would turn back to Him. (Read Jeremiah 7:3, 5–7; 26:13.) But the people would not listen.

An interesting point about how God deals with us is brought out in the first chapter of Jeremiah. (Ask a student to read Jeremiah 1:4–8.) God has a definite plan for everyone’s life. (Take some time to discuss each verse and its meaning in regard to current issues facing society, such as abortion, making right choices, witnessing in public schools, etc.) Sadly, many people do not follow God’s plan. Since we know He has a plan for us, we should seek His guidance to help us live according to His plan.

Lamentations of Jeremiah

Jeremiah ministered through the reigns of five kings. Only one king, Josiah, was a godly man. The wicked kings refused to serve God and encouraged the people to worship idols. Finally God brought punishment to Judah. In 586 B.C. Jerusalem was taken captive by the mighty Babylonian army. Jeremiah’s warnings were fulfilled.

After Jerusalem fell to Babylon, Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentations. It records his grief over Jerusalem’s captivity. God’s chosen people were in the hands of a heathen nation. This message of grief earned Jeremiah the title, “The Weeping Prophet.” However, in the midst of his grief, Jeremiah declared the faithfulness of God (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

Ezekiel

Ezekiel is the next book of the Major Prophets. Ezekiel preached to the Jews while they were captives in Babylon. He explained that their sins had caused their captivity. Judah’s great sin had been idol worship. Since the Babylonian captivity, the Jews have never returned to idol worship. It appears they had learned how foolish this was. Through Ezekiel’s ministry they heard the message that God is God and He means what He says.

Ezekiel assured the Jews that God would one day restore the nation of Israel to its own land. Both Israel and Judah would again be united. This message was given to Ezekiel through an unusual vision. What was the vision? (Have the students read the account of Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones found in Ezekiel 37:1–14.) This vision says a lot about spiritual life versus spiritual death. When God restored the nation of Israel, He promised to prove once again to the Jews that He is God. This would serve as a witness to sinful nations around them. This thought is Ezekiel’s dominant theme.

(Direct the students to read the following verses, perhaps in sword drill fashion: Ezekiel 25:11; 26:6; 30:19; 32:15; 35:15; 38:23; 39:6.)

Ask: “What phrase is repeated in these verses?” (Allow responses.)

This statement, “They will know that I am the Lord” occurs often throughout the Book of Ezekiel.

Daniel

When Jerusalem first fell to Nebuchadnezzar’s armies around 606 B.C., many of Jerusalem’s top leaders, craftsmen, and scholars were taken captive to Babylon. Among them were a man named Daniel and three of his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The rest of the captives were taken 20 years later when Jerusalem was burned—586 B.C.

Daniel was a young man when he went to Babylon. He was intelligent and learned quickly. Because of that, Daniel received special training and soon held an office in the royal Babylonian court. Even though he became an important man in Babylon, Daniel never forgot God.

The Book of Daniel is filled with exciting stories that prove God is the only true God. The most popular stories are found in Daniel 3, 5, and 6—the fiery furnace, Belshazzar’s feast, and Daniel in the lions’ den. (Highlight these events as time permits.) Each event proves an important fact about our relationship with God. Daniel, like Isaiah, mentioned the coming Messiah. In fact, chapter 9 foretells not only the time Jesus would come, but also the length of His ministry and that He would die for our sins. Daniel’s prophecy was made hundreds of years before Jesus began to minister.

The main messages of the major prophets are important for us to remember. Foremost are these themes: (write these on the chalkboard)

Isaiah – There is only one God

Jeremiah and Lamentations – God must punish sin

Ezekiel –God can give new life

Daniel – God will bless those who serve Him.

Accepting God’s Word

These messages are the same today as they were in Old Testament times. We are God’s messengers to our generation. We must tell others about God’s love, the plan of salvation, and the future of believers and sinners. We must remain true to Jesus no matter what happens.

Tuareg Cross

My new friend told how the Tuareg use Islam as a religious covering, but underneath they are very animistic. Though the Tuareg are virtually all Sunni Muslim, they have a reputation among other Muslims for being lukewarm in their faith. They practice a passive form of Islam infused with local superstitions and magic. The majority of the Tuareg do not even celebrate the most important Muslim fast of Ramadan.

The pastor then showed us the Tuareg cross, which is similar to the Orthodox cross but different in design. He explained that the cross became a tribal symbol centuries before when the Tuareg people were basically Christian. That symbol is widely used today in Tuareg art and architecture. The cross comes from the people’s Roman Catholic heritage, and their language has Phoenician roots. Very interesting.

REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Tamajaq Tuareg Nomads

1. Minds to be filled with thoughts about God and eternity,
2. At night, looking up at the stars, to see the greatness of God, the Creator,
3. Believing nomads to spread the good news all across the desert.

Prayer Promise

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1).

 

 

 

Remember: GOD SPEAKS THROUGH PROPHETS, # 1    

Memory verse: Jeremiah 1:7
"Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you."

1. God speaks to every generation.
2. He wants to speak to me. 
3. I will listen and obey.

Pray for Tamajaq Tuareg Nomads.

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Study 9 | Preach Christ/Our Bible | africaatts.org/go-teach

 

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