NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

WHERE GOD IS CALLING YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sunday School Lesson

November 30

Lesson 13

Good News Brings Rejoicing

Devotional Reading: Psalm 42:5-11

Background Scripture: Isaiah 52:1, 2, 7-12; Psalm 33

Isaiah 52:1, 2, 7-12

1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

 

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

10 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

Key Verse

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! —Isaiah 52:7

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Summarize the content of Isaiah’s “good news.”

2. Explain how today’s passage is fulfilled by Christ and the preaching of the gospel.

3. List seven songs and/or hymns that reflect themes in today’s text; sing one each day in a time of devotion in the week ahead.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Rejoicing in Part

B. Lesson Background

I. New Reality (Isaiah 52:1, 2)

A. Garments (v. 1a)

Dressing Up for God

B. Holiness (v. 1b)

C. Position (v. 2)

II. New Message (Isaiah 52:7-10)

A. Messenger Proclaims (v. 7)

B. Watchmen Shout (v. 8)

C. Jerusalem Rejoices (v. 9)

D. Nations See (v. 10)

III. New Exodus (Isaiah 52:11, 12)

A. Bearing the Vessels (v. 11)

B. Protected by God (v. 12)

Better Than a Testudo!

Conclusion

A. Rejoicing in Full

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction
A. Rejoicing in Part

It was April 9, 1865 (Palm Sunday), when General Robert E. Lee stepped into the parlor of the Wilmer McLean house at Appomattox Court House to surrender his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant. Following the formalities of surrender, Union soldiers in the field shouted in exultation. But Grant put a stop to that. A time of rejoicing would be allowed, but not at that particular moment. The surrender of one Confederate army didn’t mean the end of the war; there was much yet to be done.

There is a certain parallel between that incomplete celebration and the end of the Babylonian exile. The remnant of Israel was allowed to return home to rebuild their society, city, and temple (Ezra 1). They would rejoice in doing so (Ezra 3:11-13; 6:16; Nehemiah 8:12, 17; 12:43), but rejoicing in the fullest sense could not occur until the Messiah came in fulfillment of all that Isaiah and other prophets predicted.

As Christians, we know that we live in a “now, but not yet” situation with respect to victory. Christ has paid the penalty for our sins through the cross, and for this we rejoice. But our joy is tempered by continuing struggles with sin (1 Peter 1:6). Even so, ultimate victory is certain; future rejoicing will be boundless (Revelation 19:7).

B. Lesson Background

Today’s text is part of Isaiah’s message of hope expressed to people who were yet to be exiled to Babylon (Isaiah 40-55). A voice cried for a highway to be constructed from Babylon to Jerusalem for the return of God as king (40:3-5). Jerusalem/Zion was predicted to be the focal point of the good news (40:9). Not only Judah but also the whole Gentile world was to have occasion to rejoice (41:21-42:17). Through a series of servant songs (42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12; 61:1-4), the prophet sketched God’s plan of redemption for the nations. It was to be God’s special servant who would rescue God’s world!

In Isaiah, the term servant can refer to different persons or groups in different contexts. The nation of Israel was called to be a servant to the world, but refused (see Isaiah 42:18-24; compare 6:9, 10). In spite of that, God decided to create a new exodus for His people (43:14-21). From political oppression, God delivered His people by means of his “shepherd” and “anointed,” Cyrus (44:28; 45:1). That man was a servant for God’s purposes. Babylon could no longer hold God’s people in captivity (48:20, 21).

But there was to be deliverance even greater than the one that came through Cyrus—a spiritual deliverance announced in the first servant song (Isaiah 42:1-9). The servant mentioned here was prophesied not only to restore the preserved of Israel, but also to be a “light to the Gentiles” (49:6). This servant was to suffer in so doing (50:6).

Rejoicing would finally come to Jerusalem when good news was announced (Isaiah 52:7-12). However, the reason for rejoicing—the basis of the great salvation, and the hope for the future—is not revealed until the servant song of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. There the “righteous servant” is predicted to “justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (53:11). In this way the entire world would be offered an invitation to enter into the kingdom of God. A new David would rule over this kingdom (55:3, 4). This servant, whom we now know to be Jesus, would be king! This is the fitting context for our lesson, which immediately prefaces one of Isaiah’s servant songs, as it falls on this first Advent Sunday.

I. New Reality

                                                                                   (Isaiah 52:1, 2)

A. Garments (v. 1a)

1a. Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city.

Earlier, the Israelites blamed God for lack of action and appealed to Him with a double imperative: “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord” (Isaiah 51:9). But it is not God who is asleep—it is Jerusalem. In our text the prophet uses the very same verb awake in the same form as in 51:9.

Zion must wake up to a new reality! In spite of Israel’s call in the first exodus to be a “peculiar treasure ... a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:5, 6), she never fulfilled God’s desire in that regard. Despite Israel’s having the priestly house of Aaron, the royal dynasty of David, etc., the world does not see the true character of God through His people.

What Do You Think?

How do we guard against distractions that can result in our falling asleep spiritually?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding time demands

Regarding friendships

Regarding cultural expectations

Other

Now God is calling the exiles to be part of a second exodus in order to fulfill the original mandate. Zion is to awake to new clothing that will become her strength. She can finally discard the filthy rags of sin and idolatry that led her into exile in the first place, leaving with new garments of beauty and strength (compare Exodus 28:2).

We should note that the parallelism we see in this half verse is typical of Hebrew poetry: put on thy strength is parallel to and synonymous with put on thy beautiful garments. Likewise, Zion is parallel to and synonymous with Jerusalem. Thus there is only one action and subject involved, not two.

Dressing Up for God

My siblings and I did not get new clothes very often when growing up. Like most people I knew, I usually wore hand-me-downs; any item of clothing, either purchased or handmade, that was outgrown was subject to being passed on to a sibling who could wear it. We had what we needed, but it was still a happy day when the mail-order catalog arrived. My sisters and I would turn its pages eagerly as we admired the pictures of new sweaters and skirts, daydreaming of new outfits for school.

Even better than the arrival of a catalog was the arrival of outfits that my mother actually ordered. My sisters and I would race to the mailbox each day in anticipation of that package. Those crisp new clothes made us feel so special!

Perhaps this feeling of being special was part of what God had in mind for the Israelites when Isaiah spoke of their “beautiful garments” to come. New and beautiful clothing causes people to see themselves in a new light.

God has new clothing in mind for us as well, clothing fit for eternity (see Revelation 3:4, 5). Until that time, we wear different clothing: the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17). Along with that armor we clothe ourselves with Christ and everything He expects of us as Christians (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). Make sure you’re properly dressed for the day!—C. M. W.

B. Holiness (v. 1b)

1b. For henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

What causes exile was expressed by Isaiah earlier: “How is the faithful city become an harlot!” (Isaiah 1:21). After full judgment and a purging of dross, Jerusalem is once again to be pronounced as “the city of righteousness, the faithful city” (1:25, 26). The “beautiful garments” of verse 1a above refer to a new character of holiness in this regard.

As a result, the uncircumcised and the unclean cannot enter this renewed city (compare Isaiah 35:8-10; Revelation 21:27). The new reality is that the renewed people of God will be “Holiness to the Lord,” as was written on the golden plate on the front of Aaron’s mitre (Exodus 28:36, 37). How that is to happen is revealed in the servant song that begins in Isaiah 52:13, just after the end of today’s text.

C. Position (v. 2)

2. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

When we place this verse alongside Isaiah 47:1, we see the prophet contrasting the Babylonian captors with the exiles who are to return: “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.” The exiles will shake from themselves the dust of humiliation!

The two actions of arise, and sit down may seem contradictory at first glance. This seeming contradiction is resolved when we realize that sit down refers to taking one’s place on a throne. Thus after the captive daughter of Zion arises from the dust of humiliating captivity, she is enthroned as royalty.

What Do You Think?

What “captivity dust” do we most need to shake off as we prepare ourselves for service now and for eternity? How will we do that?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Matthew 5:29

Colossians 3:5

Romans 6:6

Ephesians 4:20-24

Revelation 7:13, 14

Other

This verse features a play on words regarding two terms that sound almost alike in Hebrew but mean the opposite: shevi for sit down (be enthroned) and sheviyya for captive. This highlights for the original reader the startling change in status to come for the exiles—from captivity to royalty (see Psalm 113:7, 8)! The remnant of Israel will be in a position to fulfill God’s desire of Exodus 19:5, 6.

II. New Message

                                                                                   (Isaiah 52:7-10)

A. Messenger Proclaims (v. 7)

7. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Isaiah 52:7-12 is a brief recapitulation of 40:1-21. Indeed, the entire message of 40:1-52:12 is how God as king is returning to Zion. The salvation He brings is complete, as depicted in the fourth servant song, Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

The scenario builds anticipation for a great rejoicing by first announcing a runner (him), who is to bring the messages we see in the verse before us. Watchmen then pass along the good news (v. 8, next), the immediate result being that the whole city of Jerusalem rejoices with loud singing (v. 9). Finally, all nations see this great salvation, implying that many will join in the rejoicing (v. 10).

Very few people have beautiful feet in a literal sense. However, a messenger who runs to deliver good news can be described as having beautiful feet even if those feet are covered in dust, calloused, bruised, and cut from the run. The nature of the news is described with the words peace, good, and salvation. All of these concepts converge in the thunderous expression thy God reigneth! (see Psalms 93:1; 96:10; 97:1).

Peace is the familiar Hebrew word shalom. The war is over! There are no more enemies at the gate. Wholeness of life prevails, and people can truly say Shalom! to one another. The word good occurs seven times in Genesis 1 to describe the creation of the world; salvation is more than just the salvation of humans, since all creation is to be saved (see Romans 8:18-25). Only when goodness is restored to everything can we rejoice fully in salvation.

We note in passing that the word salvation is a play on Isaiah’s own name, which means “salvation of God.” God is finally coming back to Zion to reign as king, to bring peace, goodness, and salvation to His people, even to the whole world. Israel will continue to rejoice over the fact that God reigns (see Psalm 98:1-3).

What Do You Think?

What attitudes and actions in your life need the most help in your witness to the reign of God? What corrective action will you take?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

For witness to fellow Christians

For witness to unbelievers

B. Watchmen Shout (v. 8)

8. Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

Here we have an image of watchmen on the walls receiving the news of the runner of verse 7, above. (The historical account of 2 Samuel 18:19-33 offers us a good picture of how this works.) After receiving the news, the watchmen are predicted to join their voices together as if in a choir. The phrase eye to eye refers to eyewitnesses’ clarity of sight (see Jeremiah 32:4), not “in agreement” (as in “they saw eye to eye on the issue”) per modern English idiom. In addition to the runner’s bearing of good news, what the watchmen will see is God’s coming as king, which is described in the servant song of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 that follows. This is what all the shouting is about!

C. Jerusalem Rejoices (v. 9)

9. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

As will the watchmen, the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall break forth in singing as a choir. This type of singing is the mark of a redeemed people (see Isaiah 26:1; 49:13). Such rejoicing occurs on top of the waste places, or ruins, of Jerusalem.

This predicts a spiritual renewal of Jerusalem. Since Isaiah 49:1, the prophet has switched topics from political restoration to the greater spiritual restoration. Only the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God can bring true comfort to the people (see 51:3, 12; 57:18; 61:2; 66:13). It is the impending advent of God himself that motivates this exuberant singing. Indeed, the Redeemer of 49:7, 26; 54:5, 8 will rescue His people (see 51:11; 63:9). The faithful still expect this centuries after Isaiah’s day (see Luke 2:38).

What Do You Think?

How do we best help fellow Christians who seem to live joyless lives of despair and pessimism in spite of all that there is to praise God for?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

As they deal with physical problems

As they deal with family conflicts

As they deal with financial difficulties

As they deal with spiritual struggles

Other

D. Nations See (v. 10)

10. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

What began in Isaiah 40:10 with reference to the arm of the Lord, which is His power to save, is to be fulfilled in full view of all the nations. We may think of a homespun idiom of God “rolling up His sleeves” to bare his holy arm for accomplishing this salvation (Isaiah 51:5; 63:5; compare Exodus 6:6; 15:16). God’s plan of salvation has included all nations from the outset (see Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).

For the nations to see the salvation of our God means that they experience it. A foretaste of this salvation is first given in Cyrus’s decree for the Judeans to return to their homeland. This is nothing, however, compared with the great salvation visible when Jesus is crucified and rises from the dead three days later. All of this is done in history before the eyes of all; as the apostle Paul testifies before Agrippa, “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).

III. New Exodus

                                                                                (Isaiah 52:11, 12)

A. Bearing the Vessels (v. 11)

11. Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

Once again we have a double imperative—this time depart ye, depart ye—given to God’s people who respond to His call. If Israel is to be a holy nation, she must do two things, one negative and one positive: touch no unclean thing and continually be ye clean (compare 2 Corinthians 6:17). The Lord’s wrath is gone (Isaiah 51:17-23), and His people are established as a holy nation (52:1, 2). All this imagery is to prepare Isaiah’s original readers for a new exodus, for now God’s people must bear the vessels of the Lord. While many commentators view this as leaving Babylon with the vessels of the temple (Ezra 1:7-11), the context of Isaiah persuades us to view it otherwise, as our next verse reveals.

B. Protected by God (v. 12)

12. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.

The prophet concluded his references to Cyrus and Babylon in Isaiah 48:20, 21. There Isaiah referred to Israel as fleeing from the Chaldeans as in the first exodus from Egypt (compare Exodus 14:5). While exodus themes are used, they are employed now to refer to the spiritual deliverance that consists in dealing with the root of Israel’s problem: sin and its devastating results.

Haste is not necessary as it was in the first exodus (Exodus 12:11, 33, 34). The God of Israel establishes His kingship over His people as one who goes before them as well as acting as their rearguard (rereward) in the pilgrim journey of life (see Numbers 10:25; Joshua 6:9; also Exodus 13:21). The new exodus is to take place in order for the renewed people of God to be His once again. The suffering servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 takes upon himself the “chastisement” that brings “peace” (53:5). By means of this substitutionary atonement, God’s people, made up of all the nations, are set free from sin bondage.

Better Than a Testudo!

Roman historian Cassius Dio (AD 150-235) relates a striking picture of a Roman military formation called testudo, which is Latin for “tortoise shell.” When ordered to assume this formation, heavily armed Roman soldiers would close ranks and hold their shields in such a way as to form a tight “wall” and “roof” against arrows.

The formation worked quite well in that regard, even providing protection for baggage animals and lightly armed soldiers who were clustered in the middle of the formation. When properly arranged, this formation was strong enough to hold the weight of horses and wagons so those could cross terrain that was otherwise impassable to them.

But every military formation has weaknesses as well as strengths, and enemy armies figured out ways to defeat Roman troops arrayed in testudo formation. Not so with the Lord’s protection! He knows where we’ve been and where we’re headed. He knows who is attempting to hinder our service. He is the guard no enemy can defeat. Our task is to remain in Him. Rejoice that God is our protection (see Psalm 5:11)! There is none better!—C. M. W.

What Do You Think?

How have you sensed the Lord’s protection over the years? Is His protection more apparent to you in hindsight? Why, or why not?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding spiritual protection

Regarding physical protection

Regarding protection of relationships

Other

Conclusion
A. Rejoicing in Full

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that seem to be hopeless, where reasons for rejoicing seem few and far between. We wonder how deliverance will come about, if at all. The problem may involve church conflicts, work difficulties, personal health issues, family squabbles—the list goes on and on.

So, where is any reason for rejoicing? The apostle Paul gives us the answer in Romans 5:2-5, 10, 11:

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.... For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

The apostle Peter offers further reasons for joyous praise in 1 Peter 2:9:

Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Obviously, Peter thinks we can be the people God wants us to be. We are indeed “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5). What a privilege! What a reason for rejoicing to the fullest!

The great battle for our souls was fought and won at the cross. Peace has been declared (Romans 5:1). Like the ancient exiles who long ago had to be awakened from slumber, “now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11). Rejoice!

B. Prayer

Heavenly Father, God of all hope, we thank You for the good news we have through our Lord Jesus Christ, for the peace, goodness, and salvation we experience each and every day through Him. May our joy cause us to exclaim again and again, “Our God reigns!” In Jesus’ name; amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Our God reigns!

Visual for Lesson 13. Start a discussion by pointing to this visual as you ask, “How has God blessed you with hope most recently?”

How to Say It

Babylon Bab-uh-lun.

Chaldeans Kal-dee-unz.

Cyrus Sigh-russ.

rereward rir-word.

shalom (Hebrew) shah-lome.

shevi (Hebrew) sheh-vee.

sheviyya (Hebrew) sheh-vee-yaw.

testudo (Latin) tess-too-doe.

Zion Zi-un.


December 7

Lesson 1

Worship Christ’s Majesty

Devotional Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Background Scripture: Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1:1-9

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Key Verse

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power. —Hebrews 1:3a

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. List ways in which Jesus is superior to angels.

2. Explain the significance of Jesus’ superiority to angels.

3. Help plan a Christmas season worship service that emphasizes the majesty of Jesus.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Let Me Draw You a Picture

B. Lesson Background

I. God’s Self-Expression (Hebrews 1:1-3)

A. Revelation Before Christ (v. 1)

B. Revelation in Christ (v. 2)

Is God Speaking to Me?

C. Revelation Through Christ (v. 3)

II. Superior to Created Beings (Hebrews 1:4-9)

A. Name Above Angels’ (vv. 4, 5)

B. Worthy of Worship (vv. 6, 7)

Angelic Work, Visible and Otherwise

C. Rules in Heaven (vv. 8, 9)

Conclusion

A. No Comparison

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2014-2015 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless