Sunday School Lesson

September 25

Lesson 4 (KJV)

Everlasting Covenant

Devotional Reading: Isaiah 42:5-9

Background Scripture: Isaiah 61

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

8 For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Key Verse

I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. -Isaiah 61:8

Lesson Aims

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

1. Describe the nature and range of God’s promised blessings.

2. Explain Jesus’ use of Isaiah 61:1, 2 in Luke 4:18, 19.

3. Write a prayer of thanks for God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. “My Name’s in the Bible!”

B. Lesson Background

I. Future Blessings (Isaiah 61:1-4)

A. The Person (v. 1a)

B. The Message (vv. 1b, 1c)

C. The Time (vv. 2a, 2b)

D. The Impact (vv. 2c-4)

Mighty Trees, Small Acorns

II. Faithful God (Isaiah 61:8-11)

A. Covenant’s Endurance (v. 8)

B. Israelites’ Reputation (v. 9)

Reputations: Ours and God’s

C. Special Clothing (v. 10)

D. Global Witness (v. 11)

Conclusion

A. It’s Our Move

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

 

A. “My Name’s in the Bible!”

One summer found my future wife helping with a church in the Boston area during her college years. Among her responsibilities was working with Vacation Bible School, which the church conducted yearly.

During that VBS, she became acquainted with a teenage girl of Asian descent whose first name was Yi (pronounced Ye). One of the Scriptures covered was Jesus’ Great Commission, which is recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. Verse 19 begins with His command to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”

When young Yi heard that verse, she became very excited. “Jesus is talking to me!” she exclaimed. “He wants Yi to go and tell others about Him!” Yi was quite thrilled to think that her name was in the Bible.

Names are important, none more so than that of Jesus, found throughout the New Testament. Although Jesus is not mentioned in the Old Testament specifically by that name, numerous prophecies there highlight various aspects of His life and ministry that were to come. Today’s text includes a passage that Jesus specifically cited and declared as “fulfilled” in himself (Luke 4:21).

B. Lesson Background

Today’s study is the final one in this unit of lessons, “The Sovereignty of the Father,” drawn from the book of Isaiah. Our passage under consideration, like those of lessons 1 and 2, includes an important messianic thrust.

Isaiah 61 appears in the closing section of the book of Isaiah, a section typically delineated as being chapters 60-66. Bryan Beyer rightly refers to these chapters as “the grand finale of God’s restoration.” Their content was intended to give great hope to God’s people in Isaiah’s day. Their purpose may be compared with the closing chapters of the book of Revelation. Those chapters offer hope to Christians in any age, particularly those suffering persecution. In fact, there are numerous similarities between the closing chapters of the two books, as this listing makes clear:

Isaiah

Revelation

60:3, 5, 11

21:24-26

60:19, 20

21:23; 22:5

61:6

1:6; 5:10

61:10

19:8; 21:2

62:2

2:17

62:11

22:12

63:1-3

14:20; 19:13, 15

65:17; 66:22

21:1

65:19

21:4

66:6

16:1

66:7

12:2, 5

 

I. Future Blessings

                                                                  (Isaiah 61:1-4)

Traditionally, the book of Isaiah is seen to feature four “servant songs”: Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12. Scholars do not agree on the passage boundaries, and some see 61:1-3 as a fifth servant song, building especially on the fourth.

A. The Person (v. 1a)

1a. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.

In lesson 1 we saw Isaiah foretell the Branch promised to come “out of the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). The prophet declared, in wording similar to the half verse before us, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” (11:2). The New Testament records that “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon” Jesus (Luke 3:22). Jesus, “full of the Holy Ghost,” then “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,” where He was tempted (4:1). Later, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (4:14). Then, in the Nazareth synagogue, He quotes from our passage in Isaiah (Luke 4:16-19).

Without the witness of the completed New Testament, we may wonder who the me refers to. But Luke leaves no doubt.

B. The Message (vv. 1b, 1c)

1b. Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.

Per the above, Jesus is clearly the one who is anointed to do all the things listed here. The word tidings means “news” or “information,” directed in this case to the meek. The prophet sets “the meek” parallel with “the poor” in Isaiah 11:4; 29:19 (compare Amos 2:7); such people are the ones who humble themselves and acknowledge their destitution apart from God’s aid.

Their poverty may include both material and spiritual aspects (compare Matthew 11:4, 5; 5:3). The reference to the brokenhearted calls to mind a portion of David’s words of repentance: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17; compare 34:18; 143:7).

1c. To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

The task to proclaim liberty is rooted in the regulations of the year of jubilee, described in Leviticus 25:8-55. Specifically, verse 10 describes the return of and to land that had been sold during the previous 49 years, as it reverts back to original owners. Jesus’ use of the to proclaim liberty concept in Luke 4:18, 19 (there translated “to preach deliverance”) foreshadows what He will do by means of His death and resurrection. In those acts He makes possible the return of human beings to their rightful owner (the Lord) by freeing them from the prison of sin, death, and Satan (Hebrews 2:14, 15; 9:15; see also Romans 6:18; 8:2; Revelation 1:5b, 18).

What Do You Think?

What has God equipped you to do for the advancement of His kingdom? How can you better accept this challenge?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Considering “lessons learned” from lost opportunities

Considering your mentor and/or protégé role in relation to others similarly equipped

Other

C. The Time (vv. 2a, 2b)

2a. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

This task may again reflect an aspect of the year of jubilee, mentioned above. However, one should not think in this case of a specific 12-month period, but of a general extent of time. Similarly, when Paul speaks of the “day of salvation” in 2 Corinthians 6:2, it is clear that he is not describing a literal 24-hour period.

2b. And the day of vengeance of our God.

When Jesus reads Isaiah 61:1, 2 in the Nazareth synagogue, it is noteworthy that He stops just before this phrase (Luke 4:18-20). Jesus does not come to earth the first time to condemn, as He himself says (John 3:17). The day of vengeance will occur when Jesus returns (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

D. The Impact (vv. 2c-4)

2c, 3a. To comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

The prophecy returns to a more encouraging tone. The words mourn and mourning call to mind Jesus’ promise in the Beatitudes that those who mourn shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4; compare Luke 6:21). The opportunity to exchange ashes (used along with sackcloth in Old Testament times to express mourning; see Esther 4:1, 3; Jeremiah 6:26) for beauty emphasizes the transformation that will take place.

Receiving the oil of joy in place of mourning adds further emphasis. Oil (olive oil in this case) is associated in Scripture with prosperous surroundings (Deuteronomy 8:7, 8; Jeremiah 31:12). It is used in anointing ceremonies (Psalm 45:7) and in welcoming guests into one’s home (Luke 7:46).

Furthermore, a completely new wardrobe is provided: the garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness. All of this amounts to quite a “makeover”!

What Do You Think?

What spiritual impact should we hope to have on those within our sphere of influence?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In terms of new things embraced

In terms of old things discarded

3b. That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

The prophet’s imagery changes. In an earlier description of coming judgment, Isaiah had said of God’s people, “For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water” (Isaiah 1:30). Things are different, however, thanks to the work of the master arborist (compare Isaiah 60:21; contrast Matthew 15:13).

Mighty Trees, Small Acorns

When I was a child, it was a treat to get away from the daily routine of the farm and go shopping in the nearby city. Along the way, the intriguing message on a certain roadside billboard would always catch my attention.

And just why was it so intriguing? I suppose the odd phrasing of its message was one reason: “Tall oaks from little acorns grow.” People did not talk that way; it sounded like something out of a poetry book. But that phrase stayed with me as I thought about what it could mean. My childhood mind wondered why it was significant enough to warrant a billboard.

To adults, its message is obvious: even the largest trees start small. That message has countless applications. For one, it applies to God’s people. The beginning of our Christian journey of faith may not be marked by an emotional avalanche (compare Isaiah 6; Acts 9:1-19). We may simply wonder what this new life in Christ will mean to us, where it will take us, how we will succeed in pleasing God and enduring the trials we are told will come. But when we allow God to have His way with us, our “acorn faith” will grow into a “big-tree witness,” tall and strong for all to see (compare Psalms 1:3; 52:8; 92:12). -C. M. W.

4. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

This promise seems to apply to what transpires when God’s people return from captivity in Babylon. However, one must note how this kind of language is used elsewhere in Scripture. For example, the prophet Amos speaks of a time when God will “raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof” and “raise up his ruins” and “build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11). This too sounds like the prophet is foreseeing a major stone-and-wood building program. But according to James in his address to the Jerusalem Conference, Amos’s words are fulfilled through the inclusion of Gentiles into the church (Acts 15:13-19). Isaiah uses the language of topographical transformation in Isaiah 40:4, but this is fulfilled in a spiritual sense in the ministry of John the Baptist (Luke 3:2-6).

Since Isaiah 61 begins with words that Jesus declares fulfilled in himself, it seems best to see the verse before us as describing the impact of His ministry. Just as verse 3 uses word pictures of clothing and tree planting to portray the spiritual transformation accomplished by Jesus, the present verse uses the language of urban renewal to make a similar point. The New Testament describes the growth of the church as a “building” program (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5). Further, Paul uses the terminology of planting and building consecutively in 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 to explain how the church is to grow.

II. Faithful God

                                                                   (Isaiah 61:8-11)

In verses 5-7 (not in today’s text), Isaiah continues his stirring account of the coming changes. Instead of serving “strangers” and “sons of the alien” (v. 5), as God’s people are to do during the Babylonian captivity, the reverse will happen. However, their relationship toward the “Gentiles” (v. 6) will not be one of domination as payback. Rather, God’s people are described as becoming “the Priests of the Lord” and “the Ministers of our God” (v. 6). Their exalted position is not one of privilege, but of responsibility to teach the “strangers” the Lord’s way (compare Isaiah 2:2-4). Thus this portion of the chapter also highlights the future “makeover” of God’s people.

How to Say It

Beatitudes Bee-a-tuh-toods (a as in mat).

Canaan Kay-nun.

Galilee Gal-uh-lee.

Nazareth Naz-uh-reth.

synagogue sin-uh-gog.

A. Covenant’s Endurance (v. 8)

8a. For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering.

The word judgment carries the idea of justice. Indeed, the two words often occur together as synonyms or near synonyms (examples: Isaiah 9:7; 59:9, 14). The Lord himself is just (Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 45:21), and He requires the same of His people (Proverbs 4:18; 21:3; Isaiah 56:2), especially of their leaders (2 Samuel 23:3). As the Lord hates robbery, so must His people. The Hebrew behind burnt offering can also be translated “iniquity,” as it is in Psalm 125:3; Micah 3:10; and Habakkuk 2:12.

God makes clear that acts of worship from those who do not follow Him wholeheartedly are repulsive, with hypocritical offerings mentioned (examples: Isaiah 1:10-17; Amos 5:21-24). The Lord intends to bring about dramatic changes in His people; His righteous standards do not change.

What Do You Think?

When considering our response to injustice, how do we make sure not to tread in areas that God has reserved for himself to handle?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding initiatives as individuals

Regarding initiatives as a church

8b. And I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

These two promises are linked. The word translated truth often carries the idea of “faithfully,” as it is translated in Proverbs 29:14. With either translation, it is clear that God is firmly committed to keeping the promise He is making. The covenant foreshadowed here has been established by the one who affirmed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The writer of Hebrews does not quote Isaiah’s prophecy, but does quote Jeremiah’s lengthy promise of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12). Jeremiah’s “new covenant” is the same as Isaiah’s everlasting covenant.

B. Israelites’ Reputation (v. 9)

9. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.

Again we see poetic repetition, with their seed parallel with their offspring and the Gentiles parallel with the people (plural in the Hebrew-“the people groups”). This verse therefore highlights another aspect of the dramatic transformation concerning the ancient Israelites’ reputation.

In their future captivity, the Israelites will be derided by foreigners (Deuteronomy 28:36, 37); God’s covenant people will become “a reproach” (example: Jeremiah 29:17-19). Isaiah, however, pictures a time when that reputation is to change, as they come to be known as the seed which the Lord hath blessed. Further, an important aspect of that state of blessing will be inclusion of the Gentiles. They will be part of the everlasting covenant.

Reputations: Ours and God’s

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic book The Scarlet Letter tells the story of a young woman forced to wear a large letter A, scarlet in color, on the front of her blouse. Its purpose was to shame publicly the adulterous woman. The punishment revealed the attitude of seventeenth-century Boston toward the woman and her unknown paramour. Once ruined, a reputation was not easily restored in that Puritan context. One might be banished from town or isolated if allowed to remain.

The Bible reveals varied reactions to sinfully shameful behavior. Stonings, by nature, were public (Leviticus 24:14; etc.). By contrast, the “very great” sins of Eli’s sons, which included adultery, went unchallenged except for a weak, private rebuke from their father (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25) until God himself intervened (2:34; 4:11).

We dare not forget that our reputations communicate something about God to the unbelieving world (see Matthew 5:16; Romans 2:24; 1 Peter 2:12; etc.). Christians are blessed because of God’s promises to restore His covenant people. We are blessings to others as we model principles that glorify God (1 Peter 3:13-17). -C. M. W.

What Do You Think?

What do others see in you that causes them to realize that you are blessed by God?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

What family members see

What friends and acquaintances see

What strangers see

C. Special Clothing (v. 10)

10. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Who is the I speaking in this verse? The Lord is speaking in verse 8, but the individual in view here says I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. To resolve this question, we return to the opening verse of this chapter: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.” This individual is Jesus, as we have already noted in our comparison with Luke 4:16-21. The reason He finds great joy in the Lord is that He has been clothed . . . with the garments of salvation and covered . . . with the robe of righteousness.

Thus let us picture Jesus, having surveyed the impact of His ministry in Isaiah 61:2-9, now concluding His assessment by expressing satisfaction. As God looked on the original creation and declared it to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31), so Jesus looks at the “recreation”-the new creation made possible through His everlasting covenant-and concludes likewise.

The analogy involving a bridegroom and a bride brings to mind the relationship between Jesus and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). We may wonder what kind of ornaments a bridegroom wears. The Hebrew word may refer to some type of headdress, as the word is used in Ezekiel 24:17, 23; 44:18. A bridegroom in biblical times usually wears a headpiece that resembles a turban.

While recognizing that the language of the verse before us applies to Jesus, we also note that the blessings described are blessings He shares with His followers. Revelation 19:7-9 informs us of the special clothing that awaits those who are part of the “wife” of the Lamb; He prepares us to join Him at His “marriage” (compare 21:2).

What Do You Think?

What most influences your level of joy in the Lord? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding positive influences

Regarding negative influences

D. Global Witness (v. 11)

11. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

The imagery of a fruitful and abundant garden echoes language of “the planting” in verse 3. Isaiah previously had pictured the word of the Lord as producing results similar to what we see in the verse before us (Isaiah 55:10, 11). Paul uses agricultural language in acknowledging that the Lord is the ultimate source of church growth: “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7). As the church continues to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20), righteousness and praise will continue to spring forth before all the nations.

Conclusion

A. It’s Our Move

Following the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan and allotment of the land as recorded in the book of Joshua, we read this summary: “And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. . . . There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:43, 45). Yet we read earlier that various locations in the promised land had not been conquered by the Israelites; such areas remained in the hands of the peoples who lived there (13:13; 15:63; 16:10). We reconcile these passages by recognizing that God had done all He promised to provide victory for His people, but they were responsible to finish the task. The promised land would be fully theirs only as they exerted the effort and trust required by the Lord.

Today’s text records some profound blessings on God’s people. Yet we may look around us and wonder, “How can this ever happen? When will it take place?” In many nations, followers of Jesus are persecuted intensely, even to death. Why does “righteousness and praise” not “spring forth before all the nations” (Isaiah 61:11)?

It’s at this point that the church should take a close and painful look in the mirror. Are we dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission, or has it become the Great Omission? God has done His part in giving His Son to establish His “everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 61:8), but are we failing on our end like Israel of old? The fields are still “white . . . to harvest” (John 4:35). It’s our move.

B. Prayer

Father, help us see the tasks in our Scripture today as our service in a broken world. May we see ourselves as Your coworkers so that righteousness and praise may “spring forth before all the nations.” We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

We are partners with God in the greatest undertaking in history.

Visual for Lesson 4. Point to this visual as you ask, “In what ways do you find this image to be a good representation of your new life in Christ?”


October 2

Lesson 5 (KJV)

The Brightness of God’s Glory

Devotional Reading: John 1:1-5, 10-14

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 1:3

Lesson Aims

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

1. Identify key terms that set forth Jesus’ identity and status.

2. Explain Jesus’ position as the climax of God’s saving plan.

3. Describe one way he or she can exhibit greater submission to Jesus as supreme king and make a plan to do so.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Who Is the Greatest?

B. Lesson Background

I. Revealer of Truth (Hebrews 1:1, 2)

A. That Was Then (v. 1)

B. This Is Now (v. 2)

II. Revealer of Glory (Hebrews 1:3, 4)

A. Person and Work (v. 3)

Jesus Is Nice; God Is Mean?

B. Status and Name (v. 4)

III. Worthy of Worship (Hebrews 1:5-9)

A. Status of Angels (vv. 5-7)

The Great and Powerful

B. Status of the Son (vv. 8, 9)

Conclusion

A. The Crucified King

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2016-2017 (KJV): StandardLessonCmy2016KJV.

"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