Lesson 5

The Cry of the Prophets

(1 Samuel 8, Genesis 18, Jude 1, Romans 1, Isaiah 1)
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Introduction: Prophets in the Old Testament held a special place of trust. Today, we have the Bible, but then much of God's instruction to the people came through His prophets. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what they teach us about God's will for the least of these!

  1. The Problem With Trust


    1. Read 1 Samuel 8:5. What did the people of Israel demand? (To be led by a king.)


      1. Who was leading them? (Read 1 Samuel 8:7. God was leading His people through the Samuel the prophet.)


      2. The people were concerned about Samuel's sons. What was the problem with them? (Read 1 Samuel 8:3. They were dishonest, accepted bribes, and perverted justice.)


    2. Read 1 Samuel 8:11-12. What is one thing a king will do? (He will have an army. He will force the people to fight.)


    3. Read 1 Samuel 8:13-17. What else will a king do? (He will tax the people. He will take your land, your produce and your people.)


    4. Let's go back and read 1 Samuel 8:9. Samuel does precisely what God told him to do. When you think about the concerns of the people, does this meet them? (The people were concerned that Samuel's sons would rule them. These sons were corrupt and did not follow the rule of law. On the face of it, the counter-argument that a king will create big government and be costly does not address the complaints of the people.)


      1. What does a discussion about the problems of big government address? (The people are the reason for the disconnect between their complaints and God's response. Assuming Samuel's sons were evil, the people should have asked God to correct the situation. Asking for a king means they would trust an unnamed human more than they trust God.)


    5. Read 1 Samuel 8:21-22. What does this teach us about God? (He will sometimes grant stupid requests when we fail to trust Him.)


      1. What is the lesson for us today? (To turn to God to solve the problems that currently face us.)


  2. The Sodom Problem


    1. Read Genesis 18:17, Genesis 18:20-21, and Genesis 18:32-33. (You are also welcome to read "between the lines.") These texts summarize the background story for the destruction of Sodom. God decides to share with Abraham what He intends to do to Sodom. Abraham tries to save Sodom. What does Abraham's final discussion with God reveal about Sodom? (There were not ten righteous persons in the entire city!)


      1. What does this teach us about God's mercy?


      2. This is a discussion about prophets, why discuss God visiting Abraham regarding Sodom? (Instead of going through humans, God directly speaks to Abraham.)


    2. Read Jude 1:7. What is the overriding sin of Sodom? (Sexual immorality and perversion.)


    3. After God says He will determine whether Sodom is as bad as is alleged, two angels appear as men and visit it. Let's read what happens when Lot takes them in so they will not be harmed by the locals. Read Genesis 19:4-5. What does this tell you about the nature of the sexual sin of Sodom? (The text says "all the men," "young and old" surrounded Lot's house for the purpose of raping the two angels.)


      1. Is it possible that all the men in that city were violent homosexuals? Or, were they willing to force sex with anyone of any gender? (Read Genesis 19:8-9. Lot makes the dishonorable offer to let them have sex with his virgin daughters - and these men reject the offer. This demonstrates that Lot relies on his own devices instead of God, but it also shows that Lot correctly determined that these men of Sodom were not interested in women.)


    4. Read Ezekiel 16:49. Despite this horrible account of what happens to strangers in Sodom, and Jude's clear statement that sexual immorality and perversion were the sins of the city, many today point to this text in Ezekiel to argue that Sodom was not burned up because of the sin of homosexuality. The real sin of Sodom was a failure to help the poor. What do you think?


      1. Read Ezekiel 16:50. What does it tell us about the sin of those who lived in Sodom? (They were arrogant and did detestable things. Who would reasonably conclude that those living in Sodom had only one sin?)


      2. Read Isaiah 3:9. What does this tell us about the sin of Sodom? (This puts the arrogance and sexual perversion together. It says they "parade their sin.")


        1. Have you ever heard of a "Gay Pride Parade?"


    5. A closer look at homosexuality is important because of the growing religious liberty conflict between its advocates and Bible-believing Christians. Read Romans 1:20. Why does God say that all human should know Him?


    6. Read Romans 1:21-23. Paul teaches that sin is progressive. After ignoring the proof of God, what is the next step for sinners? (Their thinking process deteriorates, their hearts are darkened, and they worship things that look like humans and animals.)


    7. Read Romans 1:24-27. What is the next step after idol worship? (They believe lies and engage in homosexual sex.)


    8. Read Romans 1:28-31. What is the next step into evil? (They hate God and are insolent, arrogant, boastful, and slanderers. They have no understanding, love, or mercy.)


      1. What is the next step into sin after homosexuality? (Hating God and lacking understanding, love, and mercy.)


      2. Is homosexuality a "lower level" sin then those sins listed in Romans 1:29?


      3. In discussions on the impact the homosexual movement is having on religious liberty, one consistent comment is that homosexual intolerance towards Christianity is due to the past intolerance of Christians toward homosexuals. Do the texts we just read support this "payback" theory? (No. Hate, insolence, arrogance, an absence of love and mercy are the natural progression of this sin. They are the natural progression of all sin.)


    9. Read Romans 1:32. Is God's will a mystery to sinners? (No. They not only understand that sin brings death, they approve and promote sin.)


  3. Sodom in Church


    1. Read Isaiah 1:9-11. Is God truly addressing the city leaders in Sodom and Gomorrah? (No. If you look at the context, Isaiah is addressing Israel!)


      1. Are these people who hate God? (That is not how they appear. They are sacrificing to the true God and not to idols.)


        1. What is the problem? (They do not obey, they just keep sacrificing! They are not serious about sin.)


    2. Read Isaiah 1:12-15. Why does God hate the worship of His people? (They have no intention of obeying.)


    3. Read Isaiah 1:16. What does God want of His people? (To stop doing wrong.)


      1. I believe that the sacrificial system illustrates righteousness by faith. The people did not "earn" salvation. Their penalty for sin was paid by the sacrificial animal. What does Isaiah 1:16 teach us who believe in grace? (Works are important! Our goal is to stop doing wrong.)


    4. Read Isaiah 1:17. What does God say is the right thing to do? (Seek justice!)


      1. Under the umbrella of justice we are told to "defend the oppressed," argue for "the fatherless" and "plead the case of the widow." What is the goal here? (Fair and equal treatment.)


      2. Presently in the United States there is great media interest in immigration. We have immigrants (and potential immigrants) who follow the rule of law, apply to enter, and become citizens. We also have immigrants who enter illegally and stay illegally. Some enter legally, but stay illegally. What does Isaiah 1:17 teach about this situation? (Isaiah teaches that God's people should be on the side of fair and equal treatment. The rule of law should be followed unless the law itself is unjust.)


    5. Friend, we have touched on some very controversial topics. If our goal is to follow God's will, should we apply God's teachings to the most pressing controversies of the day? Or, should we apply the teachings of the prophets to things that do not matter? Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict your heart to do what is right.


  4. Next week: Worship the Creator.

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Lessons on "The Least of These": Ministering to Those in Need

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