Lesson 10

Messages of the Prophets

(Genesis 22, Acts 4, Galatians 3, Hebrews 4)
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Introduction: If someone asked me to teach a class about the messages from my wife, I would have to do some thinking. My wife gives me all sorts of messages. Is there a theme in the messages from your spouse or your best friend? In general, my wife's messages are positive and not critical. They are fun and not harassing. I love to hear from her. What about messages from God? Does He have a theme? Are they fun or harassing messages? Is there a way to summarize all that He says through the prophets? Let's dive into the Bible and explore this possibility together!

  1. Abraham the Prophet


    1. Read Genesis 22:1-2. Tell me all the reasons why, if you were Abraham, you would not believe this is a message from God?


      1. What kind of a god would remind Abraham that he loved his only son as part of a message to kill and burn his son?


      2. Read Leviticus 20:1-3. Is God giving mixed messages?


    2. Read Genesis 22:9-12. We can see that God did not intend that Abraham kill his son. What do you think was God's intent? Did He have a message? (This was a terrible test of loyalty.)


      1. Is the message about selfishness? God talks about "withholding" the son. (God speaks as if it were also a test of selfishness.)


      2. Would this show that the parents who sacrificed their children to Molech were unselfish? (Read Hebrews 11:17-19. The parents giving their children to Molech did it to gain blessings. It was a selfish act. If Abraham sacrificed his son it would deny him the promised blessing. Abraham concluded that God would raise his son to life. This shows that Abraham never thought he would be blessed by sacrificing Isaac. He was just obedient.)


    3. Read Genesis 22:15-18. What does God promise Abraham? (Abraham was not in this for the blessings, but God promises blessings and many descendants who are themselves blessed. God also promised Abraham's descendants will be the means by which all nations on earth are blessed.)


      1. Why is Abraham being promised so much? ("Because you have obeyed me.")


    4. This is contemplation time: What message is God giving through the angel and through Abraham? (That He wants loyalty and obedience.)


      1. Is the message deeper than that? Why would God chose such a terrible, mixed-message test? Why use such an awful and illogical context?


  2. The Son and the Sanctuary


    1. Read Acts 3:24-26. To what event does this text link Abraham's experience? (Jesus coming to earth.)


    2. Read Galatians 3:6-9. To what theology does Galatians link Abraham's experience?(Righteousness by faith.)


    3. The story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac seem completely illogical on the surface. They smell of Molech and pagan child sacrifice. Let's go through the ways in which the details of Abraham's experience relate to the message God was (and is) giving us:


      1. First detail: an innocent son. How does that relate to God's message? (Jesus is the innocent Son of God. Compare Luke 1:46-55.)


      2. Second detail: a loved son. How does that relate to God's message? (God shows His incredible love and loyalty to us because He was willing to give His loved Son - He was willing to give Himself.)


      3. Third detail: an altar of sacrifice. How does that relate to God's message? (God has taken away our sin by the gift of His Son. Compare Luke 1:67-77.)


      4. Fourth detail: God intervenes with another sacrifice in place of the beloved son Isaac. How does that relate to God's message? (Righteousness by faith. God died in our place - which we accept by faith. God died to save our loved ones from eternal death!)


  3. The Rest


    1. Read Genesis 2:1-2. What message is God giving us here? (That He is the Creator and that Sabbath rest is part of His creation.)


    2. Read Exodus 20:8-11. What is God's message here? (This makes explicit what is implicit in Genesis: God wants us to celebrate His creation through the weekly Sabbath of rest.)


    3. Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What is God's message here? (This is another view of Sabbath rest. God wants us to celebrate our rescue from evil through the weekly Sabbath.)


    4. Read Hebrews 3:18-4:2. What kind of rest is God speaking about here? (The rest that comes from the gospel - that is the story of Abraham and Isaac as a prophecy of Jesus' death on our behalf.)


    5. Read Hebrews 4:3-6. This is contemplation time again. What do the gospel and Sabbath rest have in common? (They are victory points. When we read an obituary composed by the family, it generally consists of all of the "high" (victory) points of the person's life. God created us and He made the Sabbath rest to celebrate and memorialize this victory of His authority. God snatched His people from the slavery of Egypt. He reminded the people that the Sabbath rest was a memorial of His creative authority and His authority over Egypt (evil). The phrase "His work has been finished since the creation of the world" suggests that God's plan of salvation was in place at the creation. The Sabbath also memorializes that.)


    6. Read Hebrews 4:7-11. What Sabbath rest do we find here, and what does it have to do with what we just contemplated? (Jesus came, died and rose to eternal life on our behalf. Just as God created us, just as He snatched His people from Egyptian slavery, so He has now snatched us from the slavery of sin and eternal death. We celebrate all of that weekly by entering into the Sabbath rest.)


    7. Read Hebrews 4:14-16. This brings us back in a complete circle to Abraham and Isaac. What temptation did Abraham and Isaac face that Jesus faced? (To give in to selfishness. To take the easy way out. To avoid the pain of sacrifice.)


      1. What is God's message to us through His work as "a Great High Priest," through the Abraham story and through the Sabbath celebration of God's victories? (That from the beginning He has put everything in place to allow us victory.)


      2. Can you see now why the Abraham sacrificing Isaac story is not some weird, mixed-message event, but rather a summary of God's messages to humans?


  4. The Ultimate Victory


    1. Read Isaiah 25:6-8. What message is Isaiah the prophet sharing with us? (The victory feast when we get to heaven! Vegetarians may have to put in a special advance order.)


    2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. What victory point do we see here? (Death is swallowed up in Jesus' victory over sin. Isaiah 25:8 tells us that death is swallowed up and 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 quotes this prophetic message to reinforce it.)


      1. For those vegetarians who are suffering from my joke about Isaiah 25:6, ask the carnivores in the class where they are getting the meat if death is over?


    3. Friend, can you see a consistent message from God through His prophets? I can. He is our Creator, He is our Rescuer from evil, sin and death. He offers us a Sabbath rest now to celebrate His Creation, plan of salvation and victory over sin. That Sabbath rest anticipates the ultimate Sabbath rest in Heaven and the earth made new. Will you accept the prophets' messages today? Will you enter into God's Sabbath rest?


  5. Next week: Interpreting the Prophetic Writings.


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