Unit 9, Session 5: The Hope of Redemption
Jen Tabor
Three Ways the Church Is a Living Sign of Hope

The church upends society’s rules.

When children are born, they were immediately part of a family. They didn’t ask for a family’s special combination of sin, dysfunction, and joy. And the rebirth is the same. We come out of the spiritual birth canal screaming, needy, and with a new family that we didn’t choose.

The church, at its best, is a cultural and economic anomaly, bringing together people who may never cross paths in a grocery store or school, or never willingly invite one another over for dinner. The peculiarity is no accident—it’s an integral feature of embracing and embodying the gospel for the world. This is part of why Lesslie Newbigin calls local congregations a “hermeneutic of the gospel.” Local churches are places where the unseen is made visible and where people who are unseen have the chance to experience a full welcome into the love of a God who sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

As members of Christ’s body, social stratification no longer rules our relationships with one another. Life in this strange place called the church is a life where people and positions deemed less honorable are given more honor, recognized as the gift they are to God’s people. It’s the place where a man with a PhD in English and a man who never learned to read will both learn from one another. A place where every person has something of value to bring to the table, both literally and metaphorically. It’s a place where strangers and enemies are made into friends and brothers and sisters.

Feasting together at the Lord’s Table readies us to reach across the dinner table to join hands with people who can be a little bit annoying to us. Side-by-side with our odd and dissimilar brothers and sisters, we learn how to put on the ill-fitting clothes of Christ’s righteousness. Together, we’re learning how to live like citizens of the kingdom of God.

 

The church invites us to submit to God’s work in the world.

From the very beginning, we’ve found ways to overlook, manipulate, and ignore the teachings of Christ and his vision for the church. James urges Christians to stop elevating rich people over the materially poor. Paul takes the church to task in 2 Timothy for “foolish and stupid arguments.” You don’t have to look far to see contemporary patterns of preferential treatment, foolish arguments, or disastrous abuses of power.

The church deserves the criticism we get for ignoring, neglecting, and perpetuating the antithesis of shalom in the world. Cultural narratives and practices rooted in the worship of money, individualism, white supremacy, and upward mobility have infiltrated the church, even our songs and prayers. Many of us have given ourselves over to these false gods, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the American Dream.

Our natural response to the spiritual battles waged inside of our churches, especially in our own local church, is to start or find a new church down the street. But this inclination betrays the hidden commitment to the very idols I balk at in the North American church. The idea that, given the right tools and resources, I could “do church the right way” misses the great mystery of God’s work through the church.

The downfalls of the church in North American context are undeniable. But the answer isn’t to forsake the local church for something new or a podcast with five stars on iTunes. Maybe the answer is, oddly enough, a deeper commitment to the unexpected centrality of this broken and seemingly irrelevant institution. Maybe the answer is to take seriously my vows to support its worship and work, to submit myself to the church, and to study its purity and peace. Maybe the answer is to believe God when he says that he is building us together into his dwelling place. 

 The church is a place where the weak and vulnerable come to celebrate.

Jean Vanier founded L’Arche Ministries in 1964. In L’Arche communities, people of varying abilities across the physical and mental spectrum live together, eat together, and take care of one another. In his book Living Gently in a Violent World, co-authored by Stanley Hauerwas, Vanier proposes celebration as a key to changing the world.

“Maybe what we need most is to rejoice and celebrate with the weak and the vulnerable,” Vanier writes.

‘Maybe the world will be transformed when we learn to have fun together. I don’t mean to suggest that we don’t talk about serious things. But maybe what our world needs more than anything is communities where we celebrate life together and become a sign of hope for our world. Maybe we need signs that it is possible to love each other.’

Vanier is right, that sign already exists. That sign emanates from strange and dissimilar groups of people living and disagreeing and celebrating together. The church is a living sign of hope for the world. And when we’re tempted to think His mission would be better off without us, remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians, that God chose the foolish and weak things of the world on purpose (1 Cor. 1:27).

And so we, all weak and vulnerable in our own ways, keep celebrating together, as we keep praying together for God’s kingdom to come. As we keep praying for his will to be done on our streets and in our neighborhood and in our homes, as it is in heaven. Keep praying for God to forgive me when we’re confronted with sin and the sin of our brothers and sisters in the church—even as we’re asking for and extending forgiveness. Through the worship and work of the local church, we have seen and experienced a small window into the spiritual and physical reality we pray for and celebrate together every week.

A taste of our future reality

The church feels fragile, as if it’s holding on by a string that we all collectively pick at and criticize. But the string holds. And so, week in, week out, we sing and sit and stand and pray. We hug one another, celebrate, argue, laugh, and eat meals together. And, over time, that fragile institution changes us. We’re different today than we were last year. Our small group is different. Our congregation is different. What is God doing with this frail group of people gathering to worship him? What mystery are we participating in? We don’t have a complete answer. But trust that despite its imperfections and fragility, the church will prevail. And we would not be surprised if the new heaven and new earth will look a little like the meal we share every week with a group of mismatched men and women around our table.

Unit 9, Session 4: The Humiliation of the Proud
Unit 9, Session 3: The Weakness of a Rescuer
Unit 9, Session 2: The Wisdom of a Deliverer
Unit 9, Session 1: The Pattern of Rebellion
Unit 8, Session 3: The Provision of Peace
Love Is Not Heavy-Handed

Whatever else we learn about church life, we learn quickly that it will at times come with conflict. We are, after all, sinful people attempting to share community with other sinners. It’s inevitable that problems will arise, inevitable that there will be angry words, unfortunate misunderstandings, unintentional insults. While there will be many great blessings that come through the local church, there will also be real sorrows.

Thankfully, God has not left us unequipped when it comes to dealing with those conflicts in a healthy and healing way. Solomon says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense,” while Peter echoes, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (Proverbs 19:11; 1 Peter 4:8). The great majority of offenses are to be overlooked, covered in love and forgotten. But sometimes the offense is serious and the harm grave, and in these times we are to follow the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20.

This text establishes the God-ordained process through which a person who has been sinned against can identify that sin to the offender and see a strained, separated, or full-out shattered relationship restored. It’s a simple process. First approach the person alone, describe the offense, and give him or her the opportunity to express remorse and seek forgiveness. Failing that, bring it to the attention of two or three witnesses, and then to the whole church. If even then the person does not repent, the lack of remorse should stand as proof that he or she is not a Christian and should be removed from the membership of the local church. Christians, after all, are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Those who refuse to seek forgiveness from others prove that they have not experienced forgiveness from God.

This process should be familiar to any member of any local church. When a pastor is approached by church members who have been aggrieved in one way or another, his first response should be to direct them to this text, trusting that it is God’s means to achieve relational reconciliation. And most often it does just that.

Yet we need to be careful, as this process can sometimes be used improperly. It can be used too often and a culture of hen-pecking can grow up in which no one is willing to overlook any offense. It can be used too seldom and a culture of fear-of-man can grow up in which people refuse to confront even the most egregious sin. It can be used too widely so it is applied to criminal offenses that are rightly the jurisdiction of the state, not the church. It can be abandoned altogether in favor of worldly methods of peacemaking that eschew the divine wisdom behind this one. But it can also be used heavy-handedly, and this is where it’s important to set it within its context.

While we sometimes summarize this process as “Matthew 18,” as in, “Have you followed Matthew 18?” it’s actually just one small part of a larger chapter and a much larger book. Though it is helpful to excerpt these verses and to follow them as a self-standing process, it’s a process provided within a context and it’s crucial that we don’t lose that. As we back up to the beginning of the chapter, we see Jesus addressing the disciples as they bicker about which of them is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He calls them to be counter-culturally humble and child-like. Next we see Jesus calling for the kind of self-examination and radical action that would see us prefer to lose a hand or an eye than to use either one for a sinful purposes. Then we come to the parable of the lost sheep which describes the broken-heartedness and loving care of the shepherd who seeks out his lost little lamb and who rejoices when he finds it.

Then, and only then, do we come to this process or method of reconciliation. When Jesus tells how to restore relationships, he has laid a table of tenderness. He has established a context of gentleness. He has told of the necessity of a kind of healthy-self doubt that acknowledges how blind we can be to our own faults. He will soon go on to tell that we must be willing to forgive others not once or twice, but an infinite number of times. The process in its context looks very different from the process torn from context.

As we consider this process as part of a wider text, we see that it is all about love. It’s not a hammer to be smashed down on the head of an offender. It’s not a means of gaining power over another person by demanding or withholding forgiveness. It’s not a means through which a church’s leadership can manipulate its members with the threat of excommunication. Rather, it’s a form of love, the tender pursuit of another person’s good with the offense merely providing the necessity and opportunity. It’s imitating the loving shepherd as he sets out to find and bring back his sheep. It’s expressing humility and protecting unity. It’s love and to be done in love.

Thus, if the process is carried out in a heavy-handed way, it’s being carried out wrong. If it’s being carried out in a threatening or unloving manner, it’s being carried out wrong. It’s only right and only consistent with the words and will of Jesus if it’s marked by love.

Northbridge Church
Reforming Our Vision for Missions

How Best to Serve the Under-Resourced

by JARED C. WILSON

Originally posted in Credo Magazine

When-Helping-Hurts.jpg

Once while flying out of Atlanta on an annual mission trip to Honduras, accompanied by a few members of my rural Vermont church, I was struck by the sheer number of “missionaries” also on board. How did I know they were on their way to a short-term trip themselves? The matching T-shirts, of course. Bright pink neon. There were roughly forty of them scattered throughout the cabin, five times the size of our little group. I struck up conversation with one of them, a young man from the Midwest. This is what I learned:

He didn’t know many of the people he was traveling with. They were all volunteers traveling through a parachurch ministry that facilitates short-term trips to different needy regions. He wasn’t sure exactly where they were going or what they were going to do. They would be divided up onto teams once they arrived. He described the options, all a variety of construction or “soup pantry” type activities. He mentioned nothing overtly religious, nothing resembling evangelism. He mentioned no local church partnerships or knowledge that the sending organization had any relationship with any central church or series of churches.

I smiled outwardly but grimaced inwardly. I sat back and mused with self-satisfaction. Our group was smaller—though joining a larger team led by my father out of his church in the Houston area—and we were ongoing partners with the same church-planting pastor and his church. They set our agenda and organized our teams. We all knew each other and due to our long-term partnership with the pastor, whom my father has known and supported for twenty years, we knew plenty of folks in the local church(es) as well, including the previous pastors we’d served on our short visits. We funded their ministries throughout the year. When we came for short-term trips, we financially employed local workers not just to assist us but to lead us, with our crew as their assistants.

Yes, we certainly were doing it “better,” I thought. But was our venture really any more serious or substantive than theirs? I do think so. And yet I have rethought our efforts there increasingly every year. I am constantly processing what’s best for the locals, for the pastors and their people. What if even our way of doing it better is still perhaps not the best way to help? Perhaps we should just send money? Should we never travel there at all? If so, what should we do? How should we do it?

These are questions every “missioner” ought to ask about their ways in the world outside their own contexts, but very few are equipped to do it.

Deeper than Prooftexts

This is why I think When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself  (Moody) by Steve Corbett and Brian Finkkert is an invaluable resource, a “must read” for nearly every Christian concerned about serving the world in ways that reflect God’s truth while honoring the people we desire to help. This book is a stellar contribution to the missional literature, sure to be a modern classic, and can better position those inclined to its wisdom to serve Jesus and his world with compassion and power.

Perhaps the greatest strength of When Helping Hurts is the way Corbett and Finkkert not only critique but give deep and nuanced reevaluations and constructive corrections to how evangelicals typically go about helping the under-resourced. In what ways is the book deep?

First, the authors explicitly connect, at every turn, the work of relief to the biblical gospel. Bypassing trite and superficial soundbites-born-of-prooftexts, they offer a complex theological matrix of understanding to the varied situations we face in the world of the poor and hurting. Touching on the unhelpful false dichotomies to which Christians often unthinkingly fall sway, they caution against both seeking “the King without the kingdom” and “the kingdom without the King” (37). Indeed, the opening section of the book lays a foundational grid of understanding between the gospel and its implications, rightly distinguishing them (thus avoiding the error of a social gospel) while rightly joining them (thus avoiding the error of a passive quietism). This is an exceptional corrective that would be an enormous help in today’s ongoing “conversation” over social justice and its biblical support, or the alleged lack thereof.

Second, the book dives deep into the systemic, cultural, and even spiritual, emotional, and psychological issues at work in the problems of poverty and suffering (51). Corbett and Finkkert have no problem arguing that many issues struggle to be solved by mere handouts or legal maneuvering, because the root of the problems are either found in or exacerbated by built-in inequalities or cycles of historical injustice. For instance, they cite the very real setback facing the identical sin of pre-marital sex in different contexts (87). When a poor teenage “welfare mom” gets pregnant (again) out of wedlock, it is no less a sin than when a wealthy suburban teenager does, and yet the impact on the poor teenager is greater, often due to circumstances beyond her control. Simply connecting poverty to individual sin—whether sexual immorality or laziness—does not go deep enough to help us with adequate support in alleviating the problem.

Failure to go deep in this regard will hinder our help, perhaps making us actually unhelpful. The authors write, “If we treat only the symptoms or if we misdiagnose the underlying problem, we will not improve their situation, and we might actually make their lives worse” (52).

The authors consequently challenge not just the way our worldviews shape our understanding of the poor, but also our understanding of ourselves! It is possible that by not thinking deeply at all levels in our efforts to help those who hurt, we don’t just patronize or marginalize those we mean to uplift, but we actually end up exalting ourselves, indulging some kind of messiah complexes. “[U]ntil we embrace our mutual brokenness,” they write, “our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good” (61).It is possible that by not thinking deeply at all levels in our efforts to help those who hurt, we don’t just patronize or marginalize those we mean to uplift, but we actually end up exalting ourselves.CLICK TO TWEET

A Nuanced Vision

The depth of thinking in the book is a great asset to its argument(s) and will be to any thinking Christian who wants to adorn the gospel well with his or her relief efforts. At times, however, I wondered if the depth could be a hindrance to wider consideration and acceptance of the book’s premises. What I mean is, the book is quite lengthy and very meaty—replete with matrices, logical formulations, acronyms, and academic-level sociological data. I fear it will seem overwhelming and perhaps too complex (and thus too intimidating) for as wide a readership and evaluation as it deserves. Nevertheless, the book’s depth is still a strength if only because the authors “show their work,” both philosophically and theologically.

The strength of its nuance is helpful, as well. The authors from the outset cast out false dichotomies. It’s not that your short-term trip is wrong. It’s that you may be doing it wrong. How can you do a short-term trip better, if you’re going to conduct one? They offer tools for critical evaluation in Chapter 7 and beyond.

For example, an STM team will tend to assume that treating every individual in the community in the same way is obviously the right thing to do and may give out, say, food, in equal amounts to everyone. But some collectivist societies have found that giving a disproportionately large amount of food to particular individuals can increase the chances of financial success for those individuals, who will then share their earnings with the community as a whole . . . A failure to discover and appreciate this local knowledge can cause the STM team to do unintentional harm while trying to do good.  (159)

The sections on reforming our vision for short-term trips and all they entail is full of insights like these, helping us not to throw out every idea of mission the church has ever had, but rather to reevaluate from the ground up, considering our own motivations, the local contexts (worldview, culture, resources, etc.), and the best avenues for long-term fruit.

At the same time, they allow for cases when outsiders really may know more than the locals on certain matters, particularly if matters of spirituality are involved with unbelievers (139). They also do not discount the giving of money, but urge a reconsideration of how money is given and to whom (126).

In all, When Helping Hurts is incredibly thorough, covering everything from local church benevolence ministries to establishing micro-finance loan systems, from health care provision to wisdom on cross-cultural architecture! I would recommend this book to every pastor, actually, and in fact to every earnest evangelical seeking to love as Jesus loved in a world vastly more complex than our Western discipleship culture usually prepares us for.

Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, Director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of numerous books, including Gospel WakefulnessThe Pastor’s JustificationThe Prodigal Church, The Imperfect Disciple, and Supernatural Power for Everyday People. A frequent preacher and speaker at churches and conferences, you can visit him online at jaredcwilson.com.

Northbridge Church
Husbands, 8 Admonitions to Love Your Wife

FROM William Boekestein  This article orginally posted here

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Col. 3:19, NKJV)

When God says, “Husbands, love your wives,” he speaks of the woman as a complex being. He calls every man to love his whole wife just as every man loves his whole self (Eph. 5:29). This means that a husband must do all he can to understand his wife’s world. What follows are eight admonitions to love our wives with respect to their various facets.

1. Love Her Heart—Emotional Love

The Bible uses the word “love” over 350 times. Almost 10% of these times are in the Song of Solomon (which comprises less than 0.5 percent of Scripture). One thing we learn from this is that a husband should use words to express his love for his wife. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away! O my dove…let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song 2:10). I know of no woman who wouldn’t love to hear her husband speak to her like that.

2. Love Her Mind—Intellectual Love

A loving husband graciously convinces his wife that, to him, she is the most important person in the world. By this I don’t mean that he persuades her that he will never leave her. That’s not good enough, of course. Does your wife know that you value her above all else? Intellectual love also means engaging your wife’s mind. Many men win the hand of their future wife by thoughtful, engaging, conversation. Too many men fail to take this habit into marriage.

3. Love Her Body—Physical Love

At the most basic level, by physical love a husband strives to meet his wife’s physical needs. An able man who consistently chooses not to provide for the physical needs of his wife does not love her. At the same time, men must help their wives steward God’s provisions in order to maximize their earnings.

Physical love is also complimentary. Your wife needn’t be a supermodel to receive regular, sincere, compliments. Physical love must be exclusive. Taking second looks at other women or carrying on about their beauty is destructive. Each man must strive to please his own wife (1 Cor. 7:3,33)

4. Love Her Soul—Spiritual Love

Men tend to be task-oriented. But often we neglect one of our greatest responsibilities; the cultivation of godliness in our wives. We need to become comfortable with the phrase, “as for me and my house” (Josh. 24:14-15). Joshua understood that as a covenant head, his choices had a profound impact of those under his care. He must always think of the spiritual good of his dependents.

This means making thoughtful, prayerful, decisions, even if they are unpopular. “We are going to church today even though that woman verbally hurt you last week. We must have family worship even with our busy schedule.” These are expressions of love.

5. Love Her Relationships—Relational Love

For couples with children, relational love may require a husband to protect his wife from her “closest relatives.” Be swift and firm to discipline children for disrespecting mom. Resist contradicting her in front of the children. Give her “time off” when necessary. Outside of the home, develop an interest in her friends. Help her to focus on friends that are best for her.

6. Love Her Humanity—Realistic Love

Be tender in your wife’s failures. She needs to know that you love her even if you are saddened by her sin. Be grateful that she is different than you. A loving husband sees his wife as God’s gift to him even if she is not perfect.

7. Love Her Calling—Supportive Love

If a wife’s greatest calling is to be submissive to her husband (Col. 3:18), a loving husband helps his wife to be submissive. Some wives never learn biblical submission because their husbands rarely set a positive example. They fight against the council of the church. They speak blasphemously of civil authorities. They complain about their employer’s policies. Yet they demand full submission from their wives. God says, all men must submit to proper authority (Rom. 13:1). You can hardly help your wife do this if you aren’t doing it yourself.

8. Love Her Maker—Theological Love

Ultimately, we are loveless because we love ourselves more than we love God and are dissatisfied with God’s provision. This means that the more you love God the better equipped you will be to truly love your wife.

By his matchless grace, God draws us to love him and empowers us to love others. Matthew Henry notes that the epistles which focus most on the glory of divine grace, and the majesty of the Lord Jesus, “are the most particular…in pressing the duties of the several relations.” The gospel is the good news that the Son of God “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ loves the whole Christian–heart, mind, body, soul–and every other part. Only as we come to terms with what that means will we be able to obey God’s word. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”

Ray Brandon
Unit 8, Session 3: The Provision of Peace
Unit 8, Session 2: The Promise of Victory

Sermons:
Hershael York, Rahab and the Rule of the Nations: http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/rahab-and-the-rule-of-the-nations

Nancy Guthrie, Help Me Teach the Bible: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/help-me-teach-the-bible/dale-ralph-davis-on-joshua/

Sam Storms, Two Spies and a Shady Lady: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/two-spies-and-a-shady-lady/

Jen Wilkin, Rahab Redeemed (from a women’s bible study she led): https://jenwilkin.podbean.com/e/joshua-week-3-rahab-redeemed/

Jen Wilkin, Jericho in Ruins (from a women’s bible study she led): https://jenwilkin.podbean.com/e/joshua-week-5-jericho-in-ruins/

John MacArthur, Joshua 2, 6: http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/80-29.mp3

John Piper, Faith to Be Strong & Faith to Be Weak (not necessarily on the text of Joshua, but a good resource on faith): https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/faith-to-be-strong-and-faith-to-be-weak

Articles:
https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/rahab-and-spies/

https://www.namb.net/apologetics-blog/joshua-s-conquest-did-it-happen/

Videos:
https://thebibleproject.com/explore/joshua/

Fill ins:
pg 60: Jew, Gentile, atoning death, Christ

Unit 8, Session 1: The Call to Courage
Easter Session : Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection

This week, kids learned that the events leading up to Jesus’ death were terrifying for the disciples. Judas, their supposed friend, betrayed their Lord. Jesus was arrested, beaten, and killed. Though Jesus had plainly told the disciples that He would die and rise again on the third day, they did not understand. In fact, they were afraid to ask about it. (See Mark 9:31-21.) They had believed that Jesus was the One who would rescue God’s people, but how could He if He was dead?

Then, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb, Jesus wasn’t there. An angel of the Lord appeared. The guards were so afraid, that they fainted. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid.” The angel reassured the women that Jesus’ body hadn’t been stolen; in fact, “he has risen, just as he said” (Matt. 28:5-6).

The women left the tomb with fear (perhaps because they did not fully understand what was happening) and great joy (because they had heard Jesus was alive!) to tell the disciples the news. As they were leaving, Jesus also greeted them: “Do not be afraid.”

Fear exists when there is a perceived danger or threat. When Jesus rose from the dead, He eliminated the threat of eternal separation from God for all who trust in Him. Even real dangers like suffering and persecution need not be feared because nothing—neither life nor death—can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus. (Rom. 8:38-39)

As you talk about this story with your kids, emphasize the gospel: The death and resurrection of Jesus is the center of the gospel. We deserve to die because of our sin, but Jesus died in our place. Because Jesus is alive, we do not need to fear anything. Those who trust in Jesus have forgiveness and eternal life, and we can joyfully obey Him.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers

    • God is always with us.

    • People put Jesus on a cross, and He died.

    • God made Jesus alive again.

    • God sent Jesus to rescue us.

  • Preschool

    • How can we glorify God? We can glorify God by loving Him and obeying Him.

    • Jesus died on the cross and is alive.

  • Kids

    • How can we glorify God? We can glorify God by loving Him and obeying Him.

    • Jesus died on the cross to pay for sin and rose again to defeat death.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Deuteronomy 31:8 (Deuteronomy 31:8a for Babies and Toddlers)

Unit 7, Session 4: The Promise of God's Presence

Sermons specifically on Deuteronomy 31 & 32:
Sandy Wilson, Blessed: http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/blessed

Albert Mohler, Deuteronomy 31: https://albertmohler.com/2004/03/28/deuteronomy-31

Albert Mohler Deuteronomy 32: https://albertmohler.com/2004/04/04/deuteronomy-32

Mark Dever, Version 2.0: https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/sermon/version-20/

Sermons/Podcast on Deuteronomy as a whole:
Help Me Teach the Bible, Scott Reed: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/help-me-teach-the-bible-scott-redd-on-deuteronomy/

Mark Dever, The Message of Deuteronomy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ytH1utWP7Q

Gary Millar, Deuteronomy: http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/the-theology-of-deuteronomy-for-preachers

Articles:
https://thebibleproject.com/blog/exile-predicted/

Videos:
The Bible Project, The Book of Deuteronomy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMhmDPWeftw

The Bible Project, Read Scripture: Deuteronomy: https://youtu.be/q5QEH9bH8AU

Gary Millar, The Message of Deuteronomy: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/course/deuteronomy/#overview

Fill ins:
pg 40: transgress, salvation
pg 41: compassion, punishment

Unit 7, Session 4: Moses' Farewell

Decades had passed since God used Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery and lead them toward the promised land. The Israelites had not trusted God then and had refused to enter the land.

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites were once again at the edge of the promised land. But this time, it was a whole new generation of Israelites—many of whom had not even been born when the people left Egypt and came to this land the first time. Their leader, Moses, was 120 years old.

Moses wrote the Book of Deuteronomy to tell the people all that God had done for them and to repeat the laws and instructions that God had given His people. At the end of the book, God told Moses that Moses would soon die, never setting foot in the promised land because of his disobedience. (See Num. 20:12.) Instead, God chose Joshua to lead Israel into the land.

God also revealed to Moses that even though Israel had just endured 40 years of punishment for not trusting Him, the people would abandon God again. Having the laws written out would not be enough to keep the Israelites from breaking their covenant with God. Moses emphasized that obedience would lead to blessing and life, but disobedience would lead to curses—namely, exile from the land.

Moses went up to a mountain where he could see the land that God had promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then Moses died there.

Emphasize to your children that Moses wasn’t perfect, but Moses was a good leader for God’s people. No other prophet in Israel was like Moses—until Jesus came. The Bible says Jesus deserves more glory than Moses. Jesus is our perfect leader. He died and was raised so that Moses and every believer in all of time can enter the promised land of God’s kingdom.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers

    • We can trust God.

    • Moses led God’s people to the promised land.

    • Moses reminded God’s people to love and obey God.

    • God promised to be with His people.

  • Preschool

    • What does it mean to sin? To sin is to go against God and His commands.

    • Moses reminded the people of God’s promise.

  • Kids

    • What does it mean to sin? To sin is to think, speak, or behave in any way that goes against God and His commands.

    • Moses reminded the people to keep God’s covenant.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (Proverbs 3:5 for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers)

Unit 7, Session 3: Balaam and Balak

God’s people, the Israelites, were in the wilderness. They had arrived at the promised land decades earlier, but the people had rebelled—refusing to trust God to give them the land. They believed it would be better to die in the wilderness than follow God (Num. 14:2), so God sent them into the wilderness for 40 years (vv. 28-29). In time, all of the adults died except for Joshua, Caleb, and Moses. The children grew up and more children were born. The Israelites disobeyed God time and again, but God still provided for them. He planned to keep His promise to give Israel the promised land.

As the Israelites traveled, God gave them victory over attacking armies like the Canaanites and Amorites. Not surprisingly, when Israel set up camp in the plains of Moab, on the east side of the Jordan River, Balak—the king of Moab—was terrified. The king knew he could not defeat the Israelites on his own, so he called on Balaam, a pagan prophet, to put a curse on them.

Though Balaam did not follow God, he knew of God and God spoke to him. God told Balaam, “You are not to curse this people, for they are blessed.” God’s plan all along was to bless humanity (Gen. 1:28), specifically through the nation of Israel (Gen. 12:3). So each time Balaam spoke over Israel, God did not allow him to curse the Israelites. Instead, Balaam spoke in four clear messages, insisting that God would bless the Israelites.

One of the ways God would bless the Israelites is found in Numbers 24:17: “A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel.” Balaam told of a powerful future king who would be victorious over his enemies. This prophecy referred to and was ultimately fulfilled by Jesus.

Teach your kids that God protects His people. His promises are sure. Balaam could not curse God’s people. God had blessed the Israelites, so Balaam blessed them too. Fourteen hundred years after Balaam announced God’s promise, Jesus was born. God sent Jesus to bless the whole world by rescuing people from sin.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

  • Babies and Toddlers

    • We can trust God.

    • Balak wanted Balaam to speak against Israel.

    • Balaam could only bless God’s people.

    • Balaam said that God would send His people a king.

  • Preschool

    • What does it mean to sin? To sin is to go against God and His commands.

    • Balaam blessed God’s people.

  • Kids

    • What does it mean to sin? To sin is to think, speak, or behave in any way that goes against God and His commands.

    • God commanded Balaam to bless His people.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (Proverbs 3:5 for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers)

Unit 7, Session 3: The Blessings on God's People
Unit 7, Session 2: The Bronze Snake

Last week, kids learned that the Israelites believed the discouraging report of the land of Canaan instead of Joshua and Caleb’s good report. As a result, God punished the Israelites for their lack of faith. The Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness when they complained to Moses and to God. God had done some pretty amazing things for the Israelites—He rescued them from the hand of Pharaoh, He parted the Red Sea so they could safely cross, and He provided manna for them to eat. But to the Israelites, this wasn’t enough.

God disciplined them because He knew their dissatisfaction was a sign of a bigger issue: a heart problem, a sin problem. They stopped believing that God is good. In their hearts, the Israelites believed the same lie that rattled Eve in the garden. Maybe God isn’t interested in giving us what is best. Maybe He is holding out on us.

God sent venomous snakes that bit the people and killed many of them. The Israelites repented. They wanted Moses to ask God to take away the snakes.

God provided a solution. He told Moses, “Make a snake image out of bronze and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.”

In John 3:14, Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” What was Jesus talking about? Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So Jesus invites us, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22).

As you talk to your kids this week, help them understand that the Israelites faced a huge problem because of their sin. God sent snakes to punish Israel, but anyone who was bitten could look at the bronze snake on the pole and live. Because of our sin, we face a huge problem: we are separated from God. We deserve to die, but anyone who looks to Jesus on the cross and trusts in Him will live forever with God.

 

FAMILY STARTING POINTS

●     Babies and Toddlers

○     We can trust God.

○     God did not leave His people when they complained.

○     God healed His people.

○     God sent Jesus because He loves us.

●     Preschool

○     What does it mean to sin? To sin is to go against God and His commands.

○     God told His people to look at the bronze snake.

●     Kids

○     What does it mean to sin? To sin is to think, speak, or behave in any way that goes against God and His commands.

○     God told His people to look at the bronze snake to be healed.

 

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

Proverbs 3:5-6 (Proverbs 3:5 for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers)

Unit 7, Session 2: The Promise of God's Provision