Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lesson for June 30, 2013 EZRA 1:1 to 3:7

Lesson for June 30, 2013: Restoring Joyful Worship (Ezra 1:1–3:7)
By Sam E. Stone

Continuing this quarter’s theme, “God’s People Worship,” we now turn from Isaiah to two other helpful resources—the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Along with the book of Esther, these two writings form the closing section of Old Testament history. They tell of the Jews’ return from Babylon, the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem, and the reestablishment of life in their homeland.

J. Stafford Wright observes, “It is possible that sacrifices had been offered at times on the temple site during the exile (compare Jeremiah 41:5). But the purpose now was to reinstate the divinely prescribed order of sacrifice.” Real joyful worship could begin again!

The book of Ezra begins with the announcement from Cyrus, king of Persia, that all the Israelites would be permitted to return to their native land and to rebuild their temple. Bible students will remember that Cyrus was predicted by name years before his birth as the leader who would let God’s people return to their homes (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1, 13).

Ezra was a priest who could trace his genealogy back to Aaron (Ezra 7:1-5). He stood as a mediator between God and the people. Tradition associates his ministry with the beginning of the Pharisees, a conservative group who tried to live separate from the world. His devotion and purpose are described (Ezra 7:10), as well as his method of speaking.

Rebuilding the altar
Ezra 3:1, 2
The seventh month is used to help date the timing of the events taking place in Jerusalem. This was considered the most important month in the Hebrew year since it included the Festival of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Festival of Tabernacles. The number seven was special to Israel. Ruben Ratzlaff writes, “The word itself signifies completion or taking a vow. Every seventh day was holy; seven weeks separated two other feasts (Passover and Weeks) from each other; the seventh month as noted was particularly marked for religious observances; every seventh year was a Sabbath Year, and seven sevens of years (the fiftieth year) brought them to the Year of Jubilee.”

Those returning from captivity had settled into their homes (Ezra 2:1). Now they had come in unity to Jerusalem, ready to build the altar and offer the appropriate sacrifices. One writer described the event as “something like a seven-day campout, with feasting every day!” Two of the leaders, Joshua (the high priest) and Zerubbabel (the prince), led their brethren in rebuilding the altar. Their purpose was to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in harmony with Old Testament specifications.

Resuming the offerings
Ezra 3:3-6
No doubt the altar was built at the same spot where the previous altars had been erected in Jerusalem. David had an altar built here, after purchasing a threshing floor (2 Samuel 24:18-25). Years later his son King Solomon erected a temple on this site. When the people of Ezra’s day built the altar, it was on this foundation. The first sacrifices were burnt offerings. These required the sacrifice of a lamb (see Numbers 28:1-4; 28:9, 10). Daily burnt offerings followed for all the appointed sacred festivals of the Lord. The people’s generous giving was reflected by their many freewill offerings to the Lord. The people gave “according to their ability” (Ezra 2:69). This is the same spirit commended by the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 8:3). Generous giving is an essential part of worship in every age for all God’s children.

The rebuilding of the entire temple lay ahead. This was only a start—but it was a good start, since proper worship was again practiced at the proper place. The people were right to begin by offering sacrifices, indicating their desire to fully obey the Lord, even as they thanked him for their return from captivity to the promised land.

Resources for the temple
Ezra 3:7
Skilled workmen were paid by Solomon when he built the Lord’s temple originally (1 Chronicles 22:14-16). Years later the workers who repaired the building were paid as well (2 Kings 12:6-14). Scripture indicates that “the worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18). A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work is always appropriate. The Israelites even selected the best wood and had it shipped in from miles away, based on the authorization granted by Cyrus.


*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

June 24: Matthew 23:29-39
June 25: Jeremiah 7:30–8:3
June 26: 2 Kings 24:1-12
June 27: 2 Chronicles 36:15-21
June 28: Ezra 1:1-8
June 29: Ezra 2:64-70
June 30: Ezra 3:1-7

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lesson for June 23, 2013: Worship in the New Creation (Isaiah 65)

"God is so close to his people that he anticipates their every need before they ask."

Isaiah 65:17-25

King James Version (KJV)

17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of theLord, and their offspring with them.
24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.

Scriptural Commentary

65:17-25. In these verses the Lord described the millennial kingdom, which is seemingly identified here with the eternal state (new heavens and a new earth). In Revelation, however, the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21:1) follow the Millennium (Rev. 20:4). Most likely Isaiah did not distinguish between these two aspects of God’s rule; he saw them together as one. After all, the Millennium, though 1,000 years in duration, will be a mere pinpoint of time compared with the eternal state.
The need for new heavens and a new earth is suggested in Isaiah 51:6. During the Millennium Jerusalem will be a place of joy (65:18). Also the Lord Himself will rejoice over it, for sorrow will be vanished (v. 19). Though death will still be present, life spans will be extended (v. 20) and people will enjoy safety and the produce of their vineyards (vv. 21-22). God’s blessing will be on their work and families (v. 23) and He will speedily answer their prayers (v. 24). Wild animals will lose their ferocity (cf. 11:6-8; Hosea 2:18) and harmony and safety will prevail under God’s good hand (Isa. 65:25). (On God’s holy mountain see comments on 11:9.)
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

Lesson Commentary 

In this final lesson from Isaiah, we study part of his prophetic message that parallels John’s vision recorded in the book of Revelation. Bible scholars point out how the book of Isaiah mirrors the entire 66 books of the Bible. Isaiah 1–39 is reminiscent of the 39 books found in the Old Testament, while the remaining 27 chapters call to mind the 27 books of the New Testament.

Isaiah 40–66 contains many significant prophecies about Jesus Christ. That section begins with these encouraging words: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her . . . sin has been paid for” (40:1, 2).

Henry Halley suggests that Isaiah’s final two chapters (65, 66) are God’s answer to the exiles’ prayer of the previous two chapters. The faithful remnant shall be restored (65:8-10). The disobedient shall be utterly destroyed (65:2-7, 11, 12). New nations shall be brought into the fold (65:1; 66:8). All shall be called by a new name (65:15). They shall all inherit new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:22).

God’s Promise
Isaiah 65:17
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth,” declares the Lord. The word create is used three times in the opening verses of our text (vv. 17, 18) to emphasize this concept. Isaiah had promised “new things” (42:9; 48:6). Now the old order of things is shown to be past (compare Revelation 21:4). The Lord’s people are assured that their time of captivity and punishment is over; the promised “better days” are here. Early on, Isaiah had emphasized God’s judgment on sin and unbelief. Now (like John in Revelation 21:1), he shows how God’s mercy provides hope for all of his children.

“This spiritual era would be as much ‘created’ by God as was the material universe,” says James E. Smith. According to the New Testament, the new creation began with the work of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). The completion of that new creation will follow the final judgment (2 Peter 3:3-13; Revelation 20:11-15).

God’s Provision
Isaiah 65:18-25
In light of all that God has promised to do, his people can be glad and rejoice forever. The city of Jerusalem, long the most sacred spot on earth for both Jews and Christians, will be a delight and its people a joy. This city had been warned of double punishment for all its sins (Isaiah 40:2). But now “the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” Similar reassurance is given in John’s vision of the holy city (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). James Muilenburg explains, “The contrast is to the sorrow of the former age, the subject of the preceding poem (cf. [Isaiah] 64:10). . . . Messianic Jerusalem is the city of joy and gladness.”

What was normal in the past will be so no longer. Age limitations are a part of life now—but not in God’s tomorrow. Gone will be all premature death. Death will no longer have power over people. Earlier the prophet promised that the Lord “will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). To Israel, the promised land was seen as a place where people could live peacefully and enjoy productive crops. In Heaven that will be a reality (Deuteronomy 8:7-14). The disobedient will not be there.

James Burton Coffman suggests, “The wonderful blessings pertaining to God’s people which are listed in [these Deuteronomy 8 verses] refer to spiritual privileges, despite their being expressed here in terms of material prosperity. Quite obviously in the passage, the natural laws of birth and death, and other conditions of our earth-life still prevail during the age of Messiah, in which we most assuredly live.”

One of the great promises of Scripture is found in Isaiah 65:24: “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Few texts provide so much encouragement for the doubting, the disturbed, or the despondent. God is so close to his people that he anticipates their every need before they ask. In Heaven we will see him face-to-face. James A. Addison calls this a “strong expression of God’s readiness to hear and answer prayer, not a mere promise that it shall be heard, but an assurance that it shall be granted before it is heard.” Even though we are unable to grasp all that is promised, we can confidently trust God’s perfect plan for his people throughout eternity.


*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

June 17: Psalm 19:1-6
June 18: Psalm 19:7-14
June 19: Romans 3:9-20
June 20: Romans 5:6-14
June 21: Isaiah 42:1-9
June 22: Revelation 21:1-7
June 23: Isaiah 65:17-25
By Sam E. Stone

Friday, June 14, 2013

Meaningless Worship Sunday School Lesson June 16th

Bible Basis: Isaiah 29:9-16a
Bible Truth: Worship God From the Heart
Memory Verse Isaiah 29:13
Lesson Aim: That You will learn that God will judge those who honor Him with their lips and not their hearts.

Listen to an excerpt of the message : Tell the Devil, "It's Over!"

Here is the text for Sunday's Lesson, A commentary follows:

Isaiah 29:9-16 (Wordstudy KJV)
The Blindness and Hypocrisy of Israel
9 Stay yourselves, htmv* and wonder; wcj,qmv cry ye out, htmv* and cry: wcj,qmv they are drunken, qpf but not wcj,ptn with wine; nn they stagger, qpf but not wcj,ptn with strong drink. nn
10 For cj the Lord nn hath poured out qpf upon pr,pnx you the spirit cs,nn of deep sleep, nn and hath closed wcs,pimf ⌜ ⌟ your eyes: du,nn,pnx ⌜ ⌟ the prophets df,pl,nn and ⌜ ⌟ wcj your rulers, pl,nn,pnx the seers df,pl,nn hath he covered. pipf
11 And the vision cs,nn of all df,nn is become wcs,qmf unto you pp,pnx as the words pp,pl,cs,nn of a book df,nn that is sealed, df,qptp which pnl men deliver qmf ⌜ ⌟ (pnx) to pr one that is learned, qpta/df,nn saying, pp,qnc Read qmv this, pndm I pray thee: pte and he saith, wcj,qpf I cannot; for cj it pnp is sealed: qptp
12 And the book df,nn is delivered wcj,nipf to pr him that pnl is not learned, saying, pp,qnc Read qmv this, pndm I pray thee: pte and he saith, wcj,qpf I am not learned.
13 Wherefore the Lord nn said, wcs,qmf Forasmuch as this df,pndm people df,nn draw near nipf me with their mouth, pp,nn,pnx and with their lips wcj,pp,du,nn,pnx do honor pipf,pnx me, but have removed their heart far pipf/wcj,nn,pnx from pr,pnx me, and their fear nn,pnx toward pr,pnx me is wcs,qmf taught pupt by the precept cs,nn of men: pl,nn
14 Therefore, pp,ad behold, ptdm,pnx I will proceed qpta to do a marvelous work pp,hinc among pr this df,pndm people, df,nn even a marvelous work hina and a wonder: wcj,nn for the wisdom cs,nn of their wise aj,pnx men shall perish, wcj,qpf and the understanding wcj,cs,nn of their prudent pl,nipt,pnx men shall be hid. htmf*
15 Woe ptx unto them that seek deep df,pl,hipt to hide pp,hinc their counsel nn Lord, and their works pl,nn,pnx are wcj,qpf in the dark, pp,nn and they say, wcs,qmf Who pnit seeth qpta,pnx us? and who wcj,pnit knoweth qpta,pnx us?
16 Surely cj your turning of things upside down qnc,pnx shall be esteemed nimf as the potter’s df,qpta clay: pp,nn for cj shall the work nn say qmf of him that made pp,qpta,pnx it, He made qpf,pnx me not? ptn or shall the thing framed wcj,nn say qpf of him that framed pp,qpta,pnx it, He had no understanding?

[1] Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. 2000, c1991, c1994. The complete word study Bible : King James Version (electronic ed.). AMG Publishers: Chattanooga

Jerusalem’s understanding of God’s revelation (29:9-24)

  • In this section a contrast is drawn between the people’s present spiritual insensitivity and their future spiritual understanding.
  • 29:9-12. The Jerusalemites’ spiritual insensitivity was in itself a judgment from God. The people were told to blind themselves (v. 9) but the Lord also caused the blindness (v. 10). The fact that the prophets and the seers did not see and understand clearly was part of God’s judgment. They did not understand God’s revelation about His judgment on the Assyrians that Isaiah recorded on a scroll (vv. 11-12). No one, either people who could read or those who couldn’t, could understand this truth.
  • 29:13-14. The people of Jerusalem, professing to know God, were formally involved in acts of worship but they did not worship God from their hearts. They were more concerned with man-made legalistic rules than with God’s Law, which promotes mercy, justice, and equity. Because of that, God would judge them; their wisdom would vanish.
  • 29:15-16. God pronounced woe on those who thought He did not see their actions. They attempted to hide their plans from God by doing things at night. They were not thinking clearly, for God can hide things from man (vv. 10-12) but not vice versa. Such thinking twisted the facts and confused the potter with the clay. A jar, however, cannot deny that the potter made it, or say that the potter is ignorant (cf. 45:9; 64:8). Actually the people knew nothing of what was going on, but God always knows everything.
. verse

vv. verses
cf. confer, compare
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

Here is another point of view to ponder:

from 14, 2013
By Sam E. Stone

Each week our lesson planners include a devotional reading that is parallel to the message of the printed text. Their choice for today, Luke 8:9-15, comes from Jesus’ parable about the sower. It clarifies and confirms the meaning of Isaiah 29. God is concerned about what we really mean when we say we worship.

In Luke 8:10, Jesus quotes a similar passage in Isaiah (6:9) that warns those who are “hearing, but never understanding . . . seeing, but never perceiving.” Lewis Foster notes, “These words do not mean that God desires that some will not understand, but it expresses the sad truth that those who are not willing to dig for the treasure will never find it. Their disinterest in spiritual truths and their concentration on the things of this world keep them from pursuing the deeper lessons of the parable.”

People’s Apathy
Isaiah 29:9-12
Isaiah declared that his hearers have made themselves blind and drunk. They refuse to see and understand the prophetic message. R. B. Y. Scott writes, “Willful disobedience to moral and spiritual claims upon his life finally destroys man’s capacity to hear and respond.” Such people stagger like a drunk man in their moral confusion. For them, all that Isaiah has been prophesying means nothing. The people to whom the message has been given come up with meaningless excuses (“I can’t read it; it’s sealed” or even “I don’t know how to read”).

Described in these verses is a person who bandages his eyes and covers his head (v. 10). By this he shows an unwillingness to listen and learn what the Lord is saying to him through inspired messengers. One of the New Testament passages citing this reference is Romans 11:7ff. When speaking of how only a remnant of Israel will be saved, Paul explained, “The others were hardened,” referring to Isaiah 29:10.

God’s Awareness
Isaiah 29:13-16
The so-called worshippers whom Isaiah condemned were only interested in keeping up appearances. If you had heard them sing or pray, you might have thought they were deeply spiritual. The problem is, you can’t see inside them like God can. Their hearts are far from me. Their worship . . . is based on merely human rules they have been taught. These words of Isaiah were quoted by Jesus when he described the Pharisees and teachers of the law in his day (see Matthew 15:1-9). Mark also recounts what Jesus said about these people, as he quotes this text: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites . . . ‘They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules’” (Mark 7:6, 7).

How God reacts to hypocritical worship is clear: The wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. In speaking to the Corinthians years later, the apostle Paul contrasted the truth of the gospel with the so-called wisdom of “the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:18ff). He concludes, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (v. 25). No “human rules” can produce the kind of worship the cross can generate. Regardless of how the world’s intellectuals may view things, it is God’s analysis that counts in the end.

On another occasion, Paul cited these words of Isaiah to make his case when challenged by some people who wanted their choices and decisions to have supreme authority. “Who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” (Romans 9:20). Such a view would turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! The people of Israel would be judged for their unbelief. Faulty thinking does not excuse wrong actions any more than the potter’s clay can condemn the potter for how it has been made. When we worship, we must do so from the heart, in harmony with God’s will.

H. Lynn Gardner summed it up well: “The religious leaders and the crowds had opportunities to trust and understand Jesus’ teachings concerning his kingdom, but their selfish and materialistic view of religion and life kept them from seeking to truly understand. They heard the words, but did not understand their intended meaning.” Isaiah’s warning is still needed today if we are to worship the Lord with meaning!


*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

June 10: Isaiah 1:10-17
June 11: Isaiah 2:5-17
June 12: Isaiah 58:1-7
June 13: Jeremiah 13:1-11
June 14: Zechariah 7:8-14
June 15: Luke 8:9-15
June 16: Isaiah 29:9-16

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Give Thanks! Sunday School Lesson June 8, 2013


Isaiah 12:1-3

 Chapter 12 stresses that when the remnant is regathered to the land they will rejoice. The two stanzas in this chapter are each introduced by the words ”In that day you will say“ (vv. 1, 4).

In that day (cf. 10:20; 11:10) refers to the time of deliverance which has been described in 11:1-12:6. When the nation is regathered and the Messiah is reigning the remnant, designated by the word I, will utter these words of praise. The remnant is distinguished from the nations, referred to in verse 4. In verses 1-3 God is praised because His anger has been turned away, Israel has been comforted (v. 1), and the Lord is (i.e., is the Source of) strength... salvation, and song. (”Salvation“ is mentioned at the beginning and end of v. 2.) Israel’s ”salvation“ will be more than spiritual peace of mind and deliverance; it will also include prosperity. To draw water from the wells of salvation (v. 3) pictures living according to God’s principles and thus participating with joy in the blessings He will provide.

12:4-6. The remnant will thank the Lord and will call on each other to let the world know what God has done, probably meaning what He will have done for Israel and Judah. God’s name (His revealed character) is to be exalted (vindicated) before the world, so that people everywhere will realize that He fulfills His promises. And people will sing to Him because of His glorious deeds.

The remnant also, will remind themselves of the greatness of God, the Holy One of Israel (cf. comments on 1:4). Being reassured that God is among them, they will be joyful (cf. 12:3). Chapter 12 is a fitting climax to the contrast between the fall of the Assyrian Empire, which was threatening Judah in Isaiah’s day, and the rise of God’s glorious kingdom, which will certainly come. Eventually all the world will know of God’s truth 

excerpted from:
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL
By Sam E. Stone
The apostle Paul told Christians, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). This is undoubtedly good advice, but it is often difficult to do. When Isaiah warned the people of God’s coming judgment on the nation of Israel, he gave them a similar message.

In last week’s lesson we studied Isaiah’s call to the prophetic ministry (Isaiah 6). The chapters that follow (7-11) foretell the coming of Immanuel, the Messiah. This is good news! But along with these words of hope, Isaiah also described God’s coming punishment for his unbelieving people.

The Lord would use Assyria to conquer them. They would not get away with rebelling against God. But even with this warning, the prophet assured the people that still a remnant would be saved. From the Root of Jesse the Lord will bring a Redeemer. After this affirmation Isaiah included this psalm of worship.

Personal PraiseIsaiah 12:1-3That day suggests the period of time just mentioned in 11:10 (see also 10:20, 27). This first stanza of the psalm records what people would say after seeing how God delivers them from their enemies. After God has punished Israel, he will punish the other nations (like Assyria and Babylon).

This psalm shows first the response of a faithful individual who praises the Lord for all that he has done. That person can now praise God, not because God is angry with him, but because the anger he had shown against him is now ended. W. Fitch writes, “The nation itself, redeemed by great mercy and mighty acts, is heard singing the praises of her God . . . The Psalm is a counterpoint to the song in Exodus 15, sung by the children of Israel after their deliverance from Egypt.”

Many prophecies of Isaiah highlight the coming work of the Messiah. Later in the book, Isaiah introduces the coming Servant of the Lord. He is that one on whom the Lord will lay “the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

This brings about what the New Testament calls “reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). The prophet looks to the future. Henry Halley describes what he sees: ”a Warless World . . . under the reign of a righteous and benevolent King of Davidic descent formed of the redeemed of all nations together with the restored remnant of Judah.”
No wonder the prophet could proclaim, Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The apostle Paul said of Jesus, “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). James Smith explains, “The redeemed . . . would boldly and personally declare their trust in God. They would embrace Yahweh as their strength, song and salvation.”

This led to the use of another word picture, one filled with significance for the Hebrew people—With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Life-giving water is often used to describe God’s saving power (see Psalm 65:9; John 4:10; 7:38; 1 Peter 3:20; Revelation 21:6).

Public PraiseIsaiah 12:4-6

The second part of the psalm moves from the singular to the plural. It portrays the community of the Lord’s people offering praise together. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name.” In our day, God’s children need not wait for a special Thursday in November to praise the Lord. One way in which we thank him is tomake known among the nations what he has done. This is reminiscent of the exodus. After God delivered his children from slavery in Egypt, Moses led the people in a song (Exodus 15:1ff). The pagan world would see and acknowledge the Lord’s hand of power and deliverance (see Exodus 15:14ff). Everyone could be certain, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him” (Exodus 15:2). God worked through the exodus to see that his name is praised everywhere (Exodus 9:16).

When Isaiah was called to the prophetic ministry, the holiness of God was underscored in his vision (Isaiah 6:3). Now a similar message rings clear: Great is the Holy One of Israel among you. Fitch concludes, “The Great One is the Holy One. That separation from evil ensures victory in his warfare and guarantees the permanence of his kingdom. This is therefore the supreme note in the song which celebrates his reign.”
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
June 3: Psalm 92:1-8
June 4: Psalm 95:1-7
June 5: 1 Chronicles 16:8-13
June 6: 1 Chronicles 29:10-18
June 7: 1 Timothy 4:1-5
June 8: Luke 17:11-19
June 9: Isaiah 12

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sunday School Lesson June 2 Holy, Holy, Holy

June 2, 2013   Holy, Holy, Holy
Additional Study Notes
6:1. Since Isaiah ministered during King Uzziah’s reign (1:1) Isaiah’s vision of God in the year . . . Uzziah died would have occurred within the 12 calendar months before or after the king’s death in 739 b.c. If the vision occurred before Isaiah began his ministry then obviously the vision was before the king’s death. However, if the vision came sometime after the prophet’s ministry started-see comments earlier under ”B. Isaiah’s commission (chap. 6)“-then Isaiah could have seen the vision within the calendar year (739 b.c.) either shortly before or shortly after the king died.
This time notation points to a contrast between the human king and the divine King (v. 5), God Himself and to some contrasts between Uzziah and Isaiah. In Uzziah’s long (52-year), prosperous reign (2 Chron. 26:1-15) many people were away from the Lord and involved in sin (2 Kings 15:1-4; Uzziah is also called Azariah). By contrast, God is holy (Isa. 6:3). In pride, Uzziah disobediently entered the temple (insensitive to the sin involved) and was struck with leprosy which made him ceremonially unclean (2 Chron. 26:16-20). Isaiah, however, was sensitive to sin, for he stated that he and his people were spiritually unclean (Isa. 6:5). Though Uzziah was excluded from the temple (2 Chron. 26:21) Isaiah was not.
Three things struck Isaiah about God: He was seated on a throne, He was high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple . In the most holy place of the temple in Jerusalem, God’s glory was evident between the cherubim on the atonement cover over the ark of the covenant. Therefore some Israelites may have erroneously thought that God was fairly small. However, Solomon, in his dedicatory prayer for the new temple, had stated that no temple could contain God and that in fact even the heavens could not contain Him (1 Kings 8:27). Therefore Isaiah did not see God on the ark of the covenant, but on a throne. Almost 150 years later Ezekiel had a similar experience. He envisioned God being borne along on a great chariot throne by living creatures called cherubim (Ezek. 1). To Isaiah, the throne emphasized that the Lord is indeed the true King of Israel.
God’s being ”high and exalted“ symbolized His position before the nation. The people were wanting God to work on their behalf (Isa. 5:19) but He was doing so, as evidenced by His lofty position among them.
The Lord’s long robe speaks of His royalty and majesty. His being in the temple suggests that though He hates mere religiosity (1:11-15) He still wanted the nation to be involved in the temple worship. The temple and the temple sacrifices pictured the righteous dealings of the sovereign God with His covenant people.
6:2-4. Seraphs, angelic beings who were above the Lord, are referred to in the Scriptures only here. ”Seraphs“ is from śārap̱, which means ”to burn, “ possibly suggesting that they were ardent in their zeal for the Lord. It is also noteworthy that one of the seraphs took a burning coal to Isaiah (v. 6). They had six wings (the four living creatures Ezekiel saw each had four wings, Ezek. 1:5, 11). Covering their faces with two wings indicates their humility before God. Their covering their feet with two other wings may denote service to God, and their flying may speak of their ongoing activity in proclaiming God’s holiness and glory.
In calling to one another the seraphs, whose number is not given, were proclaiming that the Lord Almighty is holy. The threefold repetition of the word holy suggests supreme or complete holiness. This threefold occurrence does not suggest the Trinity, as some have supposed. The Trinity is supported in other ways (e.g., see comments on Isa. 6:8). Repeating a word three times for emphasis is common in the Old Testament (e.g., Jer. 22:29; Ezek. 21:27). The seraphs also proclaimed that His glory fills the earth (cf. Num. 14:21) much as His robe filled the temple. By contrast the people of Judah were unholy (cf. Isa. 5; 6:5) though they were supposed to be a holy people (Ex. 22:31; Deut. 7:6).
As the seraphs cried out, Isaiah saw the temple shake and then it was filled with smoke (Isa. 6:4). The thresholds (cf. Amos 9:1) were large foundation stones on which the doorposts stood. The shaking (cf. Ex. 19:18) suggested the awesome presence and power of God. The smoke was probably the cloud of glory which Isaiah’s ancestors had seen in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21; 16:10) and which the priests in Solomon’s day had viewed in the dedicated temple (1 Kings 8:10-13).
b.     Isaiah’s response to the vision (6:5)
6:5. This vision of God’s majesty, holiness, and glory made Isaiah realize that he was a sinner. When Ezekiel saw God’s glory he too responded with humility. (Cf. the responses of Job, Job 42:5-6; Peter, Luke 5:8; and the Apostle John, Rev. 1:17.) Isaiah had pronounced woes (threats of judgment) on the nation (Isa. 5:8-23), but now by saying Woe to me! (cf. 24:16) he realized he was subject to judgment. This was because he was unclean. When seen next to the purity of God’s holiness, the impurity of human sin is all the more evident. The prophet’s unclean lips probably symbolized his attitudes and actions as well as his words, for a person’s words reflect his thinking and relate to his actions. Interestingly Isaiah identified with his people who also were sinful (a people of unclean lips).
c.     Isaiah’s cleansing and message (6:6-13)
6:6-7. Realizing his impurity, Isaiah was cleansed by God, through the intermediary work of one of the seraphs. It is fitting that a seraph (perhaps meaning a ”burning one“) touched Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal . . . from the altar, either the altar of burnt offering, on which a fire was always burning (Lev. 6:12), or the altar of incense where incense was burned each morning and evening (Ex. 30:1, 7-8). This symbolic action signified the removal of the prophet’s guilt and his sin. Of course this is what the entire nation needed. The Judahites needed to respond as Isaiah did, acknowledging their need of cleansing from sin. But unlike the prophet, most members of the nation refused to admit they had a spiritual need. Though they, through the priests, burned sacrifices at the temple, their lives needed the purifying action of God’s ”fire“ of cleansing.
6:8. The rest of this chapter deals with the message Isaiah was to preach to Judah. Significantly he was not called to service till he had been cleansed. After hearing the seraph’s words (vv. 3, 7) he then heard the Lord’s voice.
God asked, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? The word ”Us“ in reference to God hints at the Trinity (cf. ”Us“ in Gen. 1:26; 11:7). This doctrine, though not explicit in the Old Testament, is implicit for God is the same God in both Testaments.
The question ”Who will go?“ does not mean God did not know or that He only hoped someone would respond. He asked the question to give Isaiah, now cleansed, an opportunity for service. The prophet knew that the entire nation needed the same kind of awareness of God and cleansing of sin he had received. So he responded that he would willingly serve the Lord (Here am I).
6:9-10. Probably Isaiah, responding as he did in verse 8, thought that his serving the Lord would result in the nation’s cleansing. However, the Lord told him his message would not result in much spiritual response. The people had not listened before and they would not listen now. The Lord did not delight in judging His people, but discipline was necessary because of their disobedience. In fact the people, on hearing Isaiah’s message, would become even more hardened against the Lord. Interestingly six of the seven lines in verse 10 are in a chiasm: heart . . . ears . . . eyes are mentioned in lines 1-3, and in lines 4-6 they are reversed: eyes . . . ears . . . hearts. This is a common arrangement of material in the Old Testament. Possibly this pattern emphasizes the ”eyes, “ mentioned in the middle. Jesus quoted part of this verse to explain that Israel in His day could not believe because they would not believe (see comments on John 12:40).
6:11-13. Isaiah’s response to the message implies that he was ready to speak whatever God wanted him to say. Yet he wondered how long he would have to go on delivering a message of judgment to which the people would be callous. The Lord answered that Isaiah was to proclaim the message until His judgment came, that is, till the Babylonian Exile actually occurred and the people were deported from the land (v. 12), thus leaving their ruined cities and fields (v. 11). Though Isaiah did not live that long, God meant he should keep on preaching even if he did live to see Judah’s downfall. The tenth that remained in the land (v. 13) refers to the poor who were left in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:14). But most of them were laid waste (Jer. 41:10-18; 43:4-7).
Isaiah, perhaps discouraged by such a negative response and terrible results, was then assured by the Lord that not all was lost. A remnant would be left. God compared that remnant to stumps of terebinth and oak trees. From this stump or holy seed of a believing remnant would come others who would believe. Though Judah’s population would be almost totally wiped out or exiled, God promised to preserve a small number of believers in the land.

cf. confer, compare
vv. verses
v. verse
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

The following excerpted from:

June 1, 2013
By Sam E. Stone
This quarter we will consider God’s people and worship, learning from Isaiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. First we will study important sections from Isaiah. His book includes many important messianic prophecies. Israel was to be the means by which God’s blessing would come to all nations of the world.
Isaiah prophesied during the divided kingdom. He was called in the year that King Uzziah died (about 740 BC), with most of his ministry focused on the southern kingdom (Judah). In the opening chapters of his book, Isaiah warns the rebellious people of God’s judgment upon them. In chapter five he lists six “woes” for the nation.
Humble Before GodIsaiah 6:1-4When the prophet saw the Lord, he was seated on a throne. After Isaiah’s vision of seeing the land forsaken under God’s judgment, he now experienced the reality of being in the presence of the all-knowing and all-powerful deity. Seated on a throne, his train (the fringes of his royal robe) filled the temple (2 Chronicles 18:9). Scripture teaches that no person may see God and live (John 1:18), but John 12:41 explains, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.”
Surrounding the throne were the seraphim, “winged creatures, human in form, for they are represented as having hands, feet, and voices” (W. Fitch). This is the only mention of seraphim in the Bible. Some feel they are similar to the “cherubim” (Ezekiel 10) or the “four living creatures” (Revelation 4:6-8), but there are obvious differences between them.
These beings called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” With antiphonal song, they gave great emphasis to God’s holiness. (See other examples of emphasis by repetition in Jeremiah 7:4; 22:29; and Ezekiel 21:27.) R. B. Y. Scott suggests, “The Hebrew language has no way to express the superlative except by repetition. Holiness is the essential quality of deity, glory the manifestation of deity in the natural world.”
The effect of their voices was that the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.James Smith writes, “The heavenly temple shook with the mighty strains of the hymn of these angels. Smoky clouds of incense filled the entire temple and shielded the eyes of the prophet from looking directly upon the glory of deity.”
Forgiven by GodIsaiah 6:5-7
The effect of being in the presence of God himself was almost more than Isaiah could bear. “Woe to me!” he cried. As one who spoke for the Lord, he sensed particularly his failures of speech. “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

He acknowledged that it was not only his people who were guilty of doing wrong, but he himself as well. His lips were unworthy to speak God’s message to the people (compare Job 40:4, 5). No sooner had Isaiah sensed his need of cleansing and forgiveness than it was provided by one of the seraphim.
Isaiah’s experience was similar to that of Jeremiah. “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9). This is the classic description of God inspiring his prophets. In the days of the tabernacle, coals of fire were taken from the altar on the Day of Atonement and brought to the Most Holy Place. There atonement was made both for the high priest’s sins and for those of the nation itself (see Leviticus 16:11-17). Isaiah’s sins were removed when the live coal touched his lips. “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Fire is often used in Scripture to represent cleansing (see 1 Peter 1:7).
Service to GodIsaiah 6:8
God himself asks two questions—”Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Now Isaiah has a clean heart and a new capacity to hear, understand, and obey the words of the Lord. He responds simply and humbly, “Here am I. Send me!” Like Abraham, Moses, and Samuel, Isaiah answered as every faithful servant should, indicating his readiness to do whatever God may command. Kyle Yates observed that today’s text contains the “woe” of conviction, the “lo” of cleansing, and the “go” of service. In the verses immediately following our printed text, God sent Isaiah forth to deliver his message to the people of Israel
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
May 27: 2 Chronicles 26:1-5
May 28: 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
May 29: 2 Kings 15:32-38
May 30: Isaiah 6:9-13
May 31: Joshua 24:14-24
June 1: Psalm 24
June 2: Isaiah 6:1-8