Getting to Know God

Concepts about God is presented through quotations from the Bible, reasoning in the form of Question and Answers and through simple stories and illustrations

INTRODUCTION

Who is GOD? What does He look like?  What is his name and character?   How powerful is he?   Why is he called Father in the bible?  What does God expect from you?  What can you expect from God? Where and How do we find God?

These questions are very fundamental to our lives. We all want to know who our parents are and we have a natural desire for their love and care as we grow up. In the same way we are expected to seek God who is our universal father and creator of all living things.

This study will introduce you to God as revealed in the Holy Bible. In our world people worship gods with many different names and forms.  However, the Bible tells us that there is only one living God and his name is YHWH (Yahweh).  Most Bibles translate his Hebrew name simply as “The LORD”, and others translate his Hebrew name as “Jehovah” while Kannada, Telgu, Malayalam and other bibles translate his name as “Yehovah”.

Yahweh (God) reveals himself as the all-powerful, all-knowing, creator of the Universe. It is impossible for the human mind to fully comprehend how God created the whole earth – how he designed our eyes, created the stars, gave wings to the eagle, and even made the tiniest ant – yet there is ample evidence in our universe for a single, master designer.  This awesome God desires to have a personal relationship with each individual on this earth, and if we seek a relationship with God in sincerity and truth, he has promised to be our spiritual Father – showing perfect love, help and discipline to us his children.

The Bible tells us that God created life on earth to reflect his glory. When Moses asked God to reveal his glory, he wasn’t shown a great palace or treasures.  Instead God revealed that his glory is in his character of mercy, grace, compassion, patience, truthfulness, forgiveness and justice.  So it is God’s intention to fill the earth with all of these qualities, and the outcome will be a world filled with justice, peace, love and joy. How is this possible when the world around us today is so filled with pollution, poverty, injustice, disease and war? Some people would say that God has ‘lost control’, others may speculate that he has given up in disgust and left the world to self-destruct.  But the Bible provides strong evidence that God will bring peace on earth.  When we study world events (both historic & current) alongside the Bible, we can see that God’s peace-plan plan is ‘on-track’ to be fulfilled soon.  The Bible shows that God is kind and merciful, but also that he desires obedience and ultimately punishes rebellion.   Whilst he is very patient and compassionate towards his creation, he does not turn a blind eye to the evil and injustice in the world.  He promises that the wicked will not go unpunished forever.  God is also holy and is not touched by sin. Holiness is being separated from evil. God wants us also to be holy. God never changes. He is still the same today as he showed himself to be in the Bible. The Bible also reveals that God is everywhere by his Spirit, that he is actively at work in the world and in our lives, and all our actions, words and thoughts are known to him.

God created humans with “free will”, that is one’s ability to choose right or wrong. He has given us choices – to follow his wise commands for good and peaceful living, or to ignore him and suffer the consequences.  Unfortunately the world is dominated by selfish human thinking instead of respect and obedience of God’s commands. As a result, the world is in a very troubled state. God foretold and warned of all these problems in the Bible.  He has also instructed us how to respond by giving us a message of great hope beyond the distressing problems of this world.  The bible clearly shows us that God does have a clear Roadmap for peace on our earth, and that the entire world will eventually be ruled according to the perfect will of God.

The Bible documents God’s relationships and dealings with many nations, families and individuals.  Down through the ages the invisible God has revealed himself to people in various ways and has always listened to people who genuinely seek to know and love him.  God has revealed himself through powerful miracles, and through various messengers such as Angels, prophets and judges.  Finally God revealed himself through his only son Jesus who acts as saviour and mediator between God and people.

The Bible documents God’s relationships and dealings with many nations, families and individuals.  Down through the ages the invisible God has revealed himself to people in various ways and has always listened to people who genuinely seek to know and love him.  God has revealed himself through powerful miracles, and through various messengers such as Angels, prophets and judges.  Finally God revealed himself through his only son Jesus who acts as saviour and mediator between God and people

God has promised to send Jesus Christ back to earth with power and authority to judge, unite and govern all nations on earth.  He will root out evil and opposition to God’s ways, and judge with perfect knowledge and justice.  His worldwide Government will not be a democracy.  It will be established by the power and authority of God himself.  Under Christ’s rule, people will live in peace and harmony and the earth will be restored to its former pristine beauty.  We are promised that even deserts will become fertile and prosperous

As we go through the various passages from the bible we hope you will get to understand more of God’s plan and purpose with you and also the whole world – past, present and future.

God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things

God created everything

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water God said, “I command lightimage001 to shine!” And light started shining. God looked at the light and saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness and named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” Evening came and then morning–that was the first day. [Genesis 1:1-5]

GOD is invisible and immortal

Only God lives forever! And he lives in light that no one can come near. No human has ever seen God or ever can see him. God will be honored, and his power will last forever. [1 Timothy 6:16]

GOD is eternal and knows the beginning and the end

Isa 41:4  Who has worked and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, Yahweh, the first, and with the last, I am he.”[Isaiah 41:4]

GOD is Seen by his actions

We come to know God by his actions and through his revealed word (recorded the bible) that he gave through prophets, angels and finally his most beloved creation Jesus. His “face” is of no consequence as his physical being and power are way above the comprehension of humans.

“From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse.” [Romans 1:20]


Reasoning:  What about the theory of Evolution? Is it true? Did we come from monkeys or was the hand of a Master Designer involved?

A suggested Answer

The current scientific explanation for the various forms of life is gradual evolution through random mutations and natural selection. In contrast, the Bible reveals that God created each kind of animal and plant—he did not just let them happen through natural processes which he had set in place. There are not only biblical objections to evolution—there are also many scientific objections to the theory.

  • Many parts of living things are so complex, they could not have come about through a process of gradual change. They must have been designed to function as
    they do. In fact there is really no such thing as a ‘simple’ organism, for even a ‘simple’ one-celled organism operates on unseen chemical processes every bit as dnacomplex as those in the cells of our bodies. For example, recent scientific discoveries around the ‘genome’ and DNA demonstrate the impossible odds of our complex human bodies coming into being by chance. The genome is the complete list of coded instructions needed to make a person. There are 3.1 billion letters in the DNA code in every one of the 100 trillion cells in the human body. If all of the DNA in the human body were put end to end, it would reach to the Sun and back more than 600 times. This marvelous and complex design of our own bodies and the living world all around us endorses the Bible’s claim of creation by an all powerful God

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. (Psalm 139:14)

  • If evolution was true, there would have been many intermediate species, whereas the fossil record shows no such gradual changes between species. In other words, there are many “missing links”.
  • To say that life arose by chance, evolved from simple to complex organisms by chance, and produced mankind by chance may be a plausible theory, but the proof just isn’t there.

How and where can we find GOD?

Jesus teaches us that God is reachable through a simple analogy:

Matthew 7:7-11

Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.

Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks.

Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread?

10  Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish?snake

11  As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:4-5

God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is,

There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us.

The prophet Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 55:6-11

Seek Yahweh while he may be found. Call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it grow and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater;rain

11 so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do.

Reasoning: Why does Jesus compare God to our earthly fathers?

A suggested Answer

Jesus compares God to our earthly fathers to demonstrate how strong God’s love is and His willingness to do good to people who trust him and seek his help.   God provides what we need in life, but also disciplines us, and requires us to endure hardship for the development of our character.    He has the same loving and caring response to our trust and our need that a loving and caring father has to a small child

Jesus points out that earthly fathers naturally have some good parenting instincts even if they may be involved in other evil activities.  Because God is a perfect and all-powerful father he has a much greater capacity for doing good for us than our human fathers.

Reasoning: How does one find God?  (i.e. what does it mean to Ask, search, knock?)

A suggested Answer

Jesus tells us that finding God requires the same simple process that we use in everyday life to find physical things: When we want someone to do something for us we ASK them;  If we need to find out how to get to a destination we SEARCH until we find the way; and when we want to enter a house we KNOCK.

So, to find God we must:

  • Ask God for guidance through prayer, persistently
  • Diligently search to know the truth about God; and
  • When we find out the truth about what God wants, we must enter into a relationship with God through the way that he has provided (becoming a disciple of Jesus).
  • Then the door to LIFE will be opened to us!

To repeat the words of Paul to the Athens

God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. He isn’t far from any of us” Acts 17:27

Reasoning:   Why does God compare his words with Rain and Snow in Quote

Suggested Answer

God points out that he is superior to humans in all his ways – his thoughts, his power, his wisdom. People talk many futile things, and make many plans and promises that come to nothing.   But God’s words never go to waste, and he delivers on all his promises. Just like the rain that falls from heaven serves it’s purposes (of watering the earth), so also God’s words will achieve their purpose.

Some quotes to ponder upon:

Let the things which are past come to your memory: for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me; Making clear from the first what is to come, and from past times the things which have not so far come about; saying, My purpose is fixed, and I will do all my pleasure;[Isaiah 46:9-10]

He planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth. God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends. He planned all of this so that we who had already focused our hope on Christ would praise him and give him glory.” Ephesians 1:10-12

Worshiping the True and Living God

Worship the creator, not the created

God warns the people of Israel through his prophet Moses:

when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the army of the sky, you are drawn away and worship them, and serve them, which Yahweh your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole sky.[Deuteronomy 4:19]

How can we worship an unseen God?

Jesus once taught a woman about worshipping God:

Indeed, the time is coming, and it is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him. God is a spirit. Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” [John 4:23-24]

Reasoning:  Why does God not want us to worship his creation?

A suggested Answer

The all powerful Creator does not want us to worship the things he made. God has created the universe and everything in it for the benefit of all creatures.  It would not make sense for one man to worship a created thing for his personal benefit (e.g. a tree) when the natural benefit (shade, oxygen) was intended by God for everyone.

Understanding God and his ways

Paul – a great Christian teacher  – explained about God to the religious  people of ancient
Greece:

Acts 17:21-29

Everyone who lived in Athens looked for opportunities to tell or hear something new and unusual.

Paul stood in the middle of the court and said,Men of Athens, I see that you are image003very religious.

As I was going through your city and looking closely at the objects you worship, I noticed an altar with this written on it:To an unknown god.‘ I’m telling you about the unknown god you worship.

The God who made the universe and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in shrines made by humans,

and he isn’t served by humans as if he needed anything. He gives everyone life, breath, and everything they have.

From one man he has made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth. He has given them the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live.

He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us.

Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of him. As some of your poets have said,We are God’s children.

So if we are God’s children, we shouldn’t think that the divine being is like an image made from gold, silver, or stone, an image that is the product of human imagination and skill.

Reasoning:  What were the people of Athens like?  Why do you think they might have constructed an altar to “an unknown God”?

suggested Answer

The Athenians were intellectual and broad minded people who liked to debate new ideas.  They worshipped many gods. They probably constructed an altar to an “unknown god” to ensure they did not neglect any god they were not aware of.  It is interesting that Paul also appealed to their interest in “a new teaching” about their “unknown God” and correctly explained the Almighty God.

Reasoning:  Is it important to worship God in a church or a temple?  Why, or why not?

A suggested Answer

Yahweh says, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build to me? Where will I rest?

For my hand has made all these things, and so all these things came to be,” says Yahweh: “but I will look to this man, even to he who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word. [Isa 66:1-2]

Though God does not require us to worship him in a special literal building, he encourages people to meet and share together in fellowship and worship.  In “true” Christianity the community of believers (not the bricks) is considered to be the “temple” or “church” of God.  The place of worship is not important.

Reasoning:  Why did God create the human race?

A suggested Answer

From one man God has made people of every nation to live all over the earth.  God did this so that people would seek him and develop a relationship with him.  God is never far from anybody who seeks him.   God desires our love and respect, just as any father desires the same from his children 

Reasoning:  How should we worship the invisible God?

A suggested Answer

God does not want us to create pictures or idols to represent him.  These are simply the product of human imagination or design. God expects his creation to search for him and worship him in spirit and truth. It is an insult to God to liken him to an ‘image’ which he is not..

When someone is convinced that God exists, they have to base their worship on faith i.e. believing in and having confidence in the unseen God because of real things that we know about him.

We pray to an invisible God in our minds. God is present everywhere through his spirit and he even knows what we are going to ask even before we ask him.

Reasoning:  Why should we think of God as our father?

A suggested Answer

 We should think of God as our Father because:
(1)  He created us

(2)  He provides for us every day (rains, plants, etc.)
(3)  By understanding goodness and severity of God we are encouraged to live the kind of life He desires of us.

All the best characteristics of human parenthood serve to teach us something of what God is like.    A rejection of God is like being separated within a human family which is destructive and disastrous.

How to pray?

Jesus teaches his disciples the principles of prayer – our means of communication with God:

Matthew 6:5-18

5  When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward.

6  When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.pray

7  When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers.

8  Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask.

9  You should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, let your name be kept holy.

10  Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven.

11  Give us our food for today.

12  Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others.

13  Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory to the ages. Amen.

14  If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you.

15  But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

16  When you go without eating [fasting], don’t try to look gloomy as those show-offs do when they go without eating. I can assure you that they already have their reward.

17  Instead, comb your hair and wash your face.

18  Then others won’t know that you are going without eating. But your Father sees what is done in private, and he will reward you

Reasoning:  Is God impressed by long or repetitive prayers? Why?

A suggested Answer

Long, repetitive or loud prayers do not impress God; God is present everywhere and knows what we need even before we pray.   He responds to our persistent heartfelt requests, but repetitive prayer as a religious ritual and is of no value.

Some people like to make a show they are holy through public prayers. There is nothing wrong in saying a public prayer but to say a prayer to catch people’s attention and praise is totally disliked by God. God does not answer such prayers. These prayers will be answered only through the praise of people 

Reasoning:  List five things Jesus teaches us to pray about?

A suggested Answer

Jesus taught that we should use prayer to:

  • Praise God
  • Ask God to set up his kingdom on this EARTH, so that he will be obeyed on earth just like angels obey his voice in heaven
  • Request God to continue providing the daily food that we need to live
  • Ask God to forgive our wrongs on the condition that we have forgiven others
  • Seek help to keep out of the temptations of this world
  • Ask God to keep us from troubles
  • Give God his rightful eternal glory

In other places Jesus also taught us to prayer for our our fellow disciples and even for our enemies and for those who treat us badly.

We may often have an endless list of things we want to ask God for.  God promises to give what we “need” as opposed to what we “want”. He is also more concerned about our spiritual needs than our physical needs, and is quite aware of when our ‘wants’ may work against our spiritual needs. Jesus’ disciples often noticed Jesus praying to God and also knew that God always answered Jesus’ prayers. So, they were curious to know from their role-model how to say effective prayers. 

Reasoning:  Jesus teaches us to pray for the time when all people on earth will obey God as he is now obeyed by angels in Heaven.  How will this be achieved?

A suggested Answer

This will be achieved by God’s direct intervention in the affairs of the world and not by any human political movement.  God has promised that he will send his son Jesus back to earth to set up God’s Kingdom.  Jesus will come with great power and authority, to overthrow all opposition and rule the world in righteousness and justice from Jerusalem.

Revelation 11:15

15  And the seventh angel sounded. And there were great voices in Heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. And He will reign forever and ever. 

What to expect?

Put your Trust in God and not in Money

“Don’t love money. Be happy with what you have because God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you.” So we can confidently say,The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

“Tell those who have the riches of this world not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, they should place their confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy”. (1Tim 6:17)

Jesus reasons with you

“What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life? The Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory. Then he will pay back each person based on what that person has done”. (Matthew 16:26-27)

“No one can serve two masters. He will hate the first master and love the second, or he will be devoted to the first and despise the second. You cannot serve God and wealth. So I tell you to stop worrying about what you will eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or gather the harvest into barns. Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single hour to your life by worrying? And why worry about clothes? Notice how the flowers grow in the field. They never work or spin yarn for clothes. But I say that not even Solomon in all his majesty was dressed like one of these flowers. That’s the way God clothes the grass in the field. Today it’s alive, and tomorrow it’s thrown into an incinerator. So how much more will he clothe you people who have so little faith? Don’t ever worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Everyone is concerned about these things, and your heavenly Father certainly knows you need all of them. But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you. So don’t ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:24-34)

Jesus taught about blessed people of God:

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

[Matthew 5:1-11] 

God’ Plan and Purpose for this world

God’s ultiamte promsie of peace and justice

Isa 11:1  A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit.

Isa 11:2  Yahweh’s Spirit will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh.

Isa 11:3  His delight will be in the fear of Yahweh. He will not judge by the sight of his eyes, neither decide by the hearing of his ears;

Isa 11:4  but with righteousness he will judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.

Isa 11:5  Righteousness will be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his waist.

Isa 11:6  The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; The calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf together; and a little child will lead them.

Isa 11:7  The cow and the bear will graze. Their young ones will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the ox.lion

Isa 11:8  The nursing child will play near a cobra’s hole, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.

Isa 11:9  They will not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 2:4

And he will be the judge between the nations, and the peoples will be ruled by weaponshis decisions: and their swords will be turned into plough-blades, and their spears into vine-knives: no longer will the nations be turning their swords against one another, and the knowledge of war will be gone for ever.

Isaiah 65:17-24

17  I am creating new heavens and a new earth; everything of the past will be forgotten.

18  Celebrate and be glad forever! I am creating a Jerusalem, full of happy people.

19  I will celebrate with Jerusalem and all of its people; there will be no more crying or sorrow in that city.

20  No child will die in infancy; everyone will live to a ripe old age. Anyone a hundred years old will be considered young, and to die younger than that will be considered a curse.

21  My people will live in the houses they build; they will enjoy grapes from their own vineyards.

22  No one will take away their homes or vineyards. My chosen people will live to be as old as trees, and they will enjoy what they have earned.

23  Their work won’t be wasted, and their children won’t die of dreadful diseases. I will bless their children and their grandchildren.

24  I will answer their prayers before they finish praying.

Reasoning:  The prophet Isaiah describes a future king. List five or more things this king will achieve. Who do you think this king is?

A suggested Answer

  • He will bring an end to war
  • He will direct people to peaceful, productive and beneficial occupations.
  • He will make sure that poor and needy are treated with honesty and fairness
  • He will bring in true justice to stop crime and oppression and cruelty.
  • He will overcome disease and infant mortality
  • His government will do away with things that cause sadness, and will make people feel joyful and contented.
  • He will judge disputes between nations and make wise and just decisions that everyone will abide by.
  • He will wipe away memory of bad things in the past.

This king is Jesus Christ. Isaiah was prophesying around 700 B.C., by the powerful foreknowledge of God.  He tells about a King who would sit on the throne of King David, long after David’s descendents had been cut-off from the throne of Israel. (ie like a branch that sprouts from a stump) . From last week’s seminar we saw that the same thing was promised to Mary about her son Jesus. (i.e. that he would rule over the Kingdom of his ‘father’ David).

Jesus was always in his plan and purpose from the beginning. The following verse powerfully demonstrates God’s foreknowledge not only about Jesus Christ before he was born, but also about everyone who will believe.

Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory. Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness.“ Ephesians 1:4-7

Reasoning:  Contrast the achievements of the coming King with the achievements of current world leaders.  Highlight 5 differences

A suggested Answer

  • Present world leaders have been unable to reduce war and violence, and provide no prospect of lasting peace.
  • Weapons Industries prosper while millions are unemployed and even lack the basic necessities of life.
  • Crime and injustice are widespread, and all criminal justice systems now existing are quite unable to cope.
  • Disease and Malnutrition are rampant, causing immense suffering.
  • Despite an organization called “United Nations” our world continues to be much divided.

Only Jesus will have the power and wisdom to unite the whole world, under one law.

God’s ultimate judgments to bring justice

Daniel 12:1-3

1  And at that time Michael will take up his place, the great angel, who is the supporter of the children of your people: and there will be a time of trouble, such as there never was from the time there was a nation even till that same time: and at that time your people will be kept safe, everyone who is recorded in the book.

2  And a number of those who are sleeping in the dust of the earth will wake up out of their sleep, some to eternal life and some to eternal shame.

3  And those who are wise will be shining like the light of the outstretched sky; and those by whom numbers have been turned to righteousness will be like the stars for ever and ever.

Reasoning:  What does sleeping in the ground and waking up mean?  What else will happen at “that time”?

A suggested Answer

“Sleeping” refers to death, and “Waking up” refers to the resurrection of the dead at the return of Jesus Christ.   At that time the faithful people (both those who will be raised from the dead, and those who are still alive when Jesus returns) will be changed to immortal beings and get to enjoy God’s perfect kingdom on the earth. But the wicked (unfaithful, rebellious people) will be destroyed, along with any human organization or power that opposes Christ when he returns.

So far we have been mostly talking about God’s peace plan and about the wonderful things God has promised.  But Jesus’ return will also be a terrible time for people who have chosen (in this life) to ignore God’s truth and his commandments.

If God simply turned a blind eye on un-repented evil, his Kingdom could not be one of justice and righteousness.  At Jesus return all people will be asked to give an account of their deeds. Those he finds worthy of mercy he will crown with everlasting life and those he finds unworthy he will destroy for ever and leave no room for any chance anymore.

We are told a reason why God is taking some time to send Jesus back.  He is giving time for the message of his salvation to spread through the earth so that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to wake up from his sleep and be alert.. Peter in his letter writes:

The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act. The day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day heaven will pass away with a roaring sound. Everything that makes up the universe will burn and be destroyed. The earth and everything that people have done on it will be exposed. All these things will be destroyed in this way. So think of the kind of holy and godly lives you must live as you look forward to the day of God and eagerly wait for it to come. When that day comes, heaven will be on fire and will be destroyed. Everything that makes up the universe will burn and melt. But we look forward to what God has promised-a new heaven and a new earth-a place where everything that has God’s approval lives. Therefore, dear friends, with this to look forward to, make every effort to have him find you at peace, without spiritual stains or blemishes. ” 2 Peter 3:9-14

Here are some additional Bible quotes to ponder upon:

People’s desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God’s kingdom.”  Galatians 5:19-21

“Certainly, if the dead don’t come back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life either. If Christ hasn’t come back to life, your faith is worthless and sin still has you in its power. Then those who have died as believers in Christ no longer exist. If Christ is our hope in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people. But now Christ has come back from the dead. He is the very first person of those who have died to come back to life. Since a man brought death, a man also brought life back from death. As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ. This will happen to each person in his own turn. Christ is the first, then at his coming, those who belong to him will be made alive. Then the end will come. Christ will hand over the kingdom to God the Father as he destroys every ruler, authority, and power. Christ must rule until God has put every enemy under his control. The last enemy he will destroy is death. 1 Corinthians 15:16-26

 

God – His character and his amazing Love

David – A great king of Israel – praises God’s character:

image012

Psalms 103:8-14

The LORD [Yahweh] is compassionate, merciful, patient, and always ready to forgive.

He will not always accuse us of wrong or be angry with us forever.

He has not treated us as we deserve for our sins or paid us back for our wrongs.

As high as the heavens are above the earth- that is how vast his mercy is toward those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west that is how far he has removed our rebellious acts from himself.

As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD [Yahweh]  has compassion for those who fear him.

He certainly knows what we are made of. He bears in mind that we are dust.

Seven things God hates

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things which Yahweh hates; yes, seven which are an abomination to him:

  1. arrogant eyes,

  2. a lying tongue,

  3. hands that shed innocent blood;

  4. a heart that devises wicked schemes,

  5. feet that are swift in running to mischief,

  6. a false witness who utters lies, and

  7. he who sows discord among brothers.

Reasoning:  What are main aspects of God’s character? 

A suggested Answer

God is loving, merciful and very patient. He is willing to forgive our wrongs and willing to completely forget the past.

Most human fathers will not easily give up on his child when he or she is rebellious.  But God has far more patience with humanity than most human fathers.  He knows that humans are prone to mistakes and is always willing to give us a second chance if we ask him and seek change.

But he also hates those who reject his ways who proudly choose to lie, steal, murder etc. His mercy extends especially to those who fear him and are willing to change and seek his forgiveness

Jesus expressed God’s mercy towards the children of Israel like this:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! [Luke 13:34]

How do we please God?

Hebrews 11:1-3

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.

2  It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.

3  Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God’s command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen

6  But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Reasoning:   List four things that please God?

A suggested Answer

God is pleased with people who:

  • Trust him
  • Act justly and honestly towards others
  • Show mercy (patience, kindness, and generosity) to other people, even those who are hostile towards them
  • Show humility by recognizing their weaknesses and complete dependence on God.

Obey God because they love him and have faith in his promises.

Reasoning:   What is faith?

A suggested Answer

Simply put, faith is having trust and reliance in something.  We all trust and rely in something; some rely on their bank account, some on powerful leaders, etc.  But God wants his creation to trust in him to guide our lives, and to save us from sin and death. He expects a trust that does not doubt because if we doubt then we limit God’s power to save us. So putting our trust in God actually pleases him and he will deliver those who trust him.

The concept of Faith is best illustrated by an example. The story reads: “When Jesus was going into the town of Capernaum, an army officer came up to him and said, “Lord, my servant is at home in such terrible pain that he can’t even move.” “I will go and heal him,” Jesus replied. But the officer said, “Lord, I’m not good enough for you to come into my house. Just give the order, and my servant will get well. I have officers who give orders to me, and I have soldiers who take orders from me. I can say to one of them, ‘Go!’ and he goes. I can say to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes. I can say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ and he will do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was so surprised that he turned and said to the crowd following him, “I tell you that in all of Israel I’ve never found anyone with this much faith!” Matthew 8:5-10

God’ requirements

Moses, the great prophet of Israel, taught the people of Israel to be faithful to God

Deuteronomy 10:12-14

12  Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

13  to keep Yahweh’s commandments and statutes, which I command you today for your good?

14  Behold, to Yahweh your God belongs heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein.

15  Only Yahweh had a delight in your fathers to love them, and he chose their offspring after them, even you above all peoples, as it is today.

1 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.

17  For Yahweh your God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the awesome, who doesn’t respect persons, nor takes reward.

18  He does execute justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner, in giving him food and clothing.

Reasoning:  What does our Creator expect of us and why?

A suggested Answer

God expects our love and obedience.  He wants us to worship him by giving the best possible service we can offer. He wants us to love him with all our heart. He wants our love to be expressed through our good actions towards our fellow human beings

The most basic commands of God for people to follow in this world

Deu 6:5  You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.

Lev 19:18  “‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.

Reasoning:  Why does God expect such love? Who are the ‘others’ that we are expected to love?

A suggested Answer

God expects us to love him because he created us and has given us everything we need (right from trees for shade down to vegetables to eat).  But God does not force humans to love him. He wants his intelligent creation to choose to love him out the desire of their heart.

“Others” refers to any other human being we come in contact with. Jesus once pointed out that if we show love only to our family then we are no different to evil men, because even wicked people have families and love their children. Got expects our love to extend beyond our blood relatives.  This is because God (our spiritual father) created and cares for all people. So he wants us to see ourselves as part of a bigger family and to show his love to anybody.

“But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust. If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that! Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that! “ Matthew 5:44-47

Reasoning: Give an example of a situation where you can show as much love to a stranger as you show to yourself?

A suggested Answer

  • By responding with kindness and forgiveness to some bad act done against you.
  • By helping someone in need even when it is at great cost to ourselves.

Jesus gave an excellent illustration of this in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, a man gets attacked by thieves and is left wounded to die on the road. Three samritanstrangers pass by – two were well educated religious leaders but the third person was someone considered unimportant and unreligious. But it was the third person helped the wounded man and took care of him because he had pity on him. He even paid for the expenses and then completely disappeared from the scene not expecting anything in return.
It might be hard for us to imagine ourselves being that kind man, but how would we feel if we got attacked and were left to die? Would we not want to be helped by a stranger no matter whom?

Jesus told this story/parable to explain what it meant to love others as much as we love ourselves. The Story of Jonah: An illustration of God’s Love for all people

Background

One of the 66 books of the Bible is dedicated to events in the life of Jonah – one of God’s prophets.  A prophet is a person chosen by God to deliver his message to people.   Jonah was an Israelite, sent by God into enemy territory to warn the people of Ninevah that God would destroy them if they didn’t repent.  This book is focused on the universality of God’s love.

Between ~900 and 625 B.C. the empire of Assyria was the dominant force in ancient West Asia.  The capital city – Nineveh – was located on the Tigris River, in what is now northern Iraq.  Occupying a central position on the great highway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, it united East and West to became the greatest of all ancient cities. Through excellent military organization, equipment and tactics, along with a finely calculated brutality, the Assyrians progressively conquered the entire region.

The Assyrian empire was infamous for the most terrible tyranny and violence towards the nations it conquered.  It put great fear and hatred into the hearts of neighboring nations, including Israel.  By Jonah’s time, Assyria had reached Israel’s northern borders in its push toward Egypt.  Israel’s future hung in the balance.  Amidst this turmoil God tells Jonah to go and warn the people of Ninevah that they will be destroyed unless they repent of their evil lives and turn to God.

God’s warning and offer of mercy extended to even the most wicked of people

Jonah 1:1-14 (WEBA)

1:1  Now Yahweh’s word came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

2  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”

3  But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh.

4  But Yahweh sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty storm on the sea, so that the ship was likely to break up.

5  Then the mariners were afraid, and every man cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone down into the innermost parts of the ship, and he was laying down, and was fast asleep.

ship

6  So the ship master came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God! Maybe your God will notice us, so that we won’t perish.”

7  They all said to each other, “Come! Let’s cast lots, that we may know who is responsible for this evil that is on us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.

8  Then they asked him, “Tell us, please, for whose cause this evil is on us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? Of what people are you?”

9  He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.”

10  Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “What have you done?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of Yahweh, because he had told them.

11  Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?” For the sea grew more and more stormy.

12  He said to them, “Take me up, and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will be calm for you; for I know that because of me this great storm is on you.”

13  Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to the land; but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them.

14  Therefore they cried to Yahweh, and said, “We beg you, Yahweh, we beg you, don’t let us die for this man’s life, and don’t lay on us innocent blood; for you, Yahweh, have done as it pleased you.”

Reasoning:   Why do you think the prophet Jonah ran in the opposite direction?

A suggested Answer

Jonah did not want to warn the people of Ninevah about God’s judgment. They were an enemy of Israel and he would have been delighted to see them destroyed by God.

As seen later in the story, Jonah was aware of God’s mercy and did not want the wicked people of Nineveh to receive God’s goodness and forgiveness

Chapter 2 of the book of Jonah records Jonah’s prayer to God from the Belly of the giant fish.  On the third day, God caused the fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry-land.  Jonah’s life had been spared by an amazing miracle!

 image009

Our personal belief in God & change of life (repentance) is important for salvation

 

Jonah 3:1-10 (WEBA)

3:1  Yahweh’s word came to Jonah the second time, saying,

2  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I give you.”

3  So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to Yahweh’s word. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey across.

4  Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried out, and said, “In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”

5  The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from their greatest even to their least.

6  The news reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

7  He made a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor animal, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water;

8  but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal, and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands.

9  Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?”

10  God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it.

Reasoning:   Why did God show mercy to the people of Ninevah?  Which pleased God most – their fasting (as mentioned in verse 7) or their change of life?

A suggested Answer

God is concerned about everyone, even the Ninevetes who were doing way too much evil. God wanted to give them a chance to change before he destroyed them. He extends his goodness to anyone who has a desire to serve him.

God would not have been pleased if they fasted and wore rags and yet continued in their wrong. He is more interested in an inward change of heart rather than any external show. The Ninevites won God’s approval because they displayed the kind of true fasting and repentance that the prophet Isaiah writes about:

Isa 58:5  Is this the fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to humble his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under himself? Will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to Yahweh?

Isa 58:6  “Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

Isa 58:7  Isn’t it to distribute your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?

God expects us to forgive & accept even our enemies, if we expect him to forgive us

Jonah 4:1-11 (WEBA)

4:1  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

2  He prayed to Yahweh, and said, “Please, Yahweh, wasn’t this what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and you relent of doing harm.

3  Therefore now, Yahweh, take, I beg you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”

4  Yahweh said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

5  Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth, and sat under it in the shade, until he might see what would become of the city.

6  Yahweh God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine.image011

7  But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine, so that it withered.

8  When the sun arose, God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

9  God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?” He said, “I am right to be angry, even to death.”

10  Yahweh said, “You have been concerned for the vine, for which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.

11  Shouldn’t I be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can’t discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much livestock?”

Unfortunately the people’s change of heart did not last forever.  History shows that the Assyrian kings after Jonah’s time became even more ruthless than those in Jonah’s day.   About 625 B.C. (some 100+ years after Jonah) the Medes, joined by the Babylonians and Susianians, attacked Ninevah and burnt the city to the ground.  After a 600 year rule of tyranny the great Assyrian empire vanished like a dream, just as God had warned through his prophet Nahum (See Nahum 2:6-11). Its end was strange, sudden, tragic. It was God’s doing, his judgment on Assyria’s evil and pride (See Isaiah 10:5-19)

Reasoning:   Jonah wanted to die.  Why?

A suggested Answer

Jonah was angry and disappointed that the wicked Ninevites had been saved by God’s mercy.  Jonah was wrong in doing so because he was not willing to accept God’s own creation. We are all children of the one supreme God and therefore have the responsibility to accept one another as brothers and sisters just like in a family.

Reasoning:   What do we learn about God’s mercy from the story of Jonah? And what do we learn about God’s character from Ninevah’s subsequent destruction?

A suggested Answer

God desires all people to be saved. He is willing to give us a second chance if we are sorry for our wrongs-doing and change.

Unfortunately if our actions are not pleasing to him and we do not change he will destroy us. We have to consider both God’s goodness and his severity and walk according to his desires

Reasoning:   Why does God expect us to forgive people who have done things against us?

A suggested Answer

God expects us to forgive others because he forgives us even though we do not deserve it. He is merciful and expects his children also to reflect that same character.  If we don’t forgive others then God will also not forgive us.

Reasoning:   Why did God send the Worm?  What lessons did it teach?

A suggested Answer

Jonah was upset about the Ninevites being saved.  So God sent the worm to show Jonah that people are worth much more valuable to God than a plant that provided Jonah with shade. God taught Jonah that his mercy can extend to anyone, and that he desires that everyone should be saved

God’s simple requirement illustrated through the Story of Naaman

Political background

Naaman was the commander of the ancient Syrian army in the days of King Benhadad II. He was highly esteemed for his military accomplishments and victories. Though he was powerful and mighty he suffered from leprosy.

Syria was a neighbour and enemy of Israel. At this time God was working powerful miracles in Israel through his prophet Elisha. Elisha was doing these miracles by the Holy Spirit of God.

Elisha’s fame had spread far and wide because of his astounding works. He had divided the Jordan River into two, raised a boy from his death bed, fed a hundred people by multiplying just 20 loaves of bread, and many more powerful miracles.

Despite God’s power being displayed so powerfully through this great and righteous prophet, the King of Israel at this time ignored God and did much evil.

Now over in Syria, Naaman had a little Israelite girl working in his house in service to his wife.   When she saw her master suffering from Leprosy she told her mistress of this great prophet in Samaria (in Israel) who could cure her master.

Since the best physicians and healers of Syria could provide no cure, Naaman agreed to seek help from this prophet.  He obtained a letter from the King of Syria to the King of Israel, requesting that he be healed. The king of Israel reacted negatively because he had no healing powers and suspected that the King of Syria was trying to set him up.

In the meantime, Elisha the prophet heard of this request.  He sent for Naaman, and commanded Naaman dip himself seven times in the Jordan River in order to be healed.

In this section we will examine this story that highlights God’s simple requirements from mankind.  

God’s ways demonstrated through the story of Naaman

2 Kings 5:1-27 

5:1  Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him Yahweh had given victory to Syria: he was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.

2  The Syrians had gone out in bands, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maiden; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.

3  She said to her mistress, “I wish that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would heal him of his leprosy.”

4  Someone went in, and told his lord, saying, “The maiden who is from the land of Israel said this.”

5  The king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of clothing.

6  He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “Now when this letter has come to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.”

7  When the king of Israel had read the letter, he tore his clothes, and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends to me to heal a man of his leprosy? But please consider and see how he seeks a quarrel against me.”

8  It was so, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

9  So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.

10  Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall come again to you, and you shall be clean.”

11  But Naaman was angry, and went away, and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leper.’

12  Aren’t Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them, and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

13  His servants came near, and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had asked you do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? How much rather then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?’”

14  Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

naaman

15  He returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him; and he said, “See now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel. Now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.”

16  But he said, “As Yahweh lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” He urged him to take it; but he refused.

17  Naaman said, “If not, then, please let two mules’ burden of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will from now on offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice to other gods, but to Yahweh.

18  In this thing may Yahweh pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon. When I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, may Yahweh pardon your servant in this thing.”

19  He said to him, “Go in peace.” So he departed from him a little way.

20  But Gehazi the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought. As Yahweh lives, I will run after him, and take something from him.”

21  So Gehazi followed after Naaman. When Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him, and said, “Is all well?”

money_greed22  He said, “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, even now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’”

23  Naaman said, “Be pleased to take two talents.” He urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants; and they carried them before him.

24  When he came to the hill, he took them from their hand, and stored them in the house. Then he let the men go, and they departed.

25  But he went in, and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, “Where did you come from, Gehazi?” He said, “Your servant went nowhere.”

26  He said to him, “Didn’t my heart go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive groves and vineyards, and sheep and cattle, and male servants and female servants?

27  Therefore the leprosy of Naaman will cling to you and to your offspring forever.” He went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow.

Reasoning:   What task was Naaman requested to do? Why did Naaman object to this simple task even though he was desperate to be healed?

A suggested Answer

Naaman was asked to dip in the river Jordan seven times. Incidentally, this is the same river that John the baptizer was washing people of their sins as we saw in Week 2.

He expected to be recognized by the prophet and treated in a manner more fitting to his high status as a great commander.  He thought that to dip in the Jordan River to be below him. But his wise servant persuaded him to humble himself, which he did.  On the 7th time that he came out of the water, his skin was suddenly and miraculously cured 

Reasoning:   What lessons did Naaman learn?

A suggested Answer

Naaman learnt the lesson of humility.   Through this powerful miracle he learnt that the God of Israel was the true and living God, and that He can and does deliver those who put their trust in Him, and accept his way of salvation.

Reasoning:   What do we learn about the character of God from what happened to Gehazi?

A suggested Answer

From the case of Gehazi, we see that whilst God is very loving, he is also just and stern towards those who abuse their privilege.  Gehazi had the privilege of being very close to the great prophet Elisha.  He would have learnt from Elisha what was right and wrong and had witnessed many great miracles which confirmed the great power of God. Inspite of all this, his heart was lured by the love of money. His greed was greater than his love for God. We cannot hide our sins from him; Gehazi was greedy and corrupt, and suffered the terrible consequence.

 

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