Sunday School 03 09 2014

 

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Son of David”

Lesson Text: Psalm 89:35-37; Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:18-22

Background Scripture: Psalm 89; Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 1:18-2:6; Luke 1:26-33

Devotional Reading: Mark 10:46-52

 

Psalm 89:35-37 (KJV)

35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.

36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.

37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

Isaiah 9:6, 7

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Matthew 1:18-22

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,


 

OBJECTIVES

To identify the connections between the texts of the Old and New Testaments in today's lesson.

To understand the significance of the genealogical connection between Jesus and David.

To thank God for His kept promise in Jesus!

 

INTRODUCTION

She Was Never the Same”

Too many stories end this way. A certain person has a happy life. Then something bad happens: a job loss, a business failure, a broken relationship, the death of a loved one. The conclusion "she was never the same" often is meant to describe a permanent worsening of her state of mind. The person lost hope.

But other hardship stories end differently. After going through similar struggles and making similar adjustments, the change that results in a person is actually a positive one. "She became a stronger person," etc.

Why do hard times drive some to lifelong despair, while others work through despair to a confidence that is stronger because of the hard times? There may be many reasons, but certainly the most important for the believer is the way in which we know God. In hard times, do we perceive God as distant, uninvolved, even uncaring? Or is God present, connected with us?

The Bible is the story of God with His people in hard times. Hard times may not be what we would expect to be the experience of God's people, but the Bible shows otherwise. Through the centuries, they endured disappointment, suffering, and death—outcomes that might have appeared to be no better, if not far worse, than those experienced by their pagan neighbors.

But in the midst of hard times, God promised that He would change the situation. Where His people had been defeated, He would bring victory. Where they had been wronged, He would make things right. Where they suffered, He would comfort.

God fulfills His promise by making His people's hard times His own hard times. In Jesus Christ, God shares our suffering so that we can share in His victory. If we take today's lesson to heart, we can learn how our story can end with "better than before" instead of "never the same."


 

LESSON BACKGROUND

Times: 586 B.C., sometime after 732 B.C., and between 6 and 5 B.C.

Places: Jerusalem, Judah, and Nazareth

Last week's lesson focused on the important promise that God made to David in 2 Samuel 7: that God would send a great descendant of David, whose kingdom God would establish forever, to build the true temple of God. That promise became a centerpiece of hope in ancient Israel. As generation gave way to generation and king succeeded king, the faithful reminded themselves of that promise. They may have seen few signs that indicated God was still in control. It may have appeared that He had abandoned His people to whatever came their way.

But no matter what was happening, God's promise was sure. The writers of the Old Testament often restated the promise of a great king for their own times, and our lesson begins with one such promise.


 

Confirming the Covenant (Psalm 89:35-37)

1. Why does the psalmist remind God of His statement: “I will not lie unto David” (Psalm 89:35)?

This Psalm (89) was composed during some season of great national distress. It contrasts the promised prosperity and perpetuity of David's throne (with reference to the great promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-17), with a time when God appeared to have forgotten His covenant.

In Psalm 89:19-37, the psalmist reminded God of His covenant with David. Specifically, the Lord had chosen David to be king over Israel (vs. 19-21). God also promised to strengthen David and give him victory over his enemies (vs. 22-23). The Lord pledged to extend the territory under David’s control (vs. 24-25) and give David priority over other kings (vs. 26-27). God even promised that a descendant of David would rule forever (vs. 28-29).

In this part of the psalm (today’s lesson, vs. 35-37), the writer speaks from the perspective of God himself. The Lord gave His solemn oath, which He backed up by His holy character (v. 35). The latter statement reminds us that while God makes Himself known through His Word, He remains absolutely set apart from humankind and the rest of creation. His holiness points to the majesty of His being and the awesomeness of His presence. He who is morally perfect declared that He would never deceive David regarding the covenantal promises. No matter how distant the fulfillment of that promise might seem, God's character makes it sure!

2. What did the Lord pledge to David concerning his throne (Psalm 89:36, 37)?

As the celebration of God's promise continues, the psalm echoes the very words of God's original promise to David. Specifically, God pledged that the “seed” (dynasty) of David would last “for ever” (Ps. 89:36). Seed is a key word in that promise (2 Samuel 7:12, last week's lesson), reminding us of the many promises in Genesis to the seed whom God would send (Genesis 3:15; 12:7; etc.).

Throne is also a key word in the original promise (2 Samuel 7:13, 16) as the symbol of the king's rule, to be established and maintained by God himself. While individual rulers of Judah might prove to be unfaithful, He would never be unfaithful. God's promise of a “for ever” king surpasses anything that an ordinary human can accomplish.

For the third time the psalm stresses that God's promise is for a king who rules without end. Like the sun, the moon appears in the sky in an utterly reliable pattern. To human observation, nothing is more permanent than sun and moon. So, God says, His king's throne will be just as permanent.

Of course, we know from the New Testament that the sun and moon are not permanent in an absolute sense (Mark 13:24, 25; 2 Peter 3:10). What God is doing with this promise is accommodating himself to the human ability to understand: the sun and moon are more enduring than anything else in our daily experience. Its constant and unending presence in the sky was a validating “witness” (Psalm 89:37).


 

Foreseeing the Kingdom (Isaiah 9:6, 7)

Chapters 7-12 of Isaiah are sometimes called The Book of Emmanuel because of their focus on the promised king; His appearance will signify "God with us," the meaning of the word Emmanuel. Our section from these chapters opens with a crisis of the eighth century B.C.: Aram (Syria) and the northern kingdom of Israel have formed a threatening alliance against Judah, Israel's southern kingdom. In reaction, the prophet Isaiah brings a message of hope to Judah's ungodly King Ahaz. He refuses to listen. Even so, God (through Isaiah) makes Ahaz a promise anyway: a child will be born as a sign of God's presence with His people (Isaiah 7:14).

 

3. What message does the prophet Isaiah bring regarding the promised Messiah, a “son” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)?

The prophet Isaiah declared both the humanity ("a child is born") and the deity ("a son is given") of the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6). God had promised David that his dynasty and throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16), and this is fulfilled literally in Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32-33; Zech. 9:9).

The greatest promise of God is not merely that of a child whose birth signals the end of a short-term crisis (see “Foreseeing the Kingdom” above). Rather, God promises to send a king who will surpass what His people have seen in their rulers. As with Psalm 89, the language here about the birth of a son reminds us of the promises to the patriarchs and to David of sons through whom God would bring promised blessings.

This son is clearly marked for rule. He takes the king's responsibility for government, which figuratively rests upon his shoulder. Four paired descriptions mark him as extraordinary. First is Wonderful, Counsellor. The word Wonderful suggests that the child will possess power that belongs to God alone; Counsellor indicates that He will be a source of wisdom. Hence, the promised one will have wisdom that can come only from God.

Mighty God depicts the Lord as a great warrior (compare Exodus 15:3). Everlasting Father indicates one who cares for His people, protecting and providing without end, as only God can do. Prince of Peace indicates that the promised one will establish not just an end to war, but positive harmony and goodwill—the kind of peace that Israel has not known to this point.

What Do You Think?

Which description of the Messiah offers you the most comfort and hope in a time of crisis? Does it depend on the nature of the crisis? Explain.

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Wonderful | Counselor | Mighty God | Everlasting Father | Prince of Peace

4. Why could Isaiah say that the Messiah’s (Jesus’) kingdom would be eternal (Isaiah 9:7)?

The child mentioned in Isaiah 9:6 “will reign on David’s throne” (v. 7). As was noted earlier, God promised David a kingdom that would have no end. This could not have referred to the kingdom of David’s son Solomon and his other short-term successors, for the Israelite kingdom divided (1 Kings 12:19). Also, both resulting kingdoms eventually came to an end (2 Kings 17:18; 2 Chron. 36:17-21). Nevertheless, the line of David continued and eventually culminated in the birth of Jesus (Matt. 1:1). Luke 1:32 says, “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” In fact, the Messiah will “reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (v. 33). Thus, we see that in Jesus the divine promise to David was and is fulfilled.

We learn from Isaiah 9:7 that the reign of the Messiah will be characterized by peace. His government will be ever expanding and unending. Fairness and justice will be the hallmarks of His rule, and His passionate commitment for His people will guarantee that all the divine promises to them will be fulfilled. This phrase “the zeal of the LORD of hosts” depicts God as filled with devotion and single-minded allegiance, and this is the reason why His promise to the Israelites concerning the Davidic kingdom would be fulfilled (37:32; 42:13).


 

The Advent of the Messiah (Matthew 1:18-23)

5. What was the situation for Joseph and Mary centuries later? (Matthew 1:18-20)

Moving several centuries forward from Isaiah’s day, times are still hard for the Jewish people, and Joseph and Mary are not exceptions (with a child on the way). Their nation is ruled by King Herod, an evil, conniving proxy ruler for Rome. Israel has endured centuries of domination by cruel, ruthless nations that mocked God and persecuted the Jews for refusing to conform. But God’s promises are still as true as they were when He gave them to Abraham, David, etc.

Those contrasting realities-promises to the forefathers are what Matthew emphases as he opens his story with Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:17). The Gospel of Matthew introduces us to the King of all the earth, showing us His humble beginnings. The story of Jesus includes the startling fact that “his mother Mary” (v. 18), a virgin becomes pregnant by the miraculous work of the Holy Ghost. Joseph, knowing that he is not the father, draws the natural conclusion that Mary had intimate relations with another man. An engagement (betrothal) in their culture is a contractual arrangement between two families;

Joseph, being merciful, just and righteous planned to break the engagement privately (v. 19). His character is in line with the righteous character of God. He plans to spare Mary undue attention and grief.

We note the sequence: God does not inform Joseph of Mary’s pregnancy until after Joseph discovers the fact of pregnancy on his own. This dilemma must have caused Joseph a certain amount of mental anguish before he learns the truth in a dream: “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (v. 20). Perhaps this sequence is a test of Joseph’s character, which we see described in verse 19.

What Do You Think?

When was a time that you sensed God calling you to obey Him in a way that seemed contrary to common sense? How did things turn out?

Turning Points for your Discussion

A family matter | A job matter | A financial matter | Other

6. What further message did God’s angel communicate to Joseph in the dream? (Matthew 18:21, 22)

Like Abraham’s sons Ishmael and Isaac, this son is to be named by divine instructions (See Genesis 16:11; 17:19). The name of Jesus is derived from the name of Israel’s great leader Joshua. Like many Hebrew names, this one makes a declaration about God: “The Lord Saves.” The angel’s message builds on that meaning, declaring that Jesus “shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 18:21). As Joshua–Moses’ successor–had led the Israelites into the promised land, so Jesus-God’s Son-would lead many into God’s salvation.

This announcement is nothing less than that God's promise of the ages is now coming to its fulfillment. It’s the greatest of announcements, but for Joseph it’s also a call to serve God in a most unusual way. By telling Joseph he is to name the child, the angel implies that Joseph will serve in the role of the child’s father. Joseph now becomes committed to this child.

These events are no accident. They fulfill the very plan of God (v. 22). New Testament writers often cite texts of the Old Testament to show their fulfillment in Jesus. But when they cite those texts, they often refer also to the larger context to which those verses belong, including themes of history and promise. Such is the case with this quotation, as Matthew cites Isaiah 7:14, which was Isaiah’s word to Ahaz assuring him of Israel’s deliverance through the house of David. Now this virgin-conceived Son of David was about to appear, and He would be, in the true sense, “Emmanual” (God with us) (Matthew 1:23).


 

POINT TO PONDER

Sometimes faith in God means the risk of embarking on the untried and uncharted, with no proof of success but with every assurance of victory. For believers, that assurance comes through faith in Jesus. He is the light of hope that has dawned in our lives (Isaiah 9:2), and He is our Wonderful Counselor to guide us every step of the way (v. 6). We are confident that the Lord Jesus will stand by our side throughout the episode.

CONCLUSION

The psalms are songs of praise; yet many of them voice fear, frustration, and complaint. The prophets are books of hope; yet they often describe the hardships of the faithful. The Bible is brutally honest about the difficulties of the life of faith.

Where is God in all this? He is with us. He was with the small nation of Israel as they lived under pagan domination. In Jesus, God is with us as one who experienced all the travails of human life. And He is with us, as His Holy Spirit lives in us because of Jesus.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, we are amazed that in Jesus You have shared our sufferings and taken the punishment for our sins. May we live as people who know Your constant presence. In Jesus’ name, we say thank You, Amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER

God is still with us!

 


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