Immanuel!

Over the course of the next 5 weeks we will be releasing blogs pertaining to our Summer 2011 Onsite Curriculum. Some of the blogs will come straight out of the commentaries we wrote, others will combine various statements found within the Bible lessons.

This first blog pertains first of all to the overall theme of the curriculum and touches on the first lesson. For more on the first lesson, you can see the blog posted on March 7, 2011.

“Immanuel – the Setting of the Promise”

See Isaiah chapters 7-9

It, the 8th century BC, was a time of utter chaos in Israel and in Judah. The Holy One of Israel was being scorned. The worship of God was being replaced with the worship of idols. Spiritual darkness was spreading through the land. The neighboring nations were rattling their sabers, and a great, growing threat was looming in the East. The joy of the people shriveled as the voice of the prophet Isaiah boomed, “Into exile you will go on account of your vile sins.” The people became a nation dwelling in a land of deep darkness. The yoke of other nations was encroaching upon them. Warfare and misery was soon to be theirs.

And to these people God promised that His light would penetrate their darkness. Their joy would increase. The yokes of their oppressors would be lifted, the curse of war removed. How? He would do it through a child, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given!” (Isaiah 9:6)

The child, this Son, given to them, and to us, is the light of the world. His joy is our strength. His work sets us free. It breaks the bonds of sin. His life brings us peace. This Son, Jesus, bears his people up and His name is, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” The increase of his Kingdom has no end, and by the grace of God extends even unto us.

His importance cannot be overstated, for through His Son, Jesus Christ, God has brought us out of darkness and into His glorious light. He has conquered death and raised us to newness of life. This summer we will further explore the truth that through Jesus, God truly is, “Immanuel: God with us.”

The following is an overview of the first lesson.

“Immanuel – In the Seed of the Woman”

See Genesis chapter 3

God’s Word, as revealed to us in Holy Scripture, tells the story of what God has done and is doing to bring people into a right relationship with Himself. This story begins with God’s Creative Word in the book of Genesis bringing into being light, land, sun, moon, stars and all that exists. “God said,” and it was. The second chapter slows down a little and describes in greater detail part of the creation story. From these two chapters we see God’s intention – to create people who would live in harmony with him, with each other, and with all of the created order.

Sadly, sin soon entered the picture. It may have appeared as a minor sin – I mean, all they did was eat some fruit, but the sin went far deeper than appearances. Behind that bite was our human reasoning “seeing that it was good” when God had said, “When you eat of it you shall die.” Behind that bite lay the reality that Eve trusted the words of the snake over the words of God. Behind that bite was Adam’s decision to do what he wanted. Behind that bite was the reality that the trusting relationship between God and His people was already destroyed. They bit the fruit. They hid from God. They had been created to live in a trusting relationship with God in which He would be their father and they would be His children. Instead they ran away; they left the family. They would go on and have children of their own, but all of their children would be born members of Adam and Eve’s family. They would be members of a family estranged from their God.

In the Garden of Eden we see both the glory and shame of humankind. “In the image of God” He created them. People are both created in the glorious image of God and born into and a part of a rebellious family. We are created to be loved by God, to be with God and to enjoy Him. Yet in iniquity we are conceived (Psalm 51:5). And it is in the Garden that we hear the first promise of God’s salvation. For here in the Garden we overhear God’s Word of condemnation upon the serpent and learn that through, “the seed of the woman” one will come who will “crush the serpent’s head.” In other words, a child of the woman’s lineage would one day vanquish Satan.

Through the passing of time Adam and Eve would have many descendents and as their descendents multiplied so did their sin. Sin flowed from generation to generation. By Noah’s time (Genesis 6) it culminated in the great flood. Here God saved righteous Noah, who trusted in Him, through the waters of the flood. God demonstrated that He knew how to “rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the Day of Judgment” (2 Peter 2:5). Yet, even after all of that, sinned remained firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of Noah and his family. (See Genesis 8:21)

Shortly after exiting the ark God told the people to spread out, be fruitful and multiply. But they did not listen. Instead they decided to stay where they were, build a tower and make a name for themselves. Even after the flood, people would not obey God. Like Adam, they would do things their own way. So God confused their languages and scattered them over the face of the earth. He scattered them that they might trust in Him instead of in themselves.

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