In the last few weeks of reading, Israel has really risen and fallen, hasn’t it? Over the 400 years or so between first entering the Promised Land and the reign of King David, Israel had some very disturbing times. Remember the book of Judges and those horrible stories? We saw gang rapes, murder, a bloody civil war, and a kidnapping of 400 young women. The book concluded with the line “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)
Easter is Almost Here!
We will be having Easter On The Field again this year. Have you invited someone to come with you? What is your group doing with regards to making an impact on our community this Easter?Easter Info Here
Baptism and Communion this coming weekend
We are preparing our hearts and minds for Easter Sunday with Baptism and Communion this weekend. If you haven’t been baptized, of you would like more info on what Baptism is, just tap right here.Baptism Info Here
Lifegroup Discussion Continues
God’s plan had be for His people to live as a free and holy nation, serving as a light of justice and righteousness to the rest of the world. How was that working out so far?
The conclusion to Judges begs the question, “will things turn around if Israel can just have kings to lead them?”
Things looked good for a while. Israel had a “Golden Age” of prosperity and faithfulness under David and Solomon… But Samuel had forewarned that things would not be good for very long. In fact, last week we left off with the celebratory lines of 1 Kings 10 describing the height of Solomon’s splendor. In the very next verse, though, we see a tragic transition.
1 Kings 11:1–3 (NLT)
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.
So, after around 400 years of slavery, then around 400 years as a troubled nation, Israel experienced a few short decades of the kind of blessing promised long ago to Abraham. Then the downward spiral begins again. Solomon turns away to worship other gods and the nation begins to crumble.
From this point on, the rest of 1 and 2 Kings describes Israel’s continued sin and failure for hundreds of years, with just a few brief moments of partial faithfulness. Since the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, there are a total of 30 chapters (2 Samuel 5 – 1 Kings 10) given to Israel’s period of faithfulness. The rest is a long, repetitious story of waywardness, evil, and systemic injustice.
So, here is the question that the book of Kings asks: How long will the Lord hold back his anger from Israel? Will he continue to be patient with them, or might he eventually revoke His covenant and start over again with another people?
What is happening in the passages above?
Why, according to the author of the book of Kings, did the kingdom of Israel split in two?
What significance does this split have in the story of God’s intention to bless the world through Israel?
Did it surprise you to see how short Israel’s “Golden Age” of prosperity really was? How quickly, within one generation, they go from “Golden Age” to a civil war that divides the kingdom?
Zooming out and considering the 1,000+ years that have passed since God first promised His blessing to Abraham (and putting yourself in the shoes of an Israelite,) how tragic would these events have felt and why?
Now read 1 Kings 16:29-18:2
(if you have already read this, you may not need to read together as a group.)
What is Elijah’s role and purpose as a prophet in confronting King Ahab and the prophets of Baal? In other words, what did God send him to accomplish?
How does the story of God sending Elijah to the Widow of Zarephath, a foreigner in the neighboring nation of Sidon, shed light on God’s ultimate redemptive plan for the world?
How do you think an Israelite would have responded to this man Elijah who claimed to be sent by Yahweh, Israel’s God, and yet was blessing foreigners and condemning Israel and its leaders?
Jesus referenced these two stories from 1 and 2 Kings…
Luke 4:16–30 (NLT)
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lordis upon me,for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.
“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
Why do you think Jesus compared himself to Elijah (and Elijah’s disciple Elisha) in this way?
How was Jesus’ ministry similar to that of Elijah?
How was Israel’s response to Jesus similar to their response to Elijah nearly a millennium earlier?
Where do you find yourself in the many stories covered tonight? Which character or experience do you identify with? (For example: Do you feel like King Ahab, having your sin called out and confronted? Or do you feel like the widow who has seen God work unexpected miracles in her life and now trusts in Yahweh?)
What is it about your life at this moment that leads you to identify with this character or experience?
As you close your group with prayer tonight, please be praying for our Easter celebration, and for the upcoming communion and baptisms.