January 12 Curriculum

kthomasLearning Groups Curriculum

A way in the wilderness

January 12, 2020 (click here for PDF version).

 

Overarching theme:  In 2020, FUMC will be a Go church!

Instructions:

When using this material as teacher, feel free to pick and choose the point you want to emphasis in the lesson. The format of the curriculum is designed to have an abundance of information in which to refer as desired.

Core Point

The past is the past. There is nothing that can be done about it. The past can only be used to gain wisdom for the future. What can change is the future. When we, as God’s people, are willing to follow God in our daily lives, God will make a good way in the future. The way may be bumpy at times and have curves, but the process will be filled with God’s love and grace.

Book of Exodus:

Exodus, is the second book of the Pentateuch, which is the Greek name for the first five books of the Old Testament. Likewise, the first five books of the Old Testament are called the Torah by the Jews. These five books give the history of the beginning of the world and humankind while giving instructions on how to live as God’s people. “Exodus” in particular means “To Exit.” So the book tells the story of how the Israelites exited Egypt and their slavery to move to the Promised Land God was going to give them. Moses is considered the author of the book. The timeline of the events for the Exodus happened sometime between 1450 B.C. and 1250 B.C. depending on what scholarly analysis is used. The overarching theme in Exodus is God’s faithfulness to God’s people, and Moses’ faithfulness to God’s calling on his life.

Reflect on this Scripture:

Exodus 12:31-36 (NRSV)

31Then he summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, and said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone. And bring a blessing on me too!” 33The Egyptians urged the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for jewelry of silver and gold, and for clothing, 36and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And so they plundered the Egyptians.

Exodus 32:1-4 (NRSV)

1When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

Exodus 32:9-14 (NRSV)

9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.” 11 But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Questions to Ponder:

What jumps out at you from these passages?
What was God doing in verses 31-36?
What were the blessings that the people of God received?
What were the Israelites doing in verses 1-4? What led them to do that?
How did the blessings turn into idolatry?
How did God respond to the actions of the people in verses 9-14?
What did Moses do?
How did God respond to Moses? What happened in the end?

Commentary:

These three passages are rich with God’s activity and drama. Remember, the Israelites left Egypt in a hurry. After the plagues had come and the Pharaoh had lost his first-born son, the enslaved Israelites were released from Egypt. The Israelites received the blessings of being free and material riches. It is ironic how the blessings of freedom and material wealth turned into curses as time moved on and as the Israelites moved toward the Promised Land. Remember, Moses’ mission was to exit the people out of bondage.

In the second passage, we find that Israel started making some really bad choices. The gold and silver that the people got from the Egyptians were collected to make a golden calf to represent God. The freedom that Israel was given from Egypt turned into cries of uncertainty. In the story, Moses had left the people to go talk with God alone. During that leave of absence from the people, the uncertainty of the future turned into anarchy and idolatry. It took time for Moses to go meet with God, talk with God, chisel out two tables, and then walk back from meeting God. In the absence of leadership, people will develop their own plans. In times of uncertainty and silence, people will fill in the blanks, whether positive or negative. Think about this, how would you respond to the leader being gone and hearing nothing from God? We all do this at times. We make idols out of our things and we determine our own way when it is hard to hear from God. Our things, activities, and relationships become idols, or distractions, that take us away from having God as our center in all we think, say, and do.

In the third passage, we see the richness of advocacy. God saw what the Israelites had done in their idolatry. God was angry! In telling Moses what happened, God was ready to wipe out the whole nation. Thanks to Moses, He stood on behalf of the people before God. Moses was the advocate of the people and turned God’s heart so that God would not destroy the nation of Israel. Instead of destruction, Moses delivered a renewal of covenantal relationship with God to the people. By Moses having responded as an advocate, having delivered the 10 commandments, and having spoken a message of relationship, the people were able to turn from their wicked ways and back to God. Consequently, upon accepting and living by the commandments, the Israelites would be in a covenantal relationship with God again.

Just think of that advocacy for us today. Christ Jesus is our advocate. It is through the death and resurrection that we find a grace filled covenant with God. Through Christ Jesus, those who believe and follow, find sin is forgiven and an active relationship with God is enjoyed. The Spirit of God dwells with the believer.

Questions to Ponder for accountability in the group:

What good in your life has become an Idol before God?
How has the handling of your gold and silver, or currency, led you away from God instead of closer?
What distractions hold you back from having a deeper devotion to God?
How do you see advocacy in the midst of your relationship with God?
What does the death and resurrection of Christ mean to you?

Activity of for the life of a disciple:

1. Remember to find encouragement for the day by reading the daily devotional from FUMC.

2. Ponder and pray on this scripture this week: Exodus 34:10 (NRSV)

10 God said: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

3. Focus on doing one thing this week that will help you experience the grace of God.