one great purpose


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GET INTO THE STUDY 10 minutes DISCUSS: Question #1 (Personal Study Guide [PSG],

SESSION 2

ONE GREAT PURPOSE

p. 26): When was a time you asked yourself, “What am I doing here?”

The Point

GUIDE: Summarize the

We were created to glorify God and

celebrity’s story in The Bible

enjoy Him forever.

Meets Life (PSG, p. 27). Invite volunteers to share personal

The Bible Meets Life

experiences or observations

Where do I fit in? It’s easy to fill

of people they’ve known who

our lives with things and activities.

lived “I-focused,” selfish lives.

Busyness can drown out the quiet, nagging question that asks: What’s

OPTION: Display the following items: hammer, fork, toothbrush, camera. Ask: “What’s the purpose of

the purpose of all I’m doing? What have I really accomplished? God created us for so much more than what we often settle for. He created us with purpose and for a purpose. Life becomes rich and full as we discover and live out God’s purpose for our lives.

each item?” Then ask: “What

The Passage

would happen if an item isn’t

Isaiah 43:1-7

used for its intended purpose? What would be the result?” Each item was designed with a specific task in mind. Using an item for a different purpose doesn’t typically work.

The Setting God inspired the prophet Isaiah to address many situations in Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Several passages in Isaiah’s later chapters deal with the “servant” of the Lord, who is sometimes identified with the nation Israel (41:8). Occasionally, however, the servant texts point ahead to the suffering and death of Jesus (52:13–53:12; see 1 Pet. 2:21-25). In Isaiah 43 the servant was Israel, who had been disobedient to God (42:18-20) and had received God’s judgment

GUIDE: Introduce The Point (PSG, p. 27): We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

32

S e ss i o n 2

(vv. 22-25).

STUDY THE BIBLE

Isaiah 43:1-2 1 Now this is what the Lord says—the One who created you,

Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel—

Isaiah 43:1-2 10 minutes

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by

READ: Ask a volunteer to read

your name; you are Mine.

Isaiah 43:1-2.

2 I will be with you when you pass through the waters,

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not

DISCUSS: Question #2 (PSG,

overwhelm you.

p. 28): How can these verses

You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire,

be seen as both comforting

and the flame will not burn you.

and troubling? (Alternate: How can these verses

KEY WORD: Jacob (v. 1)—Jacob was the twin brother of Esau (Gen.

be seen as both good news and

25:26). His name was changed to “Israel” by God. Both names also referred

bad news?)

symbolically to the Hebrew people.

We were intended to be in relationship with God. Verse 1. A Hebrew prophet was essentially a spokesperson, announcing whatever message God gave him. The message might be bad news, a message of judgment—such as Isaiah announced in the previous verses (42:18-25)—or it could be good news—such as the message of hope in this text. God reminded His audience who He is. Lord refers to God’s special covenant name, revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:15). “Lord” reminded His audience of their special covenant relation with Him. God had also created His people. In last week’s session we saw how God had created the entire world. Psalm 33 and Colossians 1:16 pointed to the power and knowledge of God involved in His creating everything that is. The Israelites were part of God’s overall creation, but in a special sense they were His people. God had called Abraham to be the father of a great nation who would eventually bless all nations (Gen. 12:1-3). God had formed His people for a special relation to Him, unique among all the nations of the world. Formed is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:7 for the creation of Adam. It could also be used for a potter shaping an object out of clay. God used two names in verse 1 for His people. Jacob was one of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah (Gen. 25:24-26).

GUIDE: Share information from The Setting (p. 32) and the KEY WORD (PSG, p. 28), to supplement the introduction.

SUMMARIZE: Refer members to the summary list on PSG, page 28 of what verses 1-2 tell us about God’s relationship with Israel: 1. God created and formed them. 2. God redeemed them out of bondage in Egypt. 3. God called them by name and they were His possession.

S U G G E S T E D U S E | W E E K O F S E P T E M B E R 11

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THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

SAY: ”Don’t miss the intimacy in the words God used to speak of His people: created, formed, redeemed, called. God speaks these same words over us today.”

GUIDE: A continuing theme throughout the Bible is the message: “Do not fear.” Ask members to consider things that cause them to experience fear. Remind them that God’s message: “Do not fear” is His message to each of us today.

GUIDE: Review Bible Commentary 1 and Digging Deeper (PSG, p. 29) to explain the meaning of redeem.

SUMMARIZE: Share information from Bible Commentary 2 about the significance of God calling His people by name. Point out Jesus’ analogy of the shepherd calling His sheep by name (John 10:3).

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S e ss i o n 2

The name means “he grasps the heel” since Jacob was born holding onto his older brother’s heel! It might be translated as “supplanter,” figuratively meaning cheater or deceiver. Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, rightly accused Jacob of living up to his name twice (Gen. 27:36). Later, after Jacob had spent a night wrestling with God, God gave him the new name Israel, meaning “he struggled with God” (see Gen. 32:28). Both these names were used later in the Old Testament to refer to the Hebrew nation. Jacob’s 12 sons were the ancestors of the tribes of Israel (Gen. 35:22b-26). Having identified Himself as the God of the Israelites, God announced they should not fear. Isaiah was not directed to name the specific historical crisis the nation faced. Some scholars point to the time the Assyrian Empire threatened the Southern Kingdom. Others think perhaps he saw ahead to the Babylonian captivity. The message “Do not fear” was a frequent one for God’s people in the Bible. For example, when Joshua succeeded Moses as leader of the nation, God told him not to be afraid or discouraged (Josh. 1:9). This verse might speak to you, especially if you are facing a challenging situation. Perhaps you have some financial difficulty or some marital problem. Even Christians face problems that might evoke fear, anxiety, or concern. God’s message to all of His people is to not be afraid. 1 God offered two reasons His people should not be overcome with fear. First, He had redeemed them. Isaiah frequently mentioned God’s role as redeemer (35:10). The basic word picture here is of someone liberated from slavery or rescued from a threatening situation. God was their “Redeemer” (43:14). The notion of redemption has several shades of meaning, including a family member helping another family member (Ruth 4:1-17). When Job suffered, he expressed a deep desire for the intervention of the living Redeemer (Job 19:25). 2 Second, God had called His people by their name. You know how important it is for someone to know your name. When someone knows your name and calls you by name, you likely feel acknowledged and more important. Jesus used the analogy of a shepherd calling his sheep by name to illustrate God’s special concern for His people (John 10:3). The Israelites had a special covenant relation with God, and He said you are Mine. Being special to God included the fact God held them accountable for their covenant responsibilities. The prophets, including Isaiah, often announced God’s judgment on disobedient people.

Verse 2. God added a third reason His people should not be afraid in the face of danger. God assured them He would be with you. God’s assurance of His continuing presence through our lives is a regular theme in the Bible. When Moses resisted God’s call to service, God stressed He would accompany Moses (Ex. 3:12). God also assured Joshua He would be with him in his new leadership role (Josh. 1:9). When Jesus taught His disciples in the upper room, He assured them He would not leave them as “orphans” (John 14:18). In the great commission, the risen Jesus reminded His followers He would be with them (Matt. 28:20). God identified two kinds of adversity His people would face, waters and fire. These two terms can be literal or figurative, depending on one’s situation. The Israelites, for instance, had to pass through two bodies of water at key points in their history. In both cases, God miraculously intervened to allow them to pass through the Red Sea and the Jordan River on dry land (Ex. 14:21-22; Josh. 3:15-17). Daniel’s three friends were put into a fiery furnace, but they were not harmed (Dan. 3:23-28). King David used the imagery of water for a personal crisis (Ps. 69:1-2). For many of us the reference to the threat of water and fire might be more figurative. Of course literal flash floods are a regular threat in some parts of our county, and wild fires often destroy property today. Many of us face difficult life situations similar to fire and waters. We need to hear God’s assurance that He is with us in these challenging situations. God told the Israelites that the waters and rivers would not overwhelm them. They would not be scorched or burned by the fire, because He was with them. Although many readers will find verse 2 reassuring, right now you might be in the middle of a situation that seems desperate or hopeless. Isaiah knew God’s people were helpless without God. Maybe a loved one has died recently from cancer. Or, a friend’s marriage has ended despite the sincere efforts of both spouses to keep it intact. The Bible never promises God’s people a trouble-free life, but Isaiah and other writers remind us that we are never totally alone or on our own in these serious situations. God is always walking alongside us through the dark times in life. A familiar example of this biblical truth is Paul’s struggle with the thorn in the flesh. Although he prayed for deliverance, the problem remained. God, however, assured Paul His grace would be sufficient for him (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

SUMMARIZE: God has promised “I will be with you.” On PSG page 31, we read: The greatest expression of God’s love was displayed at the cross. God sent His own Son to die, and Jesus willingly went to the cross and died as our sin substitute. We did nothing to earn or deserve this act of love. God has extended it to us by grace. Just as we can do nothing to earn this loving gift from God, we can do nothing to lose it. Our salvation is eternally secure in Christ.

SAY: ”Isaiah described adversities such as waters, rivers, fire and flame. Even in difficult trials like these, God has promised to be with His people.”

DISCUSS: Question #3 (PSG, p. 30): How has God used specific trials in your life to teach you more about Himself? (Alternate: When have you felt that God knows you by name?)

TRANSITION: “Verses 3-4 continue to reaffirm God’s love for His people.”

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THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

STUDY THE BIBLE Isaiah 43:3-4 10 minutes

Isaiah 43:3-4 3 For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your

Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place.

READ: Ask a volunteer to read verses 3-4.

4 Because you are precious in My sight and honored, and I

love you, I will give people in exchange for you and nations instead of

SUMMARIZE: Explain from Bible Commentary 3 how God continued to reassure His people. He identified Himself in three distinctive ways in verse three. 1. He used His covenant name Yahweh, often translated as Lord. God regularly reminded His people that He alone was the true God. 2. God is also the Holy One of Israel. This name highlights both God’s special relation to Israel and His holiness. Refer to the Biblical Illustrator excerpt (p. 41), “The Holy One of Israel”. 3. God is also our Savior. We know God had an eternal plan to provide our salvation through His Son, Jesus.

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S e ss i o n 2

your life. We were intended to enjoy God’s love. Verse 3. God continued to reassure His people. He identified Himself in three distinctive ways in this verse. First, He used His covenant name Yahweh, often translated as Lord. The Israelites eventually thought the word Yahweh was too sacred to pronounce out loud, so they said a Hebrew word for “Lord.” The Israelites lived in a world where most other countries had multiple gods and goddesses. God regularly reminded them that He alone was the true God (Isa. 44:6). Second, God is also the Holy One of Israel. This name for God appeared often in Isaiah’s messages (41:14,16,20). This name highlights God’s special relation to Israel and His holiness. Isaiah 6 records a vision of God seated on His heavenly throne. The seraphim (angels) were chanting “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth” (6:3). Being in the presence of the holy God prompted Isaiah’s confession of sins and willingness to serve God (vv. 5-8). Third, God is our Savior. Christians often think of Jesus as our Lord and Savior because He died for our sins on the cross. We know that God had the eternal plan that provided our salvation through His Son. The Old Testament writers pointed to God as our Savior. David described God as the “God of salvation” (Ps. 68:20) because He delivers us. Isaiah often used “Savior” as a title for God’s relation to His people or noted God’s role in salvation (43:11; 45:15,17,20,22; 46:7). Besides using these distinctive titles or names, God mentioned that He had provided a ransom. The word picture of paying a ransom to get someone out of slavery or captivity is a common one in the Bible. For instance, it appears in the 3

law codes (Ex. 21:30). Paying a ransom is also a figurative way of describing God’s salvation of His people. Jesus described His death on the cross for sinners as “a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The apostle Paul also used the ransom analogy (1 Tim. 2:5-6). These days we hear in the news about hostages held captive, and the captors seeking a ransom for their release. God assured His people they would be liberated through His ransom for them. Isaiah’s reference to Egypt … Cush and Seba puzzles many readers. We do not know enough about the exact historical context for this text to be sure about how these three countries in Africa were involved. God had liberated the Israelites from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Egypt had been a military threat against the Israelites later on. The main point is clear, however. God is Savior; He paid the ransom that allowed His people to be free again. Depending on your current situation, you may resonate with different aspects of the description of God in verse 3. Perhaps, like Isaiah, you have been impressed with God’s holiness and acknowledge God’s majesty and glory. Perhaps God has delivered you from some tough situations, or you have a vivid memory of your conversion experience. So you can easily think of God as your Savior. 4 Verse 4. God continued to highlight aspects of His special relation to His people. We are precious in God’s sight. God certainly cares for all His creation and all His creatures, but He created a special covenant relation with His people, Israel. God told Moses that Israel was “My own possession out of all the peoples” (Ex. 19:5). God’s people were also honored by this covenant relation. Even though the Israelites had a long history of rebellion and disobedience, God continued to deal redemptively with them. For some readers the most surprising part of verse 4 may be God’s declaration I love you. Some Christians have the impression God’s love is a New Testament theme only. We know John 3:16 highlights God’s love for the world, and John stated “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). But the Old Testament acknowledges God loved His people. Moses stated that God did not choose them as His covenant partners because they had any inherent merit, but because God loved them (Deut. 7:6-7). God’s choice of His people was an act of sheer grace, not a reward for being the biggest of the nations of the world. Throughout their history God loved His people. His love for them was a tough love, meaning He punished them for their sins. The prophet Hosea compared God’s love for His people to a husband dealing with an adulterous wife (Hos. 2). God so loved His people that He would give people in

SUMMARIZE: Use information from Bible Commentary 4 to highlight what God says about His people: “you are precious to me . . . and I love you.”

GUIDE: Draw attention to these words on PSG page 31: “The greatest spiritual blessing of all is to know God’s love. God created us and called us to be in relationship with Him through redemption so that we could enjoy His love.

DISCUSS: Question #4 (PSG, p. 31): What steps can we take to recognize and more fully enjoy God’s love? (Alternate: What distracts you from enjoying God’s love?)

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THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

TRANSITION: “We have been reminded that God loves us and created us to enjoy a relationship with Him. In verses 5-7, we’ll gain a better understanding of the purpose of our lives.”

STUDY THE BIBLE Isaiah 43:5-7 10 minutes READ: Invite a volunteer to read Isaiah 43:5-7.

SUMMARIZE: To be created for God’s glory means we

exchange for you. As with the ransom image and the mention of the three African countries (v. 3), Bible students debate the exact historical context for this exchange. The main point is how far God would go to guarantee His people were delivered from adversity. How has God demonstrated His love for you? God assured the Israelites that He loved them. God demonstrated His love for Christians by providing our salvation through Jesus, God’s unique Son (Rom. 5:8). In your personal testimony about your salvation and God’s other dealings in your life, you likely could name many examples of God’s love for you. Our relation to God includes reverence for God, obedience of His commands, humility, and many other aspects. Sometime we might neglect enjoying His love. God’s love for His people is basic and primary in the Bible.

Isaiah 43:5-7 5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants

from the east, and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north: Give them up!

and to the south: Do not hold them back! Bring My sons from far away, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—

are to display His attributes.

7 everyone called by My name and created for My glory.

Some attributes are unique to

I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.”

God, such as His omniscience, omnipresence, and omni­ potence. Only God can be all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful. God also has attributes we were created to share. We see three in Isaiah 43 (PSG, p. 32): (Continued on next page) 38

S e ss i o n 2

We were intended to bring God glory. Verses 5-6. Again God reminded His people Do not fear. He would be with them in any situation they faced. They would never face a truly desperate or hopeless situation, because God would accompany them. Bible students struggle to identify the precise historical situation for these verses. Some think Isaiah was looking ahead to the end of the Babylonian captivity or exile. Babylon invaded Judah several times, taking thousands of Israelites captive to Babylon.

Decades later Cyrus, king of Persia, defeated Babylon and allowed the captives to return home. Isaiah named Cyrus in his later prophecies (44:28; 45:1). Here, however, God announced He would bring their descendants from all four directions: east, west, north, and south. Babylon was basically east of Judah, but some Israelites might have fled in all these directions. Isaiah might have a more general dispersion of God’s people in mind and not the Babylonian period in particular. No matter where God’s people were, He could gather them together. Verse 7. God’s special relation to His people is again reflected in calling them by His name. They knew Him, and they were created for My glory. Glory usually refers to a visible manifestation or expression of God, such as a bright light or radiance. To glorify God means to acknowledge His status as our Lord and God. Public worship is a time when we honor God, acknowledging His worth, holiness, and love for us. Our praise of God in our worship is an appropriate response to God’s greatness and goodness. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, declares, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That statement is a good summary of verse 7. God created and formed humans to have a vital, personal relation to Him. Humans are unique among all of God’s creatures in that we are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). Our primary purpose is to glorify God. Besides public worship, we can bring glory to God in other ways. We can honor God by obeying His instructions for our daily living. Jesus summarized the great commandment as loving God with our total beings and loving our neighbors (Matt. 22:34-40). The Bible includes many ethical instructions about everyday activities. When we obey God’s instructions, we show our honor for Him. Sometimes God calls us to specific tasks or assignments. Isaiah gladly accepted God’s call to serve Him as a prophet (Isa. 6:1-8). Other biblical characters, such as Jeremiah, Moses, and Jonah, were at first more reluctant to obey God’s call. What have you done lately to glorify God in your life and daily activities? Hopefully you have accepted God’s offer of salvation and have committed your life to bringing glory to God. If so, you do not need to fear the challenges of life (43:1,5), because you know God is always with you, encouraging and empowering you. Without the salvation available through Jesus, however, you would have something to fear. Isaiah’s primary emphasis was that we are created to glorify God. If you are already part of God’s people, you can boldly share the good news about your Savior with others who need that same salvation.

1. God is love (v. 4). We express God’s love by putting others before ourselves. An expression of God’s love is when we forgive someone we feel is undeserving; this is what God did for us. 2. God is holy (v. 3). We pursue holiness by living in obedience to God’s Word. 3. God is gracious (v. 7). He called us by His name and created us for His glory—and we did nothing to deserve this. We can exemplify God’s grace by extending grace to others.

DISCUSS: Question #5 (PSG, p. 34): What does it look like to glorify God in our everyday lives? (Alternate: Who comes to mind when you think of living a life that glorifies God?)

DO: Invite volunteers to share their responses to the activity on PSG page 34: “I Am With You.”

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THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

LIVE IT OUT 5 minutes GUIDE: Emphasize The Point: We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Review Live It Out (PSG, p. 35; see text to the right). Invite group members to think about which application speaks most to their needs.

Wrap It Up GUIDE: Emphasize that much has been made of the deep love that God has for us. May we respond to God with hearts filled with gratitude for His great love. SAY: “We were created to bring glory to God. Today bask in the promises of His word and the reminder of His love.” PRAY: Thank God for His love. Thank Him for the privilege of being His own and for His promise to be with us in all stages of life.

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S e ss i o n 2

LIVE IT OUT Do not fear. The Creator, the One who formed you loves you. He redeemed you. He calls you by name. He is with you in every desperate circumstance of your life. You are precious in His sight. How will you let the truth of God’s purpose for you be evident?

>> Reflect on the grace of God in your life. Write down specific things God has done for you. Spend time in prayer thanking Him.

>> Display the character of God in your life this week. Look for opportunities to display the character of Jesus toward others. Perhaps there is someone you need to forgive. Or it could be as simple as an undeserved act of kindness toward a stranger in need.

>> Share with someone this week a specific way God

has shown His grace to you. Be prepared to share the gospel with them.

ILLUSTRATOR PHOTO/DAVID ROGERS/MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS/BOSTON 6/4/16

“When Isaiah used the phrase

SHARING THE GOOD NEWS We will only experience

‘the Holy One of Israel’ he based

true contentment and

it on divine revelation that was

purpose when we turn from

given to others prior to his time.

following our own ways

When God called Moses to deliver

and place our faith in Jesus

Israel from Egypt, He impressed

Christ.

on Moses that He was a God of holiness (Ex. 3:5). When God set

Each week, make yourself

forth His demands for acceptable

available either before or after

worship, He call for holiness on the

the session to speak privately

part of His people (Lev. 11:45).

with anyone in your group

“In Isaiah 43 the ‘Holy One of

who wants to know more

Egyptian Jewelry of the New Kingdom. Dynasties 18-20, an Egyptian head

Israel’ is identified as God in at

about becoming a Christian.

“The name ‘THE HOLY ONE OF

least 7 ways.

See the article, “Leading

ISRAEL’ is not unique in Isaiah, but he was the first person and prophet to use this phrase as a name of God. From the evidence, the conclusion that Isaiah coined the term seems entirely justified. “Isaiah used the phrase 25 times. One argument for the unity of the entire book is that the author used the name ‘the Holy One of Israel’ almost equally in

Someone to the Greatest 1. Yahweh (Lord), (v. 1,3)

Decision of All,“ on page 2 for

2. Creator (v. 1,15)

guidance in leading a person

3. Provider (vv. 1-2)

to Christ.

4. Sovereign (v. 3) 5. Restorer of Jacob (v. 5-6)

Remind group members that

6. Eternal One (v. 13)

page 2 in the PSG offers

7. Redeemer (v. 14)”

guidance in how to become a Christian. Encourage believers

The excerpt above is from the article “The Holy One of Israel” (Fall 2000) which relates to this session. More Biblical Illustrator articles are available that relate to this session. See page 7 about Biblical Illustrator.

to consider using this article as they have opportunities to lead others to Christ.

both divisions, 12 times in chapters 1-40 and 14 times in chapters 40-66.

>> Get expert insights on weekly studies through the Ministry Grid (MinistryGrid.com/web/BibleStudiesFor Life). >> Grow with other group leaders at the Groups Ministry blog (lifeway.com/groupministry). >> Additional ideas for your group are available at BibleStudiesFor Life.com/blog. 41