828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Christian Formation for August 11 - Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; The Wickedness of Judah

August 11, 2013 – 12 Pentecost
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
The Wickedness of Judah
Background: The book of Isaiah is one of the prominent texts for both Jew and Christian. Isaiah is a prophet from Judah speaking to the entire nation of Israel. This passage is the opening section of a portion of the book commonly referred to as First Isaiah, which includes the first 39 chapters of Isaiah. The prophet served during the reign of four Judean kings.
Theme: The prophet pronounces God’s judgment against the nation of Israel because of their sin and the imminent threat from the Assyrians from the north. Isaiah calls Israel to account, not for their lack of orthodoxy (right belief) but for their lack of orthopraxy (right practice). Isaiah seems to comment Israel knows the right rules for life but does not practice them as God intended them.
Questions to Ponder:
* Briefly describe the situation in Israel: the political, social, and religious dynamics of the nation.
* Briefly describe the four kings identified in verse 1; Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. How have their reigns been classified by scholars? When did each of the kings rule over Judah?
* Which other prophets were most likely operating at the same time as Isaiah? Of the three prophets operating, what distinguished them (audience, heritage, message, etc.)?
* To whom do you think Isaiah is speaking in this passage?
* What do you think Isaiah’s main complaint from God to Israel is? What evidence do you think Isaiah had to make his impeachment?
* What do you think the difference between the two references to יהוה in verse 10 might imply: “word of the Lord…” verses “teaching of our God…”?
* What do you think God is saying to Israel in verse 14 when Isaiah prophesies, “Your new moons and your appointed festivals… have become a burden to me.”?
* Why might God pronounce the dramatic punishment against Israel in verse 15, “When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you…”?
* How might Israel comply with God’s command in verse 16? How does God’s command match or not match the remainder of the oracle?
* Where might Israel find the definition of good and evil; justice and oppression; [proper] defense of orphans and widows?
* How might Israel “argue it out” with God as commanded in verse 18? Who else in the Old Testament argued with God about God’s judgment?
* Knowing the rest of the story, that Israel would be overrun by Assyria in 721 and the Babylonians later, how successful do you think Israel was in changing its ways?
* How does God’s commands to the Israelites help (or hinder) their ability to successfully change their ways?
* What is the good news in the message from Isaiah to Israel – especially knowing that Israel didn’t actually succeed in following God’s commands?
* How do we carry the message of redemption from this text to those we meet in our day-to-day lives?

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