BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
- Read Isaiah 36-39
- Get a feel for the Book of Isaiah as a whole by WATCHING THIS VIDEO
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants you to share during your group’s time together.
ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL: WILL THE REAL KING PLEASE STAND UP?
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In 2 Samuel 7, God promised that a faithful king would arise and lead Israel towards faithfulness and that he would rule over the nations forever and ever.
The author of Isaiah wants us to see that the hope for a faithful king who would bring the kingdom of God has deep roots going all the way back to David. It appears that this promise stood as a potential reality for each generation of David’s descendants, but one by one they all struck out. Hezekiah came close, but in the end, even he was disqualified by his selfishness and sin. The future promise keeps getting delayed and kicked out into the future, the distant future.
This a very different conception of messianic prophecy than the popular conception of the prophets (think Nostradamus), who looked into a crystal ball and predicted events far removed from their own day. That isn’t how the biblical prophets worked. Rather, they looked to God’s promises in the past (to Abraham and David) to generate hope for their own day and beyond. The prophets believed that God’s covenant promises called every generation of Israel and its kings to repentance and faithfulness. But, as the story turns out, none of David’s descendants lived up to this call. And then the exile happened. This is how the promise of the Messiah became a hope for the distant future once the kingdom of David was hauled off to Babylon.
This was the story that Jesus was born into. The basic claim of the four Gospel stories in the New Testament is that Jesus was that faithful king from the line of David. He was the one to whom this entire story had been pointing all along. Not because of Isaiah’s predictive prophecy, but because Jesus arrived and began doing things that made people realize this man is doing all the things God promised to David and Abraham. Those ancient poems and prophetic stories created a giant “help wanted: Messiah needed” sign, and Jesus arrived to apply for the job, and successfully. However, how Jesus fulfilled these ancient promises also surprised many people. And that will be our future focus once we begin to study the parts of Isaiah that describe “The Suffering Servant.”
Read Matthew 11:1-6 and Ask Yourself: Have I ever “stumbled” when God was not meeting my expectations for what I thought he should be like? Do we want our kings to be suffering servants, or do we expect them to meet different criteria?
Text: edited from an article by the Bible Project (thebibleproject.com)
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of how your group can invite God into your time together.
Pray for God’s guidance and direction as you meet, and that He would reveal areas of your heart that need to be awakened or renewed by His truth.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend’s message came from Isaiah 36-39. If everyone has a Bible, let’s go there together.
- (Isaiah 36:1-7) The king of Assyria challenged Hezekiah, the king of Judah, by asking, “What are you trusting inthat makes you so confident? Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength?”
Together, discuss things that we have a tendency to trust in that falsely boosts our confidence? How has trusting in other things let you down?
- (Isaiah 36:1-7) The king of Assyria continues to ask Hezekiah, “Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me?”
As a group, discuss who you are currently counting on? Have you ever grown impatient with God, and put your hope and trust in others instead, or even in yourself?
- Read Proverbs 3:5-6. In what areas of your life are you leaning on your own understanding?
- When Hezekiah and his Israelite leaders heard all that the king of Assyria said, they tore their clothes in frustration, fear, and sorrow. Today, when we experience difficulties, what do we tend to do or where do we tend to go? Why does prayer sometimes feel like an unnatural first response?
- Read Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 37:14-20. God answers Hezekiah’s prayer and an angel of the Lord kills 185,000 Assyrian men. God uses one prayer to defend His own name. What one prayer have you been hesitant to pray for, fearful that God may not answer it?
- After Hezekiah gets an illness that will kill him, he again asks God to save him and the Lord grants him 15 more years of life. God is a God of second chances. How have you seen this demonstrated in your own life?
- Foolishly, Hezekiah lets the Babylonian enemies see all of his palace riches, and this results in vast destruction for the distant future. Hezekiah is unconcerned because he will die prior to that event. Why do we tend to live with such a temporary view? In what ways will our choices today outlast us – both good or bad? When we remember that God has blessed us and positioned us for a reason, how does that change our interactions with others?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of what your group could talk about with God in prayer.
Pray that we would take advantage of our opportunities to help others, and that we would be willing to share what we’ve been given with those around us. Ask God to use us wherever we are.