Sunday school: God's judgment Through the Nations

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Intro Option 2: House of Cards
Hand out 2-3 decks of cards
Split students into teams
See who can build the best house or building
Why did you have to be so careful when making your house?
Because it could fall over so easily
In today’s session, Jerusalem fails.
Its leaders were reckless.
They failed to see how fragile the safety and security of the city truly were.
Rather than listening to God’s warnings, they made choices that brought their city ruin.

Main Point: Stubbornness keeps us from experiencing God’s grace.

1.Judah refuses God’s ways.
Zedekiah’s father was King Josiah, who died in a battle with the Egyptians.
His older brother, Jehoiakim, was king when Babylon first sieged Jerusalem.
When Jehoiakim was killed, his son reigned after him for only three months before the Babylonians installed Zedekiah as king of Judah
Judah became a state of the Babylonian empire, but its evil leaders would bring the city to ruin.
2 Chronicles 36:11–14 (ESV)
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.
How did Zedekiah and the leaders of Jerusalem fail? What can we learn from their failures?
Zedekiah hardened his heart, refusing to turn back to the Lord.
“He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 12), which had repeatedly been a way of referring to the idolatry of the kings since the time of Solomon.
They even used the temple for idolatrous worship.
Judah became like the nations Joshua had defeated in the conquest.
Soon, Jerusalem would be destroyed just as they had been.
How can we avoid spiritual failure like that of Zedekiah and the leaders of Jerusalem?
It seems that Zedekiah had plenty of opportunities to turn to God, but he refused to humble himself.
Specifically, he didn’t humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah.
And not just Zedekiah; this was a problem for the whole nation!
We also have opportunities to course-correct and obey God.
But we must first be willing to humble ourselves.
God has sent Jeremiah to Zedekiah, but for us, it may be a parent, coach, teacher, or another authority figure.
Will we be humble and listen to them? Or will we harden our hearts against returning to the Lord?
2. Judah rejects God’s word.
2 Chronicles 36:15–16 (ESV)
The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.
How did God initially respond to Judah’s sin? Why?
God had compassion towards his people, wanting to see them return to His law rather than suffer judgement.
The passage says God sent messengers (time and time again (v. 15).
God was persistent and patient over a long period of time.
How did Judah respond to God’s Word?
Judah mocked God’s messengers
“Both king and people have rejected God’s word spoken by his prophetic messengers.”
They despised the word of the Lord, refusing to listen.
Despite God’s patience and compassion, Judah continued down its rebellious path.
Because of their hardened hearts and refusal to listen to God’s Word, “there was no remedy” (v. 16).
When we will not respect and respond to God’s Word, there is simply no remedy for our spiritual problems.
3. Judah experiences God’s judgement
2 Chronicles 36:17–21 ESV
Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
What eventually happened as a result of Judah’s sin? What does this tell us about how we should deal with the idols in our hearts and lives?
God sent the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and the temple.
The temple was no longer a place of worship to God, but a place of idolatry.
Like the high places to Baal and Asherah, the temple had to be torn down.
The leaders and inhabitants of the city lost everything.
Many lost their lives, homes, wealth, or families.
God has rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, but generations later, their sin had led them back into bondage..
What does verse 21 teach us about the word of the Lord? Why is this important to remember?
God’s word will come to pas..
If he said it will happen, it is going to happen.
Jeremiah, the prophet Zedekiah had ignored, warned that Jerusalem would be destroyed and its people deported.
Their refusal to listen or believe God’s word would not prevent it from happening.
And the same is true today.
People may refuse to listen to God’s Word, but His Word is true.
When God says something will happen, it will.
Humanity ignores his warnings at its own risk.
Christ Connection:
God righteously punished His people for their sin, but He kept the promise He has made to David to preserve a remnant and provide a king.
Ultimately, God punished sin through His Son Jesus and made Him our King forever.
Head: How might stubbornness keep you from experiencing God’s grace even though it is always available to you?
Refusing to listen to God’s word was kryptonite for Jerusalem and its leaders.
Their stubbornness kept them from God’’s garce, which was readily available to them.
When your mind is set, how can you change course? you can’t.
We must be willing to listen and change our minds when God’s Word is presented to us, or we will not be able to receive His grace.
Heart: Why should we have compassion on people like God does? What might this look like for you?
Jeremiah is often referred to as the weeping prophet.
He was sent by God to warn Jerusalem and its kings of the coming destruction.
But like God, Jeremiah wanted to see the city turn to God.
After all, they were his neighbors and fellow citizens.
He did not delight in it, and neither should we.
May we all have the compassion of God even when our message is a word of warning.
Hands: How might we be stubbornly against something God wants us to do?
We are all stubborn to one degree or another.
We certainly experience this in relation to parent, sibling, and friends.
If we aren’t careful, we can be stubborn toward God.
Discuss how you may be stubborn in human relationships and why.
How might stubbornness against parents or authorities actually be a stubbornness against God too?
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