Saturday, January 1, 2011

Turn to Me and Be Saved......Isaiah 45:18-24a, Sunday School Lesson for 1-9-11

ATTENTION:  Please note that this lesson, Turn to Me and Be Saved on Isaiah 45:18-24a is for the 01-09-11 ISSL.  You will find the 01-02-11 lesson, I Am Your Redeemer, directly beneath this message and on the right side.


Turn to Me and Be Saved
Isaiah 45:18-24a
International Sunday School Lesson
January 9, 2011
Jed Greenough

Isaiah 45:18-24a

18 For this is what the LORD says--
He who created the heavens,
He is God;
He who fashioned and made the earth,
He founded it;
He did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited--
He says:
"I am the LORD,
and there is no other. 
19 I have not spoken in secret,
from somewhere in a land of 
I have not said to Jacob's 
'Seek me in vain.'
I, the LORD, speak the truth;
I declare what is right.

20 "Gather together and come;
assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood,
who pray to gods that cannot save.
21 Declare what is to be, present it--
let them take counsel together.
Who foretold this long ago,
who declared it from the distant past?
Was it not I, the LORD?
And there is no God apart from me, 
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none but me.

22 "Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no
23 By Myself I have sworn, 
my mouth has uttered in all 
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.
24 They will say of me, 'In the LORD
are righteousness and strength.'"

Every time that I set out to write one of these lessons I pray to God that He use me to speak to you the message that He would most have me share.

I am sure that this message could be similar to some others you will encounter, but not most.  I am just as  sure that others that are preparing lessons will also be similarly praying to God concerning their message.

Done in this fashion, none are really better than the other they just show the multiple layers that make up our great and only God and His word.

God knows the ability of each that is preparing lessons concerning His word as well as those that will read them.

For me God seems to speak to my spirit that the pressing issue in this New Year and for this lesson is the emphasis that His people and those that would be His need to take action, they need to do as the title of this lesson reads, turn to Him and be saved.

Today’s lesson begins with an entreaty that God, He who created the heavens, is not doing things in secret.  We read in Romans 1:18-20

Romans 1:18-20 

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Nor has God been secretive with regard to His purposes for Israel, having spelled it out through those that He chose to reveal it, men such as Moses or prophets such as Isaiah in today’s lesson.

Isaiah’s message that we have been studying these last few weeks has been concerning   redemption plans for God’s servant Israel, 150 years into their future.  And although this message may have given some hope to those that were alive at the time or in the intervening years, it seems to have been a message whose revelation was more for those that see its fulfillment in hindsight.

We have not done much more than allude to Cyrus who was a major part of this plan of freeing the Israelites from Babylon and allowing them to return to Jerusalem.  But the strength and power of this fulfillment has surely been a great source of inspiration for countless numbers who in reading it grew in their faith in the Lord.

Most of us will never know of the stories of witnesses of our faith who have led people to this passage.  People who actually fit the description of verse 20.

 20 “Gather together and come;
   assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood,
   who pray to gods that cannot save.

What a powerful example today’s passage as well as the preceding International Sunday School Lessons can be for those that have dealt with this subject.  Non-believers can see something in these scriptures, scriptures which by themselves they would not give much weight and add to it the historians’ books that they do give so much credence to.

The idol worshiper who has turned to his homemade god in times of doubt and despair can be read this prophecy concerning the conqueror Cyrus. He can prove by world history that Cyrus literally existed and see this prophecy dated long before Cyrus’ birth, combine it with today’s passage concerning God not speaking in secret and begin his faith.  That is literally what God is telling us in this passage. 

Fugitives from the nations from verse 20 who are ignorantly praying to made up gods that are not answering them and cannot save them…God is giving them a very clear message.  To paraphrase He is saying in verses 21-23 “talk about it amongst yourselves, here is a clear example, I foretold this long ago, from the distant past, this prophecy concerning Israel and Cyrus, whose right hand I took hold of.  And one day you and everyone else will have to give account of yourself to me.  Learn now that there is no God apart from me.  Turn to me now and be saved.”

As Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55 people need to seek the Lord while He can be found, calling on Him while He is near.  Again, we read in the last two verses from today, that in the end, every knee will bend and every tongue confess and acknowledge that He is God, will they be rejoicing when they say it?

For Discussion:

  1. To me the statement in verse 18 that God did not create the earth to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited could be easily overlooked.  Rather than just taking that at face value what do you think it means?
  2. God operates in absolute light, not as it says in verse 19 “in a land of darkness.”  Discuss ways where words are spoken in darkness.
  3. Prepare a list of clearly seen fulfilled prophecies to help you readily witness to the unsaved.
  4. The ignorant turned to idols they have created.  Idols can be created from many things literally and figuratively.  Discuss the idols that people turn to.
  5. All the ends of the earth are instructed to turn to Him in order to be saved, consider Romans 10:14  “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
  6. Invite a friend to Sunday School.

(Join me next week for the International Sunday School Lesson for January 16, 2011, Reassurance for God’s People, on Isaiah 48:14-19, 21-22)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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