**WARNING - due to the disturbing nature of the subject, this lesson may not be suitable for children**
The Old Testament contains some things that are difficult for us to reconcile: oppression of women, brutal violence, indifference toward the helpless, and even genocidal wars. Perhaps the most disturbing story of them all (containing all of these elements) is the account of the Levite and His Concubine, in Judges 19-21. In this lesson we tackle that story, to see if we can find anything redeeming in it; and uncover some surprising things in the process.
At the Last Supper, Jesus identifies his betrayer by dipping a piece of bread and then giving it to Judas Iscariot. This followed Jesus' statement, “He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against me”, where He quotes a line from Psalm 41. In this lesson we explore the significance of that statement by Jesus, and the detailed prophecies related to the manner in which Jesus would be betrayed. Prophecies like these strengthened the faith for early Christians like Ignatius, who gave up his life as a martyr for Christ.
With his death approaching, Jesus uses two puzzling figures of speech to explain both how He would die, and why He had to die. In the course of doing that, He reveals a great mystery that applies also to us: a seed must die in order to produce a great harvest. Jesus then goes on to quote from Isaiah, revealing a wonderful window into the divinity and pre-existence of the Son of God.
All four gospels record Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Is there special significance in this event? In this lesson we take a look at donkeys in the Bible, the prophecies foretelling Jesus' donkey ride, and how this story can be used to bring others to faith in the Christ.
What did Jesus mean when He announced, “I am the Good Shepherd”? Was this simply an illustration He came up with on the spot, or was He pointing back to prophecies or foreshadowings from the Hebrew Scriptures? In this lesson we consider five good shepherds in the Old Testament, as well as five significant prophecies about a good shepherd to come. Taken together, they provide a multi-faceted picture of the personality and mission of Christ.
Jesus has healed a young blind man who stands up to and is rejected by the Pharisees. To put this in perspective, Jesus tells a parable about a sheepfold, a shepherd, thieves and robbers, and explains that He is "the door of the sheep." This confuses his hearers, but Jesus' teaching is profound and reveals deep truths, foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. We also consider how Jesus’ subsequent promise of “the abundant life” for his followers has been terribly distorted by many, and what Jesus' promise does (and doesn’t) mean for His Church.
In John 9 Jesus performs an extraordinary miracle, giving sight (in an unusual way) to a young man born blind. Through this one event, Jesus answers the question of who sinned (the man or his parents), fulfills prophecy, reveals his divinity and identity as the Son of God, and comforts the afflicted. This lesson encourages us to deal with our own spiritual blindness and to recognize the spiritually blind world around us, that we may help them see.
At the end of John 8 Jesus makes several remarkable statements for which the Jews take up stones to kill him. In addition to calling the Jews liars, Jesus says "if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death", that "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" and "before Abraham was, I am." What do these statements mean? And why did they prompt the Jews to try to stone Jesus? The answers to these questions reveal much about Jesus' identity as God's Son, His divinity, His power over death, and His purpose for coming to earth — all of which should shape our understanding of Him, strengthen our faith and sharpen our priorities.
[PDF of Lesson notes to be posted shortly]
Hidden in plain view, in the famous story of the Exodus from Egypt, we find a detailed map of the Christian journey of faith. The connection is suggested in one of the psalms, but revealed by insights from three books in the New Testament and by early Christians. This is an unforgettable, faith-building lesson that sheds light on a number of foundational teachings: on sin, eternal security, baptism, Satan and the goal of our faith.
The Jews are wrestling with the question of whether Jesus is the Christ. On the one hand, he is performing miracles and teaching powerfully. On the other hand, the prophets had written that the Christ would come from Bethlehem (in Judea, in the south); however it appeared to them that Jesus was from Galilee (in the north). In this lesson we look at how Jesus fulfilled prophecies that speak both about Bethlehem and Galilee: the great king to come who would also bring light into a dark world.
[Our apologies! We forgot to hit the record button today. Attached are the notes from our study. May they serve as a starting point for your study on the Temple of God!]
In the book of 2 Samuel, God tells David that from David's seed will come a king who would build a house for God's name and establish a kingdom that would reign forever. David's son Solomon would go on to build the temple, about which much is written in the Old Testament. But was Solomon the fulfillment of this prophecy? Understanding the temple in the Old Testament provides important insight into Jesus' and the apostles' teaching, and the implications of these teachings on our lives today.
Jesus is challenged to show a sign like Moses did, to provide bread from heaven (recalling the manna story from Exodus). Jesus counters by teaching that He is the true bread who came from heaven, who gives life to the world. In this lesson we look at the significance of this important teaching, and also consider how two passages within this text have been taken out of context by Calvinists and many evangelical Protestants, with tragic consequences.
Jacob, on his deathbed, calls in his twelve sons and tells each one what will happen to his descendants in days to come. To his fourth son, Judah, he utters one of the most detailed and explicit prophecies about Jesus in all the Bible. Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr used this prophecy as powerful evidence to convince unbelievers of the faith. In this faith-building lesson we explore facets of this prophecy about the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah”: his reign, divinity, death, resurrection; and that the Gentiles would look to Him. This lesson includes insights from Christians in earlier ages that will equip us to prove the faith to unbelievers today.
Click here to go to previous lessons in the Genesis Series
After healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies want to kill Him for violating the Law of Moses. Instead of speaking to defend himself, Jesus points to five witnesses who will testify on His behalf, beginning with John the Baptist. His last witness is Moses, of whom Jesus declares “he wrote about Me”. In this lesson we consider the testimony of the five witnesses to support the claims of Jesus and the Christian faith.
In John chapter 5 Jesus told his critics that the Old Testament Scriptures testified about him. He pointed specifically to Moses and said, “If you believed in Moses you would believe in me, for he wrote about me”. Where did Moses actually write about Jesus, the Messiah? In this lesson, we examine one of the most detailed and faith-building prophecies in all of the Old Testament, from Moses. Ironically, this is a prophecy that is largely ignored or unappreciated by most modern Christians. This lesson will carry particular significance for those reaching out to friends from Muslim or Jewish backgrounds.
This talk was given on November 18, 2017 at a meeting of Society for the Two Tasks, a graduate student Christian apologetics group that meets on the Harvard University campus.
John the Baptist identifies Jesus as "the Lamb of God". Why a lamb, and not some other animal? Does this simply mean that Jesus was meek and harmless, or is there more to it? How would John's hearers have understood this expression? In this lesson we look at what this would have meant to John’s hearers, and the profound implications for all those who want to follow Jesus today.
John the Baptist was asked three questions: “Are you the Christ?”, “Are you Elijah?” and “Are you the Prophet?” John said he was not Elijah (whose return was prophesied in Malachi); however, Jesus said John was the Elijah to come. How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? Also, what is this reference to “the Prophet” all about? Does this refer to Mohammad, as claimed by 1.8 billion Muslims? In this lesson we use the Scriptures to answer that question, and dismantle one of the central claims of Islam in the process.
As we continue in the first chapter of John, we continue our deep dive into the identity of Christ, his divinity, and his appearances in the Old Testament. We are also introduced to John the Baptist, an important character in the beginning of all four Gospels. John was asked three questions: are you the Christ, are you Elijah, and are you the Prophet? We tackle the first of these (are you the Christ?) - a study that not only builds our own faith but also prepares us to give an answer to questions posed by Jews and Muslims.
What should Christians do with Christmas? Some desire to embrace the season, some focus on Jesus, some ignore the season completely. How do we maintain unity in the church with different opinions regarding Christmas? This lesson tackles these questions and provides insights for us related to the events surrounding the birth of Christ, including the significance of Jesus' name, the background of the magi, the role of Herod, and a prophecy about the star.