Week 1 Isaiah

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Week Commencing: 
2 Nov 2008
Bible Base: 
Isaiah 40:1-11

The Context

Isaiah is a book of prophecies thought to relate to 3 periods of the history of the Jewish people.

  • Isaiah 1-39 contain prophecies of judgment given to Judah in the period from 736 BC to the death of Hezekiah in 697 BC.
  • Judgment was delayed because Hezekiah listened and made reforms (see Is 38:6)
  • Isaiah prophesied that Judah would be exiled to Babylon (Is 39:6). This happened 120 or so years later in 587 BC.
  • chapters 40 to 55 are addressed to Judah in exile and contain God’s promise of the end of exile through the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus which happened around 539 BC. It contains a message of hope and grace.
  • The final section of Isaiah is thought to address the situation of the return to Jerusalem at the end of exile.

 
Questions for Discussion
 
1)      The Jews in exile must have looked back on Jerusalem and the Temple as a great ‘Golden Age’. They genuinely could say “It’s not like it used to be”. In what ways is our situation one of exile and looking back to better times (a) as a nation: (b) as the community of Deepcar; (c) as the church nationally; (d) as the church of St Johns Deepcar? You may also wish to share how as individuals you might feel in exile (but you do not have to.)
2)      Read together Isaiah 40:1-11. What does God say to the Jews in their context of exile in these verses? What do any of these things have to say to us in our various contexts? How do they connect with (a) our experience (b) our hopes and dreams ?
3)      Verses 3 and 4 speak of preparing the way of the Lord in the wilderness. We obviously think of John the Baptist in connection with these verses – but how can we ‘prepare the way the Lord’ in our own lives (individually and as a church)?
4)      What are the ‘uneven ground’ and ‘rough places’ that stand between people today and God? What might we do to help them become level ground?
5)      We are called to be heralds of good news. What is the good news from this passage to our community and our nation?