The Forerunner

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Small Group Material: 
Week Commencing: 
7 Dec 2009
Bible Base: 
Malachi 2:17-3:5, Luke 3: 1-17

Advent 2 (and 3 if you wish!) The Forerunner
 
Reading 1  Malachi 2:17-3:5
 
The date of Malachi is unclear; it seems generally agreed that it is after the return from exile, but the precise date is uncertain.
 
1)      What is the people’s complaint against the LORD (the way the OT writes ‘Yahweh’, the God of Israel)? Is this a question we sometimes ask of God?
2)      How does God promise to answer their complaint? How do we see these promises fulfilled in the New Testament?
3)      Will this coming of the one they were seeking be what they expected? How was Jesus’ coming different from what God’s people expected?
4)      When we get dismayed about the things wrong in the world, what do we expect God to do about them? How might God’s answer be different to what we expect?
5)      What in these verses is God concerned about? What shows the level of righteousness/justice in the people of God?
 
Reading 2 Luke 3: 1-17
 
1)      John the Baptist fulfils both Malachi and Isaiah 40. What is being said by the valleys being filled, and the mountains made low? What obstacles do we put in the way of God’s coming to us? What gets in the way of our receiving the full benefits of the Christmas period?
2)      I have heard the verses from Isaiah 40 used in terms of the church moving obstacles for others to meet with God. What obstacles do we put in the way of others?
3)      Look carefully at John the Baptist’s fiery teaching. What connections can you make between what he sees as ‘fruits of repentance’ and the Malachi passage?
4)      What does John the Baptist see as the effect of Jesus’ ‘baptism with fire’? How does this connect with the Malachi passage?
5)      What do these 2 passages suggest about how we should prepare for the coming of Jesus, and about our celebrations at Christmas?
 
Reading 3 Luke 12:49-50
 
1)      What do you think Jesus is referring to here by this baptism that he must be baptised with?
2)      John thought that Jesus would baptise others with purifying fire (as the prophecy of Malachi indicates). Do we suffer the full consequences of that baptism with fire? Why not?
 
David Jeans                                                                                         December 2009.