Nigeria Baptist Church Sunday School Manual For May 17, 2020 : Topic –PRACTICE JUSTICE.
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL OUTLINE
Date: Sunday, May 17, 2020.
TOPIC: PRACTICE JUSTICE.
O house of David, this is what the LORD says: “’Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done- burn with no one to quench it. Jeremiah 21:12
Primary Learning Outcome/Indicators:
Learners will know that God is God of justice and indicate achievement of this by:
• Discussing the negative effects of injustice in the society;
• Mentioning some steps that can be taken to correct injustice in the society;
• Making commitment to practise and be advocates of justice, according to God’s command.
There was a particular village where farming was the main occupation of the inhabitants, even the king. As it was the tradition of the villagers since the time of their forefathers, it was mandatory for the villagers to serve as labourers in the king’s farm without wages or compensation of any kind. Anyone who revolted was made to face severe punishment. Worse still, the people had no choice but to obey the commands of the king, whether or not it was convenient. The land was characterised by wickedness, oppression, injustice and all kinds of evil, and nobody dared challenge the king about his activities. The people were enslaved, maltreated and denied rest and justice. This went on for a long time until God sent a young evangelist from the neighbouring village to the people. He witnessed Christ to the villagers and many of them accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord. The young man led them to pray for God’s intervention concerning the situation of their land. God answered their prayers and delivered them from the hands of the king. The death of the king brought an end to the oppression of the people.
Today’s lesson centres on Jeremiah who declared the mind of God to the people of Jerusalem to execute justice and deliver the oppressed from their oppressors. Prophet Jeremiah was one of the prophets called by God to speak against the sins of the people of his time, especially the king and his officials who indulged in injustice and wickedness. King Zedekiah was frightened at the approach of the Babylonian army and then appealed to Jeremiah to intercede on their behalf to God. Jeremiah only advised Zedekiah to yield the city to the Babylonians and make them to know the impending punishment from God if they fail to repent and turn to Him in all sincerity.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED…
A. OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A CHOICE: [Jeremiah 21:8-9]
In the days of King Zedekiah and his officials, evil and injustice reigned supreme. The people disregarded God’s instruction through Prophet Jeremiah. When Pashur (whose duty was to maintain order in the temple area) heard the prophecy against Jerusalem and Judah, he had Jeremiah beaten. He put him in chains with the accusation of giving false prophecy against them (Jeremiah 20:1-6). However, when it was prophesied that Jerusalem would be defeated by King Nebuchadnezzar and his army, Zedekiah felt threatened. He sent Pashur and Priest Zephaniah to Jeremiah to make inquiry whether God would fight for them as in time past when an angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and Sennacherib withdrew from his attack on the people (2 Kings 19:32-36). God promised to fight against Zedekiah and hand him over to King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, alongside his officials without mercy (vv. 3-7). Nevertheless, God gave opportunity to the people to make their choices through the words of Prophet Jeremiah. He said, “See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes out and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; he will escape with his life.” (vv. 8-9) God was determined to fight against Zedekiah and his people; hence He gave them the opportunity to choose between life and death. Although the king was hoping to receive a message of hope but none was forthcoming. Instead, Jeremiah gave a message that they should surrender to the Babylonians that had besieged them. God’s love and mercy are incomparable as it is reflected in the passage. He shows love and mercy to people, even the worst sinner. Despite the fact that Zedekiah and his people deliberately refused to yield to God’s warnings, He still offered them a choice to make good decision of surrendering to the Babylonians instead of total elimination. God has always given His children the privilege to accept the offer of the gift of salvation through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ and to maintain a steady relationship with Him.
1. What choices do you think people will easily make today if God gives us the opportunity to do so, especially in the face of suffering?
2. God is impartial. Discuss.
3. Why do some people continue in their wickedness, even when they know the consequences?
B. GOD COMMANDS JUSTICE AND JUDGMENT: [Jeremiah 21:10-14]
God is compassionate. Even though He was determined to punish the iniquities of the people and hand them over to the Babylonians, He still gave them the opportunity to choose between life and death. However, two things were paramount. He commanded Zedekiah to tell the royal house of Judah to ensure justice is done among the people and protect the oppressed otherwise, His anger would burn against them and no one would be able to quench it (v. 12). Ordinarily, by virtue of their location, which was perhaps surrounded on three sides by valleys, the people of Jerusalem would have concluded that their safety was sure. But God affirmed His intent in verse 14 to punish them according to their evil deeds and set their palace on fire.
Justice is the same as fair treatment, impartiality or fairness to others. Its negative effect in any society cannot be over-emphasised. It can lead to murmuring, economic hardship, impartiality, war and set back. God’s command to the house of Judah to administer justice, rescue the oppressed and those who have been cheated in whatever form suggests that God loves justice and fairness (v. 11). God’s expectation was equal treatment, opportunity, love, fairness, righteousness, honesty, and faith so that everybody will enjoy his/her rights without discrimination. Of course, these virtues are some of the steps to correct injustice in our society. Wherever there is justice and equity, peace, progress and God’s blessings abound. The command to practise justice is also given to believers in our contemporary time, whereby everyone enjoys equal right, notwithstanding his/her status, gender, tribe and educational attainment. When there is justice, there will be peace, unity, joy and blessing in the land.
1. Compare and contrast evils in the days of Zedekiah and our contemporary time.
2. Discuss some steps to be taken to correct injustice in the society.
3. What are the likely consequences of a society that had continued in her wickedness without minding the consequences?
• Ask God to forgive you of the sin of injustice, whether in the past or present.
• Pray that God should help you to choose the way of life and not death.
• Pray that justice will reign in our country and beyond.
Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity
• Let each class member pick a partner and chorus “Practice Justice”, to each other
• God is God of justice.
• God is always fair in His dealings with people.
• God condemns all acts of wickedness.
• Injustice is a sin against God.
• Believers should promote justice and peace wherever they go.
• God will surely punish the wicked.