NBC Sunday School Manual For December 4, 2022 :Topic – God’s Promise
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON (NBC)
Sunday, December 4, 2022
TOPIC: GOD’S PROMISE
Devotional Reading: John 10:22-30
Background Scripture: Luke 1:5-23
Lesson Scripture: Luke 1:8-20
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been answered. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son, and you are to give him the name John.” Luke 1:13
Objectives: By the end of the lesson, class members should able to:
I. Give biblical examples of people who doubted God’s promise and the consequences they suffered.
II. Discuss the relationship between the ministry of Jesus and John the Baptist.
III. Acknowledge that knowing and believing God’s promises is fundamental to our faith.
There is a popular saying that “Delay is not denial.” To experience delay in obtaining success in life including the gift of children does not necessarily mean God’s denial. Unfortunately today, some people question God’s power to work miracles during their waiting period. They easily forget that with God all things are possible. The Bible has records of men and women who had delay in one area of their lives or another. At God’s appointed time, He remembered them and their success stories have greatly inspired God’s people till the present time. God’s faithfulness to a couple (Zechariah and Elizabeth) who served as priest buttresses this biblical truth. Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5), and her husband, Zechariah, came from the priestly order of Abijah. The Bible describes the couple as righteous, godly and obedient to God (Luke 1:6), but Elizabeth was barren even till her old age. Nevertheless,
God remembered them at His appointed time. Her husband, Zechariah, received an angelic visitation while he was in the temple performing his function as a priest. Even though he doubted the possibility of his wife, Elizabeth, having children at her old age, the prophecy came to pass. Elizabeth conceived and gave birth to a son who was named John, the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
The focus of today’s lesson is the circumstances that surrounded the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Although the story is quite familiar, the lessons are timeless as far as God’s faithfulness is concerned. He does not compromise His sovereignty. The story is a reminder that God does whatever He has promised to do because He is perfect in all His ways. God cannot be predicted by humans neither are His ways subject to human scrutiny or debate.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED
A. The Angelic Visit to Zechariah. Luke 1:8-10
Zechariah and Elizabeth his wife lived during a difficult time in Israel; when they were ruled by a representative of the Roman government. Zechariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah while his wife was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest. Zechariah was a priest who served God wholeheartedly. When it was time to offer incense before God in the temple, he was there alone according to the custom of the priest (Exodus 30:6-8). His responsibility was to clear the ashes on the altar, light the incense and, thereafter, bless the people. Whenever this happened, the people of Israel stayed at the courtyard to pray while they waited for the priest to return. On one of such days while Zechariah was in the temple, an angel of God appeared to him. Zechariah was troubled and overwhelmed with fear. He might have assumed that he brought a message of judgment from God against the people of Israel. But the angel first confirmed that Zechariah’s prayers (which he had offered on behalf of the people) have been answered. The angel then told him of God’s promise of a son to them, one who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. The angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer; and your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son. You are to name him John. How glad and happy you will be and how happy many others will be when he is born” (vv. 13-14).
The angel’s message was quite comforting and reassuring. It was an indication that the visit was for good according to the plan of God. Believers should be encouraged with the truth in this lesson that our prayers are not in vain, even when there are no immediate answers. We should be encouraged that at God’s appointed time, our prayers will be answered and God’s name will be glorified.
1. Class members should briefly share their experiences of a unique encounter with God that led to a testimony for them.
2. God is sovereign in all situations of life. Discuss.
B. The Angelic Instruction to Zechariah. Luke 1:15-17
The content of the angel’s message to Zechariah was heart-warming. It was a promise of a long awaited gift of a child to Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, even though they were advanced in age. Having assured Zechariah of how glad and happy he would be about the promised son, the angel mentioned some attributes that would characterise the life and ministry of the child, and also gave him instruction on how to raise the child:
▪︎ He would be a great man in the sight of God.
▪︎ He must not drink any wine or strong drink.
▪︎He would be consecrated as a Nazarite according to the Old Testament Law (Numbers 6:3; Luke 7:33).
▪︎ He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth and be empowered to proclaim God’s message to the people.
▪︎ He would bring many Israelites back to the Lord, their God.
▪︎ He would go ahead of the Lord, strong and mighty like Prophet Elijah.
▪︎ He would reunite fathers and children.
▪︎ His ministry and task would turn disobedient people back to God.
When an angel appeared to Manoah’s wife with the promise of a child, the angel also enumerated the virtues of the unborn child (Judges 13:1-5). All the promises given by the angel were fulfilled in the life and ministry of John the Baptist. Truly, the life and ministry of John the Baptist was relevant to Jesus Christ’s ministry. His major task was to prepare the people for the coming of the longawaited Messiah. He was in the wilderness preaching as prophesied by Prophet Isaiah. His message centred on repentance and the forgiveness of sin through baptism (Luke 3:2-6). The lesson for believers is that when God gives specific instructions to us, especially parents, we should follow through to letters. Parents need wisdom to raise the children God gave them so that they can fulfil God’s purpose. As believers, we should be concerned about knowing God’s purpose for our life. Often times, we can discover it in the place of prayer. The faithful are never forgotten by God even though the blessing may seem delayed. Therefore, we should not feel abandoned when we experience delay in any area of life. We should rather continue in the service of God because our labour of love will surely be rewarded like Zechariah and Elizabeth who were blessed with a child at their old age.
1. What would be your reaction if you were Zechariah, especially if you got a similar message at the age that he got it?
2. Discuss the relevance of John the Baptist’s ministry to Jesus’ ministry.
C. Zechariah’s Response to the Angel. Luke 1:18-20
After the angel announced the reason for his visit, Zechariah was expected to respond with joy and gladness to this message of hope but unfortunately, he doubted God probably because of human reasoning. Unlike Mary the mother of Jesus who asked the angel for details and was eventually convinced of God’s plan for her, Zechariah disbelieved God’s ability to do the impossible and literally asked the angel to prove his declaration. He said, to the angel, “How shall I know if this is so? I am an old man, and my wife is old also” (v.18). Although the details in verses 14 to 17 were enough proof for Zechariah to understand that God was at work, he still asked for another proof. According to verse 20, the angel told him he would not be able to speak until the day of the fulfilment of the promise. The Bible has a record of people who at one time or the other doubted God’s promise to them. Abraham and Sarah doubted God’s promise for them to have children because they were already advanced in age (Genesis 17:17-22). Gideon asked for a sign when God called him to lead the people of Israel (Judges 6:33ff), and Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus doubted the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:24-29). Some Christians find it difficult to believe the testimony of heavenly messengers. They expect God to prove to them beyond reasonable doubt that He has answered their prayers. We should know that the words of prophecy through God’s servants are invariably God’s word, which should be received by faith. We should not be like Zechariah whose unbelief caused him inability to speak until the day the promise was fulfilled.
1. Discuss Zechariah’s doubt, its consequences and the lessons for contemporary believers.
2. In what ways can we encourage couples who are waiting on the Lord for the fruit of the womb to remain hopeful in strong and faithful to God?
Commitment: Make a personal commitment to trust God and His promises even when it seems impossible.
Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity
Divide the class into two.
Let group A list the similarities between the responses of Zechariah and Mary while group B will list the differences. They should take out time to pray for couples who are experiencing delay in child birth.
1. Pray that God will reveal to you His plan for your life.
2. Pray for the grace to fulfil all that God has said concerning you.
3. Pray against the spirit of doubt that might want to stop you from enjoying God’s promises.
State at least three main lessons you are taking home based on today’s lesson.