Changing the Landscape

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This Week's Text: Isaiah 40.1-11

Additional Texts:  Mark 1.1-3Isaiah 37.14-2038.1-639.1-7II Kings 18.1-7

For Further Study:  Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark; Wiki article, Hezekiah

Teaching Link:  Changing the Landscape December 4, 2011

Downloadable, printable file:  .pdf

Questions for Groups or Reflection:

 1.  After David, Hezekiah was the greatest King of Israel.  What were some of the things that garnered favor with God  (II Kings 18.1-7)

There are two miracles associated with Hezekiah:  The delivery of his kingdom from Assyria (Isaiah 37.14-20,) and his personal healing (Isaiah 38.1-6.)  Read the cry of Hezekiah to the Lord in each passage.  What stands out to you?  About Hezekiah’s prayer?  About God’s response?

Between vs. 1 of chapter 38 and vs. 5, God seems to change his mind.  We don’t generally associate “change of mind” with God.  What are the implications of that?  How do you feel about a God who changes his mind?  How could this affect the way you pray?

 2.  Isaiah’s encouragement to Hezekiah/Israel echoes the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt (Isaiah 40.1-5.)  How does looking back, give us hope for tomorrow?

Remember a time when God was there for you.  Can he be there for you again?

3.  God made a way for the children of Israel in the desert.  Isaiah refers to this with a series of images:

“prepare the way of the Lord,” “make straight in the desert a highway for our God,” “valley shall be lifted up,” and “mountain and hill be made low”

God goes ahead of his people and removes obstacles. What kinds of obstacles in your life need to be moved out of the way for you to go forward?

 4.  At the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, the author uses similar Exodus imagery to give context to the ministry of Jesus (Mark 1.1-3.)  Jesus is sent to rescue God’s people as they had been rescued time and time again.  This time it is not only the Jews, but all people of every race, language, and culture.  Does this help you think of the Christmas story differently?  How?