Living by God's design

Study 11: A connected community

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Creation began with harmony and order but rapidly descended into sin and chaos. The rot really set in when an attractive option for fast food overrode God’s one boundary: don’t eat this one fruit!

Sibling rivalry, jealousy and murder followed and, despite God’s intervention in rebooting creation through the flood, human nature remained unchanged. Man and God remained divided.

Genesis 11 closes the first Act in the Bible’s story of God’s creation. Not content with satisfying their own desires, what seems like the entire energy of the human race is being channelled into reaching up into heaven and becoming like God.

The Tower of Babel, probably resembling a massive and many tiered Babylonian Ziggurat (stepped pyramid), represented the pride of humanity in physical form. The end result was typical of what sin brings - chaos and division. How would God bring it all back together again?

To think about: The Big questions

  1. If you are undertaking a long journey or a new project, what would you take with you?
  2. In what ways are we guilty of trying to become (or of playing) God?
  3. What obstacles are there in following God when you have little or no idea of direction and destination, beyond a call to “go”?

Bible context

We are introduced to Abram in Genesis 11. He was part of a family of nomadic herdsman and was able to trace his ancestry through Shem (son of Noah), back to Adam. As a family group, they had begun a long journey (Genesis 11: 31) but had got no further than Haran where they settled, seemingly for good. God, though, had other ideas. A scattered people with little time for God will become a community with distinct blessings and real responsibilities.

Please read Hebrews 11 verses 8 to 10 and Genesis 12 verses 1 to 9.

When the call comes

  1. What are the essential elements of God’s promises to Abram? (vv. 2 to 3)
  2. How do we, in our own church setting, respond to God’s initiatives? How do we demonstrate that we are obedient to His will? (see vv. 4 – 8, 9)
  3. How do these promises of a “covenant” community compare to the idea of the church as a body? (see 1 Corinthians 12)
  4. What forms might our worship take to represent our thanks to God for what He has done/is doing?

Moving on …

The covenant (agreement) between God and Abram was the first of a number of such agreements. The promises given to Abram are repeated and expanded (for example in Genesis 15 and 17) but are extended still further with the Sinai covenant and Ten Commandments given to Moses.

Every legal agreement today is sealed as a sign of agreement between those involved: it also has “conditions” which recognise the responsibilities under the agreement.  Biblical covenants are no different: the covenant between Abram and God was to be sealed with the circumcision of every male born into the community and God would bless Abram and His descendents.

Is this “seal” still the same? What are our responsibilities before God?

Making all things new

  1. What is the penalty for breaking the covenant?
  2. Please read Jeremiah 31: 31 – 34. What’s different about this new covenant?
  3. How and when has this new covenant been realised?
  4. What are the implications for us – how, then, should we live?
  5. In what ways does God help us when we step out and leave safety and security far behind? (Note: Abram was in a place of stability and security at Haran)
  6. How does this relate to our church life at GHBC when we might be tempted to “play it safe?”

This week – reflect on these verses

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3: 12 – 14)

What does this mean for you in your Christian walk? Share it with the group next time.

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