I Am Who I Am, Part 4: God Is Just (06.01.20)
A Study & Practice Guide on the Biblical Names & Characteristics of God
We are currently in a practice guide series focused on the Biblical names and character of God. While these guides do not directly map to the Sunday teachings, we do look for thematic connections in our weekly practices for Community Groups. In light of a national moment of profound mourning over race-based injustice, we have focused this week’s practice on the justice at the core of God’s character and the foundation of our faith.
In addition to this guide, we recommend revisiting with your CG the practices from our summer 2019 series “The Gospel & Race.”
After the group welcomes one another, have one person open the group in prayer. Take 3 minutes in silence to consciously pray about what emotions came up for you this week? Where in your body are you feeling those? Shift your focus and posture your heart towards this time of seeking God and practicing the way of Jesus in community.
Set a timer for 1 minute per person to check in and share what emotions came up. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can answer the question, “What would you like the group to know about your last week?”
Read Scripture Aloud (10 Minutes)
Have one or more people in your group read Psalm 10:12-18 and Isaiah 61. We highly encourage you to follow along in a physical Bible. As you listen and follow along, silently observe anything that stands out to you.
Cultural & Historical Context at a Glance
Read through these few simple things happening in and around this time.
- Psalm 10: This passage is part of the collection of Psalms, which are poetic songs used to direct the Jewish and Christian people to worship God—like an ancient hymnal. This psalm was written during David’s 40-year reign as king of Israel, which happened around 1000BC.
- This Psalm is a lament as the people of Israel wait for God’s justice and righteousness. While it was the task of David as king to ensure the justice of the Lord, it was considered the task of the nation of Israel to pray using a Psalm like this. The Psalm concludes with confidence in past evidence of God’s justice.
- Isaiah was written between 740-700BC, approximately 300 years after the Davidic Psalms.
- Isaiah 61 is considered to be part of the concluding third of Isaiah (chapters 56-66), written to the returned exiles as they look to coming glory. This section of Isaiah has been interpreted historically to contain prophecies for all who hold fast to God’s covenant; it addresses all the people of God until the return of Christ.
- Justice (v. 8) is translated from the Hebrew mishpat, which occurs over 200 times in the Old Testament. According to the ESV Study guide, “it is much more than legal equity; it refers to the entire scope of God’s government of his world.” Its significance goes beyond the punishment of wrong-doing; it covers giving people what they are due — whether that is punishment, protection, or care. (See: “What Is Biblical Justice?” By Tim Keller)
Before interpreting the message for how it applies to us today, take 20 minutes to make some simple observations of the text in light of the cultural/historical context above or other things you know. If you have access to a Study Bible, we recommend sharing the notes with your group.
Here are a few questions to kick off your discussion:
- What is happening?
- Who is involved? What do we know about them?
- What are some distinct words or phrases in the passage that stand out to you?
- What other verses in the Bible does this passage echo?
Interpreting the Message
In light of your observations, discuss the message of Psalm 10:12-18 and Isaiah 61 for 20 minutes.
- What message do you believe the God’s people would have received from these texts?
- What do the passages have to say about who God is and who He is not?
- What further questions do you have to explore with God after studying these passages?
Living in Biblical Truth
(Consider answering these questions in small groups using the Zoom breakout feature!)
After interpreting the message of the text together and what it reveals about God, consider the implications of this truth for your life. Share with one another for 20 minutes:
- In what way has your understanding of God been deepened, expanded, challenged, or refined?
- What does it mean to live into the message of this text in your life? How about in the life of your CG? Your home? Work relationships? Neighborhood? City?
Closing Intercession (30 Minutes)
We know that we have an advocate with the Father, that is Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). We believe that prayers of faith are powerful: that we are heard and our cries to our Father have the power to move mountains.
In that spirit, we ask that you focus your group’s prayer time to intercede for justice in our society: in our CGs, in our neighborhoods, in our city, and our country.
Optional Prayer Prompts
- Pray for our justice system: for the true mishpat of God would be reflected clearly in our justice system. We pray for the Kingdom of God to be built here and now.
- Pray for local and national leaders: for wisdom like King Solomon and hearts of deep compassion. We pray for hearts to be softened, ears to be open to listening, and hands ready for action.
- Pray for the American Church: for unity as we seek justice and love mercy. We pray that we would be an inclusive place for conversations to bridge division. We pray that we would rise up to engage in active repentance. We pray that repentance would lead to movement that extends the radical inclusion of the Gospel in our communities today.
Do you have any lingering questions or thoughts about this practice guide series? You can offer them on this form here.