Bradon: Jon, can you tell me what I am thinking about right now? Jon: uh, something about food, oh, better yet, coffee! Bradon: I mean, easy guess, that’s on my mind 90 % of the time! Jon: Have you ever felt that you could predict something or that you knew what was going to happen before it happened? Bradon: Tune in to our next episode to see why Jon asks such funny questions.
Bradon: You are listening to the discussion questions for the episode love is not easy.
Jon: Today’s scripture and story were hard, there were a lot of complex things going on and we see saul be commanded by God to wipe out the Amalekite people. There is a lot to the story and it continues next week. Let’s get into our questions.
Here is what we want you to learn today; Always look to God! You know, with the Coronavirus still happening, I think this story will help us get some perspective. There are some huge questions. Like, why did God allow this to happen? How does God feel about everything that is going on? Is he taking a back seat, or is he on the front lines? To be clear, I don’t think that this story will give us all the answers, but it will provide us with clues.
About the Story
The nation of Israel has left, and they have been wandering in the wilderness for a long time now. Now just before this story takes place. The people have complained about no water, and Moses hits his staff twice on the rock, and water gushes out! After this, the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners. Then the people of Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy all their towns.” The Lord heard the Israelites’ request and gave them victory over the Canaanites. The Israelites destroyed them and their towns, and the place has been called Hormah ever since.
No matter how unfortunate your circumstances might be. You can always look to God!
There is so much for us to learn from this short story. Most importantly, Always look to God! In scripture, we see God’s love for humanity. Over and over again, God rescues people from a difficult or dangerous situation. But, in this story, we see God actually causing the difficulty. God sent the snakes, which at first glance seems to be the opposite of rescue.
This can be hard to make sense of and understand. Have you ever played with a friend who’s parents never corrected his or her behaviour? If you probably didn’t enjoy spending time with him or her.
We all need correction. Remember, Israel was complaining about God’s instruction. They were talking poorly of God and Moses. So God used the snakes to correct them. This seems kind of harsh, but imagine if Israel was left to complain and self-centred. I think it would have been cruel not to correct Israel. So, in a way, God’s correction for us is part of his compassion. He intervenes so that we don’t continue to hurt ourselves and others. Now when I say correction it is not to say that our freedom to choose has been taken away. He corrects the Israelites through reminders, encouragement, and sometimes difficult circumstances.
At the beginning of the episode, Bradon noted that this story could help us gain some perspective on what is happening today, specifically with the Corona Virus.
Sometimes, bad things happen because of bad choices we or others make and sometimes bad things happen that seem to be completely unrelated to our behaviours. Like the Corona Virus, a tornado or family member gets sick.
I am not sure why God allowed this to happen, but what I do know regardless of why he allowed it to happen, my response will always be the same. I will always look to God! We can trust God because he has proven his Character to be loving, compassionate, and faithful, His Character is consistent. It does not change.
We know from the stories in the bible and through our own life experiences, that God is not taking a back seat. God is experiencing all these world events and his heartaches with all the pain and difficulty he sees. Maybe we are asking the wrong question. Instead of why did God allow this to happen? Perhaps we should be asking, will I trust God during this situation? Each person will need to answer that question for themselves.
In this story, God did not take away the snakes but gave people a means to receive healing from snake bites. As we look to God, as we go to him, we will find healing and restoration in a lot of areas of our lives. What I can’t say to anyone is what God will heal you or anyone else of. Unlike this story, today, there is no bronze snake on a pole to look at so we can be healed.
The story around the Corona Virus is still unfolding. The very best thing you can do is to Always Look To God!
In this story, the Israelites complained about having to go to the Red Sea. They spoke poorly of God and Moses, their leader. God sent a snake plague. As a result of the snakes, the people repented. God did not take away the snakes like the people requested but healed them from snake bites. At God’s direction, Moses built a bronze snake and put it on a pole. The people were healed when they looked at the pole with the snake.
Bradon said, “God’s correction for us is part of his compassion.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
Regardless of what is going on in life, you can always go to God. How do you feel knowing that you can go to the God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, creator of the universe, and will welcome you with love and compassion?
What are the difficult things in life for you right now? Share these concerns with your group then reflect on this question. Will I trust God in this situation?
Having a daily quiet time with God is incredible. Create a regular habit of spending time with God in prayer and bible reading.
When life gets hard, this habit of meeting with God becomes life-giving. There is literally nothing like spending time with the all-powerful creator of the universe.
Well, when you put it that way. It sounds like an obvious thing to do. I would suggest attaching it to a habit that already exists. Maybe a meal, a morning routine, or an after school or work snack.
That’s a great idea. Spend time with God. You won’t regret it.
At the end of your discussion, go around the group and ask for prayer requests.
When everything goes wrong, God is still present and ready to help you through difficult times. I have met a lot of people and have listened to a lot of stories. Stories about tough times when everything goes wrong! Some people not only remain faithful to God like the Characters in our story today but grow closer to God. I have also seen others become very angry at God and walk away from their relationship with God. But, even then, when everything goes wrong, God is still present and ready to help each person through difficult times.
Yout can find today’s story in the book of Daniel, which is in the Old Testament. The nation of Israel, at this point, is divided into two kingdoms, the Northern part was called Israel, and the Southern part was called Judah.
The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had already been captured. They had already been exiled to other parts of the world. The kingdom of Judah followed in Israel steps worshipping false gods, which involved some terrible behaviours. The king of Judah at this time was King Jehoiakim, and he was a relatively new king only three years into his reign when this story takes place.
It feels like a lot has gone wrong in 2020 with COVID 19. You and your family may have some other things that have made life even more complicated and challenging amid everything that is going on. Today in your discussion, encourage one another to be vulnerable.
King Nebcubnezzer took Daniel and his three buds by force away from their home in Jerusalem to enter the Royal Service in Babylon.
When everything goes wrong God is still present and ready to help you through the difficult times.
One of the difficult things when everything is going wrong; we often can’t see how God is working because we are so fearful and anxious about the situation. We often need our friends to help us understand how God is working. Imagine the conversation between Daniel and his three friends as they walked to Babylon.
After arriving in Babylon and being served from the King’s table or kitchen, what would you hope to see on that table?
Think back to a situation that was hard when everything seemed to go wrong. How did God help you through that time?
Tips and Tricks for leading a discussion
Listen carefully to each other and when someone has shared something vulnerable show your appreciation.
When everything goes wrong, we need a reminder of God’s presence. What is something that can tell you of God’s presence? Every time you see or hear that reminder, acknowledge God and say a little prayer.
At the end of your discussion, go around the group and ask for prayer requests.