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Ignoring God’s Truth Within Us
Summer Quarter: Toward a New Creation
Unit 2: A World Gone Wrong
Sunday school lesson for the week of July 3, 2016
By Rev. V.L. Daughtery, Jr.
Lesson Scripture: Romans 2:17-29
Background Scripture: Psalm 104; Romans 2:14-29
A sacred site for many in South Georgia is Saint Simons Island. It is along the bank of a coastal waterway. When there is time of personal meditation during youth camps at Epworth By The Sea, a late afternoon opportunity is provided to engage with a panoramic view of the vast marshes of Glynn. There the observer can view the fiery, sinking, and exploding sun in the west. In those moments, the human spirit is beckoned to sing praises to God and to feel an inward call to Christian service. A similar encounter with the Creator moved an ancient writer to compose his feeling in a hymn praising the creation adorned with wonders of God.
Read aloud Psalm 104
In the liturgical year, this Psalm is used on the Day of Pentecost. This song celebrates God’s gift to a depressed group. This hymn praises the power and majesty of God who has made all things. In that mighty act, God has brought order and purpose out of chaos. The composer sees this process being done in several stages.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul” is a self-call to worship and praise. This God uses wind and fire to convey his message. He is a Creator of majesty and power, and he engages with all he has made.
God will never allow the waters to dominate the land again. The earth is now firmly located amid the ocean. It was God’s creative power causing the waters to recede. Stability and security are seen as a result.
In God’s creativity, springs are developed from underground water. Rain pours down from a heavenly ocean. God has provided a supply of water to maintain life.
In his planning, God provides food for beasts and humans. There is wine to bring joy and bread to strengthen the body. Olive oil is provided for cleansing the skin. In Lebanon, God places the cedars used for construction, and their foliage is used by birds. Storks build nests in the fir trees, and the high mountains are a refuge for goats and rock badgers.
In this composer’s life, it was thought that God made the moon to control the seasons. The sun dominated day, and darkness was a part of God’s creative process. It is God who made the sun for humans. God is to be worshipped, and not the sun.
God’s control of the sea created a home for creatures and a highway for boats engaged in trade. Even Leviathan (read Psalm 74:14) was formed by God to play in the ocean. This reference may be to whales or dolphins.
Every creature God has made depends upon him for food and the breath of life. God’s creative activity in the natural order is a continuing process. New creatures appear by God’s desire and design.
This hymn composer presents all he has written as an offering to God. He plans to praise God forever. He intends for his life to embrace all God desires for his creations.
Read aloud Romans 2:13-29
Neither Jew nor Gentile will be exempted from the judgment of God. Jews, in their covenant with God, are required to keep the law and for males to undergo circumcision. Gentiles, while they do not have these two requirements, instinctively know about God’s laws and will. Judgment for the Jews will be based upon keeping the law. Judgment for Gentiles will be done on the basis of their conscience. God, as a result of his creativity, has not marooned any human without an awareness of God and human responsibility.
Paul speaks directly to the Jews. Jews, depending upon God’s choosing them as special, have not fulfilled that honor. Gentiles are now inheriting that special place in God’s plan. Israel, designated to be God’s healing medicine for a sin-sick world, has become infected with the illness it was chosen to heal. Authentic love for God should be expressed in sensitivity for others and by being their light in darkness. Jews have lost their privilege of teaching and correcting others.
Can a Jew living by the covenant, who understands God’s will and yet does not live it, instruct others? The Jews have taken great satisfaction in the law and circumcision, but they have failed to obey the law. Their hearts were never circumcised. Jewish inconsistency has led the dishonoring of God before pagans.
Circumcision should not only be a physical act, but it also should be a spiritual attitude. It provides special benefits if one obeys the law. The righteous Gentile in an uncircumcised state finds favor with God ahead of a disobedient circumcised Jew. Paul praises the Gentile whose life displays a love for God’s law. A Jew who has been circumcised, without a heart and action revealing God’s law and will, can be caught up in hypocrisy.
Reflections for Discussion on Romans 2:13-29
Rev. V.L. Daughtery, Jr. is a retired South Georgia pastor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Are there persons in today’s church whose talk is not always consistent with their walk? What is the answer to the criticism, “The Church is filled with hypocrites?” How can this condition be corrected?
- The church treasurer in another state was arrested for embezzling more than $100,000 over 17 years. This individual had been present all those years for worship, fellowship, prayer, and praise. What is the result of such a hypocritical crime upon believers and nonbelievers?