After pursuing the question “What is the Gospel?” through John and Romans, and then journeying with the Church on Mission through Acts and select New Testament letters, our Sunday morning adult Bible classes will turn to another significant question this summer and fall. As we saw, the Gospel implicates the in-breaking of the Kingdom, and the mission of the Church is about extending the range of the Kingdom. Given the importance of the Kingdom, the question “Who is the King?” becomes crucial for God’s people.
From Saul to Nebuchadnezzar, Samuel and Kings unfold a formative tale of Israel's quest for a “king to govern us, like other nations” (1 Samuel 8.5). As we explore the stories of famous kings like David, Solomon, and Josiah, as well as other kings the storytellers would probably like to forget, a theological vision emerges from the text that is reminiscent of the days of Moses. In Deuteronomy 11.26, Moses instructs those the Lord has redeemed from Egypt: “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.” In addition, at the close of Deuteronomy 17, the Lord instructs Moses about a time in the future when God’s people will say, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me.” (17.14) and what that king ought to look like. This basic theology of blessing, curse and the ideal kingship drives the narrative of Samuel and Kings.
As Israel’s leaders “follow other gods” and move away from faithfulness to the Lord's covenant in both large and small ways, prophets appear on the scene to remind the leaders of God’s people to “obey the commandments,” remembering their True King. By walking this tumultuous road through Israel’s downward spiral into exile through the kingship, this study encourages us to consider our own time, raising anew the question, “Who is the King?” Our answer to that question impacts every dimension of our corporate, family and individual lives.
A word of caution: Because of our familiarity with the “Bible stories” in Samuel and Kings these Scriptures have a way of lulling us into a sense of comfort with the direction of the narrative. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves looking past aspects of the story that are intended to set off alarms. As we are drawn deeper into the stories, we can start thinking, “Yes, this is normal. This is the way the world is supposed to work.” But to miss the fact that Israel gets the answer to the central question, “Who is the King?” wrong so often, is to misconstrue the text. As Moses said, and the prophets constantly remind us, faithfulness breeds faithfulness and unfaithfulness breeds judgment. While this a simplistic way to construe reality, for the narrators of Samuel and Kings this is God’s call and the way of being for God’s people.
Click here for the complete syllabus that includes the schedule for our study (PDF)
Community Center C13/14 Teaching Schedule