Hosea: Prophet to Israel

This week, we encountered the curious instructions God gave the prophet Hosea. God gave the prophet Hosea a message to tell to the people of Israel. In this message, God explained how much He does not like sin–in fact, discipline was coming. But the message didn’t end there. Hosea also brought a message of God’s love—a love that never gives up.

God used Hosea’s own life to show Israel what a never-gives-up kind of love looks like. (Please note: your child learned an age-appropriate version of this story in his or her class). The short version of the story goes like this…God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. He told Hosea that his wife would not be faithful to him. She would have children with different men. Still, Hosea obeyed God. He chose Gomer as his wife. Just as God said, Gomer was not faithful to Hosea. She went after other lovers. Can you imagine Hosea’s grief each time he found his wife with another man? It might have seemed easier and even fair for Hosea to throw up his hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with you!”

The Israelites were similar to Gomer in that they kept running away from God and loving many other things more than God.  It might have seemed easier and even fair for God to throw up His hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with you!” But God’s love never gives up.

God didn’t give up on His unfaithful people after all they had done. In fact, He did the exact opposite: He drew near. He came to us in the person of Jesus!

Homer did not love Hosea–she did things that made Hosea sad, but Hosea still loved his wife. Similarly, we do not love God like we were made to–we do things that make God sad, too. But God still loves us! One way He has shown us His love is by sending Jesus to be our Savior.

As you review this story with your child, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • God loves people.
  • God sent prophets to help His people know how to live best.
  • Hosea was a prophet.
  • Hosea’s life showed Israel how much God loved them.
  • Jesus’ life shows how much God loves us!
  • What is God like? God is merciful and loving.

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Jesus Was Born

Last week, kids at Antioch learned about a prophet named Isaiah who wrote promises from God about the coming Messiah, Jesus. God promised a Savior and finally after all the years of waiting, Jesus was born! This week, kids were invited to think about the night Jesus was born into the world.

He wasn’t born in a hospital. And he wasn’t born in a warm home. Instead, he was born in a stable, which is a lot like a barn or even a rock cave. When Jesus was born, he wasn’t greeted by a doctor or a nurse. Instead, there were animals sharing his newfound space.

Jesus was born as a baby, just like we were. He had to learn to talk just like we did. He had to learn to walk like we did. He had to do work and chores like we do. He became hungry and thirsty like we do. He laughed and cried, felt pain, and probably even got sick sometimes, too. He lived like us in many ways. But Jesus was unlike us in many ways, too.  Though He was fully human, He also is fully God. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

Imagining God is very hard! When Jesus came to us, it gave people the chance too see and know God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He came to Earth so we could know that God is real, that God is good, and that God can be trusted.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday where we celebrate Jesus coming to earth. But the funny thing about Christmas is that we can’t fully celebrate it without Easter! Easter is when we remember the death and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus showed his power—he took all the sin, sadness, and sickness of the world and paid the price for them. It cost him his life—and he did this on purpose. But he didn’t stay dead— he came back to life and invited every person—that means you and me!— to turn from our sin and trust God.

Now we are waiting for the day when another of God’s promises will be fulfilled—the day when Jesus will return and fix the whole earth and gather His people to live with Him forever in His perfect Kingdom.

If there’s one thing the Christmas story teaches us, it’s that God always keeps His promises. Our God is a good God who left heaven and came to Earth so we would know His love. That is a great reason to celebrate. As you remind your child of this story, we encourage you to reinforce these truths:

  • People were expecting the Messiah.
  • An angel told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus the Messiah!
  • Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem for a census.
  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
  • An angel announced that God’s promise had been fulfilled: Jesus was born!
  • Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
  • Jesus told people to turn from their sin and trust God.
  • We can always trust God!

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Hezekiah, Judah’s Faithful King

He’s a chip off the old block. Like father, like son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. These idioms exist because sons tend to look and behave like their fathers. When it came to Hezekiah and his father, Ahaz, however, the two were far from similar.

When Ahaz was king of Judah, he did not respect God, God’s law, or God’s prophets. He worshiped idols. Ahaz “did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God” (2 Kings 16:2). He led the people away from God, provoking God’s wrath and anger.

Hezekiah, on the other hand, “did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done.” Hezekiah destroyed the places of idol worship and cleansed the temple. (See 2 Chron. 29.) The Lord was with Hezekiah, and Hezekiah prospered.

Hezekiah was a faithful king who led the people of Judah to worship God like they were supposed to, but even good kings get it wrong sometimes. His wealth and success led to pride. How did Hezekiah react when God said everything in his palace would be carried off to Babylon? He said, “Who cares? I’ll be dead by then.”

Jesus is our faithful King who never sinned. Check out some of these definitions for the word faithful: “strict or thorough in the performance of duty”; “true to one’s word, promises, or vows”; “steady in allegiance or affection”; “loyal”; “constant”; “reliable, trusted, or believed”; “adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original”; “accurate.”

Jesus completed His work—he came to invite us back into relationship with God. It cost him a lot, but he was faithful in it all. He said on the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). One day Jesus will return to make all things the way they are supposed to be. (Rev. 1:1-6)

Hezekiah prayed that God would save his people from their enemies so that everyone would know He is the true God. God answered that prayer! Jesus prayed a similar prayer—that all of creation would be rescued. By dying on the cross and rising again, Jesus rescued his people from the consequence of sin and death. One day Jesus will return to make all things the way they are supposed to be!

Help your kids see that Jesus is the greater Hezekiah. Hezekiah interceded for his people to ask God to save them from their enemies, but Hezekiah was a sinner and needed to be saved himself. But Jesus was sinless! He interceded for His people to save us from sin and death. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • Hezekiah trusted in God.
  • Hezekiah asked God to keep His people safe.
  • God answered Hezekiah’s prayer.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.

 

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Isaiah Preached About the Messiah

The Book of Isaiah contains four Servant songs—poems about the servant of God. (See Isa. 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:12–53:13.)

In these poems, the prophet Isaiah describes God’s plan of redemption. We see a vision of the promised Messiah, the innocent substitute who would suffer for the sake of sinners. Through Jesus, God reconciles creation back to Himself.

The fourth and final Servant song is found in Isaiah 53. In this passage, Isaiah provides an answer to these questions: How can a just God justify the ungodly? How can He declare innocent those who are guilty? How can He treat bad people as though they are good? How can He love people like us?

A just God can’t just look the other way. He doesn’t say, “Don’t worry about it,” or “No big deal.”  Sin against a big God is a big deal. God didn’t just forgive our sins, He dealt with them. And this grace was costly. The price? God’s own Son.

Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecies of a Suffering Servant. People assumed God had cursed this Suffering Servant because of his own sins. But no; Jesus was sinless. So why did He suffer? Isaiah wrote that He was pierced because of our transgressions and crushed because of our iniquities. His punishment is what brought our peace. The Suffering Servant died the death we deserve. When we trust in Jesus, our sins are paid for by His blood—and His righteousness is credited to us.

When Christ’s work on the cross was finished, God rewarded Him. “For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

God’s servant Isaiah wrote about Jesus many years before Jesus was born. God planned all along that Jesus would die on the cross for our sin. Jesus is God— he came and died to save people from sin! The one true God is a good God!

Help your kids appreciate what Jesus endured during His earthly ministry. Talk about how Jesus hurt because of His love for people and His desire to please His Father. Because of Jesus’ suffering and death, our sin punishment has been paid and because of His resurrection, we have victory over death. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • Isaiah told people about the Messiah.
  • God sent the Messiah because He loves us.
  • God said the Messiah would be a suffering servant.
  • Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

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God Called Isaiah

King Uzziah’s death marked the end of an era. His reign had been long and prosperous. Uzziah became king when he was 16, and he reigned over Judah for 52 years.

But Uzziah’s pride got the best of him. (See 2 Chron. 26:16.) Under Uzziah’s leadership, God’s people had turned away from the promises of God and trusted in the promises of the world around them. God had promised to bless the entire world through Abraham’s family, but God’s people were rebelling against Him. Instead of blessing, they set themselves up to receive God’s judgment. But God’s plans and promises were not thwarted. God sent the prophet Isaiah to preach a message of hope.

Isaiah 6 opens with Isaiah worshiping in the temple. Then God gave Isaiah a vision. Isaiah saw God sitting on a throne. God was reigning over the universe. The magnitude of God’s holiness made Isaiah realize the magnitude of his own sin. His response? “Woe is me!”

God extended His grace to Isaiah. He took away Isaiah’s guilt and shame and invited Isaiah to stay in His presence and then gave him an important job–to tell the people of Israel God’s message.

Isaiah knew he was sinful but God forgave Isaiah’s sin. Isaiah tells us God is good and holy. Like Isaiah, we also know we are sinful. God sent His Son, Jesus, to take away our sin. Only He can save us. The one true God is good and holy.

Help your kids understand that God is perfectly holy—He is pure and without sin and He is unique from anything and everyone else. God is also loving and full of mercy and grace. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for the sins—past, present, and future—of those who would trust in Him. When we trust in Jesus, God says to us the words Isaiah heard: “Your guilt is taken away. Your sin is atoned for.” As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • God called Isaiah to be a prophet–meaning God gave Isaiah a message to tell to others.
  • Isaiah saw God the King on His throne.
  • Isaiah tells us that God is good and holy.

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Elisha and Naaman

Everyone gets sick at some point in his or her lifetime … often many times! Illness is probably no stranger to your kids. This week, kids will learn about a commander for the Syrian army—he was really sick. He had leprosy, a skin disease that was likely disfiguring and isolating. Without a cure, Naaman would face great suffering. But help came from an unlikely source: a young slave girl.

The people of Israel and Syria were often at odds with one another. The Syrians sometimes attacked the cities in Israel and plundered them. They took what they wanted, including people to work as slaves.

The young slave girl who served Naaman’s wife had been taken from her home in Israel.

As an Israelite, the girl knew about the one true God. She was familiar with God’s prophets, including Elisha, who had performed miracles to help and heal people. The girl told her mistress that Elisha the prophet could heal Naaman. So the king of Syria sent a letter to the king of Israel, asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. But the king of Israel had no power to heal Naaman. The power to heal comes only from God.

Elisha called for Naaman. But what happened next was not at all what Naaman expected. Naaman expected Elisha to call upon the name of God, wave his hand over Naaman, and miraculously heal him. Instead, Elisha instructed Naaman to go wash in the river.

Naaman was upset! He could have washed in a river back home! But Naaman’s servants urged him to wash. He did, and God healed him.

Naaman was sick. He had a problem with his skin. When Naaman washed in the river, his skin got better. It was a miracle! We are all sick with a sin problem—but when we trust in Jesus, He heals us. It’s a miracle! God forgives us and gives us new life.

Help your kids understand that not all sick people will be healed on this side of heaven, but our physical maladies are symptoms of an even greater illness–sin. Life is not how it was designed to be, but God plans to make it good! Jesus’ death and resurrection provided healing—forgiveness and eternal life—for those who trust in Him. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • The servant girl teaches us to always want the best for others–even people who treat us poorly.
  • God healed Naaman.
  • Naaman learned that obeying God is always best.
  • There is no one like God.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.
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Elijah Ran from Jezebel

The prophet Elijah had just witnessed God’s great display of power over the false god Baal. God had sent fire from heaven and then ended a long drought with a great rain. Elijah must have felt a sense of victory; the evil King Ahab could not deny the one true God. But trouble awaited Elijah in the form of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel.

When Jezebel heard what happened at Mount Carmel, she threatened to kill Elijah. Elijah ran away and hid in the wilderness. What a change Elijah experienced! He went from a man faithfully and confidently praying for God’s glory to be displayed at Mount Carmel to a man begging the Lord to take away his life. (See 1 Kings 19:4.)

God was merciful to Elijah. An angel of the Lord brought Elijah food and drink while he rested. Then Elijah traveled to Horeb for a personal encounter with God. Horeb—another name for Mount Sinai—was a familiar place in the history of Israel. It was the place where God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites and where Moses met with God.

After the events in 1 Kings 18, Elijah might have expected a grand display of God’s presence, but what he experienced was just the opposite. The Lord was not in the wind. The Lord was not in the earthquake. The Lord was not in the fire. God revealed Himself to Elijah in a voice, a soft whisper.

Elijah’s circumstances were difficult, but God didn’t leave him. God gave him Elisha, a friend and successor. God assured Elijah that he was not alone; there were 7,000 people in Israel who had not turned to worship Baal.

Some people did not like Elijah—they wanted to hurt him because he worshiped God. He urged the people to turn from sin and to return to the true God. Elijah points us to Jesus, who also longs for us to turn from our sin and trust the one true God.

Help your kids understand that the messages God gave through the prophets like Elijah pointed forward to the ultimate prophet, priest, and king—Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection brought victory for God’s people. As you talk, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • God spoke to Elijah in a small whisper.
  • God encouraged Elijah.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.
  • Jesus is with us when we are afraid.

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Abundance Swap

Join us for our the ABUNDANCE SWAP on December 9th. 
Bring items at 1:00pm. Swap starts at 2pm. It lasts an hour.

What is the ABUNDANCE SWAP?
It is an alternative to the holiday shopping season because some of the good stuff we have isn’t being well used or fully enjoyed.

How does it work?
Step 1.  Find quality items. Look  in your home, shop, garage or office for items that someone would enjoy as a gift. These should be fun, useful, interesting or beautiful items in really good shape that you feel  you can spare. “Quality” doesn’t mean “expensive”. It means well-made, worthwhile, and likely to be valued. Please only include items that are in good enough condition to be “gift worthy”.

Step 2.  Contribute then collect. On the day of the ABUNDANCE SWAP, bring your items. Help organize your items in these categories: Men’s Items, Women’s Items, Kid’s Items, Kitchen, Home Decor, Outdoor Equipment, Garage, Tech, and Miscellaneous. Once you have contributed, enjoy a cup of coffee– then the swap will begin. We invite you to find some things that you’d like to take away to give as gifts to others!

Step 3.  Spend less and love more. Use the gifts you take home to reduce the cost of your new gift purchases.  As you spend less, consider using the “saved” money to help those in need in our community and around the world.

Three simple steps, that’s it. This will be our own holiday shopping event–a round of giving and receiving that includes no money and no new demands on resources. For some of us it may be a stretching exercise – a chance to let go of stuff, or to let go of worries that we might not get back “our fair share”, or  let go of commercially-planted ideas that a gift should be shiny, new, and from the store.

Bonus! There will be coffee,  hot chocolate, and a gift wrapping station available. We hope you can join us this year at the ABUNDANCE SWAP!

Questions? Email us by clicking here. See you December 9th!
Time: 1pm
Place: Antioch Office (255 SW Bluff Drive)

To learn more, watch this short video here or click below!

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Elijah Confronted Evil Ahab

This week, we continue in the big story of the Bible by learning about the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. King Ahab was an evil king. In fact, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). The things that Ahab did made God angry. God wanted His people to be faithful to Him, but King Ahab led them away from God.

God chose Elijah to get Ahab’s attention. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah told Ahab that a drought was coming. God prevented rain in the land for three years. For Ahab, a man who worshiped Baal—the false Canaanite god of rain and fertility—the drought sent a strong message about the one true God.

When God was ready to send rain on the earth, Elijah appeared to Ahab and instructed him to gather the Israelites and the prophets of the false gods at Mount Carmel. Elijah challenged the people to choose: Follow God or follow Baal. They couldn’t do both.

Elijah set up a challenge to prove who is the one true God. He faced off against the prophets of Baal. Each group prepared a bull on an altar and called on its deity to send fire from heaven. The prophets of Baal called and cried and cut themselves, but Baal did not answer.

Elijah poured water on and around his altar. He called to God, and God sent fire from heaven. Everything was burned up. The prophets could not deny that the God of Elijah is the one true God, and God sent a great rain to end the drought.

The people who worshiped the false god Baal worked very hard to show they loved Baal, but Baal was silent. The one true God is not like false gods. God is real and cares deeply for His creation. God showed His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world.

Help your kids understand that God is an initiating God. We love God because He first loved us, which He proved by providing Jesus. Only God—the one true God—has power to help His people and to save them. And He saves them through His Son, Jesus, whose name means “the Lord saves.” As you talk to your child, reinforce these truths:

  • There is one true God.
  • Elijah showed the people God’s power.
  • God hears His people when we pray.
  • How many gods are there? There is one true God.
  • The one true God defeated the prophets of Baal.

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