Related Verses: Ezek 37:1-14; Eph 2:10; Ezek 47:1-8; Matt 5:16; Rev 22:1,2; Isa 61:1-11
This week we continue with the theme that was begun last week, that of listening to the voices in the Old Testament that speak to both justice and mercy.
- Notice the restoration recitation found in Ezek. 37:1-14.
- Where does the power for restoration come from?
- What role do humans play in this process of restoration if the power comes from God?
One of the metaphors or images used in the Old Testament to illustrate restoration is found in Ezekiel 47:1-8, that of a river of water flowing along its way. In verse 9 of the same chapter is a statement that swarms of living creatures will live in and near the river.
- What ideas come to mind when you think of your congregation as a river flowing in its neighborhood?
- What do you think your church could do in order to function as a river in its location?
Another image found in the Old Testament is that of a declaration of good news brought through an anointed one who would bring good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, and proclaim freedom to the captives (Isa. 61:1-11).
- What kind of freedom could your church proclaim in its location?
- What captives could it work to free?
Micah 6:8 is a well-known text that creates quite a noble and exciting mandate for believers who are called on to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
- How do you and your church measure up to this ideal?
- What do you think the opinion of unbelievers would be of the church if all its members worked hard to live by the ideals in Micah 6:8?
A very interesting passage of scripture is found in Amos 5:21-24. It comments in particular on the actions of religious people who were quite particular about observing all their rituals while at the same time neglecting the poor and needy. To be more precise, it comments on God’s opinion about those who are careful to practice their rituals while neglecting those in need. The prophet does not spare the rod, so to speak, but castigates the people for this eventuality telling them in no uncertain terms that God would prefer they neglect the rituals he established in favor of them doing good to those in need.
- What do you think a prophet like Amos would say to religious people today?
- What kind of obligation do religious people have to those who choose not to help themselves?
- Have you ever thought about what you would say to your Savior one day if you made it a practice of being hard or cheap in your helping of those who are powerless or in need?
- What should be preferred, raising awareness about needs, or actually working to help relieve it?