Sabbath School Lesson for October 21-27, 2023
Overview of Lesson 4, Sharing God’s Mission
Memory Text: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34, 35 NKJV
What to expect from this week’s study:
- Sunday: The Gift of Hospitality–being friendly and inviting to strangers shows them what God is like
- Monday: Abraham’s Love For Everyone–interceding for others is the loving thing to do
- Tuesday: Abraham’s Spirit of Prayer–praying with humility and perseverance is more important than being eloquent
- Wednesday: Abraham’s Mission–not being discouraged if your mission results are not overwhelmingly positive
- Thursday: Submission to God’s will–faithfully submitting to God is the only way to answer His calling
- Friday: Our Challenge–how we can join in God’s mission
God’s mission for us was totally voluntary on His part. He didn’t have to take such extreme measures to save humanity. Abraham, likewise, willingly took up God’s challenge to follow Him in seeing the mission of salvation fulfilled on this earth.
This week we’ll see how the spiritual qualities of the patriarch Abraham–his hospitality, love for sinners, and fervent prayers–enabled him to share in God’s mission of saving all He could in the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Abraham’s love, not just for his nephew Lot, but for all those in the cities of the plains, was evident in this moving story found in Genesis 18 and 19.
Sunday: The Gift of Hospitality
A detailed description of the behaviors that mark the kind of hospitality we should have is recorded in the story of when Abraham was visited by some angels on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah to see it destroyed.
Abraham must have been accustomed to going out to meet strangers, whoever they were, when they approached his encampment. He would kindly offer them food, water, and rest from the oppressive heat that is typical in that part of the world.
But Abraham may or may not have sensed that the travelers he saw one day coming toward his tent were on a divine mission. By going out of his way to show hospitality, Abraham hoped to win their confidence enough to share in their mission, whatever it was. They obligingly answered his searching questions, which were motivated by Abraham’s love for Lot and his concern for those who would soon be facing a massive disaster.
We are told in several places in the Bible to show hospitality and be kind to strangers. It’s our duty to provide food, water, shelter, and other necessities of life to all who come our way, regardless of their race, gender, or religion. It can be a great first step in introducing them to our kind, heavenly Father; and furthermore, we are blessed by becoming less selfish and more like God.
Genesis 18:1-15, Hebrews 13:2, and Matthew 25:40
- What were some of the ways Abraham showed hospitality to strangers?
- Why should we treat everyone with kindness and respect?
Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:9
- Do you think hospitality is a spiritual gift or just a way of displaying our spiritual gifts?
- What are some of the things you could do or say that would make people feel comfortable in your presence?
- What qualities are more impressive to others than material things we might have in our home?
Monday: Abraham’s Love for Everyone
When he sensed that the visitors he entertained one day were heavenly beings, Abraham didn’t hesitate to question One of them about their mission and plead for the cities that were about to be destroyed. Despite the obvious wicked ways of most in the cities, Abraham reasoned that there were surely some there who could still be reached with God’s love, especially since his nephew Lot must have had some influence on his fellow residents.
Abraham wanted to be sure that everyone who had a chance to repent would be given that opportunity. His persistent appeals showed that Abraham not only wanted mercy for Lot, but passionately desired salvation for all in the cities of the plains.
Just as when Jesus hung on the cross and pleaded for His Father to forgive the crowd of their cruel deed, Abraham pleaded with God to extend loving forgiveness to all who might still be saved in Sodom and Gomorrah.
- What does the casualness of their conversation tell us about Abraham’s relationship with God?
- Why is it important for us to see clearly what God’s mission is, and do all we can to partner with God in fulfilling it?
Tuesday: Abraham’s Spirit of Prayer
Abraham had previously been in the habit of praying for Bera, the king of Sodom, after the king had pleaded for his people to be released to their homes when Abraham helped defeat their enemies. His thanks for Abraham’s help even prompted him to offer Abraham all the goods that were taken in the battle, showing Bera’s unselfish nature and unwavering love for the people he ruled (Genesis 14:21).
Abraham’s prayer life was later demonstrated in the way he interceded for Lot and those in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18). His dialogue with God’s messengers was that of friend to Friend, a true model of what are prayers should be. There was no hesitancy in sharing his concerns, and humbly, passionately, and persistently appealing for his nephew and those in the cities. Abraham’s intercessory prayer conversations have helped make him a type of Jesus, who pleads for us as our Intercessor in heaven. See Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25.
Any mission we share with God must be accompanied with much heartfelt, Spirit-led prayer. Only the Holy Spirit can make our friends feel close to God. No words or eloquence on our part is enough to convert the soul of any person we care about.
- What might some find surprising with the way Abraham “bartered” with God in the manner he did?
- How do you explain Abraham’s honesty and openness with his angelic visitors?
- Was he still in a humble state of mind during this conversation? Why or why not?
Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, and Mark 2:6, 7, 10
- How can we follow Abraham and Christ’s example and be an intercessor for those we love, even if we, as sinful humans, can’t forgive them to the extent that God does?
Wednesday: Abraham’s Mission
The result of Abraham’s hospitality and intercessory role in God’s mission for Sodom and Gomorrah is found in Genesis 19. Sitting at the city gate indicated that Lot had a notable position in the community. He invited the strangers to his home, extending hospitality much the same as his uncle had.
Sadly, only three people were saved from the fiery destruction: Lot and two of his daughters. Lot’s other family members did not heed their passionate warnings to leave the city. Even his wife only partially obeyed the angels’ instructions, losing her life as they were frantically running to get out of Sodom.
We recall Noah’s efforts to save people from the flood. Only he and a few family members were able to survive the deluge, because they obeyed God’s instructions precisely in building the ark and warning the world of the disaster to come.
These examples, and others, help us persevere in our missionary efforts today, even when our warnings go largely unheeded and few believe our message. We are not responsible for the choices people make, for or against God.
- What was the result of Abraham’s part of God’s mission to relieve the pain and suffering going on in the cities of the plains?
- How does this disappointing outcome still encourage us to continue partnering with God to save others?
Thursday: Submission to God’s Will
Abraham’s life and mission would not have been possible without his submission to God’s will, which starts with having a strong sense of humility. The only way to faithfully submit is to have a humble spirit, willing to follow God wherever He leads. And that was exactly how Abraham’s spiritual journey began. See Genesis 12:1-9.
When the journey soon came to a place where Abram and Lot’s servants were quarreling over their flocks and herds, because there was not enough grazing lands for them all, it was evident that a separation from each other would be the best solution. Abram unselfishly offered Lot first choice of the land to set up their camps. That took humility, since it would have been the custom for the elder to choose first. See Genesis 13:5-9.
It’s evident when we look at the life of Abraham that humility and submission to God’s will should is related to our humble submission to each other (Ephesians 5:21). It was this humble, submissive spirit that enabled God to use Abraham in fulfilling His mission.
- What might there have been about Abram that made God choose him for such an important mission?
- How does humility help us to submit?
- How hard would it have been to leave your home country, not knowing where your destination would be?
- Why is it important that we follow God, even when we don’t fully understand His will at the time?
Friday: Our Weekly Mission Challenge
In our cities, we face obstacles in preaching the gospel appropriately and effectively. We need to plead with God to intervene.
Find a way to contact someone who is being directly affected by a difficult situation similar to your own. Tell that person you are praying for him or her, and ask God to show you what you can do to help.
For discussion: It would be helpful to first share something about yourself to let someone know you have something in common, then tell them you are praying for their situation, and even end your conversation by asking specifically if there’s anything you could do for them. What are some ways you can connect with your city friends that might lead to such a witnessing experience?
Next Week: Excuses to Avoid Mission
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