NOT A FAR OFF GOD (HEBREWS 2 FOR OUR CHILDREN & OURSELVES)
HOW DOES A SIX YEAR FACE A HATEFUL CROWD?
THEY CALLED HER NAMES
THEY SPIT AT HER
THEY THREW TOMATOES
THEY THREATENED TO LYNCH HER
Ruby Bridges was the six year old who faced hatred each day when she crossed the lines to go to a white school in 1960. This is a story worth reading to your children — Robert Cole has a book for elementary children, Ruby herself has written a book, and Disney has an excellent movie out relaying where Ruby found her strength. She grew up in a strong Christian home where, in her own words, Ruby’s mother taught her to turn to God in prayer for every need. When we are in distress — where do we run? Where is our comfort, our security, our affirmation? (In Idol Lies we learned that we tend to find our own self-salvation strategies, running to other places than to God for these things.)
The scene in Ruby Bridges that particularly moved my heart occurred when Ruby was having bad dreams after experiencing the hateful crowds, and comes running into her parents’ room. Ruby’s mother asked her if she had prayed, and Ruby says she hasn’t. And her mother says, “Well?”
Ruby goes back to her room, and gets on her knees, tears rolling down her cheeks, crying out to God. And He comes to her and helps her to sleep. Ruby’s mother taught her that God was not far off, but would help her in her trouble. When Ruby was persecuted, her mother reminded her of how Jesus was persecuted, and how He prayed for the people who did not know what they were doing. Ruby was only six, but she was able to allow God to meet her needs for approval, comfort, and security. And she had a mother who had the faith that He would and sent her child back to Him.
Last week we began looking at how high Jesus is — He is the Creator, He is the Radiance and the exact representation of the Father, and He holds all things together.
This week the author of Hebrews shows us that despite all that — He is not a far off God. He is, as Tim Keller puts it in your sermon this week:
- A King who comes near
- A Champion who faces death before us
- A Brother who identifies with us
This is your God.
1. What are your comments on the above and why?
2. If you are a mother, grandmother, or teacher of children — could you do what Ruby’s mother did? Have you had an experience where you encouraged your child to trust God and saw Him meet him or her in some way? If so, share here.
Monday – Wednesday Bible Study
There is a huge difference between teaching your child morality and Christian virtues, and teaching him or her that she can trust God. Because the curvature of our soul is “deadly doing,” we get the cart before the horse.
If you have time this week — watch this optional video on teaching children. I did — and I’ll never slip in another Veggie Tales DVD for my grandchildren again. It is so good. If you don’t have time this week — you can come back to it when you do.
3. If you were able to watch the above video, share your comments here.
A KING WHO COMES NEAR
4. Review Hebrews 1:1-3 (Memory work) and share some of the ways Christ is high and exalted. How has doing this memory work impacted you? (This is your last week to polish it — so please do!)
I think Hebrews is often neglected because it is so challenging — but if you read prayerfully and slowly, He will help you understand. Ask Him now to be with you.
5. Read Hebrews 2:5-9
A. According to verse 5, to whom did God NOT give the order to subdue the earth and have dominion over it?
B. Now the author quotes Psalm 8 in verses 6-8. Find out all you can about humankind.
C. How well did Adam and Eve (and the rest of us!) do in obeying God?
We, like Adam and Eve, have failed to carry out God’s command in our rebellion. Here we see hope hope that this dominion will be re-instituted in the world to come. (As C. S. Lewis has shown in the Narnia series, though we are, indeed, the rebellious sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, we will one day be kings and queens.) Though we have failed God, He is not a King who abandons us, but One who came down, and is redeeming our failures. Now we see that Psalm 8 has a deeper Hero, One who did not fail. We have a King who did not abandon us in our failure, who DOES NOT abandon us in our failure, but who comes near.
D. Though we know from Hebrews 1 that Jesus is God, that Jesus made the world, and that Jesus holds all things together — we see here how He also chose to be temporarily abased — why? For us. Give some examples of that abasement.
E. It has often been said that in the Old Testament Jesus is concealed, but in the New Testament He is revealed. How do you see the concealed Hero of Psalm 8 revealed in Hebrews 2:9? What did Jesus do for us?
A CHAMPION WHO FACES DEATH BEFORE US
We have often talked about the “penny dropping.” There is something we know in our heads, but it may take a while for it to drop to our hearts. Last weekend Melinda Schmidt and her husband Dave were with me (Melinda is a host on Moody’s Midday) and she asked me, as she is so gifted in doing, some penetrating questions. She was so excited about the videos for Idol Lies, and was my cheerleader as she watched. She said, “I know how devastated you were by Steve’s death (Melinda was a friend who stood by me) — and yet — you are pressing on. Why didn’t you retreat — why did you press on?”
Her question made me think. I know I honestly at first told Steve I wanted to die with him — and he said, “No — I am not your life. Christ is your life. You must be here for the children — and for whatever He has called you to do in these remaining years.”
That impacted me. But also — his death and the death of my father and my mother, all within a short time of one another made me realize: death is real. Did I know it my head? Yes — but seeing it made it drop to my heart. I too will die — I am like the grass — life is faster than a weaver’s shuttle — and I really am going to face God. I want, I pray, that I will live in abandonment. And I CAN face death, for I have One faced it for me, and now I have confidence that I am Redeemed, and can go through the doorway of pain, of the last enemy, to unspeakable joys.
F. Read Hebrews 2:9 and write a prayer of praise here for what Christ did for you.
A BROTHER WHO IDENTIFIES WITH US
6. Read Hebrews 2:10-18
A. How was Jesus made “perfect” (translate perfect “complete’) according to verse 10? What should this tell us about suffering in our own lives?
B. Find evidences of Christ’s love for you in verses 10 through 13.
C. What else did Christ’s death accomplish according to verses 14-15?
D. Find more evidences that He is not a God far off but one who will help you in verses 16-18.
7. Share one way He has helped you this week.
8. Share your notes here and also, what particularly stood out to you and why.
9. What is your take-a-way and why?