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Relevant Verses: Deut. 28, Judges, 1 Kings 12, Jer. 3:14-18; 1 Cor. 1

Leading Question: If Paul admonishes us to think on what is true, honorable, just, and pure (Phil. 4:8), are we justified in focusing on the causes of disunity?

This week’s lesson covers some of the most troubling incidents in the history of God’s people. Even though Paul admonishes us to think on the good things, when there is an illness, one needs to spend some time on the illness if there is to be a cure. The solution to our disunity can be found in Jesus, but diagnosing the disease is an important part of finding its cure.

1. Question: When Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings that come from obedience and the curses that come as a result of disobedience, is he talking about “natural” results or “imposed” results?

Comment: If one pours grape juice into the gas tank of an internal combustion engine, the “natural” results will be catastrophic. If one breaks the law of gravity, the results are inevitable. In part, God’s ideal law is like that. Author Tim Jennings uses a label that is helpful: God’s law as “design” law. But there are a host of biblical laws and secular laws that have been added to help us live our lives. What happens when we break those?

2. Question: The last two stories in the book of Judges are horrific, and both include the phrase, “all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Why does doing what is right in one’s own eyes cause disunity?

Comment: For additional discussion of the stories in Judges, see Chapter 6 in Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God? “The worst story in the Old Testament: Judges 19-21.” The last story, in particular, puts a whole new light on the institution of the monarchy in Israel. The key phrase in the last verse in the book (Judges 21:25) is “there was no king in Israel.” In short, the author wants to say that when there is no good king in the land, chaos is the result. That may be true in a sinful world, but would it be the same in the ideal world?

3. Question: The story of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12, illustrates the great danger of relying on raw authority. Rehoboam tried to bully the people by threatening them with force – “my little finger is heavier than my father’s loins” (1 Kings 12:10, NRSV). How does his approach illustrate the danger of appeal to authority, especially when it includes the threat of violent force?

Comment: Ellen White’s comment on Rehoboam’s course of action points to the great danger of the authoritarian approach:

Had Rehoboam and his inexperienced counselors understood the divine will concerning Israel, they would have listened to the request of the people for decided reforms in the administration of the government. But in the hour of opportunity that came to them during the meeting in Shechem, they failed to reason from cause to effect, and thus forever weakened their influence over a large number of the people. Their expressed determination to perpetuate and add to the oppression introduced during Solomon’s reign was in direct conflict with God’s plan for Israel, and gave the people ample occasion to doubt the sincerity of their motives. In this unwise and unfeeling attempt to exercise power, the king and his chosen counselors revealed the pride of position and authority. {PK 90.1}

4. Question: Is Jeremiah 3:16 another Old Testament reference to a “new covenant” with the law written on the heart?

And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the Lord, they shall no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; nor shall another one be made. – Jer. 3:16, NRSV

Comment: The ark was the symbol of God’s presence. But here that symbol will no longer be needed and won’t even come to mind! That’s what happens when God’s people are right with God. Here it is a statement of the ideal which was theoretically possible in the OT, but more fully realized in Jesus.

5. Question: Why is choosing up sides behind our favorite preacher both natural and dangerous, according to 1 Corinthians 1:10-17?

Comment: Diversity is unavoidable within the human family, indeed, it is a great advantage when people learn the value of working together. The model of the “body of Christ” is seen most vividly in 1 Cor. 12 where it is clearly an ideal toward which we should move “in Christ.”

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