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Sabbath School Lessons on The Atonement and the Cross of Christ
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: Atonement Announced *
Introduction: If you were God, what would you do when humans rejected
you? Two weeks ago we studied how it was that Adam and Eve sinned and
plunged us all into a terrible situation. Last week we looked at what
God planned to do to throw a life-line to humans. This week we
progress to God's announcement to humans of His great plan for
disaster relief. How difficult a decision was this for God? Why
would God announce in advance what He had in mind? Why not leave His
options open? What does this show us (again) about the character of
God? Let's dive into our study and learn more!
- The Promise
- We pick up the story just after Adam and Eve sinned. Let's
read Genesis 3:8. Why did Adam and Eve hide? (It shows a
guilty conscience. They now understood evil.)
- Read Genesis 3:9-10. Is this an honest answer? (No. First,
Genesis 3:7 tells us that they were not actually naked.
Second, they hid because of their guilt.)
- Read Genesis 3:11-12. What do you think about this
confession? What would you think if you were God? (Adam
blames both God and Eve for his sin!)
- Read Genesis 3:13. What do you think about Eve's
confession? (It is better than Adam's. She is also
blaming something else (the serpent) and thus may be
indirectly blaming God. But, she says she was deceived
and admits the deed.)
- Step back a minute and put yourself in God's place. Eve
had previously decided that Satan was right - that God had
lied to her and that God was not trustworthy. With that
background, how should God react to the conversation we
just studied? (If I were God I would be livid. My creation
believed Me to be a liar. When I confront them, they
continue to lie (at least Adam) and even blame Me for
- Would you feel like dying a painful death for them?
Giving up your Son for them? Or, would a quick zap -
so that they evaporated - seem to be the right thing
to do? You had, after all, warned them.
- Read Genesis 3:14-15. What promise does God make about the
"offspring" of the woman? (This is a promise of the
incarnation: Jesus coming from heaven to be born of a
woman (Mary). Jesus would defeat Satan ("crush your
head")and Satan would inflict pain on Jesus ("strike His
- Feeling God's Pain
- Read Genesis 22:1-2. Put yourself in Abraham's place. God
just told you to kill and then burn your son. What reasons
would you have to disobey this command from God?
- Notice how God describes Isaac in these verses. Is
this supposed to increase the odds that Abraham will
obey? (God emphasizes that this is (now) Abraham's
"only son" whom he "loves." Talk about making things
- Read Leviticus 20:1-2 and Jeremiah 32:35. What is
God's view of sacrificing children?
- Why would God instruct Abraham to do just the
opposite of His character? Something He said
would "never enter [His] mind?"
- Read Genesis 21:12. What had God said would be the
future of Isaac?
- What would this text trigger in your mind if you
were Abraham? (That God had sent off my first-born son (Ishmael) when he was a teen. I didn't
want that. I didn't expect that. It broke my
heart. And, God sending Ishmael away seemed
contrary to the promise God made to me in
Genesis 17:20. Is God now breaking His promise
to me again? Depriving me of my only remaining
son when he is very young?)
- Abraham is 120 years old, he is rich and he is
honored. His son is about to take charge of his
fortune. Everything was going as planned. Could God
really mean this now?
- Read Genesis 22:3-5. Do you think Abraham told Sarah
before he left?
- What would he say when he returned and had killed her
- Why does Abraham do this right away?
- How would you like a three day journey just to think
about sacrificing your only, beloved, son?
- Why does Abraham tell his servants that "we will come
back to you?"
- Read Genesis 22:6-8. Do you think that Abraham believes
what he told Isaac? Or, is Abraham lying to give comfort
to his son? (Read Genesis 18:14. I feel confident that a
terrible struggle took place in Abraham's mind. Bottom
line, I think Abraham just decided that God would work
things out - nothing was too hard for God.)
- Read Genesis 22:9-10. At some point Abraham has to tell
Isaac about God's instructions. What can we believe was
Isaac's reaction? (He obviously agreed to this. He could
have overpowered dad. He believed that his father knew the
voice of God and he shared the faith of his father.)
- Had Abraham committed to do the terrible deed that
violated all logic except the logic of obedience to
God? (Yes. Unbelievable!)
- Was there any shred of logic to this? Was it pure
trust in God? (Read Hebrews 11:17-19. Abraham had
worked out the logic of reconciling the promises of
God with this current command.)
- Read Genesis 22:11-12. Abraham passes the most intense
test of faith. Where Adam and Eve failed, Abraham proved
to be faithful (with a much more terrible test). Why would
God give Abraham such a terrible test? Why would God have
this test recorded in the Bible? This is a test that could
give some people the wrong idea. (I think God wanted
humans to understand what (at that point in time) God had
promised to do for us. He wanted us to understand the
extraordinary nature of His promise of giving up His Son
- Read Genesis 22:13-14. Remember when I asked you whether
Abraham was telling the truth to Isaac in Genesis 22:8
when he said "the Lord will provide?" Did God provide?
- How does the ram compare to Jesus? (Just as this ram
took the place of Isaac, and spared his life, so
Jesus takes the place of our children, our parents
and ourselves, and spares us from eternal death.)
- We don't have any record about the details of how God the
Father and God the Son (Jesus) agreed upon the plan that
Jesus would die for our sins. How many of those details do
you think the Abraham and Isaac story supply?
- What does Abraham's story teach us about our heavenly
Father who had no one(but Himself or Jesus)to stay
His hand when His Son, Jesus, died in our place?
- Read Isaiah 52:14-15. This is a prophecy that points
to the torture Jesus suffered. Imagine that Abraham
had to watch Isaac being tortured before he was
killed? Do you think Abraham would have passed that
- Walking in God's Path
- What does this story of Abraham and Isaac teach us about
the importance of works in our salvation by faith? What if
Abraham had refused to do this? Failed this test? (Compare
James 2:20-22 with Romans 4:1-3.)
- Read Exodus 32:31-32. This is a conversation between God
and Moses after the people had created a golden calf and
started worshiping it. What kind of attitude does Moses
reflect? (He reflects the attitude of Jesus. He offers
his life for theirs.)
- Read Exodus 32:33-34. Is it possible for one human to
atone for another? (No. Not even a great man like Moses.
Jesus is fully God and fully human. Only He could die for
- How do we walk in the path of Jesus and Moses if we
cannot atone for the sins of others? (We can show
them self-sacrificing love. Our faith in what God has
done for us should be reflected in our self-sacrificing love for others.)
- Friend, our salvation was planned before the Creation of
the world. God announced His plan immediately after humans
sinned. God plainly set out for us the emotions of His
plan in the account of Abraham and Isaac. Can you have any
doubt that Jesus is the Messiah? Can you have any doubt
about God's amazing love for you? How He loves you! Why
not pledge your life to Him today?
- Next week: Atonement in Symbols: Part 1.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.