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Sabbath School Lessons on Worship
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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 9: "Trust Not in Deceptive Words": The Prophets and Worship *
Introduction: Many years ago, I was in the Michigan area to meet
with a group of teachers who had religious objections to supporting
the teachers' union. Most of the teachers were very anxious to have
me help them because they were convinced that it was displeasing to
God to remain in a union which opposed Godly principles. One teacher
was concerned about his obligations to God, but he was also
concerned about his union-connected car insurance. He wanted to know
whether, if he resigned from the union, he would be able to continue
to insure his car through the union. When I told him, "No," non-members did not have the right to continue with union-sponsored
insurance, he replied that it would be too expensive for him to
raise a religious objection. As we left the meeting, I noticed that
he was driving a brand new Cadillac. His faith could be valued by
the amount he saved with union insurance. What about us? Does our
faith make a difference in our life? Should it? Or, does
righteousness by faith relieve us of such concerns? Let's dive into
our study of the Bible and learn about faith that makes a
- God's People, God's Church
- Read Jeremiah 7:1-2. Who did God have in mind as the
audience for His message? (His people. He wanted those
who entered into worship to hear this message.)
- Read Jeremiah 7:3-4. God says "You need to make changes
in your life." Some of the people respond with a note
about geography: "This is the temple of the Lord." What
are the people really saying? (They worship in the right
- Notice that the people repeat their response three
times. Why? (Repeating something twice is a common
way in the Bible to say that something is important.
Perhaps they said it the third time to convince
- The text suggests that "This is the temple of the
Lord" is a phrase that the people routinely use. God
calls the phrase "deceptive words." What about it
is misleading? (A church identity is not what saves
- Notice that these people not only had the right
"church," they were entering into the correct
form of worship. Even more important, they were
worshiping the correct God. Can the right form
of worship before the correct God be deceptive?
- Read Jeremiah 7:5. What is God calling on His people to
do? (Change their "ways." The Hebrew is a reference to a
"road," so this means the direction of their life, their
attitude. God wants an attitude change.)
- Let's stop a minute and consider this. These people
had the right church, the right God, and the right
worship, but God called them deceivers. What does
this teach us about worship? (That it does not end
when we exit the church.)
- Living Worship
- Read Jeremiah 7:6-7. What do the alien, the fatherless
and the widow all have in common? (They lack power in the
- Would you oppress them by not helping them? (There
are other Bible texts that discuss helping the
needy, but this is not one of them. The Hebrew for
"oppress" refers to "defrauding" or "violating."
These people are actively taking advantage of the
- Aside from harming the powerless, what else are
these people doing? (They are killing the innocent.)
- How would you describe the general attitude of these
people of God? (They misuse their power.)
- In the United States, the government pays people who
are poor and who do not work, and it imposes extra
taxes on people who work hard and succeed. In a
democracy, we decide things by a vote, and we have
more potential poor voters than potential rich
voters. Can the poor misuse their power, or is this
only a sin of the rich?
- Read Jeremiah 7:7-8. Will God bless those who abuse their
power? (They cannot rely on God, for God says they are
deceiving themselves. God tells them that He will take
away their home and their land.)
- Read Jeremiah 7:9-11. Are we properly worshiping God if
we abuse our power? (No! God says these people are
harming others in very serious ways. Plus, they give
allegiance to other gods.)
- What does this say about righteousness by faith? (I
don't think righteousness by faith is at issue here,
for these people are putting their faith in Baal,
even though they are attending the right church.
Wrong actions simply demonstrate that they do not
have an attitude of obedience towards God.)
- Notice that God says that He is watching them. Is He
- If you say, "yes," let me ask you a personal
question. Do your actions vary based on whether
other people are watching you? Would you watch
the same television programs, view the same
Internet sites, or listen to the same music if
your local religious leader was with you?
- If you would not, then why would you be
involved in these things when God is
- Is our behavior before God (who says He is
watching all the time) a worship issue?
(Worship is honoring God and showing Him
our allegiance. In that sense, obedience
- Honest Followers
- Read Isaiah 58:1. Is God upset about the sins of the
- What does God call their sins? (Rebellion.)
- This is a very interesting word. I believe in
righteousness by faith. It is the only means to
eternal life. But, let's examine the sin
problem. How does God view sin, and what does
that say about righteousness by faith? (Sin is
rebellion against God. It is a rejection of His
kingdom. Faith and works cannot logically be
separated, for our actions flow from our
attitudes. Sin results from an attitude of
rebellion against God.)
- Read Isaiah 58:2. Do these people seem rebellious to
- Read Isaiah 58:3. Let's look at the first part of this
verse. Are these people denying self?
- Read Isaiah 58:3-4 and Romans 7:14-15. Is Isaiah
addressing a bunch of people who are just like the
apostle Paul (and, if truth be told, just like you and
- What is the goal of the fasting and "humbling
ourselves" that the people say they are doing?
- Why would you "exploit ... workers" or start
"striking each other with ... fists?" (They prefer
themselves over their workers. They insist on
enforcing their views over their fellow church
members. This is just the opposite of self-denial!)
- Read Isaiah 58:6-7. What is God calling for in our
fasting? (Consistency! Self-analysis. How can we say
that we are denying our self, if we are oppressing others
for our own benefit? God tells us to open our eyes and
see things as He does.)
- Let's jump back up to the beginning of this discussion.
Read again Isaiah 58:2. In light of what is going on, how
do we explain these people? (Have you ever had someone
ask for your opinion, and it seemed that they had no
interest in your opinion - unless you agreed with them?
These people are not asking because they are serious
about being willing to change. They are looking for
official approval of their selfish actions!)
- How serious are you about seeking and following
- Read Micah 6:6-8. The burnt offerings, the rams, the oil
are all examples of Jesus' coming sacrifice on our
behalf. What does this teach us about true righteousness
by faith? True worship? (Offering the sacrifice, invoking
Jesus' name, no matter how often we do it, does not save
us. These are not like a magical phrase, or the ultimate
password. Instead, true worship, true sacrifice, true
righteousness by faith involves an attitude that is
reflected in our daily life: mercy, justice, seeking to
stay in step with God.)
- Friend, have you examined your life? Is your worship
superficial? Is your daily attitude in tune with your
attitude in church? Do you inquire of God, but don't
really want to know His answer? Are you always selfish,
taking advantage of others? Ask the Holy Spirit, right
now, to covert your heart and your attitude, so that you
will "walk humbly with your God."
- Next week: Worship - From Exile to Restoration.
* Copr. 2011, 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.