Questions to Consider
1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage. Does it seem like any time elapsed between the end of chapter 14 and the beginning of chapter 15? Why or why not?
2. Read chapter 15.
Have you ever seen grape vine “wood”? Take a look at some of these photos. How does God describe this kind of wood in chapter 15? Think about the things people would have used wood for. Why was vine wood useless for these things? We might say that vine wood looks like wood, but doesn’t “act” like wood, and is therefore good for nothing. Explain why this is an appropriate comparison to the people of Jerusalem.
Compare these “good for nothing” Israelites who look like God’s people but don’t act like God’s people to Paul’s description of people in the last days. Focus especially on the phrase in verse 5: “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
What did it mean for the Israelites to “act faithlessly”? (8) What does it mean for God’s people today to act faithlessly?
3. Read chapter 16.
In chapter 16, God tells a metaphorical story of Israel’s history with Him. Take a moment to think back through the timeline of Israel’s history, recalling the major events along the way, or examine the Old Testament timeline in your Bible (or Google “Old Testament timeline” and find a good one online). And don’t forget to use your cross-references!
16:1-5- When was “the day of [Israel’s] birth”? What historical event or time period is God talking about here? How does God describe Israel at her “birth”? Does Israel really have anything going for her at this point?
16:6-7- How did God care for Israel when she was a newly established people? How does this demonstrate God’s compassion, care, and provision for His people? Explain how the blood represents both birth and death in this passage.
How does 16:1-7 point ahead to sinners today being being “born again“? Or to “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,“? Or to “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ”?
16:8-14- What historical time period is God referring to here? What kind of relationship does “spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you” (16:8) signify? Which covenant is verse 8 referring to, and what did that covenant basically say? Who is performing all of the action in this section? What is Israel doing for God here? What effect did God’s blessing and care have on Israel’s reputation to the rest of the world? (16:14) Why?
Explain how the marriage-like covenant in 16:8-14 points ahead to the covenant of grace God makes with sinners when He saves us. How does it foreshadow Christ as the bridegroom and the church as the bride? What do, “I bathed you with water” and “anointed you” (16:9) point to?
16:15-22- If the previous passage centered around a marriage covenant motif, what is the motif of this section? What sin does God consider spiritual “adultery”? In what ways did Israel forsake and betray the Lord? If Israel had remembered “the days of [her] youth” (16:22) and how God had graciously rescued and blessed her, how might her idolatrous behavior have been different?
Following the motif of this passage, describe the kind of sin Christians can fall into when we “forget the days of [our] youth” (16:22) when Christ first saved us. In what ways might we – as individual Christians, or as a local church – “trust in our beauty” (16:15)? How might we sacrifice “baby Christians” to be devoured or slaughter those weaker in the faith and deliver them up as an offering to idols? (16:20-21)
16:23-29- Describe the depths of evil and idolatry to which Israel sank. Why does God mention pagan nations like Egypt, Assyria, and the Philistines in this passage? What did it say about Israel (God’s people) that the daughters of the Philistines (a pagan nation) were “were ashamed of [their] lewd behavior” (16:27)? What did God mean that Israel was “not satisfied” with her evil and idolatry? (16:28-29)
Have you ever seen a professing Christian sink to a level of evil so debasing it made heathens blush? Was that person ever genuinely saved?
16:30-34- Explain how Israel’s whoring after idols was so abominable that they couldn’t even rightly be compared to a prostitute. Going back to the marriage covenant motif, describe the level of hatred and contempt a wife (Israel) would have to have for her husband (God) in order to treat him in such a way.
Are there any ways in which you see evangelical “churches” whoring themselves out to idols?
16:35-43- Some people are uncomfortable thinking of God as wrathful, but considering this passage and all the previous passages we’ve read about Israel’s sin, did God have a right to be “enraged” (16:43)? Did Israel deserve God’s wrath after all He had done for her and the blackness of the evil she had committed against Him? How was God eventually going to execute judgement on Israel?
16:44-52- Review this passage through the lens of 16:23-29. How did Israel’s sin affect her reputation in the eyes of the pagan nations around her?
How does it affect the reputation of Christ and the church when a high profile Christian is publicly exposed in his sin?
16:53-58- How is God using shame as a tool in this passage? Explain “how the mighty have fallen!” in 16:56-57.
16:59-63- What is God’s overall goal for all this wrath, shame, and punishment? List and explain each of His objectives in this overall goal:
What is the “everlasting covenant” God makes with those who, by faith, are truly His children?
• Add 15:7, 16:62 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.
• Take a moment to “remember the days of your youth,” when Christ first saved you. How did Christ bring you from death to life, cleanse you, and bless you “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”? For the next week, take a few minutes every day to reflect on the gospel and what God has done for you in Christ. (Some people call this “preaching the gospel to yourself”.) How might “remembering the days of your youth” in this way help you to walk in humility and gratitude to God instead of straying off into sin and idolatry?
Suggested Memory Verse