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I don’t think I’ve made this clear and so I would like to clarify this point: the summaries I’ve been writing have each included the content of two or three separate meetings with Hoax each lasting between 1.5 and 2.5 hours. I’ve tried to be as concise as possible in my writing, but I wanted you all to know that we are spending quite a bit of time on all of this. So here’s what we covered the past three times:
The Wilderness – I read some different passages from Exodus about God providing manna, meat, and water and we talked about God’s power and his care for his people. I also told Hoax about Israel’s golden-calf worship, complaining and the spies’ doubts about conquering the inhabitants of the promise land. As we discussed these stories I reminded Hoax that the Israelites were not perfect and God had not chosen them because of their own merit.
On the Edge – I read a number of passages from Deuteronomy 6-9 where God was giving Israel instruction before entering the promise land in order to highlight the following points:
- The Israelites would be blessed if they obeyed the law.
- They should not forget what the Lord had already accomplished for them.
- God was going to defeat nations for them.
- They were supposed to wipe out those nations and not mingle with them.
- Once they had defeated their enemies, they should not forget that it was God’s accomplishment (not their own.)
- It was not because of Israel’s righteousness that God was doing all this.
Conquest – We talked about the victories that God gave to Israel. We also talked about how Israel did not “finish the job,” but enslaved some of the land’s inhabitants. As a result, God said he would not enable them to completely conquer the land, but would leave some to test Israel.
Judges – I told Hoax about Israel’s pattern of forgetting what God had done and turning away from him followed by God’s discipline followed by Israel’s repentance and then God’s deliverance. As I explained the repetition of this cycle I told Hoax that it is easy for me to say they were foolish, but that I repeat this same pattern in my own life.
Kings – I read to Hoax God’s reaction to Israel’s desire for a king–that they were rejecting God as their king–and then I summarized Saul’s success, failure, and judgement. I explained David’s faithfulness, but also his failure so that Hoax could see that even David was not perfect. I explained how Solomon’s reign fulfilled (in some ways) God’s purpose for Israel in that Israel displayed God’s glory to other nations. I also showed Hoax how Israel’s labors under Solomon’s rule were a result of their desire for a king and a fulfillment of God’s prediction. Finally I explained Solomon’s turn from God and reminded Hoax that God had said foreign nations would draw Israel away from him. I explained that, after Solomon, Israel split and named two different kings which led to a succession of (mostly wicked) kings ruling parallel, usually rebellious, kingdoms for many years.
Prophets – I told Hoax how God sent many men with his message to Israel and Judah. We talked about God’s patience and his desire for the people to repent. I spent a lot of time in Isaiah to show these points:
- Israel had rejected God and their sin had separated them from him.
- God was not interested in heartless observance of the law.
- God’s main purpose, whether in blessing, salvation or judgement, is his own glory.
- God still wanted Israel to repent.
I also read passages from Joel, Amos and Zechariah to give Hoax feel for different prophets, but also the similarities in their messages.
Captivity – I ended our discussion of Israel’s history with God allowing Assyria and Babylon to capture Israel and Judah, respectively. As we talked about this, I reminded Hoax again of God’s consistency in judging sin. We also talked about how judgement fits with God’s character and is line with his pursuit of his own glory.
Job – I explained that Job was a good man who followed God, but God allowed calamity to come to him. I told Hoax that Satan’s objection to God is a challenge for us all: do we only worship God to receive blessing or do we worship him because he is worthy? [This question is particularly pertinent here in PNG where many many people follow the religions of westerners (in form) because they think it will lead to the material possessions the westerners have.]
Hoax’s Reaction – Admittedly, I’ve waited too long for this update so I’m covering too much at once. Therefore, I will just point out three of Hoax’s reactions:
- When I was talking about Amos 8:11-12 in which God says people will seek for God’s word and not find it, Hoax wondered what would happen here in PNG if people ignored God’s message from the missionaries. “Will he hide his word from us too?” He was clearly concerned about the consequences of ignoring the message.
- As we talked about Job, Hoax related this to his daughter’s lupus and said, “that’s just something belonging to God,” meaning that God has the right to do that and Hoax cannot condemn him for it.
- Throughout these lessons we have talked about how God provides two paths: salvation/life and judgement/death. Additionally we have talked about how both of these things fit with who God is: a perfect and loving God who is also just and in pursuit of his own glory. I have been amazed at how easily Hoax has accepted this. He has never questioned God’s right to punish sinners, he thinks it is right that God wants to make his name great, and he sees that both salvation and judgement accomplish this.