Key verse: 2 Samuel 7:11
Big Idea: God's great promises begin in the smallest details.
2 Samuel 7 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. It serves as one of the great links in the chain of the biblical story, like God's promises to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, or to Abraham in Genesis 18. David decided that he wanted to build a Temple - a house for God. But God told him "no," and promised instead to build David a house. Sometimes, God says no to one thing so that He can offer a bigger yes. God would not build a palace for David, but a family, that would carry on an everlasting dynasty. God had promised Abraham to bless the whole world through him, and now he would bless the nation through the obedience of David's line. Ultimately, one descendant of David's perfect obedience would bring the hope of salvation to the whole world!
But thinking about Jesus adds even more to the story than that. David had wanted to build a building where God could dwell, but the House where God dwelt most fully was not one made by human hands, but the body of Jesus. When the Word became flesh, the house that God built for David was the house that David could never build for God. Today, believers are God's house in the world, both as individuals and as the gathered church. We are the place that God's presence rests, and the house where He loves to be worshipped. The promise of this chapter is our hope and our joy, and it all began when God told David, "No."
Discussion idea: Why does Nathan assume that it would be okay for David to build a Temple? Why does God wait to give David the promise of an unending kingdom until this chapter?
Prayer focus: Ask God to help you to trust Him to use the small inconveniences and detours in your life to accomplish His plans.
Key verse: Romans 4:21
Big Idea: The greatest and the least all need the gospel.
Sometimes heroes seem to inhabit a different world than the rest of us. Who can think about Apollo 13 without wondering if Jim Lovell is made of a different kind of flesh than we are? Or look at Winston Churchill without doubting if we would have the strength to stare staggeringly powerful evil in the face and hold onto hope against hope? Could anyone claim to be like Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, giving their lives to try to take the gospel to the Huaorani people, and Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint, going to love the very people that had killed their husband and brother (respectively)? For Paul's Jewish readers, Abraham was like all of these combined. He was the founder of their nation, who with staggering faith had marched across the known world to go to the land God had promised. He was a religious, patriotic, and cultural icon. He lived centuries before the Law of Moses was given, and was the first to be ritually circumcised according to the commandment.
How does he fit into Paul's radical claim that because we are all sinners, incapable of attaining righteousness by obeying the Law, we are all saved by faith alone? Isn't Abraham's faithfulness the perfect example of someone who was saved by good works? Paul's answer is a challenge to read the Old Testament account carefully. God made a promise to Abraham that he would have a son and descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or the sand on the beach (although his wife was too old to have children), that he would have a certain land, and that all nations of the world would be blessed through him (ultimately, a promise that one of his descendants would be the Messiah). Abraham believed God and God credited that faith to Abraham as if it were a life of righteousness.
Abraham's relationship with God, Paul points out, was because of his faith in God before he was circumcised. Before Abraham took the mark of a Jewish man, he was already God's. He did not comply with the Law first or join a religion first, he simply believed God's Word. The hero came to forgiveness the same way as the murderer Saul and the same way as you and I can. God could have had Abraham be circumcised first, but He controlled the order so that we would know that external acts of obedience follow a change of heart, not the other way around.
Discussion Idea: Why is Abraham's salvation recorded in Genesis, according to Romans 4:23-25? The Bible includes a lot of history; how does God use examples to help us?
Prayer Focus: Pray for the ability to grow in faith, and take God at His Word.