… He gathers the outcasts… (Psalm 147:2, ESV)
Our 2016 winter quarter’s Bible study was a congregation-wide study where all of our classes will learn about the same subject: Outsiders.
The general idea study is to learn more about what God can do with people who may not find themselves in the best of circumstances. We don’t need everything going for us – we may be an “Outsider” in some way – but if God is with us, magnificent things are possible.
Noah: The Preacher of Righteousness (Genesis 6-9)
The whole world was condemned because of sin, but “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (cf. 2 Pet. 2:5).
Joseph: The Favorite Son and Persecuted Brother (Genesis 37-50)
While Joseph’s father’s favoritism singled him out in a positive way, his brothers’ hatred isolated him in a negative way. Joseph patiently trusted the Lord throughout all of his trials. As a result, he became an official in Egypt and brought the brothers who kicked him out to safety inside Egypt.
Caleb: The Old Man (Numbers 13-14; Joshua 14)
Caleb, along with Joshua, was the only spy who brought a favorable report back from the reconnaissance mission in Jericho. Consequently, out of his whole generation, only he and Joshua saw the Promised Land. Even though he was twice as old as everyone else, he fought on the frontline and captured a mountain full of giants in Canaan.
Ehud: The Left-handed Soldier (Judges 3:17-30)
Ehud’s left-handedness made him unusual, but God used this unique trait in Ehud to slay Eglon and lead Israel to deliverance from the Moabites.
Deborah: The Judge (Judges 4-5)
Deborah was the only female judge to have led Israel. She was also the only judge that worked with a partner. She distinguished herself as a person who worked well with others, not caring who got the credit as long as God received glory.
Ruth: The Daughter-in-Law (Ruth 1-4)
After her husband’s death, Ruth, a Moabite, left her home for Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi. Although she was probably the only Gentile in her village, the Lord blessed her with a new home among his people.
David: The Youth (1 Samuel 16)
Samuel almost overlooked David when he went to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel. God explained that he does not judge according to appearances, but according to the heart (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12).
The Four Lepers: The Evangelists (2 Kings 7)
Four lepers stumbled upon a mysteriously empty Syrian camp on the eve of what everyone thought would be Israel’s defeat. Not wanting to keep it to themselves, they ran to Jerusalem to share the good news (cf. Lev. 13:45-46; Rom. 10:14-17).
Daniel: The Foreigner (Daniel 6)
An old man, Daniel was the only worshiper of the true God among the officials in Babylon. Even though it could have cost him his life, Daniel continued to pray to God.
Matthew: The Tax Collector (Mark 2:13-17)
The Jews despised tax collectors because they collected taxes for Rome and often resorted to unethical practices. But the Great Physician called Matthew to a new life as an apostle.
The Woman at the Well: The Samaritan (John 4)
The woman Jesus met at the well had two strikes against her according to society’s rules: 1) she was a Samaritan; 2) she was a woman. Jesus, however, spent time with her, revealing the truth that he was the Messiah. Excited, this outsider ran to tell her whole village that she had found the Christ.
Paul: The Recovering Persecutor (Acts 9:1-31)
Haunted by his past, Paul had a difficult time joining the church in Jerusalem, but Barnabas vouched for him and encouraged him to become a powerful servant of the Lord (cf. Phil. 3:13-14; 1 Tim. 1:12-17).
Like Noah, Jesus was a preacher of righteousness (1 Pet. 3:20). Like Joseph, He was patient under trial (1 Pet. 2:21-24). Like Caleb, He was older than everyone else (Isaiah 9:6-7). Like Ehud, He was the only one who could slay the enemy (Heb. 2:14-15). Like Deborah, He empowered others (Mark 3:13-19). Like Ruth, He dwelled in a foreign land (Phil. 2:5-8). Like David, He was the unlikely king (John 18:36). Like the lepers, He brought good news (Mark 1:14-15). Like Daniel, He could not be held by a hole in the ground (John 20:1-18). Like Matthew, He was hated by his people (John 15:18). Like the woman at the well, He was marginalized by society (John 1:11). Like Paul, He keeps his eyes on the future (Heb. 12:2).