On the night of December 16th our satellite internet went out. So for the past 3.5 weeks, we have been unable to update you on the gospel teaching here!
The leaders here asked Zach to teach on Christmas Eve and it was the lesson about Jesus’ birth! We decided to take Christmas Day off and they asked for us to break for two days at the new year so they could do a couple of all night traditions involving singing and dancing. So, taking those days off, Zach has taught through 13 lessons since our internet went out.
During this time, Zach has taught lessons all the way from Israel in the wilderness, through Jesus’ birth, and is now sharing about Jesus’ life and teaching. It is very exciting to be able to talk about these things for the first time in the village here. People are coming every morning and realizing that what they had formally believed was a mix of Biblical truth and ancestral beliefs, and they have a desire now to listen to God’s Word and follow it instead.
Over and over through these lessons, Zach has asked them, “How can we be made right with God? How can we be forgiven for the sins that we have committed?” He still hasn’t fully answered these questions, but things are being revealed more and more as we read Scripture. This week, it was the conversation with Jesus and Nicodemus and the question of how to be made new.
As we move toward the story of the cross, please keep praying with us for our friends here! And please pray for us too. We are busy with the teaching each morning and also want to spend much time with the people in the afternoons to engage with them individually about these eternal things.
If you would like to hear more specifically what Zach has taught these past several weeks and see a few pictures, see below:
Israel had to wait in the wilderness for 40 years. Today Zach shared how the spies went into the promised land, but they feared the inhabitants. It was only two of the men, Joshua and Caleb, that believed that God would fight for them and bring them into the land that he promised. God’s answer was to keep all of them out of the promised land and to also send snakes to kill many of the people. God also had mercy on some, providing a way for them to be healed from the snake bites: when Moses lifted up a bronze serpent and a man looked at it, he was healed from the venom. Zach reiterated that Israel is still sinful, just like us, and God was merciful. The people didn’t have to change their behavior to be healed, they just had to believe God and so look at the bronze snake.
King Saul and King David. Though Israel was rejecting Him by asking for a king, God is not quick to anger. He gave them Saul and then David. After David, God allowed Israel to be conquered and dispersed by her enemies. But he has not forgotten His promises to Israel and will send a Savior.
Prophesies about Christ. In this last Old Testament lesson, Zach shared several prophesies made about the coming promised Child: He is David’s descendent, He will be King forever, He is God, He will carry our sins and die.
John’s Birth. In this lesson, Zach shared the passages about the angel speaking with Zechariah and about John’s birth. Is this baby the promised child? No. We know from the prophecies that the promised child will be born from a virgin. But this baby will grow up and prepare the way for the promised child. Sometimes we think we can do good enough to be right with God, or that we are too bad to be right with God, but it is God himself who helps us. Who saved Noah from the flood? Who provided a sheep to be killed in Isaac’s place? Who helped Lot flee Sodom and Gomorrah? Who helped Joseph get out of prison in Egypt? Who helped the Israelites escape from Egypt? Who helped them cross the sea? Who gave them food in the desert? It was Yahweh.
God sends Jesus. The village leaders asked Zach to talk at their Christmas night meeting. He was able to share about the birth of Jesus (this was the next lesson in the gospel teaching anyway by God’s timing). He shared how Jesus fulfilled all the promises about him in the Old Testament and shared through the story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2.
God Sends John and he shows them their sins. The main point of this lesson was: What is repentance? It is 1. Knowing you are a sinner, 2. Knowing God’s Word is true, and 3. Leaving your sin to follow God. Zach spent a lot of time on this today. If our friends here don’t see their sin and their need to repent, they will not see their need for a Rescuer. Many of the people here are like those in John’s day – they think they are good and do mostly good, so they don’t need to change their thinking.
God Shows Israel that Jesus is His Son. In this lesson, Zach read about the baptism of Jesus. Why did Jesus get baptized? Was he sinful and needed to repent and identify with Yahweh? No, he was baptized because he was following His Father’s instruction to do so. Zach also read John’s comment: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He reminded them of the sheep that took Isaac’s place, the sheep that took the people’s places during the Passover, and the sheep whose blood was spilt for their sins at the tabernacle. Jesus’ blood will be spilled as God gives mercy to sinners.
Satan tests Jesus, but Jesus wins. Jesus was hungry, but he didn’t disobey his father’s word in order to feed himself. He didn’t throw himself off the temple to test his father. He didn’t bow down to Satan. During this lesson Zach explained these things from Scripture and also talked about how some people will twist Scripture, like Satan, to actually follow their own thinking. In the end of this story, after Satan had told Jesus to do three things, Jesus refused. But Jesus told Satan to leave and he left. Jesus is in charge.
Jesus Starts His Ministry. In this lesson, Zach shared about Jesus calling his first disciples and about him healing a demon-possessed man and a leper. Jesus is God and he has power over demons and over sickness.
Jesus Calls a Tax Collector and Heals a Man. In this lesson we see Jesus coming to those who know they need him. We can also see from the story of the healing that Jesus is able to forgive sins and that he sees that as a problem for this man.
Day 39 part 1
Jesus and Nicodemus. The application for this passage Zach split into two days. At the beginning of the lesson, 11 of us stood up in front and said why we think we will be saved: “I am a white missionary, so I will be saved.” Or, “I do good and I try to help people, so God is pleased with me.” Or, “I have had a hard life, so God will be kind to me in the end and forgive me.” During the lesson we read that Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be made new in order to be saved.
Day 39 part 2
On the second day of this lesson, Zach walked through: What is belief? We need to know Jesus, we need to believe what He said, and we need to then desire to follow Him. Each day Zach gets more and more animated as he explains more and more foundational things!
Jesus tells his disciples that he will be delivered over to the leaders of Israel and will be killed. Zach shared about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and choosing his disciples. In the end of this lesson he asked the people if they wanted to be like the disciples or like the Pharisees; and what it looks like to believe in Jesus and follow him.
Thank you for praying for us! We will try to keep you updated if the internet holds 🙂
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