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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, December 10, Year A

December 4, 2023

● Isaiah 40:1-11
● Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
● 2 Peter 3:8-15a
● Mark 1:1-8


The end is in sight.  In today’s first reading, Isaiah is prophesying to a people whose world has fallen apart. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would have the land forever (Genesis 17:7-8) and now they have lost it. The Temple has been destroyed and now they are a conquered people, living in exile. God seems to have abandoned them.  Isaiah tells them to hold onto hope, as things are not what they seem. While human beings are frail and inconstant, God’s faithfulness is eternal. This season of exile will end, and God is coming to care for his flock.

Mark’s Gospel draws on this same passage to introduce John the Baptist.  Prepare the way of the Lord, for the Lord is coming and everything that is broken will be made right. Unfortunately there is so much brokenness, and God seems to be taking an awfully long time.  This is not a new problem, as Peter addresses the issue in today’s Epistle.  Our world has so much injustice and pain and brokenness.  When will God finally come to fully set things right?  The Bible is full of promises that God will make all things new, and yet here we are, still waiting.  Nearly two millennia after Peter wrote, we are still waiting.  Peter explains that God is not slow, though it may appear slow to us, but instead God is patient.  When the Day of the Lord arrives all will be set right, but that will still be a painful process.  This will be a day of judgment and deeply painful for those of us who are causing the brokenness and benefiting from that brokenness.  And so God is patient, not wanting to see any of us perish and so giving everyone ample time to repent.  In the interim, God acts with particular people, in particular times and places, and we are still waiting for all to be fulfilled.

God is patient but that does not mean God will tarry forever.  The Day of the Lord will come.  All of us are yearning for everything to be set right, and also part of the brokenness that needs to be set right.  Therefore John the Baptist’s message of hope is a call to repentance.  Preparing the way of the Lord means examining our own hearts and changing our own lives so that when Jesus does come again we will “be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.” – Kristen Filipic



• This year has felt like a season of exile for many of us. What good news are you yearning to hear now?

• For the Lord a thousand years are like one day, but from our perspective a thousand years are like a thousand years.  What are some promises you are waiting to see fulfilled?  Are there things that are hard to wait for?

• What does it mean for you to prepare the way of the Lord?  What paths do you need to make straight?


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