How can you have joy in the midst of hardship? In this week's Bible Study, we invite you to explore this question while you reflect on the biblical meaning of joy. Listen to the recording, watch the video, open your Bible to Isaiah, and interact with the discussion questions below. If you find this study to be encouraging, tell us on social media using the hashtag #BibleProjectAdvent. We’d love to hear from you.
What image stood out to you most as you watched the video?
How did Tim’s message challenge or encourage you today?
Israel suffered under the rule of an oppressive empire, but the prophet Isaiah knew that sorrow and sadness would not have the final word. Isaiah remembered how God faithfully delivered Israel from oppression in the past, and he looked forward to God delivering Israel again. Isaiah relied on God’s faithful character, so he could say with confidence that one day God would lead his people to eternal joy.
Biblical authors often use what’s called allusion (an indirect reference) to help readers recall important truths from other stories and portions of Scripture. Identify three or more allusions in today’s passage. What truths do you think the author wants us to recall from these allusions?
Review today’s passage and make a list of the commands God gives his people (i.e. “listen to me” Isaiah 51:1). What do these commands have in common?
Review today’s passage and make a list of what God did in the past and what he promises to do in the future for Israel. How do you think these things could give Israel reason to rejoice?
How has God personally comforted and provided for you in the past, and how can those stories provide reasons for you to rejoice in the midst of your disappointments today?
Take note of the relationship between joy, hope, and trust. What do you think can happen to someone’s joy when their hope is placed in their own desired outcomes instead of in the faithful character of God? Consider concrete examples from your own life.
Turn your reflections into a prayer to God. Talk to him about your pain, disappointment, and needs. Ask him to give you the courage to recognize, remember, and rely on his faithful character. May he encourage and renew your joy in the process.