Sometimes it is easy to read the Old Testament and think of it as irrelevant, or less important than the gospels and epistles. Words of prophecy may seem harsh, repetitive, or difficult to understand. But so much that we find in the prophetic books can be significant and meaningful to our daily lives and especially to kids. Not only that, but the prophets point to Christ, and understanding some poignant verses can greatly enhance a genuine appreciation for the Savior. This specific lesson focuses on a passage of Isaiah 49, highlighting God’s special calling on all of our lives.
Lesson focus: God has chosen us and set us apart for important purposes; He also loves us and calls us His. That knowledge brings us hope and joy.
Passage: Isaiah 49:1-7; 13-16;25-26
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Photos of tattoo errors; markers; temporary tattoos; ink pads; paper
Lesson Opening: Choices and consequences…begin the lesson with a somewhat humorous demonstration of mistakes that people make and how they impact us…show students several photos, and/or describe to them instances of people who have gotten strange tattoos or had inkings misspelled or messed up (there is a sadly large and hilarious prominence of these!). Talk about what it means to get a tattoo or choose to have part of your body permanently changed. What is it like to have a life-changing thing such as that? Would you ever get a tattoo? Explain that our lesson today will look at some verses about our identity and how God sees us.
Start off by discussing what it means to have faith or commitment…
-What do we truly value most? What things mean the most in our lives?
Ask students what some of their most valued things are (possessions or otherwise). What makes them so significant?
Also question what makes our own lives valuable…explain that we are going to take a look at a passage of the Bible in Isaiah. Provide some background (if not already known) on who Isaiah is as a prophet, and what His job was to communicate to the people of Israel. Invite students to look at Isaiah 49, which emphasizes how God sees and values us…
Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” -Isaiah 49:1-3
What do we see here? God is emphasizing (through Isaiah) how important we are to Him. Before we were even born, before we were a thought or a shadow, God had already set apart what we were to do. This specific passage deals with Isaiah telling the people of Israel of their importance. But it applies to our own lives.
Ask students what goals they have. What do they want to do when they grow older? What jobs sound the best? We may not know exactly what is in store, but the good news is that God knows. He has a plan for our lives. He has chosen us for something special. Go back to the scripture for elaboration on this concept, and emphasis on what God is telling His people.
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am[a] honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
7 This is what the Lord says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” -Isaiah 49:4-7
God has an amazing plan…one significant element here is I verse six. It may not seem as remarkable to us, but look at the spot of “a light for the Gentiles…” In the time of Isaiah (and beyond), only the people of Israel (Jews) were considered chosen. But we now know that Christ’s coming has made all people capable of reaching God. The Lord is Redeemer for ALL people. What a blessing this is, and a thing to rejoice over! God loves us and He even wants us near Him. Turn attention to verse 13 for another recapitulation of this principle…
Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me. -Isaiah 49:13-16
What a beautiful assurance this is! Not only has God chosen us, but has “engraved us on His hand.” Reflect back on the tattoos in the beginning of the lesson. Obviously some poor decisions were made with those images, and sometimes those could not be reversed. A tattoo is a permanent thing. But God makes no mistakes. He keeps us always close to Him. And we are engraved with His name, too!
Wrap things up with another encouraging reminder…our hope is in nothing less than the Creator and Master of the universe. God will always comfort and guide us. Any desire for justice or retribution will be met by His capable hands…
But this is what the Lord says:
“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” -Isaiah 49:25-26
Our hands are His handiwork…Using ink pads, paint, markers, or other materials (maybe even sand!), make hand prints and decorate, adding the words of verse 16. If desired (and able), allow children a decoration or temporary “tattoo” for their own palms!
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Thank God for loving us and choosing us for His work, and ask for help in determining what that may be.