Into the Lesson
Carry into the classroom a rock that is as large as practical. Write EBENEZER conspicuously on the rock. Cover the rock with a cloth, and then display the rock as class begins.
Lead the class (or have someone else lead) in singing the old hymn, “Come, Thou Fount.” Make sure to include the stanza that begins, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” Point out that today’s text includes the Bible verse (v. 12) on which hymn writer Robert Robinson based Isis poem. Also, plan to use the hymn at the end of class. You may want to include the lesson writer’s story of Robin-son’s writing and re-experiencing the truth of his song.
Into the Word
Establish brainstorming pairs. Give each pair one of the letters of the word REPENTANCE.(Repeat the E and the N if you have an adequate number of students; if you have more than 20students, repeat the letters R. P. and C.)
Direct the pairs to look at today’s text and any other biblical texts on repentance, if they choose. They are to make a list of components or actions involved in repentance that begin with their as-signed letter. Give pairs six to eight minutes to work, and then call for responses.
Though you will get some surprises, expect such responses as the following: R—returning, regretting, restoring, realizing; E—ending, eliminating, embarrassment, examining; P—peace. pain, past, pleading; N—need, necessity, nearness (to God), neglect, newness; T—talking, tears, tenderheartedness, tenacity, thinking, truth; A—abandonment, anguish, accountability, action, admitting, atonement; C—commitment, change, character, choice, cleanness, conscience.
After the pairs have deliberated, ask them to connect their ideas to specific verses in today’s text. When they report their decisions, you should hear such connections as these: returning is the call of verse 3; eliminating relates to the call to put away idolatry in verse 3; commitments shown in verse 4 as the Israelites obeyed God and destroyed their enemies as God had long commanded; etc.
Ask each pair to present its list and its connections to the text. Have the word REPENTANCE displayed in large letters. Point letter by letter, asking for students’ comments.
As a visual reminder of the components of repentance, recruit pantomime players to stand in a row and do the following: the first player squints his eyes as he puts a finger to the side of his nose, cradling his chin in his other fingers while slowly nodding his head pensively (to rep-resent thinking); a second player rubs her eyes vigorously with her clenched hands and silently sobs (to represent sorrow/remorse); a third player assumes the classic prayer pose with hands palm-to-palm and head bowed (to represent sharing his decision with Cod in prayer); a fourth player walks across the room and abruptly turns to retrace his steps (to represent the turning aspect of repentance); a fifth player pulls play money from her purse and starts giving it to the other players (to represent a sacrificial offering aspect of repentance.)
Give your players the freedom to represent their ideas in other ways. As class members identify each component of repentance, write it clearly into a list for display. Come back together once again to ask, “Where do you see these components of repentance in today’s text?”
Distribute to each class member a small round stone with an E written on it. Tell students that his stone is their “Ebenezer.” Ask students to use their stones throughout the coming week as reminder of this study and as a stimulus to pray for someone they know who needs to repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness.
Finally, lead the class in singing again “Come, Thou Fount.” or at least the stanza beginning, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.”
Into the Lesson