The miraculous birth of Isaac is only one part of an amazing story that goes on to include one of the most severe tests in trusting God that a parent or a child can ever face. Topics in this session include:
Read the Student Lesson as well as the Teacher's Guide. This may provide everything you need to teach the Youth Sabbath School lesson.
An icebreaker or something to get people focused as you begin.
With a bag of 9-inch balloons, give each person in the group one balloon to inflate and tie off. On your signal, each person needs to tap the balloon higher than their heads. The object is to keep the balloon from touching the ground. See how long everyone can "keep it up," that is, their own balloon. If your group is small, it’s usually easier. The larger the group, the more difficult it will be.
You can add more of a challenge by giving everyone in the group two balloons. Keeping two up at the same time is understandably more difficult. Want to try giving each person three balloons?
Another way to make it more challenging is to have participants try to knock other people’s balloons to the floor. One other wrinkle you could add (with much noise) is to have people step on balloons that reach the floor in order to pop the balloons. In this case, having one’s balloon touch the floor doesn’t disqualify a person from continuing, but having one’s balloon pop does take that person out of the action.
Play a 5-minute countdown video to lead up to Sabbath School. When people arrive at Sabbath School, is anything happening? Is anyone else there? If nothing’s happening, many will turn around and walk out. Heaven forbid that a youth is the very first person to enter the room! On the Youth Sabbath School Ideas website you can download a 5-minute countdown video with the music for "It’s Your Love," a song written specifically for Youth Sabbath School. The lyrics begin at the 3:16 point of the countdown with background music from 5:00 to 3:16. Hearing the music and the lyrics can help participants get more familiar with a new song that you can add to the repertoire for your Youth Sabbath School. The lyrics are at the end of this PDF.
If you play a 5-minute countdown video, keep in mind these important factors as a leader:
TRANSITION: As we consider today’s lesson, "God Provides," anticipate that it’s easier to talk about this subject than live through it, especially when we’re the ones being tested. You’ve probably already been tested on this, and you can expect that you will be tested again. But Scripture can help us see how others have faced this in the past, both with success and with failure. We can discover how to apply this successfully to our own lives by looking to Scripture and by truly testing what we learn from it over time.
Create a video clip that illustrates how our journey with God takes many twists and turns that sometimes don’t make sense at the moment. Feel free to include not only the positive, but also wrong choices or poor decisions you might have made.
This often happens at one single moment. The lesson this week challenges us to take a longer look. Ask someone in advance to create follow-up questions.
This week we have two options already provided for video clips:
You can go to YouTube and watch the iBelieve Bible video "Miracle" . This 3:45 minute video challenges the viewer to see and experience miracles today, not just to relegate them to Bible times only. You can use the follow up questions provided or create your own.
A second option is to show a video of this church’s choreographed performance of Tamela Mann’s song "God Provides" (the very title of this week’s lesson). The New Destiny Baptist Church in Virginia put a camera on a tripod and filmed these four young ladies expressing the words of the song.
There are options!
These are more approaches to the same topic as is in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
(BASED ON GENESIS 21:1–7)
"You’ll Never Believe This" handout 1
"You’ll Never Believe This" handout 2
Any supplies needed for the magic tricks you choose
A gullible person is someone who easily believes just about anything. But some things are so incredible that they truly do lack credibility (incredible means
no credibility). The story of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah fits into this category—incredible!
Let’s loosen up and stretch our minds a bit by looking at a list of true statements that most of us couldn’t dream of or imagine. They can be found online at LifeBuzz’s fascinating facts.
Hand out a copy of the PDF form "You’ll Never Believe This" handout 1 and a writing utensil to each person. There are ten true statements on this sheet. Have Youth Sabbath School participants mark the five that are the hardest for them to believe. After they have filled them out, have them share one idea at a time, going around the circle as many times as you choose. If you have more than 8–10 people in your Youth Sabbath School, divide participants into groups of 4–7.
After you finish, give the participants the "You’ll Never Believe This" handout 2 and try it again with examples from the Bible. Once again, all ten statements will be true, and the Youth Sabbath School participants need to mark the five that are the hardest for them to believe. Once they have filled out their sheets, go around the circle and have them share the ones they marked again, but this time go the opposite direction.
Genesis 12 and 13 provide three chapters in Abram’s life. The first (Genesis 12:1–9) deals with Yahweh’s call for Abram to leave the security of the land and family he knew. The place he would go to was completely unknown to Abram. If Abram’s life had been bad, it would be easy to understand why he would want to leave it. If Abram was a restless explorer,
it would also make sense that he would want to set out to find a new land. But the only indicator given for Abram to leave was Yahweh’s call to start something new and great through Abram. This risk involved the possibility of losing everything he had, although it also involved the possibility of gaining so much more.
Hopefully this got your mind loosened up and ready to think in new and creative ways. We’re going to see how wild and incredible we can become by giving a simple 30–60 second introduction of somebody in our Youth Sabbath School. We’ll actually want to introduce everyone. So let’s start by lining up according to height, from shortest to tallest— at least for today since it can change at any time.
Help participants get lined up from shortest to tallest. Then pair them up with the person next to them. It would be good for the leader to walk down the line and point to each set of two so they are clear who their partners are. If one is left over, team them with one of the other leaders or you be that person.
Explain that you need to come up with an introduction of one’s partner as if nobody in the group knows this person. And frankly, you don’t need to know them at this moment either! Come up with a crazy, zany, unbelievable introduction of your partner. For example, my partner was born in Antarctica, got lost once on a family vacation, and graduated from Oxford University in England. And my partner’s dream job is to become a window washer on the outside of a skyscraper.
Provide plenty of encouragement for others to give it a shot. If they need to write a few notes for these unbelievably creative introductions, let them do so. If you have a large group (more than 8–10), go into smaller groups of 4–7 people and have each person do it within their own group.
Play the game "Three Truths and a Lie." Each person must come up with four statements about themselves. Three of these should be true, and one should be a lie. If the people in your Youth Sabbath School know each other pretty well, this will be more difficult. The less you know a person, the easier this activity is. But hopefully that will change with a little bit of sharing.
Giving people time to come up with the four statements—three being true and one being a lie. It’s a good idea to give an example about yourself. Here are four statements about me— three are true and one is a lie. Guess which one is the lie. (You should come up with your
own in advance.)
Three of these statements are true and one is false. Go ahead and guess, and then I’ll tell you the answer later in this lesson.
Don’t have participants come right out and give the right answer; have others guess. Someone might think it’s number three, while another thinks it must be number four. Allow several people to guess and then come clean with the truth. This isn’t about lying; it’s actually discovering more about others in the group. This activity can take a lot of time if your group is large. If you have more than five people in your class, divide into smaller groups. Oh, and the lie for me was the first statement. The other three are all true.
For follow up questions, use the same ones from the activity above thisOptional Activity.
Let’s read the actual story in the Bible. We’ll read just the first seven verses in Genesis 21
from the New Living Translation.
"The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
And Sarah declared, "God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!"
This might stretch you as a leader, but you still might want to give it a try. Have someone perform an illusion that others might find hard to believe. While there certainly are some complicated illusions, many are actually quite simple.
You can go to a local toy or game store, or order something online. Check YouTube for tutorials. Google "easy illusion tricks" or "easy slight of hand." Practice a little bit and your Youth Sabbath School find your illusion "unbelievable"!
You might have one or two illusions you’ve learned somewhere, or perhaps you know someone who would be willing to show your group a few slight of hand tricks. Or maybe one or two of the youth would be willing to practice and demonstrate their abilities. It takes some advance planning, but it fits in well with this lesson and there are plenty of illusions that can be done fairly easily.
For Abraham and Sarah to give birth to Isaac at their age in life was truly unbelievable, yet God had promised this very thing repeatedly. It seems so laughable that God named the boy that very thing: Isaac = laughter. Spread the word: God does unbelievable things!
A gullible person is someone who easily believes just about anything. But some things are so incredible that they truly do lack credibility (incredible means no credibility). The story of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah fits into this category—
For the past two weeks we have noted the need to learn how to trust God by knowing his heart. The stories in Genesis seem to have this same idea woven throughout them, but it comes through especially strong in the extreme test of faith God gives to Abraham. And Abraham came through this test with flying colors, which says a lot since he’d had a somewhat spotty history of being faithful prior to it. It leads us to believe that over the years Abraham had truly come to trust God’s heart.
Let’s look at the story in Genesis 22:1–12 (NIV). It’s shocking right from the start. We’ll ask lots of questions as we move through these verses, perhaps picking and choosing for the options presented. (Read Genesis 22:1.)
3. Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
6. Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7. Isaac spoke up and said to his father
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8. Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
9. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied. 12. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
Have participants pair up and give instructions to one person from each pair—for instance, going to another part of the church/building complex without telling the second person. Just tell the second person to follow the first person, like Isaac followed Abraham to Mount Moriah. Then reverse roles and provide a different set of instructions for the new "Abraham."
You may choose to have those in your class write responses to these questions first and then discuss them as a group, or you can ask them outright. Sometimes giving the youth an opportunity to think through this and jot a few notes gives more people a chance to contribute to the discussion rather than limiting it to those who can think fast on their feet.
Ask these questions of the class as a whole, and process answers with them.
In one of the most amazing stories in the Bible, Abraham passes the most severe test any parent could ever face. We have difficulty imagining a loving God or a loving parent involved in this unique test of faith. Abraham succeeded in several of his previous tests, but also failed. In this test, both Abraham and Isaac came through with a strong faith in God.
(BASED ON GENESIS 22:1–14)
A cursory reading of the story of God’s call to sacrifice Abraham’s son raises
many questions, such as:
We need to be mindful of our tendency to filter this story through a modern lens. It’s important to consider the meaning of the elements in this story meant at the time when it happened. Some things remain the same, but some things certainly change with time as well as culture. Words change, customs vary, and expectations shift.
There could easily be parent-child dynamics today that might seem right or even good in one place, but could easily be misunderstood in another place. The call for Abraham to sac- rifice his son might not feel that different from:
Our passage in Genesis 22:1–14 has very few words for the days when Abraham and Isaac took their journey. We know that Abraham once again did a seemingly outlandish thing in 1) Hearing the voice of God; 2) Choosing to obey it; and 3) Expecting his son to go along with this.
Let’s read the Scripture, Genesis 22:1–14, in The New Living Translation (or one of your choice), and read it with a focus on Isaac and his perspective of this whole thing:
1. Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. "Abraham!" God called. "Yes," he replied. "Here I am."
2. "Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you."
3. The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his
servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5. "Stay here with the donkey," Abraham told the servants. "The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back."
6. So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,7. Isaac turned to Abraham and said,
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
"We have the fire and the wood," the boy said,"but where is the sheep for the burnt
8. "God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son," Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9. When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Yes," Abraham replied. "Here I am!"
12. "Don’t lay a hand on the boy!" the angel said. "Do not hurt him in any way, for now I
know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son."
13. Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means "the Lord will provide"). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."
Give each person in Youth Sabbath School a page with their "Personal Coat of Arms" on one side and "God Provides" on the other side (or you can opt to do just one). While a coat of arms was common in medieval Europe and not in Isaac’s day or in our day, we can still take this symbol and craft a coat of arms for ourselves today.
This particular coat of arms has four blank sections to it. You’ll want to draw symbols in each quadrant to represent something you would like to carry on in your life and in your family.
Let’s set the four topics or themes in this order:
If you have time, invite individuals to share their creations and the meaning of the symbols they chose. Invite them to take them home and set them in a place to remind them of these qualities and characteristics they are choosing for themselves.
When God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son in an act of obedience that placed God above probably the most precious earthly thing Abraham could imagine, it truly was a watershed experience. The name Yahweh Yir’eh (the LORD will provide) became the name at Mount Moriah, which would have significance for the centuries that ensued. It even became a proverb of that time: On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.
On the back side of your coat of arms (or a separate piece of paper if you chose to do it that way) is a simple statement in English: The LORD will provide." There are lines and oblongs where you can personalize your own Yahweh Yir’eh (the LORD will provide). And that can serve as one of your personal applications for the coming week.
Although we have very little in this brief passage about this major test of faith, especially from Isaac’s perspective, it demonstrates that Isaac was on the same page as his father and took his dad’s example to obey the voice of God through someone he trusted. Hundreds
of years before Paul wrote Romans 12:1 (NLT), Isaac experienced it: "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.
Let these ideas spark ways you can move from talk to action as you live out this lesson in a practical way this week.
The following three applications relate to the corresponding three Bible Study Guides above.
A. Reflect on something that seems unbelievable in your life—either positive or negative.
How does God fit into the picture? Are you able to share that with somebody else? Before you do, consider a dream or vision or passion you believe God has given you. What "unbelievable" request should or could you make in a prayer to God? Now go to someone you know and share with them both things: 1) Something that seems unbelievable in your life; and 2) Something unbelievable you’re now praying about because God has given you a dream or vision or passion for something. Then ask the person with whom you’re sharing these unbelievable things to share two similar things with you: 1) Something that seems unbelievable in their life; and 2) Something unbelievable they are now praying about because God has given them a dream or vision or passion for something. Continue to pray for each other even beyond this next week.
B. As you leave today to start your new week:
Head: Think through what the Apostle Paul wrote: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12: 1, 2, NIV). Reflect on the story of God’s test of faith to Abraham and choose to respond in obedience to God’s instructions—even if they don’t make sense to you right then—or even are emotionally painful and cause you to have some anxiety or fear.
Heart: Get serious with God and give Him permission to enter your heart and help you to be obedient to Him and have courage and faith in your life—specifically to empower you to want to change in order to better please God. "…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13, NIV).
Hands: To reinforce your allowing God to have total control in your life, draw (it’s okay if it’s not great, because no one else will see it) a picture of a car and put God/Jesus in the "driver’s seat" and put yourself in the passenger’s seat. Post the drawing in a spot (notebook, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, etc.) where you can see it every day in order to remind you that you need to let God be in control of your life.
C. Take your "Personal Coat of Arms" and your "The LORD will provide" sheet home as a reminder for this week. Take time to reflect on both sides. Feel free to add to it during the week. Share the "Personal Coat of Arms" with others in your family and ask for their input. Testify to what the LORD has provided for you, and feel free to add input from others as well.
This bonus is just for the youth leader—a quick tip and illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have already learned it through trial and error, or maybe just need a quick reminder. Here it is in a quick infusion.
A BIT MORE
Good leaders also need to be good followers. You can encourage the participants in your Sabbath School to empower others in the group simply by following them. They can do this in small ways, such as by starting a discussion in a small group, helping set up for Youth Sabbath School, playing background music during Sabbath School, inviting people to attend during the week, or co-leading an icebreaker before the program starts. Expect each person present to participate, and join in with them so that the ideas of leading and following become easily interchangeable. When you follow a person, you make that person a leader because of the way you’re actively following them.
Here are a few resources to add to your collection as a Youth Sabbath School leader. The fourth week of each month will have a few resources for a variety of purposes.
A. Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin.
This book came out a few years ago, but it’s really become a hot item among Seventh-day Adventists. The researchers at Fuller Youth Institute researched the characteristics of churches that grow young instead of growing old. People, and congregations, naturally grow older each year. Without an intentional and persistent strategy to engage young people,
most churches just drift into lethargy. By catering to just that one age group, they become a single generation church when they could flourish if they just became intergenerational instead.
There’s even an Adventist version of this movement now. Just Google "Growing Young Adventists" or click on the link on the online version of Youth Sabbath School Ideas. You can also check out the Growing Young Adventists Facebook page. Don’t let the title fool you—this book isn’t just about young people; it’s about all ages and making that part of your church culture over time. Get several copies of the book and start a book club to better understand and gradually implement this into how your congregation does church.
B. Who? Where? What?
This role-playing simulation game engages people by having them assume a new identity in an imaginary place and talk about things that really matter in the safety of not having to be yourself for two minutes.
Roll the two colored dice to determine the "Who?" which is the role you will play. It could be a young adult female or an athlete or an unpopular teen or
a musician. You flesh out the person in more detail. The second person might be the first person’s parent or best friend or teacher. If you have more than two people in your Youth Sabbath
School, team them up in groups of two, with one person being "green" and the other being "orange." They then assume the role that was rolled.
Next, roll the two dice with numbers. Add them up. Match the sum with the "Where?" options on the side of the box. This might be at a concert or by the beach/lake or
stuck in an elevator. Use your imagination to be this imaginary person in this imaginary
The "What?" is the tough stuff of this simulation. Green and Yellow take opposite positions on a given topic, such as service involvement, church participation, materialism, witnessing, environmentalism, discovering God’s will, how to pray, and more.
Because this is a role-play with imaginary characters, participants can take risks without having to own their statements once the two-minute timer has lapsed. This gives people a chance to experiment with perspectives on pertinent topics for young people.
C. The Bible Project
Take a quick overview of a book in the Bible. Add some quality animated artwork and before you know it you’ve covered an entire book of the Bible. This can encourage people to read in more detail later as well as engage them immediately. With the highly visual orientation of young people today, a combination of words and images will help them connect with the content.
We recommend that you preview clips before showing them to your Youth Sabbath School. If you come across something you consider questionable, you may opt to still show it and make that part of your follow-up discussion with the young people who are learning how to discern truth rather than having it all decided for them.
For a quick overview of "The Bible Project" Download it below.