Idols, Images and the Invisible God

Posted Aug 24, 2019

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This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point.)

From Monday's Reading: Genesis 31:3, 14-19

Laban said he’d learned about God’s blessing “by divination” (cf. Genesis 30:7. Later, Leviticus 19:26 and Deuteronomy 18:10-12 forbade that practice). Then Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife, stole her father’s household’s teraphim (“divine images”)! What does God’s continued presence to build a covenant relationship with these “idol believing” people tell you about what the old hymn called “the wideness in God’s mercy”? Is your understanding of God’s love wide enough?

From Tuesday's Reading: Exodus 20:4-6, 32:1-8

The second commandment might seem obsolete. In our developed world, who worships hand-carved stone or wood figures? What (besides money and fame—the most obvious, easy answers) do some people worship? “I am a passionate God” was the Common English Bible’s translation of God’s self-description in verse 5 (not the “jealous” God of many other translations). How can it deepen your link with God to see him, not as petty or possessive, but as passionately eager to start and sustain a loving relationship with you?

From Wednesday's Reading: Isaiah 44:14-20, 46:3-7

God’s message through the prophet is poignant. “I’ve carried you since the beginning of your life and I’ll carry you until you’re old, Yahweh promises…. These images correspond to no reality; the sad implication is that when you cry out to them in a crisis like the one coming to Babylon, you get no answer.”* What has helped you discern the value of a God who can “carry” you, rather than any god you have to carry on your own strength?

From Saturday's Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:18-20

Gordon Jensen wrote a gospel song that says, “You’re the only Jesus some will ever see.”** So the crucial first question, of course, is are you reconciled with God? Since many GPS readers are likely to answer “yes,” the next question is, are you open for God to work through you to let people see Jesus in you, sharing the good news of freedom in Christ? What historical person seems to you to present the most vivid picture of God’s reconciling work in the world (e.g. John Wesley, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa)? In what ways did God work through that person or event to give the world a clearer picture of God? In what ways do you have the chance to embody some of the same godly qualities as that person?

* John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 179.

** Click here to hear Gordon Jensen sing “You’re the Only Jesus.”

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GPS Guide

Whether you’re just starting to explore the Christian faith, or you’re a long-time Christian, we want to do everything we can to help you on your journey to know, love and serve God. The GPS (Grow, Pray, Study) Guide provides Scripture and insights to enhance your journey. If you have a question or comment about the GPS Guide, please send it to