We had finished our teaching responsibilities in Uganda and our missionary friends, Brad and Angela, took us on a three day camping trip into Kenya. We had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Nakuru National Park and it was breathtaking to watch giraffes walk by our Land Rover and thrilling to spot leopards lying high up on a tree branch. We saw rhinos, baboons, wart hogs and just about every kind of African wildlife, even a Dung beetle pushing a ball of dung across the dirt road! But we hadn't seen any lions, so when we ran across some other tourists we asked them if they had seen any. They told us that they had and that if we would continue on the road we were on and turn left at the next intersection and drove until we smelled death we would see a pride of lions just off the road on the left. Sure enough we smelled death and spotted the lions! We stopped the vehicle and did a rather stupid thing. Brad, his two young sons and I jumped out of the Land Rover and climbed on top so we could get a better look at the big cats and take a few pictures. The lions were about fifty yards away busily eating something. Apparently they didn't appreciate like being watched while they ate. One male glared at us and charged getting just short of half-way to our vehicle. Needless to say Brad, the boys and I dove through the windows into the Land Rover and rolled up the windows. It was a stupid touristy thing to do. We could have been part of the dinner party! (Please notice that Debbie and Angela stayed in the Land Rover!)
In our text today, we are confronted with another kind of 'lion,' far more dangerous and deadly. He is our Adversary the Devil. He makes our sojourn as followers of Jesus hard and dangerous!
Read I Peter 5:5-9 and use the questions given below to help you meditate on this description of our sojourn as followers of Jesus Christ.
1. We're starting off on a difficult text. Verse 5a - "Likewise, you who are younger be subject to the elders" - has been understood in several different ways: 1) Peter is telling young people to be subject to older people (show them some respect!); 2) Peter is telling young men to be subject to the elders of the church so that they themselves can someday become elders; or 3) Peter is using young men as a call for all to submit to the church elders because young men tend to be the most disrespectful (if young men are supposed to submit to the elders, everyone is to submit). Pay attention to the context before and behind, and what think ye?
2. How would you define humility? Can you think of any other Scriptures that help us understand humility? (Thought question: What is the difference between humility and humiliation?)
3. What do you think it looks like to clothe yourself with humility?
* Is that hypocritical or not?
* This is one of those "one another" commands. Why do you think humility is important in the fellowship of followers of Jesus?
4. What reason does Peter give for putting on humility? (C.f. Proverbs 3:34; 16:5)
* What is pride and why do you think God opposes the proud? What do you think that looks like?
* God gives grace to the humble. Does this add to you understanding of what humility means? And what do you think it looks like for God to give the humble grace? What exactly is grace?
5. What do you think it means to humble yourself "under the mighty hand of God" (v. 6)?
* In what ways has Peter made us think about the mighty hand of God in this letter? (To prime the pump, 1:5, 6; 2:12; 3:17, etc.)
6. Peter and James had the same Teacher! Consider James 4:6-10 (you might begin with 4:1).
How does James add to your understanding of what Peter said?
7. Verse 7 is a favorite text for many of us. How does a person cast his or her anxieties on the
Lord? How do you do that?
* How does this relate to humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God?
8. Verses 8-9 introduce a new subject in I Peter: our adversary. How does Peter describe Satan?
Who is he and what does he do? (Job 1-2)
* What else do you know about our adversary? (consider, Matt. 4:1-11; John 8:44; 10:10; Rev. 12:9-10)
* What do you think it means to be devoured by Satan? What does he want to do to us?
9. What does Peter tell us to do about Satan (vv. 8-9)?
* What does it mean to be sober minded and watchful, and why is that important?
* What does it mean to be firm in your faith? What does that look like for you? (c.f., Eph. 6:10ff.)
10. Write out verse 10. How does this one sentence seem to sum up the entire letter of I Peter?
* What do you learn about God?
11. Here is a thought question: Do you think there is any connection between "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God" and the "same kinds of suffering experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" caused by the Adversary?
12. What is one thing you believe the Lord would have you take away from your meditation on this text today?
God be with you, and hope to see you on Sunday!