International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 26, 2012
Purpose: To realize that true justice fervently works to undo the effects of sin in individuals and communities
Scripture Text: Ezekiel 34:23-31
Ezekiel 34:23-31 (NRSV)
(23) I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. (24) And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. (25) I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild animals from the land, so that they may live in the wild and sleep in the woods securely. (26) I will make them and the region around my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. (27) The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase. They shall be secure on their soil; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and save them from the hands of those who enslaved them.(28) They shall no more be plunder for the nations, nor shall the animals of the land devour them; they shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid. (29) I will provide for them a splendid vegetation so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the insults of the nations. (30) They shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord God. (31) You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture and I am your God, says the Lord God.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Ezekiel is a very interesting study. He was from a priestly family and was taken along with about 10,000 other Jews into captivity and placed along a river in Babylon. It was while in captivity that Ezekiel was called to be a prophet.
Since the book of Ezekiel contains more dates than any other Old Testament prophetic book, its prophecies can be dated with considerable precision. In addition, modern scholarship, using archeology (Babylonian annals on cuneiform tablets) and astronomy (accurate dating of eclipses referred to in ancient archives), provides precise modern calendar equivalents. Twelve of the 13 dates specify times when Ezekiel received a divine message. The other is the date of the arrival of the messenger who reported the fall of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 33:21).
Having received his prophecy call in July, 593B.C, Ezekiel was active for 22 years, his last dated oracle being received in April, 571 (see Ezekiel 29:17). If the "thirtieth year" of 1:1 refers to Ezekiel's age at the time of his call, his prophetic career exceeded a normal priestly term of service by two years (see Numbers 4:3). His period of activity coincides with Jerusalem's darkest hour, preceding the 586 destruction by 7 years and following it by 15.
The only hope the prophet was authorized to extend to his hearers was that of living at peace with themselves and with God during their exile.
After being informed by the Lord that Jerusalem was under siege and would surely fall (Ezekiel 24:1-14), Ezekiel was told that his beloved wife would soon die. The delight of his eyes would be taken from him just as the temple, the delight of Israel's eyes, would be taken from her. He was not to mourn openly for his wife, as a sign to his people not to mourn openly for Jerusalem (Ezekiel 24:15-27).
Once news was received that Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel's message turned to the Lord's consoling word of hope for his people; they would experience revival, restoration and a glorious future as the redeemed and perfected kingdom of God in the world (chapters 33 - 48),which is where our lesson starts in Chapter 34.
The Kingly line of David has now ended; the temple as the dwelling place of God is no longer. Ezekiel talks of a new covenant, one where God comes to where they are, God by His grace, mercy and love will come and dwell with them even in captivity.
Ezekiel is able to look through the corridor of time and see a new age and time when everything will be different. No longer will they fear wild animals; no longer will they labor under a yoke. Ezekiel sees a great time of peace and tranquility, a time that is yet to come. In Ezekiel's vision a new David (Jesus Christ) will become the great shepherd. The whole world will know by the way He provides for His flock, (now being Jews and Christians, the true Church) that He is the LORD their God. Both the Church and the world will know that we are His sheep and that He is our God.