International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday November 2, 2014
Purpose: To explore how locations become holy places in which we meet God, find mercy and reassurance, and gain a sense of purpose to engage in faithful living
Bible Lesson: Background: Ezekiel 40:1-43:12
Ezekiel 43:1-12 (CEB)
(1) Then he led me to the east gate, (2) where the glory of Israel’s God was coming in from the east. Its sound was like the sound of a mighty flood, and the earth was lit up with his glory.(3) What appeared when I looked was like what I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and also like what I saw at the Chebar River, and I fell on my face. (4) Then the Lord’s glory came into the temple by way of the east gate. (5) A wind picked me up and brought me to the inner courtyard, and there the Lord’s glory filled the temple. (6) A man was standing next to me, but the voice that I heard came from inside the temple.(7) He said to me, Human one, this is the place for my throne and the place for the soles of my feet, where I will dwell among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name, neither they nor their kings, with their disloyalties and with their kings’ corpses at the shrines. (8)When they set their plazas with mine and their doorposts next to mine, the wall was between us. They defiled my holy name with their detestable practices, so I consumed them in my anger. (9) Now let them remove their disloyalties and their kings’ corpses from me, and I will dwell among them forever (10) you, human one, describe the temple to the house of Israel. Let them be humiliated because of their guilt when they think about its design. (11) When they feel humiliated by all that they have done, make known to them the shape of the temple and its adornment, its exits and its entrances, its entire plan and all of its regulations. Write them down in their sight so that they may observe all of its entire plan and all its regulations and perform them.
(12) These are the instructions for the temple: the top of the mountain, as well as its boundaries all around, are most holy. These are the instructions for the temple.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
For the next four weeks, we will look at the Book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet. He was taken into custody and exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon in 597 B.C. along with king Jehoiachin.
Ezekiel lived in his own house in the community of Tel-abib by the River Chebar, in Babylon. Four years into his exile he received his call as a prophet. Nine years later his wife died. (Ezekiel 24:15-24)
When most of us think about the Book of Ezekiel we think of Ezekiel’s vision of the “four wheels” found in chapter 1:15-21 or the “dry bones” prophecy found in chapter 37: 1-14.
Our text comes from another vision Ezekiel had concerning the rebuilding of the temple and the wall surrounding the temple in Jerusalem. Starting in chapter 40 Ezekiel experiences a very precise vision that includes all of the measurements of the wall and the temple in Jerusalem.
More importantly his vision is also of God, in all of his glory returning to the temple and to the city. The vision reminds Ezekiel of the one he had back on the River Chebar, when God came to destroy the city. Ezekiel is humbled and falls on his face. He then hears a voice but not the voice of one standing next to him, but rather a voice from within the temple.
The voice or the glory of God tells Ezekiel, the Human one, that this is a special place where God’s throne will exist for the house of Israel forever. But there is some house cleaning that needs to take place first. Israel must stop the defilement of the temple and the holy of holies. They must stop using the temple as a burial place for earthly kings, and stop the worshipping of idols within the temple and all of Judea.
Israel needs to experience both humility and quilt, and repent, then the Glory of God will dwell with them. God wants Ezekiel to document the glory and majesty of the temple and the city, so that the people can see what God’s glory looks like and remember.
Where are your holy places, where you feel especially close to God? It is important for all of us to remember those times and places where we experienced God’s presence. Make a map of them and keep them in your thoughts for when the times and trials get tough. Allowing God and his glory to fill us, is what allows us to live victorious lives. Through Christ we have become the temple, it is Christ dwelling within us that exhibits God’s glory.