International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 23, 2017
Purpose: To depend on the teachings of Scripture for help in rising above seemingly insurmountable obstacles
Bible Lesson: Ezekiel 3:1-11
Background Scripture: Ezekiel 1–3
Key Verses: He said to me: Human one, listen closely, and take to heart every word I say to you. Then go to the exiles, to your people’s children. Whether they listen or not, speak to them and say: The Lord God proclaims! (Ezekiel 3:10-11)
Ezekiel 3:1-11 (CEB)
(1) Then he said to me: Human one, eat this thing that you’ve found. Eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of Israel. (2) So, I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. (3) He said to me: Human one, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. So, I ate it, and in my mouth, it became as sweet as honey.
(4) Then he said to me: Human one, go! Go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. (5) You aren’t being sent to a people whose language and speech are difficult and obscure but to the house of Israel. (6) No, not to many peoples who speak difficult and obscure languages, whose words you wouldn’t understand. If I did send you to them, they would listen to you. (7) But the house of Israel—they will refuse to listen to you because they refuse to listen to me. The whole house of Israel is hardheaded and hard-hearted too. (8) I’ve now hardened your face so that you can meet them head-on. (9) I’ve made your forehead like a diamond, harder than stone. Don’t be afraid of them or shrink away from them, because they are a household of rebels.
(10) He said to me: Human one, listen closely, and take to heart every word I say to you. (11) Then go to the exiles, to your people’s children. Whether they listen or not, speak to them and say: The Lord God proclaims!
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s lesson is the fourth in the unit “Calling of Prophets.” Last week, we took a brief look at the life of Jeremiah and his experience with God in the Temple where God called him to be a prophet. In this lesson, we will investigate the life of Ezekiel and focus on his call experience.
To put this lesson into a historical context as well as spiritual context we must try and understand the situation in which Ezekiel finds himself. Ezekiel was both a priest and a prophet. As part of those taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, he found himself in an unfamiliar setting. He was away from both Jerusalem and the temple.
The thinking at the time by most reasonable men was that the god they worshipped was the strongest and therefore the victor’s gods prevailed.
When Israel and Judah find themselves in a foreign land where gods other than Yahweh are worshipped they are confused. Adding to this is the fact that their worship has always been connected to both Jerusalem and the temple. Now priest like Ezekiel must use other means to worship. Nothing in their lives seemed to point them to God.
This is the temptation of every believer when he is separated from the home and church of his youth, and they find themselves in a strange environment. The sense of God’s power and presence, in fact of God’s reality, are apt to suffer.
In this environment Ezekiel is led to employ a new strategy for teaching. Remarkably his prophecy begins with a new and revitalized picture of God’s sovereignty. In this new vision God is no longer in a temple in Jerusalem but reigns from a glorious throne and from the throne comes the voice of God. Thus, the basic facts of religion are born, God’s existence, his supreme sovereignty, his revelation, and his appointment of a prophet.
God warned Ezekiel the message is not going to be received by the hearers, but God never guarantees success, he only asks for obedience.
Jeremiah had prophesied that this captivity would last 70 years. While most would count this a problem, God used it to inspire the wise men in captivity to accumulate and copy all the text that had been written, and that becomes the Jewish bible as we know it. All gathered in one scroll. Out of the captivity, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
becomes better known and His power through such men as Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Nehemiah, Ezra, and others is far greater than the gods of Babylon, Assyria or Persia.
My hymn for this week is “Wonderful Words of Life”