Monday, November 3, 2014

“The Altar, a Sign of Hope" Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday November 9, 2014

Purpose: To explain why the ancient Israelites needed a sacrificial offering system and how faith in God’s grace meets this need in our lives

Bible Lesson: Background: Ezekiel 43:10-46:24

Ezekiel 43:13:21 (CEB)
(13) These are the dimensions of the altar, according to a twenty-one-inch unit of measure. The base is twenty-one inches high and twenty-one inches wide, with an outer curb measuring one and a half inches all around. This is the altar’s height. (14) From the base at ground level to the lower ledge is forty-two inches; the lower ledge is twenty-one inches wide. The distance from the lower to the upper ledge is seven feet; the upper ledge is twenty-one inches wide. (15) The hearth is seven feet high, with four horns projecting upward from the hearth. (16) The hearth is twenty-one feet square; each side is equal to the others. (17) The ledge around the hearth is twenty-four and a half feet long by twenty-four and a half feet wide, a square. Its outer rim is ten and a half inches, and its base all around is twenty-one inches. Its ramp faces east.

(18) He said to me, Human one, the Lord God proclaims: These are the regulations established for the altar on the day when it is prepared for making entirely burned offerings and dashing blood on it. (19) You will provide a young bull as a purification offering to the levitical priests who are descendants of Zadok, the ones who may draw near to minister to me. This is what the Lord God says. (20) You will take some of its blood and set it on the four horns of the altar and on the four sides of the ledge and on the curb all around. So you will purify it and purge it. (21) Then you will take the bull selected as the purification offering, and the priests will burn it in a designated place of the temple outside of the sanctuary.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

The best thing about today’s text is that it has very little to do with how we worship and how we have access to God. The writer of Hebrews explains all of this in 9:11-14 (11) But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world). (12) He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. (13) If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean,(14 )how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw.) And then again in Hebrews 10:4 (because it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.)

Ezekiel is writing to a nation that rejected God, and is offering the nation of Israel a chance to repent of all the wrongs that had been committed by the people and the religious leaders. The only hope for these wayward people was a complete turnaround, they needed to repent, show remorse, and understand that as God’s people their past behavior was unacceptable to a holy God. They needed to repent and seek God’s forgiveness for past transgressions, and so this was the path prescribed by a holy God to his prophet, Ezekiel.

If we refer back to last week’s lesson, we can see that through the Holy Spirit filling our hearts, our body becomes the dwelling place of God’s glory, just as Ezekiel’s vision of God’s glory filling the Holy of Holies.

Our altar in not made of wood or stone, but it is a place we come to repent and surrender ourselves to God’s will, and slay the old man in us that has rebelled against God’s love. By our surrender of self and allowing ourselves to be inhabited by God’s glory, which is Christ and the Holy Spirit, we comply with all that the nation of Israel was ask to do in today’s text.

Confession, repentance, and accepting by faith that which we have been promised is our sign of hope. Doing these things releases God to shower us with His grace and forgiveness, what Ezekiel calls “our well-being.”

Today the world is constantly looking for an altar in nature and other signs where they can seek God. Unfortunately there is only one place where we can find God today, and that is through His only begotten Son, and our calling is to show the world through the Glory of God that dwells in each of us the way that leads to life, abundantly and everlasting.

Hebrews 9:15 says This is why he’s the mediator of a new covenant (which is a will): so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance on the basis of his death. His death occurred to set them free from the offenses committed under the first covenant.”

Jesus makes it clear in John 14:6 “Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I hope this lesson brings new light and understanding to each of you.

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