Oak Grove Baptist Church in Fincherville

Striving to become the church of choice for this generation.

“Spirit-Filled Heart”

Weekly Adult Sunday School Lesson (KJV)

Adult Sunday School Lesson Summary for September 24, 2017


  • Lesson Text: Ezekiel 36:22-32
  • Background Scripture: Ezekiel 36, 37; Titus 3:1-11
  • Devotional Reading: Isaiah 43:14-21

 

Ezekiel 36:22-32 (KJV)
22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 
23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 
24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 
25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 
29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 
30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 
31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 
32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.

 

TODAY’S LESSON AIMS
Learning Fact: To summarize Ezekiel’s message of hope for the exiles in Babylon.
Biblical Principle: To show that God’s blessings are not because we are righteous or entitled to them.
Daily Application: To intentionally exemplify the presence of God’s indwelling Spirit in one’s life.


INTRODUCTION
It Just Sounds Better
  Some words and phrases are meant to hinder communication. It is not uncommon for those in government or business to use euphemisms—nice-sounding words or phrases instead of their less attractive counterparts. Such a practice is so common that we may barely notice. We understand that a “previously acquired vehicle” is really just a used car. Those who are “economically disadvantaged” live in poverty. To end up in “correctional custody” is to be in prison.
  Some euphemisms are more insidious than others. Admitting that a military attack resulted in “collateral damage” obscures the fact that innocent civilians died. A politician who “committed terminological inexactitude” has lied. And cries for “equal rights” may in some (but not all) circumstances be code words for an attempt to legalize immoral behavior.
Sadly, experience has taught us not to take people at face value. Too often people conduct themselves with hidden agendas as they hide behind obscure communication. But God is very clear about wanting new hearts in His people.

 

LESSON BACKGROUND
Time: about 585 B.C.
Place: Babylon

  Ezekiel prophesied from Babylon, where he had been taken captive along with the king of Judah and 10,000 others in 597 B.C. (2 Kings 24:12-14). In the fifth year of their captivity (592 B.C.), the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel, and his prophetic ministry began (Ezekiel 1:3).
  Ezekiel was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. Both prophesied the end of the nation of Judah. Jerusalem would be destroyed and the temple defiled. Jeremiah preached this message in Jerusalem, where he was in danger of being executed for treason. But Jeremiah persisted and even wrote a letter to the exiles in Babylon, telling them to prepare for a lengthy captivity (Jeremiah 29:1-23).
  Ezekiel echoed the same message while in Babylon. As a captive himself, he encouraged his fellow Israelites not to believe the false rumors of an early return from exile. The first 30 chapters of the book that bears his name predict the dire consequences of sin on Judah and surrounding nations.
  Word came of the prophecy’s fulfillment—Jerusalem had indeed fallen (Ezekiel 33:21). From that point on, the prophet’s tone became softer, more comforting. He provided a foundation for faith and hope. Though the city had fallen, God had not forgotten His people. Relief would come.

 

Holy Name: Ezekiel 36:22-24
1. To whom did Ezekiel direct the message from the Lord? What reason was given for the actions God would take? (Ezekiel 36:22)
  The phrase “the house of Israel” refers to Ezekiel’s fellow exiles in Babylon (see the Lesson Background). It is to them that the current message from the Lord God.
  In the time between the arrival of news that Jerusalem had fallen and the declarations that begin in the verse before us, the Lord makes about three dozen pronouncements regarding actions He intends to implement personally. Slightly more than half are statements of positive intent regarding the future status of His true “sheep” (example: Ezekiel 34:11), elsewhere referred to as “a remnant” (example: Ezra 9:8). The statements of negative intent are directed against various groups that oppress and/or mislead His sheep.
  But God will not take the positive actions because the people are righteous or entitled to such a blessing. Quite the contrary! As Joshua led Israel into the promised land some eight centuries before, God had already warned the Israelites not to defile themselves and the land by imitating the religious practices of the previous inhabitants. To do so would result in removal from the land (Leviticus 18:24-30).
  That is exactly what had happened, however. As a result, the people earned God’s judgment and were driven from the land into exile. Israel, the northern kingdom, was conquered by Assyria in 722 B.C. Judah, the southern kingdom, was taken to Babylon in a series of deportations that began in about 605 B.C.
  So Ezekiel speaks to people who are guilty of defiling their land. They have received God’s just judgment. But the Babylonians, with very few exceptions (Jeremiah 40:1-3), do not see it that way. They see a people conquered by their own armies and gods. This is one way the Israelites have profaned God’s name, since it allows the Babylonians to see Him as inferior to worthless idols.
  God will not tolerate this forever. So for His holy name’s sake, He will show himself greater than the gods of Babylon (compare Exodus 12:12).

2. What would be God’s solution to the profaning of His name? (Ezekiel 36:23)
  The solution to the profaning of God’s name is to make it holy—to sanctify it. The pagan Gentiles (the heathen) believe their gods to be greater than the Lord; they think this has been proven because they have taken the Lord’s people captive. But the Lord will do something that will reverse such thinking. Exactly what that will be is the subject of the next verse.
  Before we go there, however, we should consider the designation the Lord God. The prefaces to many editions of the Bible explain that the English rendering Lord with capital letters indicates that the divine name YHWH is being translated, as we see here.
  Instead of the Jews sanctifying God’s name among the heathen, they profaned His name by their lack of separation and godly witness; but is the church today any different? Do we live in such commitment to Christ that the world sits up and takes notice and wants to hear what we have to say?

3. How did God demonstrate His superiority to the Babylonian gods? (Ezekiel 36:24)
  The most obvious defeat of the fictitious gods of the Gentiles will be in the return of God’s people to their homeland. The defeat of God’s people and their deportation to Babylon has created the impression that the Babylonian gods are greater than the Lord; that defeat has caused His name to be profaned. The Lord’s reversing of that condition will prove He is, after all, superior to them; His name will be sanctified (compare Exodus 12:12). God’s sanctifying of His name and His holiness is connected with correcting misperceptions of the heathenin several places in this book (see Ezekiel 20:9, 14, 22, 41; 37:28; 39:7, 21, 23).
What Do You Think? 
How might God act to exalt His name today in spite of unfaithfulness?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • Regarding contexts within the church
  • Regarding contexts outside the church

Holy People: Ezekiel 36:25-27
4. How did God act to cleanse His people from all their “filthiness?” (Ezekiel 36:25)
  Not only will the people be returned to their homeland, they also will be cleansed or purified. To sprinkle clean water on people is the language of ritual purification (Leviticus 14:1-7, 49-52; Numbers 8:5-7; 19:11-13, 16-20; compare Hebrews 10:22). This is more than ritual, however. The cleansing from idolatry will be effective; after the exile, Judah will never again be led into the worship of idols. Most scholars think the references to water in this verse and to spirit (next verse) form the background of Jesus’ statement in John 3:5.
  According to the Mosaic Law, every Jew who became defiled had to be cleansed before he or she could return to the camp and the blessings of the covenant community.  This was accomplished either by bathing in running water or by being sprinkled with water prepared for that purpose (Lev. 14:1-9; Num. 19; 8:5-7; Heb. 10:22).  Of course, water can never change the heart, but this is only a picture of the gracious forgiveness we have through faith in Jesus Christ. 
What Do You Think? 
What idols do people worship today? How do we get people to see their error?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • Regarding the idols of those who make no pretense of faith in God
  • Regarding the idols of those who divide allegiance between God and something else

5. What did God promise concerning the hearts of the people? (Ezekiel 36:26, 27)
  God promised that He would give them “a new heart” (Ezek. 36:26). Ezekiel had already spoken about this inward change (11:18-20; 18:31), the kind of change that the Lord yearned for Israel to experience before they entered the Promised Land. “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments” (Deut. 5:29). The Prophet Jeremiah shared the same promise that Ezekiel gave: “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Jer. 24:7). Jeremiah spoke about the New Covenant God would make with the Jews, a covenant not written on stones but on their hearts and in their minds (31:31-33; 32:29; see Isa. 59:21; Heb. 8:8-13). A “stony heart” is a hard heart, one that doesn't receive God's Word and nurture spiritual growth (Ezek. 2:4; 3:7).
  The Lord would also give them the Holy Spirit within (Ezek. 36:27). It is the Spirit Who accomplishes these divine miracles in the hearts of those who trust the Lord for salvation. He gives us a new heart and a new spirit and also a new desire to love the Lord and obey Him. The Holy Spirit is given like refreshing water upon parched ground, and this produces the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives (Isa. 44:3; Gal. 5:22-23). The witness of the Spirit in the heart is proof that the person has been born of God (Rom. 8:9, 14-17; Eph. 1:13-14). Because you have God’s Spirit within, you share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:1-4) and therefore want to obey the divine will. It is nature that determines conduct.
What Do You Think? 
What are some proper and improper ways to help fellow Christians exhibit behavior that conforms to the expectations of the Holy Spirit, Who lives within us?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • In light of “don’t judge” passages such as Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37, 41, 42; John 8:7; and James 4:11, 12
  • In light of “do judge” passages such as Matthew 7:15-20; Luke 6:43-45; 1 Corinthians 5:12, 13; and 1 John 4:1-3

Fertile Land: Ezekiel 36:28-30
6. What were the promises in regard to land and relationship? (Ezekiel 36:28)
  Those left behind in Judah after 597 B.C., “the poorest sort of the people” (2 Kings 24:14), had been claiming that the land of Canaan no longer belonged to those taken into exile. But God is the one who gave the land to the fathers (patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) in the first place, through the leadership of Joshua (about 1400 B.C.). And God reserves for Himself the decision regarding present and future ownership of the land of promise. All the tribes of divided Israel have forfeited this gift (see Ezekiel 36:22, above). Even so, God promises to bring back the exiled Judeans—not merely to the land, but to a relationship with Him (compare Jeremiah 30:22).

7. How would the reproach and shame of famine be removed? (Ezekiel 36:29, 30)
  The people’s impurity is due to idol worship (Ezekiel 36:25, above). By turning to the Lord, the people will be pure once again. Famine, often a discipline of the Lord for unfaithfulness (examples: Deuteronomy 32:19-24; 1 Kings 17:1), will no longer be a problem. To the contrary, the crops will be abundant; the Lord Himself will cause the bounty. (The word corn in the King James Version does not refer to maize, which is unknown in the time and place of the text, but to grains or kernels in general; compare John 12:24.) 
  The abundance will extend to all agriculture, whether the fruit of the tree or the crops of the field. Agriculture in Israel includes grapes, olives, figs, and grains such as wheat and barley.
  Famine brings not just physical suffering but also shame, especially when marked as an act of divine punishment. Bountiful crops, the opposite of famine, remove that reproach and disgrace. The heathenwill no longer look at the Lord’s people as abandoned by Him.
What Do You Think? 
  How would you respond to a believer who uses Ezekiel 36:29, 30 to assert that those who are truly cleansed by God will never face economic reversals or hardships?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • Considering the context of the passage
  • Considering Matthew 19:23, 24; John 15:20; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; Revelation 2:9; etc.
  • Other

Repentant People: Ezekiel 36:31, 32
8. Once restored, how did God’s people view their past behavior and unfaithfulness? (Ezekiel 36:31)
  Having been blessed by the grace of God, the Israelites will come to see clearly how disgraceful their former behavior has been. They will repent of their former ways, coming to loathe their past unfaithfulness (compare Ezekiel 6:9).
  The iniquities and abominations of the exiles are grounded in idol worship. The Israelites were told hundreds of years earlier that they were neither to worship the fictitious gods of the pagans nor worship the Lord God in the manner that the pagans worshipped their gods (Exodus 23:24; Deuteronomy 12:30, 31). But the people are guilty of both, having engaged in grossly immoral practices in the process. They will do well to loathe such behavior.
What Do You Think? 
To what extent is it appropriate for Christians to engage in self-loathing? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

  • Regarding voluntary choices
  • Regarding involuntary circumstances

9. Why did God repeat His blessings and favor? (Ezekiel 36:32)
  Once again God confirms that the people have not earned any consideration. He does not intend to act for their sake, but for His own. He does not reward any merit on their part. They have no merit. Their deeds deserve only rejection.
  God wants the exiles to understand this, so He takes care to explain it and repeat the explanation. The people are to be ashamed of their former conduct. The grace He will grant them is not to mislead them into thinking that His favor is due to anything on their part. He wants them to see their former behavior for what it is.
  That is the only sure deterrent to repeating bad behavior. The law can impose penalties, but that by itself does not prevent a repetition of the unlawful behavior. The person who has sinned has to come to see the sinfulness of his or her own behavior. That is what God challenges the people to do. Once they come to see their own sin’s shamefulness, its disgrace, they will be cured of repeating it.

  Ever since the time of the judges, which began about 1380 B.C., the people have wavered between faithfulness to God and the worship of idols. Elijah had offered the people this challenge on Mount Carmel: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). The wavering must stop!

 

POINTS TO PONDER

  • We should always be mindful that we are God’s ambassadors to the world! (Ezekiel 36:22, 23).
  • God uses change for our own good, and promises a new heart and a new spirit for His people (vs. 24-27).
  • It is by God’s grace and mercy alone that we have what He has lent us. (vs. 28-30).
  • Never forget where God has brought you from! (vs. 31, 32).

CONCLUSION
Learning to Blush
  Everyone has had the experience of saying something embarrassing. Perhaps it was as innocent as simply getting our words tangled so that what came out of our mouths was not at all what we intended. Or maybe it was not so innocent, and we said something unkind about an individual whom we thought was not within earshot. Then we realized the person overheard us after all. The combination of words and circumstance caused us to embarrass ourselves. And we blushed. It’s a natural reaction.
  But Jeremiah spoke of a time in Israelite history when the people did not know how to blush. They sinned against God and, when they learned of their sin, still felt no shame. “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” (Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12).
  When Ezekiel told the people to be “ashamed and confounded,” he used a Hebrew word very closely associated with the one translated “blush” in Jeremiah. Both men lived in a culture where shame seemed to be a lost concept. The same was true in Paul’s day (1 Corinthians 5:1, 2). The same is true in ours.
  And what a great loss it is! Until we can be ashamed of our sin, we will not be able to see things as God does.

PRAYER
  Heavenly Father, may a keen sense of our unworthiness bring forth the sense of shame that leads to repentance. May we never treat sin lightly or assume that it is anything less than detestable. May that attitude lead us to abandon sin and walk in holiness. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
  For hearts to be changed, they must be receptive to change.

ANTICIPATING THE NEXT LESSON 
  Next week's lesson is “God’s Covenant with Abraham” and looks at a covenant, not between people, but between one person (at the time known as Abram) and God. Study Genesis 15. 
LESSON SUMMARIZED BY               
Renee Little 
Jesus Is All Ministries 
www.jesusisall.com

 

WORKS CITED 

Bible App for iPhone and iPad, Version 5.0.3, LifeChurch.tv, 2017.

Holman Bible Dictionary, Holman Bible Publishers. 

Life Application Bible—New Revised Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 

Scofield, C.I., ed.  The New Scofield Study Bible—King James Version. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Summary and commentary derived from Standard Lesson Commentary Copyright 2017 by permission of Standard Publishing. 

The KJV Parallel Bible Commentary, by Nelson Books.

The Pulpit Commentary, Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.), Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Cook

 

Jesus Is All Ministries Staff

Willie Ferrell
Renee Little
Horace Hayes
Felicia Pinkney

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OGBC Highlights

 

  • The Hormel Food Ham Hock Cook off August 17-20, 2010 was a huged sucess. Thanks, to everyone who pariscipated in this event.
  • Our annual Women's Day Celebration on August 15, 2010 was a huged sucess. Sis Pamela Benjamin was outstanding. Thanks to the women of Oak Grove for a wonderful program.
  • Come and go with us to Villa Rica, Ga. Friday night August 20, 2010, 7:30 PM. Oak Grove will be closing out Revival at Bethsadia Baptist Church Pastured by Reverend Kenneth Bryant.

 

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