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Sunday School Lesson

September 24

Spirit-Filled Heart

 

Devotional Reading:Isaiah 43:14-21

 

Background Scripture:Ezekiel 36, 37; Titus 3:1-11

 

Ezekiel 36:22-32

 

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.

 

Key Verse

 

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.—Ezekiel 36:26

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Summarize Ezekiel’s message of hope for the exiles in Babylon.

 

2. Explain how feeling shame for one’s sins can help the forgiven to lead lives of purity.

 

3. Identify one improvement to be made that will better exemplify the presence of God’s indwelling Spirit in his or her life and make a plan for change.

 

Introduction

 

 A. 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.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

Ezekiel prophesied from Babylon, where he had been taken captive along with the king of Judah and 10,000 others in 597 BC (2 Kings 24:12-14). In the fifth year of their captivity (592 BC), 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.

 

I. Holy Name

 

                                                                (Ezekiel 36:22-24)

 

A. Profaned (v. 22)

 

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.

 

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 is directed.

 

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).

 

How to Say It

 

AssyriaUh-sear-ee-uh.

 

BabylonBab-uh-lun.

 

BabylonianBab-ih-low-nee-un.

 

CanaanKay-nun.

 

EzekielEe-zeek-ee-ul or Ee-zeek-yul.

 

GentilesJen-tiles.

 

heathenhee-thun.

 

JudeansJoo-dee-unz.

 

LeviticusLeh-vit-ih-kus.

 

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 BC. Judah, the southern kingdom, was taken to Babylon in a series of deportations that began in about 605 BC.

 

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).

 

B. Sanctified (vv. 23, 24)

 

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.

 

The solution to (or prevention of ) 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. By comparison, the rendering Lord with small letters indicates translation of a different word. When the two Hebrew words are adjacent (as they are about 300 times in the Old Testament) the translation in the King James Version is the Lord God, as we see here.

 

Sanctifying His Name

 

Jewish people of biblical times grew into the practice of not vocalizing God’s name. They didn’t want to be guilty of speaking it lightly or irreverently. How different from today, when many people use His name merely as a filler expression! Some try to avoid a problem by substituting words such as golly, gosh, or geez in place of the holy names of God and Jesus.

 

One wonders if misuse of God’s name is tied somehow to the larger issue of religious terminology as used in profane or even just flippant ways. The Bible words hell and holy seem to be particular favorites in this regard. Is a person who unthinkingly exclaims “Holy cow!” thereby more prone to misuse God’s name as well?

 

Perhaps the old axiom “when in doubt, throw it out” will serve us well here. Rather than seeing how close we can get to a fire without being burned, we are better served by keeping our distance. But beware: attempts to change speech patterns by mere force of will won’t work since unholy utterances spring from an unholy heart (Matthew 15:8, 18).

 

—C. R. B.

 

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.

 

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 heathen in 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?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding contexts within the church

 

Regarding contexts outside the church

 

II. Holy People

 

                                                                (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

 

 

 

A. From Filthy to Clean (v. 25)

 

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.

 

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. Some students think the reference to water in this verse and to spirit in the next verse form the background of Jesus’ statement in John 3:5.

 

What Do You Think?

 

What idols do people worship today? How do we get people to see their error?

 

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

 

B. From Stone to Flesh (v. 26)

 

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.

 

Dr. Christiaan Barnard is credited with performing the first successful human heart transplant (December 3, 1967). But centuries before, God promises not only a new heart for the exiles of Judah, but also a new spirit (compare Ezekiel 18:31). In many texts, the words spirit (or Spirit) and flesh signify different spheres that may be opposed to one another (examples: John 3:6; Romans 7; Galatians 5). But here God’s promise of a new spirit goes hand in hand with the promise of a new heart of flesh for the people. Their old hearts of stone (Ezekiel 11:19) must be replaced.

 

No mention is made of the old spirit in the people, but it must be a mind-set that is opposed to God and His will. Another prophet speaks of “the spirit of whoredoms” in describing fascination with idolatry (Hosea 4:12; 5:4). The people’s spirit of rebellion needs to be replaced (next verse).

 

C. From Disobedience to Obedience (v. 27)

 

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.

 

Ezekiel 11:19, mentioned above, was the first time the prophet relayed God’s promise of a new heart and a new spirit for the people. That was spoken a few years before Jerusalem had fallen. At that time the people still there were saying that the exiles were separated from the Lord, but they themselves were not. They were claiming that God had disinherited the Judeans taken into exile, and ownership of the land belonged to those in Jerusalem (11:15). This thinking amounted to casting all blame onto those already in captivity and claiming God’s favor for themselves.

 

But that is not God’s point of view! Those who had been deported to Babylon earlier had actually found “sanctuary” (Ezekiel 11:16). God intends to return the exiles to Judah as He puts a new heart and new spirit in them at that time (11:17-20). The obstinate and unrepentant people who were not taken in an earlier deportation ultimately suffer the greater punishment (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:15-20). The message in the verse before us, coming after the fall of Jerusalem, is a reminder of the earlier promise. The city’s fall is not cause for despair; rather, it is evidence that the promise in Ezekiel 11 is still valid. With the spirit of rebellion removed and a new spirit from the Lord implanted, the people will indeed turn from their former disobedience.

 

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?

 

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

 

III. Fertile Land

 

                                                                   (Ezekiel 36:28-30)

 

 

 

A. Land of Fathers (v. 28)

 

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.

 

Those left behind in Judah after 597 BC, “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 BC). 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 on 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).

 

B. Absence of Famine (vv. 29, 30)

 

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.

 

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.)

 

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.

 

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 heathen nations will 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?

 

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

 

IV. Repentant People

 

                                                                 (Ezekiel 36:31, 32)

 

 

 

A. Ashamed (v. 31)

 

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.

 

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.

 

Loathing . . . What?

 

The term self-loathing has come into vogue in recent years. It commonly refers to a person who is uncomfortable with his or her identity. Self-loathing may result from being identified as part of a certain demographic segment of humanity, inclusion in which the individual has no control over. Self-hate (a sometime synonym) may also be traced to voluntary choices that have resulted in destructive and/or shameful behavior. Self-hatred is understandable in many contexts. But it is better to focus hatred on the behavior that breaks relationship with God: the behavior of sin.

 

The nation of Israel as a whole had sinned against God in serious ways. Prophets had called for repentance, but the nation had refused. The people had every reason to hate their shameful, sinful behavior (a first step toward repentance), but many or most did not. Failure of leadership to set the proper example played a large part (Ezekiel 8:9-12; 13:1-7; 14:1-3). Ezekiel’s message was rejected by the people who should have been most aware of their sin, namely those with whom he shared exile. But they thought little of him and his message (33:30-32).

 

Being created in the image of God is the best reason for not hating ourselves (Genesis 1:26, 27). But that is also the best reason to hate sin, a vital step toward repentance and forgiveness. That doesn’t mean having a “holier than thou” attitude. It does mean having a desire to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15, 16).

 

—C. R. B.

 

What Do You Think?

 

To what extent is it appropriate for Christians to engage in self-loathing? Why?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding voluntary choices

 

Regarding involuntary circumstances

 

B. Confounded (v. 32)

 

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.

 

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 BC, 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!

 

Conclusion

 

A. 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.

 

B. 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.

 

C. Thought to Remember

 

For hearts to be changed, they must be receptive to change.

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner

Evidence the Spirit is Within Us

September 24, 2017

Ezekiel 36:22-32

 

 

 

Ezekiel 36:22-32

(Ezekiel 36:22) “Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.

Ezekiel was taken to Babylon after the first deportation in 597 BC. Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon both before and after more Israelites were taken into exile in 587/586 BC. Before 586 BC, Ezekiel warned that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed because the Israelites refused to repent of their immoralities and idolatries. After 586 BC, the LORD encouraged the Israelites and said through Ezekiel that He would return them to their land. The LORD reminded them that because of their idolatry and sinfulness they had profaned His name among the nations both before and after they were taken into exile; therefore, He was not blessing them for their sake, but for the sake of His holy name. They did not deserve to be rescued from their exile in Babylon or have their nation restored to prosperity. After the house of Israel had gone into exile, the surrounding nations had mocked both the LORD and the Israelites, calling the LORD a weak tribal god who could not save His people from their enemies. Because the nations mocked and profaned the name of LORD, the LORD would restore the Israelites physically to their land as well as morally and spiritually; thus, the nations would learn that the sovereign LORD was indeed holy and Almighty, and He had punished the Israelites for their sins. God also declared that He would punish the nations around Israel for their sins and unnecessary violence against His people, which He later did with the fall of Babylon seventy years later and the nations that surrounded Israel.

(Ezekiel 36:23) “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the LORD said once again that the Israelites had profaned His name among the nations where they had been sent into exile when the northern kingdom fell in 722 BC and the southern kingdom fell in 587/586 BC. God would act in history and restore the house of Israel so these nations would know that He was the LORD over all. God would show the nations and prove that He was right, reasonable, and justified when He sent the house of Israel into exile as punishment for their sins, and then later graciously restored them to their land and made them spiritually new people, a holy people dedicated to serving the LORD alone, a people who would never serve pagan idols again (though they did continue to sin in other ways).

(Ezekiel 36:24) “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.

God fulfilled this prophecy partially seventy years later when many Jews returned from exile in Babylon and eventually rebuilt the kingdom, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple. Jerusalem and the rebuilt temple were destroyed once again and the Jews were dispersed among the nations in 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed the nation because of the people’s rebellion as they followed a false Messiah. Some Bible teachers believe this prophecy was fulfilled once again in 1948 when the nation of Israel was restored.

(Ezekiel 36:25) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

It seems the house of Israel never fell into idolatry again after returning from exile in Babylon, though by the time of Jesus many of the religious leaders and the elite among them were totally corrupt. Ezekiel spoke of the time of the Messiah. John the Baptist baptized to prepare people for the coming of Jesus the Messiah, but only by the shedding of the blood of Jesus and by faith in Him can anyone be clean from all their uncleannesses. Ezekiel’s prophecy teaches that cleansing must come before God will fill anyone with His Holy Spirit. John wrote: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Ezekiel’s prophecy refers to what the Messiah would do when and after He came. Only after Jesus comes again will He take the house of Israel from all the countries and bring them to the Promised Land.

(Ezekiel 36:26) “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

After we have been cleansed (see above), God will give us a new heart and a new spirit within us. This specific messianic promise has been fulfilled with the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus has removed the heart of stone within believers, and He “has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5). Jesus Christ has put a new heart and a new spirit into all who have placed their faith in Him. Jesus has renewed their minds, given them new thoughts and desires, and strengthened their wills to follow and obey Him wherever He leads. Jesus has given His followers a new inclination and motivation to love His Father and Him supremely, to obey them in all things, to be God-centered instead of self-centered and selfish. God has removed the stubborn and rebellious attitude that characterizes unrepentant sinners, and has given the followers of Jesus a teachable mind eager to know the will of God for their individual lives so they can glorify and honor the LORD who has saved them by grace through faith.

(Ezekiel 36:27) “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

The LORD has done more for the followers of Jesus Christ than just give them a new attitude and motivation for all they do. God has put His Holy Spirit within all those He has drawn to Jesus for salvation. By His Spirit within those who trust in Jesus, believers earnestly desire and choose to walk according to the Scriptures, the commandments of God, and the teachings of Jesus. They have a tender conscience and carefully try to avoid temptations and obey all that Jesus has commanded. If they sin, they are quick to repent, take responsibility for their wrong choices, ask God’s forgiveness, and seek to serve Christ faithfully in the future, the Lord being there Helper. Peter described the condition of true Christians and wrote to God’s elect: “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter 1:2).

(Ezekiel 36:28) “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.

After speaking about the land in the first verses of Ezekiel chapter 36, the LORD once again reaffirmed that the house of Israel would dwell once again in the land that He had given to their fathers. Having been carried into exile, during the next seventy years, they would need continued reassurance that the LORD had not abandoned them but considered them His people and that they would be in a relationship with Him where He would be their God and they would consider Him their God. He would prove that He was there God by what He would do in returning them to their land and spiritually transforming them in the future.

(Ezekiel 36:29) “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.

More important than returning them to the land, which would be a sign to them and to the nations that the LORD was God Almighty, the LORD promised that He would deliver them from all their uncleannesses. The LORD would deliver them from all the uncleannesses that they had become slaves to, even as the LORD had delivered their ancestors from physical slavery in Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. After the house of Israel returned from exile to Judea, they and the nations that surrounded them would see the power of Almighty God as He gave them an abundance of food.

(Ezekiel 36:30) “I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.

History has shown that this verse will only be fulfilled with and after the second coming of Jesus the Messiah. It was fulfilled substantially for many years after the house of Israel returned after their exile, but because of their disobedience they did suffer disgrace again. The nation of Israel today also seems to be substantially receiving this blessing from God.

(Ezekiel 36:31) “Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.

Repentant sinners who come to saving faith in Jesus Christ still remember many of their evil ways and deeds that were not good. They sometimes loath themselves for their iniquities and abominations. The Apostle Paul wrote this about Christians: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21). If Christians remember those things that they are now ashamed of, that will help them avoid doing those things once again when tempted. Paul wanted all Christians to live in ways that they would never be ashamed of and have the courage to exalt Christ by all they did: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20). Sometimes becoming ashamed of what we have done will help us do right in the future. Paul told his fellow Christians what they can do to help those who have turned back to their iniquities so they might repent: “Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed” (2 Thessalonians 3:14). And finally, especially to those of us who teach the Bible, Paul wrote: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

(Ezekiel 36:32) “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

Christians are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. God does not save us for our sake, but because He loves us despite all the evil we have done. God saves us because God is loving and merciful, and God provided a way to justly save us through the gift of His Son, who died in our place. It is not because of any good we have done that God acts in our behalf. We should be ashamed of our previous ways, and we are (confounded; bewildered; confused; disgraced; dismayed; perplexed) when we think about the many unreasonable ways we have acted in the past (which demonstrates that before Christ saved us we were previously slaves of Satan and sin: only Jesus Christ could free us). Therefore, Christians rejoice and thank God that He has saved us in spite of ourselves, that He has cleansed us from our iniquities, filled us with His Spirit, and given us a new heart and empowerment to love and obey His commands in the service of Jesus Christ and others. Christ has freed us, transformed us, and we gratefully rejoice in Him. Furthermore, we have become lovingly concerned for others, and we want them to come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior too.

 

 

Evidence the Spirit is Within Us

September 24, 2017

Ezekiel 36:22-32

 

“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27).

The prophet Ezekiel recorded the words of the LORD and foretold His sending the Holy Spirit into His people. God promised that after He cleansed His people from all their impurities and idolatries that He would give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them (Ezekiel 36:25-26). After Jesus died on the cross, God cleansed from sin all who believed in Him, and He will cleanse from sin all who will believe in Him. The Apostle John wrote: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). After cleansing believers in Jesus, God gives them a new heart (a new ability to reason, understand the Scriptures, and make right choices) and a new spirit (a spirit of love for God, Jesus, and others that overcomes self-centeredness, selfishness, and sin), Having been cleansed from their sins by the blood of Jesus, and having received a new heart and spirit from God, on the Day of Pentecost Jesus’ followers received the promised Holy Spirit within them. Peter preached that this promise is “for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). Within Ezekiel’s prophecy, we find some of the best indications that God has fulfilled His promise in someone’s life. The Spirit of God will move them to love God and seek God’s purposes for them, and they will follow His decrees and be careful to keep His laws.

 

ThinkingFurther

Evidence the Spirit is Within Us

September 24, 2017

Ezekiel 36:22-32

Name ________________________________

 

1. For whose sake and why did the LORD say He would restore the house of Israel to their land?

 

 

2. Do you think the house of Israel deserved to have their land restored to them? Give a reason for your answer.

 

 

3. What are some of the other blessings God promised the house of Israel in this lesson?

 

 

4. Do you think God has fulfilled some of His promises through Ezekiel? If you do, when and how?

 

 

5. Do you think it is helpful or harmful for Christians to be ashamed of their sins? Give a reason for your answer.

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. For whose sake and why did the LORD say He would restore the house of Israel to their land?

For the sake of the Lord’s name (honor), because He wanted the nations that had dishonored Him to know that He was God Almighty, the Sovereign LORD over all.

 

2. Do you think the house of Israel deserved to have their land restored to them? Give a reason for your answer.

No. They had disobeyed the LORD with their immoralities and idolatries despite repeated prophetic calls to repent and all the blessings God had bestowed upon them.

 

3. What are some of the other blessings God promised the house of Israel in this lesson?

He would remove all their uncleannesses. He would remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. He would give them His Spirit within them.

 

4. Do you think God has fulfilled some of His promises through Ezekiel? If you do, when and how?

Yes. Through the coming of Jesus the Messiah, who shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins and who gives the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Him.

 

5. Do you think it is helpful or harmful for Christians to be ashamed of their sins? Give a reason for your answer.

Being ashamed of our sins can be helpful if Christians are reminded not to become repeat offenders and as a result become even more ashamed. Being ashamed can motivate believers to call out to Jesus for help when they are tempted to repeat their sins or feel ashamed of them.

 

Word Search

Evidence the Spirit is Within Us

September 24, 2017

Ezekiel 36:22-32

 

Name __________________________________

 

U W N G S S E N I L O H D K W

R K S C L M L H E Z X J I E L

S E I R T N U O C P E U L T V

M S L O D I H L A S W K R N B

R U M K L F E Y U S N G Y T Q

G E S F J C A S E I C T I R O

S Y D N K Z R I R I S R A E L

J O P E O W T P X E I J H F R

F N V M N I S E L P X A R E K

J D L E R A T H S R D L M D T

L E T U R I F A Z A Z E I N W

C N P N V E Z O N E M F P M Q

H M C T G F I X R B T X I G Z

I W F R K Q B G E P I J C H I

T C U D N O C R N W A T E R D

 

Israel

Sovereign

Holiness

Profaned

Nations

Holy

Countries

Sprinkle

Water

Impurities

Idols

Heart

Spirit

Remember

Conduct

 

 

 

True and False Test

Evidence the Spirit is Within Us

September 24, 2017

Ezekiel 36:22-32

Name ______________________________

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. The Israelites profaned the name of the LORD in the nations where theywent into exile. True or False

 

2. The LORD told the Israelites that He was going to do things for the sakeof His holy name. True or False

 

3. The LORD told the Israelites that they should appreciate all that He wasdoing for their sake. True or False

 

4. God told the Israelites that He was going to prove He was holy to thenations through them. True or False

 

5. God told the Israelites that no matter what He did the nations would not know that He was the LORD. True or False

 

6. God told the Israelites that He would bring them back into their own land. True or False

 

7. God told the Israelites that if they would sprinkle water from the Jordan upon themselves that they would be clean. True or False

 

8. God told the Israelites that He would cleanse them from all their impurities and all their idols. True or False

 

9. God told the Israelites that He would give them a new heart and put His Spirit within them provided they followed His decrees and were careful to keep all of His laws. True or False

 

10. The LORD did not want the Israelites to feel ashamed and disgraced for their conduct; rather, they should feel forgiven and be happy. True or False

 

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

 

1.    True

2.    True

3.    False

4.    True

5.    False

6.    True

7.    False

8.    True

9.    False

10.False

 

 

 

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.