April 19, 2020 – Ezekiel 33
Lesson Date: April 19, 2020
Focal Scripture Passage: Ezekiel 33:2-9, 11-12, 21-22, 31
AIM: To lead students to describe Ezekiel’s responsibility as a watchman, and to accept the responsibility God has given them to warn sinners of God’s judgment.
Before class: Read the notes on Ezekiel 33 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following story to the class:
As Joe and Sandy sat in their living room after supper, they noticed the sky becoming very dark with clouds. “That sky looks bad; we’d better check the weather,” Joe said, as he turned on the TV weather report. As the couple watched, the weatherman told them there was no danger. He said the cloud cover would soon pass and there would be very little wind or rain in their area.
Joe and Sandy were relieved, but their relief soon turned to concern as a torrential downfall of rain began. The sky grew black and the wind howled outside. Suddenly a tornado touched down and destroyed their home. Fortunately, the couple escaped with their lives, but everything they owned was destroyed.
Ask: “How do you think Joe and Sandy felt toward the weatherman who failed to warn them of impending danger?” (angry and let down). Ask: “Is it more loving to withhold a warning (bad news) and let people suffer the consequences, or to give the warning (bad news) so they can possibly escape the consequences?” (to give the warning).
(An alternate method would be to discuss the COVID-19 crisis and the warnings and instructions given to us by our national and local authorities. If they chose not to warn us of the danger and place restrictions on our activities many more people would have become sick.)
Tell the students in today’s lesson we will discover the special responsibility God gave Ezekiel and think about responsibilities He has given us.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that last week we had an Easter lesson from Mark 16 and Acts 2.
- Tell them today we are returning to our study of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel.
- Remind them that the first half of Ezekiel’s prophecy contained predictions and warnings concerning Jerusalem’s destruction.
- After the Babylonians laid siege to the city, however, God gave Ezekiel messages of judgment for the nations surrounding Judah (that was the lesson two weeks ago).
- The Responsibility of a Watchman.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 33:1-5.
- Briefly explain that in ancient times a watchman was like a sentry, posted atop the city walls or near the kingdom’s borders.
- Ask: “According to verse 3, what was the watchman supposed to do when he saw danger approaching?” (blow the trumpet to warn the people).
- Ask: “If anyone refused to heed the warning, who does verse 4 say was held responsible for his death?” (he was).
- Ask: “According to verse 5, why was this the case?” (because he heard the warning but refused to respond to it).
- Ask: “Would the watchman be held responsible in such a case?” (no).
- Read Ezekiel 33:6.
- Ask: “If the watchman failed to warn the people, who was held responsible for their deaths?” (the watchman).
- Summarize: Watchmen were responsible to warn the people of impending danger. If they failed in this task they were held accountable.
- Ezekiel’s Responsibility as a Watchman.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 33:7-9.
- Ask: “What job did God give Ezekiel?” (watchman for the house of Israel; see also Eze. 3:17-19).
- Explain that “the house of Israel” refers to the Jews.
- Ask: “Whose word was Ezekiel to hear?” (God’s).
- Ask: “What was he supposed to do when he heard from God?” (warn the people).
- Tell the class that just as in the previous verses, if Ezekiel delivered a warning and the people ignored it, then they bore the responsibility alone. If Ezekiel failed to warn the people, however, then God would hold him responsible for their death.
- Ask: “Was Ezekiel responsible for making the Jews respond to God’s warnings?” (no, he was only responsible for delivering the warning).
- Summarize: God appointed Ezekiel as His watchman to the Israelites. Ezekiel was responsible to deliver God’s warnings to them.
- God Desires Repentance.
- Ask: “Is God just waiting for someone to sin so He can punish them?” (no).
- Read Ezekiel 33:11.
- Ask: “What does God get no pleasure from?” (the death of the wicked).
- Ask: “What does give the Lord pleasure?” (sinners turning from their sin).
- Ask: “What did He tell Israel to do?” (turn from their evil ways).
- Ask: “What did He ask them?” (why do you want to remain in your sin and die?).
- Tell the class this verse makes it clear God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. What He really wants is for people to repent and turn from their sin.
- Read Ezekiel 33:12.
- Tell the students this verse (and the ones that follow) teaches us that we cannot rest upon our past “track record” of righteous living to spare us from the consequences of our present sin. Explain it this way:
- Past righteousness won’t guard us from the consequences of present sin.
- Present righteousness doesn’t free us from the consequences of past sin.
- We are responsible for our actions.
- Summarize: God’s desire is for people to repent and turn from their sins. We are each responsible to resist sin and live for God on a daily basis.
- Jerusalem Fell; Ezekiel’s Speech Restored.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 33:21-22.
- Ask: “What did Ezekiel learn about?” (the fall of Jerusalem).
- Explain that in January of 585 BC, someone arrived in Babylon with the news that Jerusalem had fallen.
- Remind the students that God previously struck Ezekiel speechless (Eze. 3:26-27). Later (Eze. 24:27), He promised to restore Ezekiel’s speech when he heard of Jerusalem’s fall. God kept that promise.
- Tell the class that lots of people claim to belong to God, but their lifestyle doesn’t match their words (verses 23-30). Mere lip service to God is insufficient to save.
- Read Ezekiel 33:31.
- Ask: “What did God tell Ezekiel?” (many of the Jews listened to God’s words but did not obey them).
- Summarize: Ezekiel learned that Jerusalem had fallen, after which his speech was restored. God warned that merely giving Him lip service will not save.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that God gave Ezekiel the responsibility of delivering His messages and warning the Jewish people of the consequences of their sin. God taught that we are responsible for our own sin and can’t rest on our past righteousness to protect us from the results of our present sin. Finally, God reminded us there is a big difference between claiming to be righteous and really living a righteous life.
Tell the class this lesson applies to us in at least three ways:
- Like Ezekiel, we are responsible to warn people of the deadly consequences of sin. God wants people to repent (Acts 17:30). Remind the students of the opening story about the tornado. Ask: “Is it loving or kind to withhold a warning from somebody facing danger?” (no). Ask: “Are you carrying the Good News of forgiveness and new life in Christ to others?”
- Like the ancient Israelites, we are responsible to obey the Lord on a daily basis. Stress the fact that past victories don’t ensure present or future success. Ask: “Are you living righteously right now, or merely clinging to the memory of the good old days?”
- Like the ancient Israelites, we are responsible to be sure that our words and actions are consistent. Ask: “Are you giving lip service to God but truly living for yourself?”
Ask: “Are you willing to accept those responsibilities?” Ask the students to bow their head and close their eyes. Urge them to silently confess their sins and accept the responsibilities God has given them. Voice a closing prayer of confession and commitment.
CONCLUSION: Ask the students to memorize Ezekiel 33:11. Encourage them to warn sinners of God’s judgment. Ask them to pray for an opportunity to take the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ to someone this week.
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