April 26, 2020 – Ezekiel 34 – 37

Lesson Date: April 26, 2020

Focal Scripture Passage: Ezekiel 34:2-4, 10-16, 23-26; 37:1-14

AIM: To lead students to describe how scattered sheep and dry bones represented ancient Israel and also represent unsaved people today, and to respond to the Gospel with commitment and thanksgiving.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Ezekiel 34 and 37 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Locate some “props” to bring to class to get the students thinking about sheep and bones. This could be a picture of sheep and a picture of bones, or you could use physical objects such as a child’s stuffed toy lamb or a model of a skeleton.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Show the picture of sheep (or object) to the class. Ask them what it is (sheep). Ask: “How do shepherds protect their sheep?” (by keeping them together in a group, by keeping dogs around the sheep, and by being prepared to fight off any predators). Ask: “What will happen to a sheep that wanders off alone into the wilderness?” (it will probably be killed and eaten by wolves or other predators).

Show the picture of bones (or object) to the class. Ask them what they are (bones). Ask: “What do bones represent?” (death: think of Halloween decorations and pirate flags). Tell the students that when we see bones we know that whatever person or animal those bones came from is no longer alive. Ask: “What are the chances of those bones coming to life once again?” (none).

Tell the class in today’s lesson we will discover how scattered sheep and dead bones represented the ancient Israelites, and how they represent modern people, as well.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Ezekiel.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (watchmen).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Eze. 33:11).
    • Remind the class that Ezekiel was one of the Jewish captives in Babylon.
    • Explain that the early years of Ezekiel’s ministry were devoted to predictions of the fall of Jerusalem and prophecies of judgment upon Israel’s neighbors. After the fall of Jerusalem ( 33:21), Ezekiel’s prophecies shifted to God’s plans for restoring and blessing Israel in the future. This lesson contains two such prophecies.
  2. Scattered Sheep.
    • Rebuke of the Wicked Shepherds.
      • Read Ezekiel 34:2-4.
      • Ask: “Who did God tell Ezekiel to prophesy against in verse 2?” (the shepherds of Israel).
      • Explain that the shepherds were Israel’s leaders: their prophets, priests, and kings.
      • Ask: “According to verses 2 and 3, what were these shepherds doing for themselves?” (they fed and clothed themselves with the very best).
      • Ask: “What were they NOT doing for their sheep?” (feeding them, helping the sick and injured, bringing back the outcasts, or searching for those who were scattered).
      • Tell the class verse 4 says they ruled with force and cruelty.
      • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 34:10.
      • Ask: “How did God feel about the shepherds of Israel?” (He was against them).
      • Ask: “What did he promise to do to them?” (hold them accountable and remove the flock from their care).
    • Promises to the Scattered Sheep.
      • Read Ezekiel 34:11-16, one verse at a time.
      • After reading each verse, ask: “What did God promise to do for His sheep?” (search for them, bring them back from the places they have been scattered, bring them into their own land, feed them, provide for them abundantly, protect them, and heal them).
      • Tell the students these wonderful promises point toward the Millennial Kingdom.
      • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 34:23-26.
      • Ask: “Who will God set over them as their new shepherd?” (David).
      • Explain that this promised shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ (the “great Shepherd of the sheep” – Heb. 13:20), the rightful heir to King David’s throne.
      • Ask: “According to verse 24, who will be their God?” (the Lord)
      • Ask: “What will the Lord do for them?” (give them peace, protection, safety, and blessings).
    • Summarize: God rebuked Israel’s wicked shepherds, promising to be Israel’s shepherd and God.
  3. Dry Bones.
    • The Situation in the Valley.
      • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 37:1-3.
      • Ask: “Where did Ezekiel find himself?” (in a valley full of many dry bones).
      • Tell the class God caused Ezekiel to walk through the valley and see the quantity and condition of the bones.
      • Ask: “Why is important that the bones were ‘very dry’?” (they had been dead a very long time and there was no chance of them coming back to life again).
      • Ask: “What question did God ask Ezekiel in verse 3?” (Can these bones live?).
      • Ask: “How did Ezekiel answer?” (he said only God knew).
    • The Miracle in the Valley.
      • Read Ezekiel 37:4-6.
      • Ask: “What strange thing did God tell Ezekiel to do in verse 4?” (preach to the dead, dried-up bones).
      • Ask: “What did God promise to do to the bones?” (give them bodies and new life).
      • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 37:7-10.
      • Ask: “What happened when Ezekiel obeyed God?” (God caused the bones to come together as complete skeletons, He put muscle and flesh on the bones, and He caused breath to enter the dead bodies so that they came to life and stood on their feet).
      • Explain that the words wind and breath are translations of the same Hebrew word, which is also translated “spirit.”
      • Tell the students that God was entirely responsible for this miracle: Ezekiel was simply His obedient messenger.
    • The Meaning of the Miracle.
      • Tell the class that God not only performed the amazing miracle of bringing life to dead bones, He also explained the meaning of the miracle to Ezekiel.
      • Read Ezekiel 37:11-14.
      • Explain that at the time God gave Ezekiel this vision, the Israelites were scattered all over the earth, like dry, lifeless, disconnected bones.
      • Ask: “What did God promise to do for His people?” (bring their dead nation back to life, put His Spirit within them, and bring them back to their land).
      • Ask: “According to verse 14, what will the Jews know when God does that?” (that He decreed it and performed it).
      • Tell the students that these promises also point toward the Millennial Kingdom.
    • Summarize: God promised to give new life to Israel, put His Spirit in them, and return them to their ancestral homeland.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “What do you think scattered sheep and dead bones have in common?” (they are helpless and hopeless).

Briefly lecture on the application of this lesson to us, using the following outline:

  1. Israel was like sheep with no shepherd: lost, helpless, and easy prey for predators.       Tell the students those descriptions also apply to people who have not trusted Jesus Christ for salvation: they are lost, helpless, and easy prey for predators.
  2. Israel was like dead, dry, scattered bones: completely lifeless, helpless, and hopeless. Tell the students those descriptions also apply to people who have not trusted Jesus Christ for salvation: they are lifeless, helpless, and hopeless.
  3. Israel’s only hope was the Lord. He promised to be their shepherd, re-gather them, feed them, and protect them. He promised to re-assemble their dead bones, recreate their dead bodies, and give them new life.

Tell the students if they do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior they are just like the scattered sheep and the dead bones. Their only hope is Jesus, who can give them new life and be their shepherd.

Briefly explain the plan of salvation. Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Encourage any who are not saved to trust Jesus right now. Tell those who are already saved to thank the Lord for giving spiritual life to them when they were like dead bones and for being their great shepherd. Voice a closing prayer of commitment and thanksgiving.

 

CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to look for opportunities this week to tell others about the new life that is available in Jesus Christ. They may be able to use the subjects of sheep and bones to do this.

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