March 22, 2020 – Ezekiel 16:1-41

Lesson Date: March 22, 2020

Focal Scripture Passage: Ezekiel 16:1-41

AIM: To lead students to discover that Jerusalem’s ungratefulness led to her pride, wickedness, and ultimately to God’s judgment, and to confess their ungratefulness and make a list of some things God has done for them.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Ezekiel 16:1-41 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Locate some pictures of babies and bring them to class. Have some paper and pens or pencils on hand for the application step.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Show the students the pictures of babies you have brought to class. Comment on how sweet and adorable little babies are. Comment also on the helplessness of newborn babies. Ask: “How much care and attention does a newborn baby require?” (complete and almost constant care). Ask: “What would happen if a newborn baby was left alone out in a field or the woods?” (it would soon die of starvation, exposure, and possibly attack by scavenging animals). Tell the students that unfortunately some babies are unloved, unwanted, and uncared for. From time to time we even hear news stories about sanitation workers finding a newborn baby in a trash dumpster. Ask: “How do you feel when you hear such terrible news?” (sad and angry).

Read the class the story about Megan found on page 19 of the Sunday School Member Quarterly. Tell them one word describes Megan – UNGRATEFUL. Write that word at the top of the marker board or chalkboard. Tell the students in today’s lesson we will discover the terrible consequences of ungratefulness.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the Old Testament book of Ezekiel.
    • Ezekiel was one of the Jewish captives in Babylon. God called him to proclaim his message to the rebellious Jews.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (warnings about guarding our hearts and not listening to false prophets).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory very (Eze. 12:2).
  2. A Picture of Israel’s Helplessness.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 16:1-2.
    • Ask: “What did God want Jerusalem (the Israelites) to know?” (the extent of their wickedness).
    • Read Ezekiel 16:3.
    • Explain that the Amorites and Hittites were pagans who lived in Canaan before God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land. Rather than utterly destroying these pagan people as God instructed, the disobedient Israelites intermarried with them and adopted their idolatrous ways.
    • Tell the students that in verses 4-5 God pictured Israel as a newborn baby.
    • Ask them to listen for Israel’s condition, as you read Ezekiel 16:4-5.
    • Ask: “According to verse 4, what was not done for Israel?” (they were not cleaned and cared for, as a baby should be).
    • Ask: “How did God picture Israel in verse 5?” (as an unwanted and unloved infant, abandoned and left to die in the wilderness).
    • Ask: “Would a baby left in that condition survive?” (no).
    • Tell the class this imagery represented Israel, but it also represents all people before they come to faith in Jesus Christ – unclean, helpless, and unloved.
    • Summarize: God pictured Israel (and us) as a helpless and unwanted infant, left to die in the wilderness.
  3. A Picture of God’s Grace.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 16:6.
    • Ask: What did God see? (Israel’s helpless condition: polluted and unclean, like a baby whose umbilical cord has not been cut, left to die in its blood).
    • Ask: What did God say? (“Live!”).
    • Tell the class that God spoke life into lifeless Israel, just as surely as He spoke life into us when we were redeemed.
    • Read Ephesians 2:1.
    • Tell the students we were spiritually dead, but God graciously gave us life.
    • Explain that Israel was hopeless and as good as dead, but God graciously chose to preserve her life. Not only that, He did many other good things for her.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 16:7-14 and ask the class to listen for the good things God did for Israel.
    • Ask: “What did God do for Israel?” They should name the following:
      • He caused her to grow toward maturity (v. 7).
      • He entered into a covenant relationship with her (v. 8; see also Ruth 3:9-10).
      • He washed her (v. 9).
      • He clothed and adorned her with beautiful things (v. 10-13).
      • He made her so beautiful that her beauty was unparalleled (v. 14).
    • Ask: “According to verse 14, what was the source of her beauty?” (God).
    • Tell the class that in a similar way, when God saves us He brings us into a covenant relationship, causes us to grow, cleans us, and beautifies our life.
    • Summarize: God gave Israel life and caused her to grow and flourish, just as He does for sinners who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
  4. A Picture of Israel’s Unfaithfulness.
    • Say: “After all God did for them, surely Israel would remain faithful and devoted to Him forever, wouldn’t she?”
    • Read Ezekiel 16:15-34, one verse at a time.
    • As you read the verses, ask the students to describe Israel’s sins. They should name the following:
      • She became proud of her beauty (v. 15).
      • She became a cheap harlot (v. 15-16).
      • She used her beautiful clothing and adornments for idolatry (v. 17-18).
      • She used the food God provided to serve idols (v. 19).
      • She sacrificed her children to pagan gods (v. 20-21).
      • She forgot God’s blessings (v. 22).
      • She built many places to worship idols (v. 24)
      • She committed adultery with everyone and every nation she could (v. 25-30).
      • Rather than taking pay like other harlots, she actually paid those with whom she engaged in adultery (v. 31-34).
    • Comment that this is a terrible list of sins.
    • Ask: “Can Christians today engage in spiritual adultery? In what ways?”
    • Tell the class that after all God did for Israel, she turned her back on God.
    • Explain that Israel was ungrateful and her ungratefulness led to her pride and wickedness.
    • Write the words PRIDE and WICKEDNESS below the word UNGRATEFUL on the board. Draw an arrow pointing downward from one word to the next.
    • Tell the students this is the danger of ungratefulness – it leads to pride, which results in wickedness.
    • Summarize: Israel’s ungratefulness toward God and His grace led them to pride in themselves and their possessions, which resulted in wickedness. Christians can follow that same pattern today.
  5. God’s Promise of Judgment.
    • Read Ezekiel 16:35.
    • Ask: “How did God address his beloved child, Israel?” (He called her a harlot).
    • Tell the class that verses 36-41 describe God’s response to sinful, adulterous Israel.
    • Read Ezekiel 16:36-41, one verse at a time.
    • As you read the verses, ask the students to describe God’s response to Israel’s adultery. They should name the following:
      • God promised to expose her shame to all her lovers (v. 37).
      • God promised to judge her as an adulteress (v. 38).
      • God promised to turn her over to her wicked lovers, who would abuse and hurt her and leave her as naked as she was before God found her (v. 39-41).
    • Ask: “According to verse 41, what was God’s ultimate goal in sending judgment upon Israel?” (to stop them from sinning any more)
    • Ask: “Can you blame God for responding this way to Israel’s sin?” (no).
    • Tell the class that is really what we deserve for our spiritual unfaithfulness.
    • Write the word JUDGMENT below the other words on the board, with an arrow pointing down from the other words to it.
    • Tell the students that ungratefulness leads to pride, resulting in wickedness, and bringing about God’s judgment.
    • Summarize: God promised to judge Israel and put a stop to her wickedness. While the sins of Christians have already been judged at the cross, God will chastise us to get us to repent and turn back to Him.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class that Israel’s ungratefulness led to her pride, wickedness, and ultimately brought about God’s judgment. Ask: “Can the same thing happen to modern-day Christians?” (yes).

Tell the students if they are saved, they were once like Israel – helpless, lifeless, abandoned, and uncared for. When they were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), God graciously looked at them and said, “Live!” God gave them life, both physically and spiritually. Everything we have comes from God. We must be grateful to Him and seek to live faithfully for Him. We must beware of ungratefulness because it is the beginning point of sin (see Rom. 1:21, which is the first of all the terrible sins listed in v. 22-32).

Explain that one of the best ways to avoid ungratefulness is to remember the things God has done for us. Tell the students to remember this important principle:

A keen awareness of where we were when God saved us, as well as speculation about where we might be if He had not interrupted our lives, will help us stay faithful to the Lord.

Give everyone a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Ask them to start making a list of things God has done for them, starting with redeeming their lost souls. Budget your time so you can allow the students a few minutes to work on their lists (if you just send them out with the assignment of making such a list later, most will not do it). After a few moments, ask for volunteers to name some of the items on their lists.

Tell the students if they have been ungrateful, they need to confess their sin. Ask them to bow their head and close their eyes. Tell them to silently thank God for His goodness to them. After a moment, voice a closing prayer of gratitude.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Ephesians 2:1. Tell the students to continue working on their lists this afternoon and throughout the week. Suggest that they devote five minutes of their prayer time every day to thanking God for His goodness and blessings.

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