March 29, 2020 – Ezekiel 20:1-31

Lesson Date: March 29, 2020

Focal Scripture Passage: Ezekiel 20:1-31

AIM: To lead students to discover that the ancient Israelites exhibited single-minded determination to sin and rebel against God, and to encourage them to adopt that same level of determination to resist sin and obey God.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Ezekiel 20:1-31 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Prepare the note cards described in the “Conclusion” step. Look up a dictionary definition of the word “determination.” Write the word “Determination” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Determination” written on the board. Ask them to suggest definitions for the word. Tell them the dictionary definition you have found (one such definition is, “a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult[1]).

Ask: “Does our society prize or value determination?” (yes, we love to hear stories of those who overcame great obstacles to achieve goals they were determined to reach). Ask if they can name anyone whose determination drove them to greatness.

Ask: “Can determination ever be a bad thing?” (yes, if someone is determined to do bad things). Ask if they have ever known anyone who was determined to do bad things, even when they had reasons to do good. Tell the class the ancient Israelites exhibited single-minded determination. In today’s lesson we will learn about their determination and examine our own.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the Old Testament book of Ezekiel.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the danger of ungratefulness).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (Eph. 2:1).
    • Ask if they intentionally spent at least five minutes each day this week thanking God. Ask how that practice impacted their day.
  2. God’s Answer to the Elders of Israel.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 20:1-4.
    • Tell the class this incident took place in the seventh year of Ezekiel’s captivity – about 590 c.
    • Ask: “Why did the elders come to Ezekiel?” (to enquire of the Lord – to try to get God’s answers to their questions).
    • Ask: “What did God tell Ezekiel to say?” (“I will not be enquired of by you”).
    • Ask: “What did God want Ezekiel to cause the elders to know?” (the abominations of their fathers).
    • Tell the class that the rest of the passage we will study today describes Israel’s history of sin and rebellion.
    • Summarize: God refused to answer questions from the elders of Israel. Instead, He said He would remind them of the sins of their ancestors.
  3. God’s Goodness to Israel in Egypt.
    • Read Ezekiel 20:5-9.
    • Explain that the phrase “lifted up mine hand” refers to God swearing an oath or promise to the children of Israel, like when the President raises his hand to take the oath of office.
    • Ask: “What period of Israel’s history is described in these verses?” (v. 5 – when they were captives in Egypt).
    • Ask: “What did God do for Israel?” (v. 6 – He promised to bring them out of Egypt and settle them in a land flowing with milk and honey).
    • Ask: “What instructions did He give them?” (v. 7 – cast away your abominations and don’t defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt).
    • Ask: “How did Israel respond to God’s goodness?” (v. 8 – they rebelled against Him and worshiped idols).
    • Ask: “What judgment did God consider sending upon Israel?” (v. 8 – pouring out His fury upon them in the land of Egypt).
    • Ask: “Why did God withhold that judgment?” (v. 9 – to prevent polluting or profaning His name in front of the Egyptians).
    • Summarize: God was good to Israel when they were in Egypt, but they rebelled against Him. He did not destroy them then in order to protect His name.
  4. God’s Goodness to Israel in the Wilderness.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 20:10-14.
    • Ask: “What period of Israel’s history is described in these verses?” (v. 10 – when they were in the wilderness).
    • Ask: “What did God do for Israel?” (v. 10-12 – He brought them out of Egypt and gave them His statutes).
    • Ask: “What instructions did He give them?” (v. 11-12 – He gave them His statutes, judgments, and Sabbaths, promising life if they obeyed).
    • Ask: “How did Israel respond to God’s goodness?” (v. 13 – they rebelled against Him and despised His rules).
    • Ask: “What judgment did God consider sending upon Israel?” (v. 13 – pouring out His fury upon them and destroying them in the wilderness).
    • Ask: “Why did God withhold that judgment?” (v. 14 – to prevent polluting or profaning His name before the heathen).
    • Summarize: God was good to Israel when they were in the wilderness, but they rebelled against Him. He did not destroy them then in order to protect His name.
  5. God’s Goodness to the Younger Generation in the Wilderness.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 20:15-17.
    • Tell the class that the adult Israelites whom the Lord delivered from Egypt refused to enter the Promised Land, so God let them wander in the wilderness until the adults all died ( 14).
    • Read Ezekiel 20:18-22.
    • Ask: “What period of Israel’s history is described in these verses?” (v. 18 – when the younger generation was still wandering in the wilderness).
    • Ask: “What did God do for the younger Israelites?” (v. 18-19 – He warned them not to follow the bad example of their parents and He promised to be their God).
    • Ask: “What instructions did He give them?” (v. 19-20 – He told them to obey His statutes and judgments and to honor His Sabbaths).
    • Ask: “How did the younger Israelites respond to God’s goodness?” (v. 21 – they rebelled against Him and did not follow His rules).
    • Ask: “What judgment did God consider sending upon the younger Israelites?” (v. 21 – pouring out His fury upon them and destroying them in the wilderness).
    • Ask: “Why did God withhold that judgment?” (v. 22 – to prevent polluting or profaning His name before the heathen).
    • Summarize: God was good to the younger generation of Israelites in the wilderness, but they rebelled against Him. He spared them to protect His name.
  6. Israel’s Determination to Sin and Rebel.
    • Tell the class in spite of their sin and rebellion, the Lord in His goodness and mercy brought the younger generation of Israelites into the Promised Land. Verses 28-29 tell how they responded to His goodness.
    • Read Ezekiel 20:28-29.
    • Ask: “What did the Israelites do when God gave them the Promised Land?” (they built altars to false gods throughout the land and offered sacrifices to them).
    • Tell the students God next told Ezekiel to address the elders who had come to him to enquire of the Lord.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 20:30-31.
    • Ask: “Were the Jews living in captivity in Ezekiel’s day any better than their ancestors?” (no, they were disobedient and disloyal to God, even sacrificing their children to idols).
    • Ask: “What did God say about answering their questions?” (“I will not be enquired of by you”).
    • Summarize: God was merciful and good to give the Israelites the Promised Land and to preserve a remnant in captivity, but still they were determined to sin and rebel.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students determination can be a good thing, if the goal we are determined to reach is good. Unfortunately, the ancient Israelites exhibited a single-minded determination to sin. Their determination to sin is shown by the following facts:

  • God made wonderful promises to them, but they didn’t let those promises deter them from sinning.
  • God gave them clear instructions, but they still sinned.
  • God miraculously delivered them from Egypt, but still they were determined to sin.
  • God protected them from the Egyptian army and others, but they were still single-minded in their desire to sin.
  • God provided their daily food, but they still chose to sin.
  • God warned them about the dangers of sin and rebellion, but they didn’t let that stand in their way.
  • God gave them clear and dramatic examples of the bad results of sin, but even that couldn’t shift their focus away from sin and rebellion.

Stress the fact that the Israelites’ single-minded determination to sin was a very bad thing, which brought about very bad results.

Tell the students that God has done all the same things for us as He did for the ancient Israelites. The Lord has given us promises, instructions, deliverance, protection, provision, warning, and examples. In spite of all those good things, we still struggle with sin. Our flesh has a natural tendency toward sin, which we must resist constantly.

Tell the class that like the ancient Israelites, we can choose to ignore the things God has done for us and sin anyway. Unlike the ancient Israelites, however, those who are Christians have the Holy Spirit of God living within. The Holy Spirit enables us to resist sin, IF we want to. We can choose to sin or we can be single-minded in our determination to resist sin and obey God. The choice is ours to make. Read James 4:7.

Encourage the students to determine to resist sin and obey God, and to tell God about their commitment as you voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize James 4:7. Give them a note card on which you have written: “I am determined to resist sin and obey God.” Ask them to put the card on their bathroom mirror, so they will see it every morning as they prepare for the day.

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/determination

 

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