Adult 1 Sunday School Class 9-24-17

                                                           Spirit-Filled Heart                                                                               

Adult 1 Sunday School Class                                   Ezekiel 36:22-32                                          September 24,2017

Theme:  People stubbornly follow their own agenda without regard to the impact of their actions on those they respect and admire.  What will motivate these people to change?  God will give them new hearts and put a new spirit in their hearts.

Understanding and Interpreting the Scriptures verses are in regular print whereas responses are in bold print

Please explain the meaning or significance of the following verses:

* Ezekiel 36:22 “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.”  Simply put, this verse says that God will reclaim His name among all nations that the Israelites have profaned (shown utter disrespect.).  They have lived an unclean life by their idolatry and intermingling with heathens who lived around them and showing their disobedience to their God in front of all nations.  It was for this reason that God allowed the Babylonians to destroy their land and Jerusalem around 586 BC.

* v.23 and 24. “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.”   God’s plan after the exile was to restore His name and then the exiles who return from captivity, and demonstrate through His people that He is their God and that they respect Him in the eyes of all nations.  He will bring all Israelites who had been scattered to distant lands and return them back to the land which God had given their ancestors.

*v.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.”   Metaphorically speaking, God says through His prophetic prophet, Ezekiel, that He will sprinkle water upon them symbolically to purify them from their sinful and idolatrous life.  Hebrews have a way of setting themselves apart from the people around then by the clothes they wore, the foods which they ate, blasphemy, regulations for sacrifice.   The reason for the exile was that they had defiled themselves and made themselves unclean in the eyes of God.  God had to restore order and reconcile them to a right relationship with Him.  Without this order, this might result in a similar exile at a later date.

*v.26 and 27, “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.”    In ancient times, the heart was considered the center of a human being and thus all his actions, thoughts, words, moods, in essence their character, all emanate from the center of the body which was the heart.   Thus, it was believed that if you change one’s heart, then you could change one’s character.  God was to metaphorically remove ones “Stoney heart”, which was disobedient to God, and replace it with a “heart of flesh”, which was more apt to follow His will.   This might reconcile His people back to Him in a covenant relationship.  These verses illustrate a God who extends Himself to us no matter who is at fault, to bring back those who had been lost

*v.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.”  Now that the Israelites have a new heart with a new attitude, this presents them with an opportunity to restore the Abrahamic Covenant which outlines that his descendants would become “a great nation”.  This is the beginning of a restored relationship with God and His people.

*v.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.”   Wow, for an Israelite, and for us too, God was willing to increase their crops and to eliminate famine in their land.  For an agrarian, farming community, the assurance of food would be music to their ears.  A famine essentially means no food, which eventually leads to death.  We may not be aware of another type of famine, “spiritual”.  When we don’t have the word of God in our hearts, and we seek that relationship; then we might be starved for the salvation that only God can give through His grace and Son Jesus Christ.   It could be said that we would be in a type of “spiritual famine” which would lead to death without “eternal life.”

*. v 30 and 31, “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 year 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.”   These verses remind them that God is the provider of life, both physical and spiritual, and that the famines of the past would be no more, now that there is a reconciliation with God.   He wants them to remember their past as a way to revulsed them when thinking of their former sins.

*v.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.”   This verse reverts to v.22, the reason for God’s action was for His sake and not that of the Israelites.  “Be ashamed and confounded” is God’s command, whereby this should cause the Israelites to repent and not rejoice.   God knows that sometimes we may slip and sin, even in despicable ways, but Ezekiel warns that God may respond in ways that we may not like.  We must always bear in mind that our relationship with God carries responsibility