September 24 lesson: Spirit-Filled Heart
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Fall Quarter: Covenants With God
Unit 1: Signs of God’s Covenant
Sunday school lesson for the week of September 24, 2017
By Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell
Lesson Scripture: Ezekiel 36:22-32
Background Scripture: Ezekiel 36—37; Titus 3:1-11; Ezekiel 36:22-32
Purpose: To cultivate a new heart and a new spirit, transformed by the grace of God.
Key Verses: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
Hearing the Word
As we encounter this week’s lesson in the Adult Bible Studies Fall Series1, we will examine Israel’s disobedience and failures that caused their lives to be violently impacted by the Babylonian’s invasion and their exile.
Ezekiel 36:16-21 (The Message translation)2
16-21 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, when the people of Israel lived in their land, they polluted it by the way they lived. I poured out my anger on them because of the polluted blood they poured out on the ground. And so I got thoroughly angry with them polluting the country with their wanton murders and dirty gods. I kicked them out, exiled them to other countries. I sentenced them according to how they had lived. Wherever they went, they gave me a bad name. People said, ‘These are God’s people, but they got kicked off his land.’ I suffered much pain over my holy reputation…”
Who is Ezekiel?
(New Revised Standard Version translation)3
- He is a prophet of priestly lineage, probably Zadokite, and followed the ritual requirements that allowed him to work as a priest.
- Prophesized from 593 to 571 BCE; proclaimed Jerusalem’s fall to Nebuchadnezzar (587 BCE) as an instrument by God. (Ezekiel 29:19-20).
- He was taken into Exile, along with other Judahites, in 597 BCE, which was also the year of defeat for Nebuchadnezzar by Jerusalem.
- Like many of the other prophets major and minor in the Hebrew Scriptures, he was called – or better, compelled – to be a prophet (2:1-5).
The Adult Bible Studies’ writer gives a summarized historical text:
Chapters 1–24 recount Ezekiel’s call to be God’s prophet, his early warnings about God’s judgment on the Israelites, the impending doom of Jerusalem. Chapters 25–32 turn to the foreign powers that contributed to the destruction of Jerusalem and prophesy their demise. Chapters 33–39 describe consoling oracles after the fall of Jerusalem that point to the future restoration of Israel. Chapters 40–48 envision a rebuilt city of Jerusalem and a new, purified, and vibrant Temple.
The writer categorizes this week’s scripture as a hopeful outlook for Israel, which falls within three subsections: verses 22-23, a statement about God’s motive for reestablishing Israel; verses 24-30, a description of what God will do for his people; and verses 31-32, what God expected in return from his people.
Verses 22-23: “Therefore, say to the house of Israel, The Lord God proclaims: ‘House of Israel, I’m not acting for your sake but for the sake of my holy name, which you degraded among the nations where you have gone.’”
God makes his intent known and proclaims the reestablishment of Israel because of his name’s sake. God is open to restoration and reconciliation to the sinful nature of humanity. He responds to the disobedience and embarrassment of the Israelites before the other nations.
Verse 24: God responds with a decisive show of authority and act of retribution to the Israelites’ disobedience and the taunting from hostile nations: “These are the Lord’s people, yet they had to leave his land” (Verse 20).
In verse 24, God gathers those who had been exiled into other countries and bring them back to their “fertile land.”
Verses 25-28: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws.”
The writer relates the inner spiritual renewal of the Israelites as an external rite. Ezekiel pronounces God’s promise of a new heart and spirit to be given to the people, deliverance from their sin, and the repair of a broken relationship.
Verses 29-30: God continues his promise of deliverance from an unclean, sin nature and corruption, guaranteeing that they would not pollute the land when they returned. God’s promise was transactional, in that God’s reputation depended on the people of Israel’s return to their land and the productivity of the land.
Teacher: Ask class members where have they observed corruption, sin, pollution, idols substituted for God, and other vices that separate humanity and the nation from God. How can these be restored with God?
Father, may we be aware of things that pollute our covenantal relationship with you. Let us heed your warnings, correct sinful behaviors, and accept your grace of “a new heart and a new spirit.” Amen
Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell serves as the Associate Director for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following resources are used for the content of this lesson: 1The Adult Bible Studies, Series Fall 2017 book, Uniform Series. 2The Message, Eugene Peterson.
3New Revised Standard Version, Fully revised & Updated, The Harper Collins Study Bible.