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Issue Number 4

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God’s People Restored Again Bible Background • EZEKIEL 36:22-32 Printed Text • EZEKIEL 36:22-32 Devotional Reading • PSALM 25:11-22

LESSON OBJECTIVE

UNDERSTAND God's ability to rescue and restore; GRASP the concept that God is all powerful; and PRAY that God's great power will be manifested in our lives and the lives of those who do not believe.

WORDS TO

KNOW

A. Name (Ezekiel 36:22-23) shem (Heb.)— Reputation, fame, glory. B. Sanctify (v. 23) qadash (Heb.)—To consecrate, prepare, dedicate, to cause Himself to be hallowed (of God).

UNIFYING

PRINCIPLE

The fruits of certain actions are often visible. But the reasons for an action, taken in a particular time and at a certain place, are more difficult to discern. What motivates actions? According to Ezekiel, God's promise to restore Israel is not motivated by Israel itself, but rather for the sake of God's holiness. Continued on Page 5

Maecenas pulvinar sagittis enim.

The Prophet Ezekiel who is one of the major prophets of the Old Testament

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KING JAMES VERSION Ezekiel 36:22 Therefore say unto thehouse 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. 23 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. 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. 26 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. 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.

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NEW LIVING TRANSLATION Ezekiel 36:22 "Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is— the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord. 24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. 25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. 28 "And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God.

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23 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.

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People Places and Time of the Lesson Today A BRIEF LOOK INTO THE “SITZ IM LIEBUM”

The Names of God. The names of God reflect different aspects of His c h a r a c t e r. H i s n a m e s s h o w relationship with His people. He called Himself Jehovah-Jireh because Abraham needed a sacrifice and God provided a ram in the bush (Genesis 22:13-14). The name El Shaddai,

Almighty God, illustrates His power and His ability to do what He said He would do (Genesis 35:11-12). Adon or Adonay, Sovereign Ruler, shows His authority to reward or punish (Hosea 12:14). Sources:

Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Edited by R.K. Harrison. Chicago: Moody Press, 1988. Vine, W.E. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Edited by Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.

Prophet Isaiah

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BACKGROUND

The For the exiles, life in Babylon had many negative aspects. If they worshiped God, they were ridiculed (Psalm 137:3-5). If they did not worship the gods of Babylon, some could be sent to the furnace to be burned alive (Daniel 3:8-11). The exiles had to pay extremely high taxes to live in Babylon. They were not allowed to observe their holy days. The Babylonians did not recognize the governmental or religious ranking within the Jewish community and therefore treated Jewish officials with disrespect. There were also positive aspects to the Babylonian life. Jews could hold political

office and actually move up to high-ranking positions (Daniel 2:48). Many exiles settled down and had homes, bore children, and worked the land (Jeremiah 29:5-6). Their numbers increased and some of them had become wealthy. To remedy the fact that they had no temple, the exiles started the practice of having synagogues in every city and many became well versed in their laws. Source: Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Edited by R.K. Harrison. Chicago: Moody Press, 1988.

Continued on Page 6

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The exiles had to pay extremely high taxes to live in Babylon. They were not allowed to observe their holy days. The Babylonians did not recognize the governmental or religious ranking within the Jewish community and therefore treated

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In Depth Look at the Lesson 1. God Will Sanctify His Name (Ezekiel 36:22-23) As 1. God Will Sanctify His Name (Ezekiel 36:22-23) Ezekiel 36:22 is a response to the sinful actions of the Jews. For hundreds of years, while in the land of Israel, they had defiled the name of the Lord with their idol worship. For their continued sin, the Lord scattered them among the nations. Even in those nations, the Jews brought dishonor to God's name. Imagine what those pagan people must have thought of the God of Israel, whose people, at the time, did not even have a place to call home. They would have heard of the power of God from all the stories passed down about those peculiar people, the Jews. These were the people whose God parted the Red Sea. Perhaps they heard tales of how these people, with the power of their God, knocked down the walls of Jericho with a shout. Surely they heard about the great King David, who under the guidance of his God conquered their very ancestors. Who could forget Solomon and the wisdom and riches his God gave him? Looking at the current state of the exiles, the pagans would have thought this God of the Jews was not so powerful after all. They said, "These are the people of the Lord, but he couldn't keep them safe in his own land!" (Ezekiel 36:20, nlt). In response to this dishonoring of His name, God announced, through Ezekiel, that what He was about to do was not for the sake of Israel but for

His name's sake. They had not nor could not do anything to deserve the blessings He was going to bestow. God wanted to sanctify His name. The names God uses to reveal Himself are a reflection of who He is and what He does. The "name," in this regard, can be akin to character and reputation. Through the actions of His people, God's character and reputation were called into question. However, through His own actions, He would proclaim His power and holiness. God would choose to restore Israel so that unbelievers would know He is the allpowerful, holy, sovereign God. To be sure, God was not moved to bless Israel so the pagan nations would accept Him but so He would be glorified.

2. God Will Restore (v. 24-30) Everywhere In these verses, God directed Ezekiel to give, in detail, the extent of His plan of restoration for Israel. After the appointed time of their captivity was over, the Jewish exiles would be allowed to come back to their land. They would be able to settle down, build homes (Isaiah 65:22), and work the land. Initially, they would have been overjoyed to hear this news, but then perhaps memories of the condition of the land, before they were captured, would flood their minds. God had allowed a severe drought and famine. The ground ceased to yield any crops. The exiles may have thought the land would be in an even worse state after it had lain desolate all

the years of their captivity. However, when God made the promise to restore them to the land, He made the preparations for that promise. Before His people would return, God would prepare the land for them to inhabit it again (Ezekiel 36:8-9). He has the power to speak to the ground and it must give its increase. Because God would have blessed the land, causing it to yield its crops, tilling the soil would no longer be in vain. In addition to a restoration of the land, God promised a restoration of the heart. God said, with the sprinkling of water, He would cleanse the exiles of their filthiness. This refers to a ceremonial cleansing in which the ashes of a heifer would be mixed with water and sprinkled over the unclean person or object (Numbers 19:9-18). In the Jewish belief system, this would cleanse their flesh. As this cleansing is used here, it is symbolic of a cleansing to occur within the heart and spirit of the people. It was not enough to plant them back in Israel with only a physical restoration. The desires, inclinations, and motives of the people had to be changed. Otherwise, the Jews would quickly go back to their old wicked ways. In Ezekiel 11, God made almost exactly the same promise of a new heart and a new spirit, but in today's Scripture text, we see He had refined His promise. He added that He would put His spirit within the people. Only then would they truly be able to follow His decrees. We know that for a time when the remnant returned to Judah,

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THE SUNDAY SCHOOL SNEAK PREVIEW! they were a changed people, though the indwelling of the Spirit did not occur until Pentecost. The temporary change was only a precursor to an even greater change to come. At the return from Babylon, the partial reformation was representative of the full renewal hereafter under the Messiah. A complete reformation could only be realized through Jesus Christ. 3. His People Will Repent (31-32) After. In the presence of the mercy of God, His people would be moved to remember their evil ways and loathe themselves for the sins they had committed. The exiles had experienced God's mercy before and had, in the past, turned away from their sins for a time, especially when under the rule of a righteous king (2 Kings 18). In spite

of this, they would always return to their wicked ways and would not loathe themselves. However, this time would be different, because of the extent to which God would go to show His mercy. After allowing the destruction and 70-year desolation of His beloved city and temple—His dwelling place— in His mercy, God would also allow the people responsible for the destruction to return. This great display of God's goodness, seen through the eyes of those to whom He would have given a new heart and a new spirit, would cause the exiles to loathe their sins. Yet, as great as this display would be, an even greater one would come through the Messiah. The full extent of God's power and mercy encompasses the sacrifice of His "only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting

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life" (John 3:16). With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, at the thought of this act of mercy, we more than loathe our sins. We repent of them. When God restores, sinners repent! Sources: Gower, Ralph. The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. Chicago: Moody Press, 1987. Henry, Matthew. Commentary on the Whole Bible: Genesis to Revelation, Vol. IV, Isaiah to Malachi. Public Domain. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ henry/mhc4.html. Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on the Bible. Public Domain, 1871. http:// www.biblestudytools.net/ Commentaries/ JamiesonFaussetBrown/

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Bible Study Notes for 3-15-09