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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. We here at “Word For Life Says” want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons. May God bless you!
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Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2013 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. As always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
Lesson Text: Ezekiel 3:1-11
1) “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.
2) So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.
3) And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
4) And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.
5) For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel;
6) Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.
7) But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.
8) Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.
9) As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
10) Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.
11) And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”
Ezekiel was a prophet/priest who began his mission prophesying God’s word to the captives during the times of the Babylonian captivity. His ministry of prophesying went on at the same time as Jeremiah’s did. The only difference was the location: Jeremiah was in Jerusalem relaying God’s word and Ezekiel was declaring God’s message to those in Babylon.
Ezekiel’s ministry was a ministry of visions, parables and illustrations. This was God’s chosen way to relate through him what He had in store for the people. From the very beginning of his self-named book, Ezekiel experienced his first vision where he “was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God,” (Ezekiel 1:1). From the very start of his ministry God “showed” Himself (via a vision) to Ezekiel helping to validate his calling.
Shortly after, Ezekiel witnessed the “living creatures,” (Ez. 1) and was exposed to “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD,” (Ez. 1:28). In chapter 2, he was filled with the spirit (Ez. 2:2) and was given an assignment by God. He instructed him, saying, “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me . . . thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forebear: for they are rebellious,” (Ez. 2:3, 7); a sentiment we see picked up in the last verse of this week’s lesson as well, of whether or not the people would hear the words of God.
Rebellion does that. It deafens the spiritual senses that would normally be active and alert for those who are spiritually aware of Him at work in their lives. Therefore, what God asks of Ezekiel leading up to the text of today’s lesson, is that he be not rebellious as they (Ez. 2:8). It is then He presents Ezekiel with the scroll (roll) and he is instructed to open his mouth and eat what the Lord gives him (Ez. 2:8). That brings us up to the point where today’s lesson picks up.
“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest.” In the previous chapter when the scroll was given to Ezekiel by a hand, and it was spread before him, the writings on both sides told of “lamentations, and mourning, and woe,” (Ez. 2:9-10) none of which are words that bring the message of good news, only disaster.
Yet, it is these horrible truths that would probably define the people’s rebellions and define the punishments thereof thoroughly that Ezekiel was instructed to “eat.” Similar sentiments are expressed elsewhere in Scripture (Revelation 10:8-10) giving the representation of ingesting or internalizing the Word of God. When God’s Word is on the inside it will not only lead and guide you of what to do or what to say, but it will also keep you from the path of sin. That’s why the psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:11).
For Ezekiel, he would not be able to accomplish the task at hand unless he is properly endowed with God’s Word. The Word of God is our infallible source for life. So sacred are they, they come with the command not to take away or add to it in the book of Revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). Where the Word is allowed to operate it becomes the source of every question about life now and in the future. There is an indescribable value in the Word of God to them that believe and hold dear its truths.
Unless we have God’s Word in us we cannot effectively inspire or relay the positive message of Him to a world in need of change.
Please Note: How often are you ingesting the Word of God? How much time do you take out of your busy schedule to expose your soul to more of Him through His Word? A Word-less Christian is an ineffective Christian.
In an article published by Mike Mazzalongo, titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective Christians, Habit #1, first on the list revolves around God’s Word and it is this: “Effective Christians Read and Obey God’s Word,” (Source: Bibletalk.tv).
The Word of God is necessary! It is not optional for Christian living. (For more information and encouragement relating to God’s Word, visit my previous articles Relationship with the Word and God’s Word Gives Light!).
It wasn’t enough for Ezekiel to just take in the Word for himself. After he was instructed to “eat this roll,” immediately after he was also told to “go speak.”
The hope is that when the Word is taken in, and then properly express out to others, that lives would be changed for eternity. A positive impact can be made that changes a soul’s spiritual trajectory from the path of being hell bound to that of being heaven bound. This is only possible when we, carriers of the Word, unveil His truths to a spiritually dying world.
With approximately 150,000 people leaving this planet every day through the gates of death, our love for people and desire to follow the Great Commission (the New Testament edict that charges us, Christians, to “go speak” today – see Matthew 28:16-20), should compel us to reach out through our God-given platforms to reach a world in need; to share the love of Christ, through His Word, to a desperately seeking people.
God’s hope for His people to whom Ezekiel was charged to “go speak” was repentance. He wanted people, His people, to turn from their wicked ways and once again seek a right relationship with Him.
“So I opened my mouth.” Those words showed Ezekiel’s receptivity of the calling on his life to be the prophet God was looking for and his willingness to obey all that God had in store for him. There’s something special in the one who submits to the will of the Lord and “opens” him or herself to receive from Him; “and he caused me to eat the roll” (compare Jeremiah 15:16).
“Cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels” means Ezekiel was to allow the Word of God to penetrate his deepest, most inner being. God’s Spirit filled him from the inside out anointing and empowering him to speak to the people. God never sends us on a mission without giving us what we need to fulfill the task at hand. Fill up on the Word and be strengthened for what God is calling you to do!
“And it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.” The psalmist once wrote, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103; also see Psalm 19:9-10). God’s Word is sweet for those who live thereby, but for those who don’t, His Word can come forth like a fire that devours (compare Jeremiah 5:14). Nothing can be compared to or desired more than what comes from Him! “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4).
After God reiterates His command to “go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them,” He begins to unravel the obstacle of speaking to this particular audience, “the house of Israel.”
He, Ezekiel, was of them and them of him. They were the same people, with the same lineage, the same background, and the same grounds for faith, or so it would seem.
“For thou art not sent to a people of strange speech and of an hard language.” His fellow countrymen would be on the receiving end of the message God wanted Ezekiel to deliver; the same people whom he is from, who is experiencing Babylonian captivity as he.
Please Note: “Don’t let the familiar cause you to miss out on the blessings found in the people that God has already placed in your life. To you they may seem like, ‘Oh, that just so and so. No need to worry about them.’ But, they may be your connection to that blessing that God wants to pour into your life. Don’t count your blessings out (like those whom Jesus was talking to [referring to Mark 6:4]) just because you know the source from which it flows,” (Familiarity Breeds Contempt/Word For Life Says).
Cultural and language barriers were not a problem Ezekiel would face when coming to those of the “house of Israel” to deliver God’s message. “Hardheartedness” was their problem; the out and out refusal to hear from God, through the mouth of the prophet what He wanted to say to them.
Previously, in an article written of God changing His mind, when the people of Nineveh repented, I wrote:
“The thing is God wanted to do the same thing to His covenant people of Israel but they were a hard-hearted stiff-necked people. God had repeatedly, down through the years, sent His prophets to pronounce an undeniable future of facing His judgment if they didn’t turn from their evil ways and repent of their sins. But, they refused. Even in His day, Jesus declared, ‘The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here,’ (Matthew 12:41; see also Luke 11:32).
No matter where people are from or what their background is God wants to see people saved. But, they have to make the decision to want to be saved; to want to truly repent and be reconciled back to God. Our God is so compassionate that He offers us the gift of salvation but we have to accept that gift.” (God’s Love Forgives!/Word For Life Says).
But, God already told Ezekiel his audience would not receive what he would come to tell them. As a matter of fact, God stated that if it had been foreigners or people “whose words thou canst understand,” that he was being sent to, they would have listened. Nineveh did, didn’t they?
Of “all the house of Israel,” God described them as “impudent and hardhearted.” God had a relationship with them, but they didn’t have one with God. For if they had, they would have been open and receptive to hear what comes from Him. But, these people didn’t want to hear what God had to say through Ezekiel. They would refuse accountability and direction. They didn’t want to hear that they were not right in the eyes of God. They didn’t want to hear words of rebuke that let them know they have fallen short of the glory of God. They didn’t want to hear sound doctrine. Therefore, they refused to listen at all.
“For they will not hearken unto me,” were the words God’s spoke. To refuse to hear from this true prophet was to refuse to hear from God Himself.
Thus, the prophet’s words would not move the people to a place of permanent repentance. Their hearts were too hardened and their necks were too stiffened.
Please Note: When Jesus delivered a message, often He would say, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” (Matthew 11:15; see also Matthew 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8 and 14:35). There has to be a personal willingness to open oneself up to take in the message God is delivering through His chosen mouthpieces.
“Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.” God will strengthen His mouthpiece. God would empower Ezekiel to carry the message without backing down. God would fortify the resolve in him to speak what thus saith the Lord, in spite of their “faces.”
There’s an old phrase, “If looks could kill,” we often hear when somebody is just mugging you, as the young people would say. It’s when you see the hardheartedness of the heart expressed on the face and the gaze that’s coming back at you looks impenetrably angry. Like a fortress of rage over what they are hearing.
Let them look but God would make Ezekiel stronger than them. They would act as a foe toward him, but he would be formidable and not easily moved by their actions. The ironic thing, if you want to call it that, is that Ezekiel’s name actually means “God strengthens.” He was built for this calling of God on his life.
The people might be hard, but God has made Ezekiel harder “as an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead.” “Adamant” is referred as possibly a gem or in Jeremiah 17:1 as “diamond.” Whereas “flint” is just a sort of rock which can be easily cut asunder by the “adamant.” If it were a game of “rock, paper, scissors” – adamant beats flint, hands down. In other words, the people may act hard as a rock, but Ezekiel’s strength from God would be so much more. Empowered with the Word of God, He would be sharp like a diamond that can cut the rock in two, piercing to the very core of their hard hearts. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12).
Thus, he was told, “Fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.” “Fear not” is one of my favorite set of words in the Bible. It is spoken over and over again on so many occasions to many of people; approximately 365 times, one for every day of the year. My favorite is found in Isaiah 41:10 where these words of assurance are found saying, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
These are the words God wants Ezekiel to take to his own heart. I imagine dealing with such a “rebellious house” (compare Ezekiel 12:1-2) there would be a lot of adversity and challenging times that Ezekiel would face. The very word “rebellion” implies fighting against or showing resistance. But, the fact that God is holding him and strengthening him means the difference and would give him the courage to press forward in his mission in spite of the difficulties that may lie ahead.
“Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. ” Don’t be negligent with the message, but proclaim it! “All my words!” Leave nothing out! Receive what God is saying in your own “heart,” through His Word, and deliver those very words He spoke to the people! Those of the “captivity” needed to hear what “Thus saith the Lord God!”
Those original orders may have been for Ezekiel’s ears, but isn’t what we are all called to do even today? Isn’t that what the Great Commission is all about (referred to earlier in this lesson)? When one steps out in obedience to God’s call to share the Good News to this lost and dying world, they are helping in the process of saving people for His kingdom; a work that increases in the heavenly realm. But, this work can’t happen by cowering in fear and refusing to go. It can only happen from a determined march forward despite the danger and adversity that lies up ahead.
Although Ezekiel was commanded to take in the Word and go and speak the Word, the results of people accepting the Word were not up to him or us. God told him, “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear,” he was still to deliver it.
In the New Testament we are told, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” (2 Timothy 4:2). It doesn’t matter if they want to hear it, “Preach the Word!” It doesn’t matter if the times are good or bad, “Preach the Word!” All that matters is the obedience of follow through and to do what God has called us to do and “Preach the Word!”
Despite receptivity or opposition to the gospel, we all still have the responsibility share the Word of God. Start by using the place where you are today as an opportunity to declare Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh (John 1:14), to a lost world.
Standard Print PDF: Prophets: Ezekiel Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print
Large Print PDF: Prophets: Ezekiel Sunday School Lesson Summary Large Print
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Memory Verse: Prophets: Ezekiel Memory Verse
“Ezekiel Craft Stick Puppet” (as seen in this previous lesson): Using very simple items, I made this popsicle/craft stick puppet for another lesson but it does very well here (minus the background 😉 ) For my craft stick/popsicle stick puppet I used what I had laying around. No google eyes, no problem. Color them in with markets. If you don’t have felt, simply marker his clothes in or use construction paper – NO PROBLEM. Enjoy!
Below are Activities/Resources/Links to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Sunday School Lady’s Prophet Jam” (This cute kids video will teach your kids the names of all the prophets. A win win, if you ask me. Enjoy!)
“Ezekiel’s Call” (With a printable activity for “God’s Promise Wheel” included. Enjoy!)
“Ezekiel’s Vision of God” (Video for kids. Enjoy!)
“Children’s Sunday School Games” (Yoy may want to adapt one of these to fit today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Children’s Activities” (You may want to adapt one of these to fit today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Sunday School Crafts for Ezekiel” (They even have activities for “Edible Scrolls” and “New Hearts” activities would go nicely with this lesson. Enjoy!)
Since I referred to the Great Commission several times throughout this lesson, these activities below can help supplement the lesson, if you choose to go that way. Enjoy!
Crafts for Lesson:
Younger Children: to demonstrate “Reaching or Impacting the World” students can put together this simple activity using the earth template below and by tracing and cutting out their own handprints.
World: (click for template)
Older Children will enjoy making these “Witnessing Bracelets” to remind them of how to live before the world and as a tool for sharing:
“Witness Bracelet Craft” (click for directions)
“Selling God’s Word” (A witnessing activity for kids. Enjoy!)
Text Free Title Photo Source (top of page): Pixabay