WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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THE RESTORATION OF GOD’S PEOPLE
(Through GOD, hearts will be changed)
Ezekiel 36 is the exact antithesis to Ezekiel 35. After GOD judges Israel’s enemies, HE will, at a future date, bless HIS chosen nation with complete restoration. Here Ezekiel contrasts GOD’s plan of judgment, and Israel’s present condition, with GOD’s plan of restoration, and Israel’s future blessings.
In this passage GOD tells Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel’s mountains, which were soon to be cleansed of all of the shrines and altars, along with all of their demonic influences that could currently be found there. Israel had become possessed by the demonic forces of many nations, while worshipping those nation’s many idol gods. As a result of their poor spiritual choices, they now suffered physical defeat, and they were now mocked and slandered by those same nations (Vs.1-3).
The LORD’s anger was kindled against the pagan nations, especially Edom, because of her utter contempt against HIM. They had happily taken Israel’s land for themselves, as a reward after Judah’s destruction in 586 B.C. GOD’s intent in this chapter, however, is to encourage HIS downtrodden people of Israel, and assure them that HE had not abandoned them. This, all in light of the fact, that, none of the exiles would ever live to see this prophecy fulfilled. GOD wanted them to know that Israel would rise from its shame, and that her mountains would once again produce abundant crops, and its land would again be filled with people, flocks and herds (Vs.5-15).
When the Israelites were living in their own land they defiled and cursed it with evil deeds, and to GOD, those acts were utterly detestable. They had polluted the land with murder, idolatry, and adultery, and so GOD poured out HIS anger on them, and scattered them abroad to many distant lands, as one of HIS forms of punishment.
Even after they were scattered abroad, they still brought dishonor to GOD’s holy name. The pagan nations began to mock them by saying, “These are the people of the LORD, and HE couldn’t keep them safe in their own land” (Vs.16-20). Being concerned for HIS OWN name and reputation, GOD sent this message to the exiles through the prophet Ezekiel (Vs.22-27) (NLT):
“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. 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. For, I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
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. 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. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow MY decrees and be careful to obey MY regulations.”
Here in this passage we see one of scripture’s earliest revelations of GOD’s plan for us through CHRIST JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT. GOD will not only give us “a new human spirit”, or, “desire to obey HIM” (strip us of our sin nature), before we enter into the Millennial Kingdom (v.26). Before that, HE will infuse all believers with HIS HOLY SPIRIT after we have been cleansed by the blood of CHRIST, which was shed as a sacrifice for our sins and uncleanness. The HOLY SPIRIT will be paramount in helping us to fight the spiritual battle that is charged to us by CHRIST JESUS, and in helping steer us and guide us into all righteousness and obedience, because of our own personal choice, and “saving faith” in HIM (v.27).
In GOD’s Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:30-31), a ritually unclean person would not be able to participate in worship services. And so the idea of being “clean” or “unclean” could have a significant impact on one’s personal relationship with GOD. This law also carried over to “moral and immoral acts” as it is emphasized in Psalm 106:36-39. Men of GOD saw in this concept of ritual uncleanness, a powerful image of “the inner defilement” that is caused by sin.
The whole nation of Israel had defiled itself through their forbidden practices of idolatry, adultery, and murderous sacrifices of children in the fire to Mollech. GOD’s holiness absolutely required that the Israelites vacate from HIS holy land, which would continue to exist long after that generation of people, had expired.
The land had to cleansed of the “demonic defilement” that comes with worshipping people, places, and things other than GOD HIMSELF. And the people themselves had to be cleansed by allowing their sins to “run its course” for seventy years in Babylon, after which, GOD would be ready to hear their prayers once again, and, be willing to also, grant their special requests (v.37).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website