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WebClass Bible Study Resources for July 5, 2015

The teacher for this session is Kathy Thompson. 

We are now diving into Ezekiel. After this Sunday we will be in Ephesians. Let's see what Ezekiel is up to or at least, what he is eating!  

  • What are you most afraid of? 

Some fears seem to be irrational. We may watch 100 people do something safely and with great joy... like fly in an airplane, but something inside of us says, "That is very dangerous." Other fears are more rational. A soldier in a battle is right to fear injury or loss. 

Watch the clip "God’s Call" from YouTube.

  • What were your impressions of this clip?

Obviously God does not call us via a cell phone.  

  • What ways might God make your calling known to you?
  • Have you ever felt like God was calling you to something? If so, what was it? 
  • How did you know it was God calling you and not your own wants and desires? 
  • Do you think God would ever call you to do something you would not want to do? Why or why not?
  • Why do we hesitate to answer God’s call? 

Ezekiel was a prophet who lived with the Jews in Babylon. They had been taken from their homeland as a political tactic by the Babylonians, but also as a punishment for sin and for worshiping other gods, according to the prophets. The Jews had been settled in their own community in Babylon for five years when Ezekiel had a vision.

Today’s passage is Ezekiel’s call experience. When we discussed Isaiah’s call experience a few weeks ago we noted that most of these passages have several things in common. Things like God speaking the person’s name, the person being called showing hesitancy about his or her call, and some action happening around the mouth or voice of the one called. In Ezekiel’s case, God tells him to eat the scroll with scripture on it. 

Ezekiel is the first prophet to receive a call outside the land of Israel and when he does, God tells him that he will be speaking to a stubborn people. He is told that they will likely not hear what he has to tell them, but God is sending him anyway. You see, before the final exile in 587, Ezekiel’s message to the Israelites in exile was that they needed to change their ways, they needed to repent. However, after the Exile, Ezekiel is compelled to be a prophet that holds up hope for the people of Israel.  

Read Ezekiel 2:1-8.

  • What is unique about Ezekiel’s call? 
  • How is Ezekiel addressed?

NRSV translates this word as "O mortal." This Hebrew phrase is used 93 times in this book. We are not told why God does not address Ezekiel by name. 

  • Why is Ezekiel called "son of man?" 
  • Why does Jesus use this title sometimes in the Gospels? 

One commentary says that "in Ezekiel's career, more than in other prophetic careers, it is the office and function rather than the person that is important." 

  • Do you think that is true?
  • Has your behavior ever changed when a minister is in your presence?
  • Is the call to be a minister more than a call to preach?
  • Is it a call to be in a role, a representative of God? Why or why not?
  • Why is it hard is it to tell people the “good news” of Jesus when they will not listen?

There are preachers who do not preach about things they know to be right because they are afraid of being fired.

  • Should preachers preach the truth regardless of their employment security?

Read Ezekiel 2:8-3:11.

  • In this passage, to whom does it say Ezekiel is supposed to deliver God’s message? 
  • Do you think these people will listen to the message? Why? 
  • What is the significance of a scroll in Old Testament times?
  • Why might eating the scroll help these stubborn people to listen to what Ezekiel has to say?  
  • How did this action make him bolder in sharing the message?
  • Aren’t you glad for Ezekiel that the scroll tasted good?

We eat a lot of things. We even have to eat our words on occasion. Ezekiel is not the only prophet that talks about eating God's words. Jeremiah, who was active during the same period said, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts." (Jer. 15:16) 

  • So, how can we eat the words of God? 

Rick Jordan says, "If the spiritual teachings are pleasing to us then the mere thought of consuming some makes us want some. But if we dislike them, not manner of persuasion is going to convince us to like them."

  • Is this true?
  • What do you think it means that God made Ezekiel strong and hard headed? 

Watch the clip "Thing Saves" from the movie Fantastic Four.

  • If Ezekiel felt anything like the Thing then his ministry must have been hard.  
  • Do we find ourselves looking for strength to face a sometimes difficult culture in the wrong places? 
  • Do we look to Jesus for strength and help?
  • Is it sometimes easy is it for us to hide on a bridge and pondering giving up like the Thing? 
  • How can we keep from giving up in the face of life’s difficulties, even if God has called us to a tough place and/or time?

"I need to chew on that," is something someone might say if there is a thought or an option that they need time to ponder. Pondering the Scriptures or other spiritual writings is one way we can receive spiritual nurture. Friedrich von Hugel says that chewing on the things of God is like, "sucking on a lozenge in contrast to gulping a meal." 

  • How did you come to Christ? 
  • Who first shared Christ with you? 
  • What was so powerful about the message that was shared with you?
  • Have you ever told anyone else about your Savior? 
  • For what reasons do we sometimes hesitate to share our faith with others?
  • In your opinion, what is the best way to share God’s message with someone else? Why? 

CHEW ON THIS:
"The multiplicity of forms! The hummingbird, the fox, the raven, the sparrow hawk, the otter, the dragonfly, the water lily! And on and on. It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day." – Mary Oliver 

A man has freedom to the degree that a master whom he obeys grants it to him in return for his obedience. He does well to choose a master in terms of how much freedom he gets for how much obedience. 

"The old prayer speaks of God 'in whose service is perfect freedom.' The paradox is not as opaque as it sounds. It means that to obey Love itself, who above all else wishes us well, leaves us the freedom to be the best and gladdest that we have it in us to become. The only freedom Love denies us is the freedom to destroy ourselves. – Frederick Buechner

May God give us words this week to nurture our souls that our souls may be fit for his use.

Facilitator

kathythompson.jpg

A native of Virginia, Kathy Thompson is the daughter of a Baptist minister. She also married a Baptist minister! She and her husband, Robert, live in Ashland, Virginia where he recently retired as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ashland, where they served for 20 years. Kathy was active in the music department at First Baptist and taught Sunday School for many years. A first grade teacher at Hanover Academy, Kathy teaches music to preschoolers through the eighth grade. She is a graduate of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. She and Robert are the parents of two sons: Matthew and his wife Jennifer, and Christopher and grandparents to Peyton Elizabeth. They also have a precious dog named Eli.

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