Ezekiel 37 is one of the most well know chapters in the book of Ezekiel. It is also one of the most positive, optimistic lessons in this series. You will need some white paper to do the exercise in the early part of the discussion. Scissors would also be nice.
Lamentations 37:1 - 14
We will be leaving this section of the Bible after this week. Who can name the major prophets in order? What about the books of Law? History? Poetry? Minor Prophets?
What century is Ezekiel writing in?
I'd like to ask each of you to share your name and the name of one bone in your body that you know the name of. You can't name the bone someone else has named.(1)
Before we get into the text, let's review again the historical context of Ezekiel's life. What happened in Ezekiel's life? What is the historical context of his writing?(2)
This chapter is a familiar one from Ezekiel. Songs have been written based on this chapter. [Does anyone remember one?] Yet, in spite of its familiarity, the meaning of the chapter may be not be as clear. As we read, look for the interpretation of this vision.
Let's make sure we have the facts of the story clearly in our head. Summarize this section as a three act play. What is Act I, Act II and Act III.(3)
I want to help you to visualize this scene. Take a piece of paper and cut or tear it into the shape of a bone. When you are finished, put it on the floor in the middle of the room. It will help us to visualize what Ezekiel saw. How do you think it felt for Ezekiel to preach to a valley of dry bones.(4)
Why do you think Ezekiel answered as he did in verse 3?
Why do you think God revealed this message through this visual means? Why not just tell Ezekiel about it?(6)
What are the two most common "visual aids" given to the Christian church by Jesus?(7)
What is the lesson for us if we need to teach something to our kids, or do a presentation at work?
Let's return to the message of the valley of dry bones. Translate this into a universally applicable biblical principle.(8)
What are some other examples in the Bible of things getting really bad before God stepped into the scene?(9)
What about your life--has God ever come through for you when it looked like things were hopeless?
How do we hang on to hope when the situation of our lives is like the valley of dry bones--hopeless?
One of the ways we keep our faith and hope strong is by meditating on the promises of God. Let me set before you a number of verses related to our theme. Let me ask each of you to read one and summarize how it relates to hanging on to hope with things seem hopeless.
Ephesians 3:20 - 21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Habakkuk 3:17 - 18 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Nehemiah 1:5 Then I said: "O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands,
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
II Corinthians 3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Colossians 1:5 The faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel
Let's summarize. What do we do to hang on to hope when things look hopeless?
Is there any of you that are facing a difficult situation in your life right now that we could pray for you about?