Teaching at its best has one "big idea"-- one central truth or main point that we are trying to communicate. Often, we teach too little because we try to teach too much. The big idea of this lesson is that sometimes God calls upon us to deliver the hard message-- the message that is difficult to deliver. Perhaps we must confront a friend or admonish a brother. A part of what it means to live the disciple's life is having the courage not to shirk these responsibilities when they come. Ezekiel is a good example of someone who was willing to deliver the hard message.
Quick: name the book immediately before and the book immediately after the book of Ezekiel.
What section of the Bible is Ezekiel a part of?(2)
What is the difference between the major prophets and the minor prophets?(3)
Can anyone name the major prophets in order?(4) Let's say them together. Say them again.(5)
OK, let's see who is top of the class. Can anyone say all of the Old Testament books, in order?
Ezekiel 2:1 - 3:21
Chapter 2:1 - 8
Let's read this long passage in three sections. First, chapter 2:1 - 8. I want to divide you into two listening teams. I would like half of you to listen for anything you can find about Ezekiel's message, while the other half looks for information about Ezekiel's audience.
Let's talk about the message. Was this a hard message or a difficult message to deliver?
What about the audience, was this a hard audience or an easy audience to deliver the message to?
Scan this passage for occurrences of the word "afraid." Do you think God was concerned that Ezekiel might have become afraid?(6) What was God concerned Ezekiel might do if he became too afraid?
Look at verse 8. God tells Ezekiel not to rebel. What would rebelling have meant for Ezekiel at this time?(7)
Ezekiel 2:9 - 3:11
As we read this passage, look for what you can find about the "Ezekiel health food diet."
What is the meaning of asking Ezekiel to eat the scroll?
Is the Bible sweet to you? Do you enjoy reading the Bible?
Which do you think would be easier, to talk to people about God that you know or do not know? Would you rather talk to family members, people in your office, and so on, or, go on a mission trip to Tim-buck-too and talk to people there?
Considering this scale, where was Ezekiel sent? See 3:6, 7.
Ezekiel 3:16 - 21
Let me draw a box on the board for you to think about as we read. When we finish reading this section we will work of filling out this box. [I will fill in the box below; draw it on the board with boxes 1, 2, 3, & 4 blank, then ask, What happens if you warn but he doesn't respond. . .]
You don't warn
You do warn
He does not respond
1) He can do nothing else; You will be held accountable for him.
2) It is bad for him; OK for you. You are not held responsible for his actions.
He does respond
3) This "can't" happen. [Obviously, it could, someone else could tell him, but unless someone does, he can't respond.]
4) Best case for you, him and God
Consider box #3. We sometimes hear people say, "Well, if you don't witness, God will send someone else along that will witness to them. It won't make any difference to them, but you will just miss out on the blessing." Do you agree or disagree?(8)
Ezekiel was called to deliver the hard message. How do you think he felt in this role?
How do you feel when you are in a position of delivering a hard message? Can you give an example?
Why was it important for Ezekiel to deliver the hard message?
What are some examples of times when we are called upon to deliver the hard message?
Why is it important that we step up to the plate and deliver the hard message when if falls our lot to do so?(9)
How would you evaluate yourself on a scale of one to ten? Are you confident and effective at delivering the hard message, or do you tend to rebel and shirk for delivering.
How do we become people who are willing to speak up and deliver the hard message when it is our turn to do so? Can you give steps 1, 2, 3?
Anyone have a specific situation right now that you need courage in delivering a hard message?
1. Many believers know the stories of the Bible but they do not know the story of the Bible. We do well to spend a little time each week, especially when we are in the Old Testament, setting the context of the story in light of the big picture.
5. You might play with this until everyone can say them. If you think you can do it without embarrassing people too much, you might call on individuals to say them.
6. Rhetorical question. Hardly pause and go right on.
7. We often think of rebelling against God as some violent, flagrant act or attitude. Note that rebelling in this case was failing to deliver the hard message. This is the sin of omission-- failing to do what God calls us to do.
8. I mean this to be a ump ball question. Try to guide the question into the center so that people on both sides speak up. The text in Ezekiel does not mention this as a possibility. They statement above is a cop-out for irresponsibility.
9. You might make a little chart of the board that contains two columns. Column #1 contains situations where we are called upon to deliver the hard message. Column #2 contains reasons why we need to deliver the hard message in this situation. This could be either benefits if we do, or consequences if we do not deliver the hard message.
You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less, by Josh Hunt (Group, January 1997) lays out a detailed road map for that strategy.">