Focal Scripture Passage: Ezekiel 33:2-9, 11-12, 21-22, 31 AIM: To lead adults to describe Ezekiel’s responsibility as a watchman, and to accept the responsibility

God has given them to warn sinners of God’s judgment.

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following story to the class: As Joe and Sandy sat in their living room after supper, they noticed the sky becoming very dark with clouds. “That sky looks bad – we’d better check the weather,” Joe said, as he turned on the TV weather report. As the couple watched, the weatherman told them there was no danger. He said the cloud cover would soon pass, and there would be very little wind or rain in their area. Joe and Sandy were relieved, but their relief soon turned to concern as a torrential downfall of rain began. The sky grew black and the wind howled outside. Suddenly a tornado touched down and destroyed the couple’s home. Fortunately, the couple escaped with their lives, but everything they owned was destroyed. Ask: “How do you think Joe and Sandy felt toward the weatherman who failed to warn them of impending danger?” (angry and let down). Ask: “Is it more loving to withhold a warning (bad news) and let people suffer the consequences, or to give the warning (bad news) so they can possibly escape the consequences?” (to give the warning). Read the lesson aim to the class.

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study): 1. Remind the class that the first half of Ezekiel’s prophecy contained predictions and warnings concerning Jerusalem’s destruction. After the Babylonians laid siege to the city, God gave Ezekiel messages of judgment for the nations surrounding Judah (last week’s lesson). 2. Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 33:1-5. Explain the duty of ancient watchmen. Ask: “What was the watchman supposed to do when he saw danger approaching?” (warn the people). Ask: “If the people refused to heed the warning, who was held accountable for their death?” (the people). Read Ezekiel 33:6, and then ask: “If the watchman failed to warn the people, who was held accountable for their death?” (the watchman). 3. Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 33:7-9. Ask: “What responsibility did God give Ezekiel?” (watchman for the house of Israel). The “house of Israel” refers to all Jews anywhere, since the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had fallen. Ask: “Was Ezekiel responsible for making the Jews respond to God’s warnings?” (no – he was only responsible for delivering the warning). Just as in the previous verses, if Ezekiel delivered a warning and the people ignored it, then they bore the responsibility alone. If he failed to warn them, then God would hold him responsible for their death. 4. Ask: “Is God just waiting for someone to sin, so He can punish them?” Read Ezekiel 33:11. This verse clearly says God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked – what God really wants is people to repent and turn from their sin. Read Ezekiel 33:12, and tell the

class verses 12-20 teach us that our past righteousness won’t guard us from the consequences of our present sin, and present righteousness doesn’t free us from the consequences of past sin. We are responsible for our actions. 5. Ask a volunteer to read Ezekiel 33:21-22, and explain that in January of 585 B.C., someone arrived in Babylon with news of the fall of Jerusalem. At that time Ezekiel’s speech was restored (God struck him speechless in 3:26-27, and promised in 24:27 to restore his speech when he heard of Jerusalem’s fall).

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Read Ezekiel 33:31, and tell the class that lots of people claim they belong to God, but their lifestyle doesn’t match their words. The Lord told Ezekiel that mere lip service to God is insufficient. Tell the class this lesson applies to us in at least three ways:

Like Ezekiel, we are responsible to warn people of the deadly consequences of sin. God wants people to repent. Ask: “Is it loving or kind to withhold a warning from somebody facing danger?” Ask: “Are you carrying the Good News of forgiveness and new life available through Jesus Christ to others?” Like the ancient Israelites, we are responsible to obey the Lord on a daily basis. Past victories don’t ensure future success. Ask: “Are you living righteously right now, or merely clinging to the memory of the good old days?” Like the ancient Israelites, we are responsible to see that our words and actions are consistent. Ask: “Are you giving lip service to God but truly living for yourself?”

Tell the class we need to confess our sins and accept the responsibilities God has given us. Lead a closing prayer of confession and commitment.

CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to warn sinners of God’s judgment and to take the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ to someone this week. Ask them to memorize Ezekiel 33:11.