Sunday School Material 11-9-14: The Altar Offers Hope

(Ezekiel 43:13-21; 11/9/14)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God has plans for His people beyond their exile. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to trust that God has not brought us this far to leave us in a bad situation.

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Read Ezekiel 43:13-17

I. Features of the Altar. There is a significant amount of details given about the construction of the altar.

The Sunday School material does a good job of talking about how the altar would have looked (e.g., about 19 feet 3 inches tall and about 992 square feet from an overhead view). The modern reader should note that the altar was the place of sacrifice.

Applications -

- Discovering and following God’s instructions. Notice in vss. 13-17 that God has specific instructions for the construction of the altar. Neither Ezekiel nor others make up their own design for the altar.

In like manner, as believers, we should strive to understand and obey God’s plans or designs for our lives. It is a grave mistake to think that we know more than God about what is best for us.

Let’s learn to discover and obey God’s will for our lives. Prayerful Bible study with a mind to obey and the support of other disciples can help us in this area.

- Giving. Notice in vss. 13-17 that the altar was for sacrifices. Sacrifices often had to do with sin or thanksgiving. In regard to thanksgiving, we should find ourselves still thankful for God’s goodness towards us and our loved ones.

We should be so thankful that we give not only of our treasure (i.e., tithes and offerings), but we should give of our time and talents (i.e., service). In God’s future design for Ezekiel, giving was still a part of God’s will.

Let’s give like we know that God is still concerned with our giving. When we give ourselves to God, it becomes so much easier to give our money. But as long as we belong to ourselves then every giving period will be a challenge.

- Reverent behavior in the holy place. Notice in vs. 17 of our that the steps being on the east may be a symbolic identification with God who went to and came from the east in previous Sunday School material.

In like manner, when we come to our places of worship, our minds should be on the Lord. What we do and how we do should all point to the Lord.

Let’s work on making sure that our behavior in the Lord’s house reverences the Lord. There are too many places where the sanctuary (i.e., a place for worshipping God) is becoming simply an auditorium (i.e., a place for public assemblies of various types). 

Read Ezekiel 43:18-21

II. Dedication of the Altar. In our Sunday School material instructions are given about making sacrifices on the altar. Animals and blood are very important to God’s expectations for the altar. Some burning was to take place outside the sanctuary. 

Applications -

- God’s word in the time of exile. Notice in vss. 18-21 that God speaks to Ezekiel about what is going to happen after the exile, while Ezekiel is still in exile. 

First, God sees more than our current situations or problems. Sometimes our circumstances can be so troubling that we think that what we see is all there is. But this is not the case. God has plans for us beyond our current situation. 

Second, God is still speaking in our troubled circumstances. We don’t have to wait until things get better to hear from God. God is speaking now. The question is, are we listening now? Let’s work on hearing and trusting what God is saying to us, in our troubled circumstances. 

- A relay run. Notice in vs. 19 that God has the family of Zadok on His mind. The Sunday School material does a good job of explaining how this is an ancient but important family. In essence God has not forgotten the fore parents of those who are now in exile. 

In like manner, God has not forgotten our fore parents. In fact, it may be helpful to see ourselves as people who are running our lap in a long relay run that our fore parents ran in as well. 

This comparison should help us appreciate one another, instead of demonize or distance ourselves from those who are not in our generation. Old and young Christians don’t have to be enemies of one another. 

We should see ourselves as runners in the same race. Let’s work on appreciating God’s use of various people throughout history and His plans to do the same in the future. 

- Blood for sin. Notice in vss. 18-21 that the blood of the bull was shed and used in relation to the sins of the people. We should thank God that today, we have the blood of Jesus that pays for the sin penalty of those who accept Jesus as savior by faith. 

We should thank God that we don’t have to kill bulls or any animals for our sins. Jesus is our spotless lamb. Let’s live like we appreciate what Jesus has done for us. Such living should be known for joyful obedience to God’s word. 

Conclusion: Let’s work on living like we know that God has not brought us this far to leave us in a bad situation. God has much for those who obey His will. 

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