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Ezekiel 20:32 1
32 “‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen.’”

img224Background 2

The author of the Book of Ezekiel is himself as Ezekiel, the son of Buzi,[Ezekiel 1:3] and resident of Anathoth. The author dates ages, prophecies and visions by making references to the lengths of time King Jehoiachin of Judah was in exile. Under the direction of Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylonian armies exiled three thousand Jews from Judah, deposing King Jehoiachin in 597 BC.

Ezekiel, at the age of 25, was among 3,000 upper class Jews who were exiled to Babylon. On the bank of the Chebar River, in Tel Abib (Mound of the Deluge), Ezekiel and his wife dwelled in their own home where exiled Jewish visitors came to seek his prophetic insights.[Ezekiel 1:1,3:15] There is no mention of him having any offspring, only that his wife died rather young, in the ninth year of exile, when Ezekiel was 34 years of age.[Ezekiel 24:1, 18]

At the age of 30, Ezekiel describes his calling to be a prophet, by going into great detail about his encounter with God and four living creatures or Cherubim with four wheels that stayed beside the creatures.[Ezekiel 1] For the next five years he incessantly prophesied and acted out the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, which was met with some opposition. However, Ezekiel and his contemporaries like Jeremiah, another prophet who was living in Jerusalem at that time, witnessed the fulfillment of their prophecies when Jerusalem was finally sacked by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Ezekiel was 50 years old when he began to have visions of a new Temple. He served as a prophet for about 22 years until he experienced an encounter with God in April 570 BC.[Ezekiel 29:17] His time of death has not been recorded.

Biblical Truth 3

The people had turned away from God. So, they could not expect God to listen to them. God would not answer their questions. God had delayed the punishment of the nation for so long. However, it had to happen and now was the time. The people had not repented of their sins. They had not turned back to the Lord. God loved Israel. Therefore, he would not let them be like the other nations. He would not let them be slaves to false gods. They are his people. He has an agreement with them. He is angry with them when they turn away from him. By his great power, he would scatter them across the nations. So, in a few years, the inhabitants of Jerusalem would go into exile. However, the Lord would still rule them.

Items for Discussion

  • Why would someone’s turning away from God interfere with their ability to hear God?
  • What does it take to hear God?
  • What are the modern things of “wood and stone” that people may envy today?
  • Why would people worship (or envy) inanimate objects rather than a living God?
  • How does our knowledge of the Gospel of Christ change our perspective today?

 

Acts 16:9-15
9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Background 4

Most people agree that Luke wrote Acts. In Acts, he told how the good news about Jesus Christ spread to the world beyond Jerusalem. Luke was a Gentile and he was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He worked with Paul and he travelled with Paul (Philemon 1:24). Luke was very careful about what he wrote. He knew that some things were true. And he wrote only those things. At the beginning of his Gospel, he wrote this. ‘You have heard many things. I am writing this account so that you will know the truth about them’ (Luke 1:4). In Acts, he continued with this account.

Luke was travelling with Paul. Luke wrote about what happened during that time (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). In these verses, he used ‘we’ instead of ‘they’ or ‘he’. So, we know that Luke was there at those times. After Luke had arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17), he stayed in Judea. He stayed there for two years. Then he left to travel to Rome (Acts 27:1). He went to Rome with Paul. While Luke was in Judea, he probably spoke to other witnesses. They told him about the other events that he describes.

Luke had one main reason why he wrote this book. The good news about Jesus had travelled from Jerusalem to Rome. Luke wanted to record how that happened. Rome was the most important city in the world. Luke showed that the gospel was for all people in every nation. It was for Jews and it was also for Gentiles.

Bible Truth

“What must I do to be saved?” was the most pressing religious question of Luke’s day. People believed they were in the grip of fate. All were looking for a savior, whether through traditional animal worship, the mystery religions or cults.

So today basic question is “What must I do to put it all together? How can I gain control of my life and cope with seemingly uncontrollable forces around and within me?” The questions may be different, but the ultimate need is the same. Luke shows God’s answer in three lives that were transformed by his power at Philippi, a Roman colony.

For Lydia (16:15), personal salvation for the head of her household has spiritual implications for the rest of the members. It does not mean automatic salvation for all household members, for true salvation is grounded in a proper understanding of the gospel.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you think the most pressing questions within society today are?
  • What are the responsibilities of a head of a household?
  • Paul is often admonished for his portrayal of women-What can you discern about Lydia?
  • How does the faith of the head of a household affect the rest of the household?
  • Can you extrapolate any of Lydia’s story to the head of a company, church or country?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the role of the Church to find opportunities to spread the Gospel’s message of hope and salvation?

 

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