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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: Yahweh and Israel: Fulfillment Beyond Failure *
Introduction: This is our last lesson in the series on Old Testament
marriages. Why do we find so many illusions to marriage in the Old
Testament? One answer is that God often uses marriage to tell His
side of the story about His relationship with His people. When the
Bible speaks about our individual relationship to God, He is often
referred to as our Father. When the Bible speaks about God's
relationship to His people as a group, it often refers to a marriage.
Why, out of all of the relationships that exist, would God use
marriage as an illustration? Let's dive in and find out why!
- Our Spouse
- Read Isaiah 54:5. Why would God choose to call us His
wife? What attributes of a marriage do you think applies
to God's relationship with us?
- I think the context helps us here. Read Isaiah 54:4.
What specific attributes of being married does God
say He brings to our relationship with Him? (He
protects us. He brings a good name to us. He takes
the place of our missing husband. He takes away our
- What shame do we have? (This reflects the
controversy between good and evil. God is our
protector and our redeemer.)
- Let me set the stage for this next text. Babylon has
invaded Judah and taken God's people captive. Many Jews
now live in Babylon. If you were a Jew in Babylon, what
would be the desire of your heart? (To return to my
- Of all things that represented home, what would be
the most important? (Any of your family who still
lived there. The city of Jerusalem and the
- In this context, read Ezekiel 24:20-21. What is
coming upon Jerusalem and the people who remained?
- Read Ezekiel 24:15-17. What terrible thing is coming
to Ezekiel? (God is taking away "the delight of his
- Read Ezekiel 24:18-19. Who was the delight of Ezekiel's
eyes? (His wife. God told him his wife was going to die.)
- Why would God be so hard on His prophet Ezekiel? (Not
only did Ezekiel lose his beloved wife, but God told
him not to mourn her loss. This seems outrageous
until you work this through in your mind. Verse 19
tells us that people asked Ezekiel why he was acting
as he was. He would tell them that this represented
what would happen to God's people. The seriousness of
this situation should arrest the attention of any
- Why was it necessary to take Ezekiel's wife?
Why not his dog? (God not only wanted to show
the people the seriousness of what was going to
happen in terms of their lives, He is
illustrating His relationship to us.)
- We say "God loves me." What if we added, "God
loves me like a spouse?" How does that change
the force of the statement?
- Ezekiel is God's man. He is obedient and is speaking
for God. What does this teach us about the righteous
being kept from all suffering?
- Is the pain out of proportion to the point God
is making? (If you truly believe that God loves
us like a spouse, then this kind of pain comes
to God all the time when we reject Him and go
our own way.)
- How is the death of a spouse better than
divorce? (When your spouse dies, they have
not rejected you. God's pain is worse than
- Do we see this "acting out" parable of
God's suffering anywhere else in the
Bible? (Genesis 22 - God tells Abraham to
sacrifice his son Isaac.)
- Our God
- Read Jeremiah 31:27-28. What does God promise His people
for the future? (He will rebuild their nation.)
- Read Jeremiah 31:29-30. What change in God's relationship
with us is He predicting?
- What does God mean when He speaks of fathers eating
sour grapes and the children having their teeth set
on edge? (The actions of the fathers affect the lives
of their children.)
- Will marriage to a nation be an apt symbol for the
future? (No. Instead of God's relationship being
focused on a nation (His bride), now God's
relationship is being focused on the individual. God
still has His body of believers (see Colossians
1:24), but the emphasis is on the individual rather
than a nation.)
- Is this cause for rejoicing? Or, would you rather
have God look at the group instead of looking
specifically at you?
- Read Jeremiah 31:31-32. What reason does God give for His
change in our relationship? (Even though He was "husband"
to the people, they broke their contract with Him - they
did not obey God.)
- Read Jeremiah 31:33-34. How is this new covenant
(contract) different from the old covenant? (The law is
written on our hearts and minds instead of stone.)
- What does that mean? (I think it refers to our
- How do we get to this attitude? It does not make
sense to me that God says "Okay, we will have a new
agreement here. This time you will have the right
attitude!" How does this new attitude happen? (The
key is in verse 34 "I will forgive their wickedness
and remember their sins no more.")
- Read Matthew 26:27-28. How did God forgive our
sins? (By dying for us!)
- Read Hebrews 9:15. (You should take time to read Hebrews
chapters 8-10.) How does this event (Jesus' death) change
our attitude? (Recall how we were shocked that Ezekiel
lost his wife to help illustrate God's point? Here, God's
point about His relationship with us, God's point about
the awful nature of sin, are vividly illustrated in the
death of Jesus for us. That should change our attitude
about God and sin!)
- Read Hebrews 10:19-24. What specific new attitudes of the
heart are inspired by Jesus' death on our behalf and His
current role as our High Priest? (Confidence, sincerity,
assurance, guilt-free, hope, trust and a desire to spur
others to love and good deeds.)
- Friend, can you see how God wants to have the closest kind
of relationship with you? He points to a spouse, He points
to a Father, and He gives up His life for you! Will you
give your heart to Him? Will your attitude change to
desire to have a relationship with Him? Will you choose
- Next week we start a new series of lessons entitled "The
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.