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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!

  1. Our Spouse

    1. 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?

      1. 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 shame.)

        1. What shame do we have? (This reflects the controversy between good and evil. God is our protector and our redeemer.)

    2. 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 homeland.)

      1. 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 magnificent temple.)

      2. In this context, read Ezekiel 24:20-21. What is coming upon Jerusalem and the people who remained? (Total destruction.)

      3. Read Ezekiel 24:15-17. What terrible thing is coming to Ezekiel? (God is taking away "the delight of his eyes.)

    3. Read Ezekiel 24:18-19. Who was the delight of Ezekiel's eyes? (His wife. God told him his wife was going to die.)

      1. 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 reasonable person.)

        1. 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.)

        2. We say "God loves me." What if we added, "God loves me like a spouse?" How does that change the force of the statement?

      2. 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?

        1. 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.)

          1. 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 Ezekiel's pain.)

          2. 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.)

  2. Our God

    1. Read Jeremiah 31:27-28. What does God promise His people for the future? (He will rebuild their nation.)

    2. Read Jeremiah 31:29-30. What change in God's relationship with us is He predicting?

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

      3. Is this cause for rejoicing? Or, would you rather have God look at the group instead of looking specifically at you?

    3. 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.)

    4. 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.)

      1. What does that mean? (I think it refers to our attitude.)

      2. 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.")

        1. Read Matthew 26:27-28. How did God forgive our sins? (By dying for us!)

    5. 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!)

    6. 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.)

    7. 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 life eternal?

  3. Next week we start a new series of lessons entitled "The Refiner's Fire."

* 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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