Lessons from Sunday School
Our first lesson for today is from Ezekiel Chapter 20. It was difficult and horrifying to read. Between verses 12 and 24, the Sabbath is mentioned 6 times. And it’s mostly in the context that Israel will be punished for desecrating the Sabbath. Yikes!
In Genesis 2:2-3, God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it because on that day, God “rested from all the work that he had done in creation.”
The Ten Commandments include “remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.”
In the traditions of Israel, no Israelite shall do any work on that day, nor shall any member of his household, his livestock, or resident aliens in the towns.
As a class, we looked at several Old Testament scriptures concerning the Sabbath. Some can be pretty non-descript and others are quite clear. God commands that we do not work (for pay or not), no making fire in your own home or haul wood for a fire, no cooking / preparing food, no buying or selling, no idol worship, etc. Just resting from our labors, participating in sacred assembly (go to church), and bring offerings.
Incidentally, in the New Testament, the Pharisees criticized Jesus for healing the sick on the Sabbath, so I can at least conclude that if we are serving and preserving our fellow man, then it’s ok.
So, how do we spend our Sabbaths? I guess we can all feel ashamed. I know I do. I have great difficulty in simply resting and meditating on God’s Word. I do come to church every Sunday and bring my offerings, but besides that, my devotion to the Sabbath sadly falls off.
I don’t work for money on Sundays, but I will work. Between cooking and laundry and whatever else I can find to do, I will work around the house. I will go shopping and spend money on Sunday. Then I will haul the groceries into the house. I will worship idols by spending time in my own interests instead of focusing on God. So, not only did the Israelites desecrate the Sabbath, but Erma Hudgins also desecrates the Sabbath. I suspect you do as well.
Whatever happened to the day when folks would visit others after church on Sunday and spend most of the day resting and enjoying each other’s company? We have gotten so busy with life that we have forgotten to take time to be with one another. God wants us to reach out to Him first and then to each other in love.
Forgive us for not honoring your Sabbath as you would have us honor it. Forgive us for the desecration of your holy day. Help us to remember that it is NOT a day for us to seek other idols such as our interests and money, or for shopping or selling, or to work, but to rest from our labors and come to church and bring our offerings, study your word, and to reach out to others in love and in Your name. Amen.
Our second lesson for today is from Ezekiel Chapter 22:29-31. It reads:
“The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice. I (God) looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. So, I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
Oh my goodness! Did you catch that? This is so profound!
If anything has ever spoke loud and clear on how important intercessory prayer is, this is it. Intercessory prayer is when you are praying on the behalf of someone else. Nothing is more important than this! When you pray for others, it’s like being on the battlefield for that person. And there doesn’t have to be many believers praying. Just one believer in intercessory prayer is all it takes, according to this scripture. Just one person! Just one! God can do marvelous things with just one intercessor!
In this part of Ezekiel, we read about how the sins of Israel was so great that God had no choice but to judge the land and its people. But also during this time, God was LOOKING for someone in intercessory prayer! He was LOOKING for it! But not even one Israelite was in prayer for their nation at that time. Wow.
God calls each of us to intercede for others, for nations, for governments, in all situations no matter how small or dire.
Have you ever in the course of your day, have someone or some situation come to mind and you tell yourself that maybe you should pray about that when you have time and then go on with your day with well-meaning intentions for later? I know I have. Then I forget later. What we have to remember is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to us when such things come to mind. It’s for immediate prayers; not for later. As it comes to mind, we must pray immediately because God is looking for that prayer at that time. Don’t refuse those prayers! Remember that there is ultimate power in prayer.
Father in Heaven,
Speak to us through the Holy Spirit to encourage us to ever be in intercessory prayer. Help us to remember that when we do pray, it’s like being a warrior and standing before you and fighting a battle for someone else. Even when standing alone, we can make a miraculous difference in someone else’s life by simply praying for them. It is the most powerful thing we can do.
Help us to remember not to neglect our prayer life and that we can pray any time of the day as people and/or situations come to mind. We should remember to be in prayer for each other, for our neighbors, for our church, for our pastors, for our enemies, for the governing of our towns, state and our country.