828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christian education for Sunday November 20, 2011; Last Sunday after Pentecost; Ezekiel 34:11-24; God the Good Shepherd

Nov 20, 2011
Last Sunday after Pentecost
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
God, the True Shepherd

Background: Ezekiel was of the priestly lineage and a prophet in Israel during the time of the Babylonian exile. Ezekiel may be viewed through the lens of the chaotic final years of Israel before its exile. This book was most likely written by one of the exiles to his fellow exiles in Babylon – a voice all too familiar with the pain of defeat and exile.

Theme: This passage describes the failure of the Israelite leadership during the exile. Ezekiel provides social and religious critique of the standing leaders of Israel and their actions with respect to the survival of the nation of Israel and the other exiles alone with them. This passage is part of a larger section in Ezekiel subtitled “Oracles of Hope and Restoration.”

Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Ezekiel 34:17-19
* Briefly, what is the setting for this passage? What are some of the things that have led Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel?
* Who are the shepherds who have allowed the sheep to be scattered? Who is the shepherd who assures they will gather the sheep to the fold?
* What might the “days of clouds and thick darkness” in verse 12 refer to? How might Ezekiel believe this was or had taken place?
* What land does the shepherd promise to restore the scattered remnant of Israel to? Why might that restoration be important for both Israel and the shepherd?
* What may be considered ironic about the nature of the flock gathered together by the shepherd?
* Why might the shepherd judge between the “fat and the lean” sheep; the sheep who had fouled the water with their feet so that others could not drink?
* In verse 21 who is the shepherd speaking to?
* Why might there be a connection between saving and judging the sheep (v. 22)?
* At whom might the Ezekiel’s judgment be directed? Might it simply be the leaders or may there be others who receive the prophetic accusation of the shepherd/prophet? If so, does the inclusion of others besides the leaders change the thrust of Ezekiel’s prophecy?
* What is ironic about the title of the “Davidic leader” who will lead Israel when they are restored? Is the difference substantial? Why might God make the distinction?
* How is this passage an “Oracle of Hope and Restoration?”
* What is the implication of this passage for us today? How is it important for us to use the prophetic voice and our role as leaders to God’s advantage as opposed to our own?

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