OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 43
- The shepherds of Israel.
- Repentance and forgiveness.
- Ezekiel's vision of the valley of bones.
- The stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph.
A study of this lesson should encourage us to fulfill our responsibilities
as "shepherds of Israel".
Introduction To Ezekiel
- Son of Buzi.
- Spoke of as "the priest".
- He was among the group carried to Babylon in 598 BC. with king Jehoiachin.
He was married & his wife died during the Babylonian captivity.
Date of his mission: abt 593-571 BC.
He prophesied to the Jews in captivity in Babylonia.
- Probably about 25/26 when taken to Babylonia.
Nebuchadnezzar was king in Babylonia.
Brother Duane S. Crowther: "Ezekiel lived the life of a captive
and labored among Jewish exiles and slaves in Babylonia. Like Jeremiah,
he was commanded to perform symbolic actions. Like Jeremiah, he struck
out at the sins of Judah and gave the reason for God's rejection of his
chosen people. Though of an upper class heritage before going into captivity,
he was forced to live a life of poverty and despair. He ministered to the
common people while Daniel ministered to the royalty." (Prophets
& Prophecies of The Old Testament, p529)
- Most of Ezekiel's prophecy is concerned with the conditions in Judah
between the first major deportation of the Jews and the fall of Jerusalem.
The Call Of Ezekiel - Chapter 2
- READ 2:2-5. The call of Ezekiel.
READ 2:6-7. Ezekiel to preach unto them in spite
of their rebelliousness.
- WHAT WAS EZEKIEL'S COMMISSION?
- To preach the word of God.
- To testify & witness unto them. They were to know that a prophet
of God had been among them.
- WHY DO YOU THINK THE CAPTIVE JEWS WERE SO SLOW TO REPENT EVEN AFTER
MANY GREAT CALAMITIES HAD BEFALLEN THEM?
- Their wickedness was so firmly entrenched that it would take a great
deal of humbling to bring them down.
READ 2:8-10. Ezekiel commanded to eat the book.
- HOW SHOULD THE POSSIBILITY OF REJECTION AFFECT OUR EFFORTS TO PROCLAIM
- D&C 88:81. "Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn
the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his
- John Taylor: "If you do not magnify your callings, God will
hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your
duty." (JD 20:23)
- It would seem that no matter what the adversity, there is no excuse
for not proclaiming the gospel and fulfilling our callings.
- HOW SHOULD WE REACT IF WE, LIKE EZEKIEL, ARE NOT GIVEN PROPER RESPECT
AS WE TRY TO FULFILL A CALLING FROM THE LORD?
- While I was on my mission, one day my companion and I were tracting
in a small town in the hill country of eastern Oklahoma. We knocked on
the door of a house. A man opened the door and said, "I know you Mormons,
you have come to take our daughters away." We tried to explain that
we were there for no such reason, but to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This man wouldn't listen and threatened to get a club if we didn't leave.
We felt it best to leave. We were frustrated and could not believe that
there were still people in America so uninformed.
A few months later we returned to once again
tract through the little town. We came to the home of this same gentleman.
We debated whether to skip his house or knock on the door. We decided it
was not our choice. We were there to share the gospel. We knocked on the
door and the same man came to the door. We acted as if we hadn't been there
before and explained who we were and the message we were sharing. Although
he wasn't interested, this time he was courteous. Evidently, our calm,
non-confrontational approach affected him and he treated us with respect.
- WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THESE VERSES?
- Bruce R. McConkie compared this experience to a similar one John experienced
in the Book of Revelation: "The act signified that [John] was eating
the bread of life, that he was partaking of the good word of God, that
he was feasting upon the word of Christ--which was in his 'mouth sweet
as honey.' But it made his 'belly bitter'; that is, the judgments and plagues
promised those to who the Lord's word was sent caused him to despair and
have sorrow of soul." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:508)
- HOW MIGHT THIS HAVE HELPED EZEKIEL PREPARE FOR HIS MINISTRY?
- He was becoming familiar with the word of God or 'the Iron Rod'.
- HOW HAS THIS YEAR'S STUDY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT HELPED YOU IN CHURCH
CALLINGS AND FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES?
Watchmen In Zion - Chapter 3
- READ 3:17-21. Ezekiel to be a watchman.
- WHAT WAS A WATCHMAN?
- It is not a little Sony TV.
- Anciently the military watchman was the man who had to stay awake and
faced execution if he failed to warn the city when the enemy appeared.
The watchman had to be alert and vigilant.
- Ezekiel was to be a watchman to Judah.
- WHO ARE OUR WATCHMEN IN THE LATTER DAYS?
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE THESE WATCHMEN?
- Elder Boyd K. Packer told of the devastating flood caused by the collapse
of the Teton Dam in Idaho in 1976. In the immediate path of the fast-moving
floodwaters were 7,800 people. As the flood rushed down the valley, it
destroyed 790 homes and severely damaged another 800 homes, churches, schools,
and businesses. Considering the amount of water, its speed, and the population
of the area, one expert estimated that 5,300 people should have been killed.
Incredibly, only 6 people drowned.
Said Elder Packer: "How could there
be such a terrible destruction with such little loss of life?... Because
they were warned! They didn't have very long, but they were warned; and
every man who was warned, warned his neighbor...
"What about the six that drowned?
One of them was just below the dam and had no choice. Two of them wouldn't
believe the warning until it was too late. They later found them both in
their car, but they hadn't heeded the warning. Three of them went back
to get some material possessions, and they lost their lives.
"But it was a miracle of tremendous
proportion. As Latter-day Saints we learn to heed warnings...
"Now, I see a great similarity
in what is happening in the world, a great tidal wave of evil and wickedness
in the world. It just seep around us and gets deeper and deeper. Our lives
are in danger. Our property is in danger. Our freedoms are in danger, and
yet we casually go about our work unable to understand that it behooves
every man that has been warned to warn his neighbor....
"[We have been] warned by a prophet.
Will [we] heed the warning, or will [we] be as those six in Idaho who thought
the warning was not for them?" (That All May Be Edified, pp220-221,
- WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE WATCHMEN?
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "As watchmen on the tower of Zion,
it is our obligation and right as leaders to speak out against current
evils - evils that strike at the very foundation of all we hold dear as
the true church of Christ and as members of Christian nations."
(Teachings ETB, p589)
- JACOB 1:19: "And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking
upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own
heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore,
by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments;
otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be
found spotless at the last day."
Chapters 4 & 5
FOUR symbolic acts performed by Ezekiel to demonstrate the fate of Jerusalem
- The Siege of Jerusalem:
A Representation of the length of the iniquity of Israel & Judah.
- READ EZEKIEL 4:1-3. Ezekiel performs a symbolic
act as a witness to Judah.
- WHY DID EZEKIEL DO THIS?
- V4:3. "This shall be a sign to Israel."
- It was another testimony or witness to wicked Judah of the consequences
of not repenting.
- I am reminded of the scene in the movie Close Encounters with Richard
Dreyfuss where he builds a miniture Devil's Tower using his mashed potatoes.
The Famine in Jerusalem.
- READ EZEKIEL 4:4-6.
- Ezekiel lay on his left side for 390 days to represent 390 years of
- Ezekiel lay on his right side for 40 days to represent 40 years of
The Destruction of Jerusalem.
- In Ezekiel 4:9-17, Ezekiel eats small food and drink rations to represent
the famine which will take place in Jerusalem.
- READ 5:1-4. Ezekiel cuts his hair: burned 1/3,
stabbed 1/3, scattered 1/3.
- Fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
- A third to die by fire & famine.
- A third to die by the sword.
- A third to be scattered.
- The testimony described in these four symbolic acts appear to be a
last effort by Ezekiel and the Lord to graphically testify to Judah the
importance of repenting. Judah will be left without an excuse, for they
have been warned in every possible way.
- HOW ARE WE DOING IN LISTENING TO OUR PROPHETS?
Repentance & Forgiveness - Chapter 18
- READ EZEKIEL 18:1-4. Men accountable for their
own sins and not that of their fathers.
The Lord explains this principle through Ezekiel:
- The people of Judah were like children that often try to excuse their
mistakes by blaming them on someone else. Judah was trying to blame their
situation on their ancestors.
- WHAT WAS THE LORD'S RESPONSE?
- V4: "...the soul that sinneth shall die." No more
excuses. You are accountable for your own actions and will receive the
READ 18:20-22. The principle of accountability
Ezekiel 18:24: "But when the righteous turneth away from his
righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the
abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness
that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath
trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die."
- V5-9. A man lives righteously--he shall surely live.
- V10-13. His son is wicked--he shall surely die.
- V14-20. His son turns away from his father's wickedness and lives righteously--he
shall surely live.
READ EZEKIEL 18:30-31. Cast aside your sins.
- WHAT PRINCIPLE IS TAUGHT HERE?
- Enduring to the end.
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "Having received the necessary
saving ordinances - baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances
and sealings - one must live the covenants made. He must endure in faith.
No matter how brilliant was the service rendered by the bishop or stake
president or other person, if he falters later in his life and fails to
live righeously 'to the end' the good works he did all stand in jeopardy."
(Teachings SWK, p149)
- HOW DOES ONE RECEIVE A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT?
- Consider last week's discussion on "God Will Write His Law In
The Hearts Of His People" (see Lesson
- READ EZEKIEL 33:14-16. Promises to the repentant
READ EZEKIEL 33:30-32. The people hear, but do not.
- WHAT DOES THE LORD PROMISE THE REPENTANT SINNER?
- He shall not die.
- His sins shall not be mentioned.
- HOW MIGHT THESE WORDS OF EZEKIEL APPLY TO CHURCH MEMBERS TODAY?
- HOW DO WE BECOME DOERS OF THE WORD AND NOT HEARERS ONLY?
- By making a commitment and setting goals.
- As we pursue these commitments and goals these things become a habit
knit part of our being. Examples:
- Scripture study: Committed to reading the Book of Mormon.
- Service: commit to doing at least once a day the following:
- Boy Scout motto - do a good turn daily.
- Go the extra mile.
The Shepherds Of Israel - Chapter 34
- WHO WERE THE SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL?
READ EZEKIEL 34:1-4. Shepherds of Israel condemned.
- The pastors or religious leaders of Ezekiel's day.
READ EZEKIEL 34:5-6. Results of the shepherds'
mode of operation.
- WHY WERE THE SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL CONDEMNED?
- They feed themselves & not the flock.
- They use the flock for their own purposes.
- Eat the fat.
- Use the wool.
- They have neglected those in need.
- Diseased & sick.
- Those that have wandered off.
- They have ruled with force & cruelty.
READ EZEKIEL 34:8-10. What will happen to the
- WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SHEPHERDS NEGLECT OF ISRAEL?
- The sheep were scattered.
- The sheep became meat to the beasts.
READ 34:11-15. The Lord to gather & feed his flock.
- WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE SHEPHERDS BECAUSE THEY MISUSED THEIR POSITION?
- The Lord will be against them.
- They will lose their stewardship.
- They will no longer be able to use the sheep for their own purposes.
- HOW WILL THE LORD DO THIS?
- He will call new shepherds.
- WHO ARE THESE NEW SHEPHERDS?
- The righteous members of the church.
- Church leaders.
- Home/visiting teachers.
- WHAT IS OUR CHARGE?
- To gather & find the sheep.
- To feed them in the good and fat pasture.
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "An hour with a troubled boy
or girl now may save him or her, and is infinately better than the hundreds
of hours spent in their later lives in the reclamation of a boy or girl
if they become inactive." (CR, Oct. 1980)
- President Ezra Taft Benson: "We call on you to extend yourselves
with renewed dedication.... We want you to watch, to feed, to tend, and
to care for the flock and, in the event that some are temporarily lost,
we challenge you to find them." (CR, Apr. 1983)
- This chapter speaks of the last days and the gathering of Israel.
READ 36:8-11. Israel to be restored to her inheritance.
- Ezekiel, like Jeremiah & Isaiah, was privileged to look into the
latter days and see the recovery of the errant nation of Israel.
READ 36:24-28. Israel to be blessed with a new
heart & spirit.
- We can see what modern Judah has done in Israel.
- Modern Israel to follow the commandments.
- WHY WOULD MODERN ISRAEL DO ANY BETTER AT KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS THAN
THEIR ANCIENT BROTHERS?
- Choice spirits saved until the last days.
- Blessings of the priesthood and the fulness of the gospel.
- Blessing of the Holy Ghost.
The Stick Of Judah & The Stick Of Joseph - Chapter
- READ 37:1-14. Ezekiel's vision of the valley which
was full of dry bones.
READ 37:15-17. Stick of Judah & Stick of Joseph.
- WHAT DO THESE VERSES MEAN?
- Bones = Israel in its lost & scattered state.
- Graves = Israel's condition of spiritual death.
- Spirit = the new spirit of righteousness the people will have when
they are restored from their fallen state. The source of this new life
will be the Holy Ghost.
- Sidney B. Sperry: "It will be seen from this passage that the
doctrine of the resurrection from the dead ... is invoked to symbolize
the restoration of Israel's exiles to their own land. The exiles are represented--so
it seems to me--as having lost hope (their bones are dried up) of ever
living as a nation. But the Lord shows them that they can be restored through
His mighty power even as the dead will be raised in the resurection. The
doctrine of the resurrection of the body is assumed. Some writers contend
that the idea of resurrection was not known among the Hebrews at this early
time. But the fact that Ezekiel speaks as he did would seem to me an indication
that the doctrine had long been understood in Israel. Any true prophet
would understand the doctrine of the resurrection, so Latter-day Saints
believe, and Israel had had many prophets long before Ezekiel's time."
READ 37:26-28. Ezekiel sees a latter-day temple
- WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THESE VERSES?
- Most Bible commentators see here only a prophecy of the reuniting of
the nations of Israel & Judah.
- LDS interpretation:
- The sticks represent scrolls or sticks wrapped with papyrus.
- Stick of Judah = the Bible.
- Stick of Joseph = the Book of Mormon.
- An extended interpretation:
- The coming forth of the Book of Mormon may only be a partial fulfillment
of this prophecy.
- The second stick is for Joseph "the stick of Ephraim".
- WHO WERE THE BOOK OF MORMON PEOPLE DESCENDED FROM?
- Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh.
- Erastus Snow quoted the Prophet as saying that Ishmael was descended
- Essentially it is a record of a few descendants of Manasseh, certainly
not the whole of Ephraim or for all of Israel.
- ARE THERE OTHER RECORDS TO COME FORTH?
- We know that two-thirds of the plates were sealed.
- The lost tribes must have also kept records.
- President Joseph Fielding Smith: "Ezekiel predicted the building
of a temple in Jerusalem which will be used for ordinace work after the
gathering of Israel from their long dispersion and when they are cleansed
from their transgressions." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:244)
Ezekiel was commissioned by the Lord to preach his word. We are fortunate
to have his teachings concerning the shepherds of Israel, repentance and
forgiveness, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and his teachings
regarding the latter days.
Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44; 47
Additional Reading: Ezekiel 40-42; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8;
Revelation 22:1-3; 1 Nephi 8:10-11; 11:25; D&C 97:8-20
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