Lesson 44: “Every Thing Shall Live Whither the River Cometh”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 207–10


Purpose

To encourage class members to partake of the life-giving, healing powers that are available in the temple.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Ezekiel 43:1–12; 44:6–9, 23. Ezekiel is shown a vision of the temple in Jerusalem.

    2. b.

      Ezekiel 47:1, 6–12. Ezekiel sees a river flowing from the temple that gives life to the desert and heals the Dead Sea.

    3. c.

      Ezekiel 47:2–5. Ezekiel measures the river’s depth and discovers that the water gets deeper each time he wades into it.

  2. 2.

    Draw the map on page 209 on a poster or on the chalkboard before class begins.

  3. 3.

    Additional reading: Ezekiel 40–42; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8; Revelation 22:1–3; 1 Nephi 8:10–11; 11:25; Doctrine and Covenants 97:8–20.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Ask class members questions similar to the following:

  • Have you ever been excited while watching a sporting event or some other kind of entertainment?

  • Have you ever been so excited at such an event that you stood and shouted or cheered?

  • Can you think of sacred events that have been or will be accompanied by enthusiastic expressions of joy and gratitude? Some of these events include:

    1. a.

      The creation of the earth (Job 38:4–7).

    2. b.

      The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (John 12:12–16).

    3. c.

      The Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

  • How does the excitement of sporting events or other entertainment compare to the joy of these sacred events? (While the excitement of sporting events or other entertainment is temporary, the joy associated with sacred events is eternal.)

  • What is a sacred event in the Church where participants show their joy and gratitude by standing, shouting, and waving? (During the dedication of a temple, the congregation participates in a great expression of joy called the Hosanna Shout.)

    “The Hosanna Shout is whole-souled, given to the full limit of one’s strength. The congregation stands and in unison shouts the words ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen,’ repeating them three times. This is usually accompanied by the rhythmic waving of white handkerchiefs with uplifted hands. The epithet ‘Lamb’ relates to the condescension and atonement of Jesus Christ” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 2:659).

Explain that this lesson will help class members understand some of the many ways the temple brings joy.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Ezekiel is shown a vision of the temple in Jerusalem.

Teach and discuss Ezekiel 43:1–12; 44:6–9, 23.

  • Have class members read Ezekiel 43:1–12 and Ezekiel 44:6–9, 23. What can we learn about the temple from these verses?

    You may want to list class members’ answers on the chalkboard and discuss their meaning. Answers may include the following:

    1. a.

      The glory of the Lord fills the temple (Ezekiel 43:2, 4–5).

    2. b.

      The temple is “the place of [the Lord’s] throne” on earth (Ezekiel 43:7).

    3. c.

      The Lord walks in the temple, calling it “the place of the soles of my feet” (Ezekiel 43:7).

    4. d.

      The temple is a place where the Lord may “dwell in the midst” of his people (Ezekiel 43:7).

    5. e.

      We learn about the laws of the Lord in the temple (Ezekiel 43:11).

    6. f.

      There are ordinances that the Lord wants us to perform in the temple (Ezekiel 43:11).

    7. g.

      Even the grounds that surround the temple “shall be most holy” (Ezekiel 43:12).

    8. h.

      Only those who are worthy should enter the temple (Ezekiel 44:6–9).

    9. i.

      In the temple we learn the difference between holy and profane and between clean and unclean (Ezekiel 44:23).

2. Ezekiel sees a river flowing from the temple that gives life to the desert and heals the Dead Sea.

Teach and discuss Ezekiel 47:1, 6–12.

  • What did Ezekiel see coming from the east doors of the temple in Jerusalem? (See Ezekiel 47:1.) Where did the water go? (See Ezekiel 47:8. Show on the map that the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea are east of Jerusalem.)

    map of Judea
  • The Judean wilderness is a barren desert, and the Dead Sea is too salty to sustain animal life. According to Ezekiel’s vision, what changes will take place in the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea because of the river flowing from the temple? (See Ezekiel 47:6–12.)

  • In a vision similar to Ezekiel’s vision of the temple, John the Beloved was shown the throne of God (Revelation 22:1–3; note that in Ezekiel 43:7, the Lord calls the temple “the place of my throne”). What flowed from the throne of God in John’s vision? (See Revelation 22:1.) What is the “water of life”? (The doctrines of the gospel; see the attention activity in lesson 30.) How are we like the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea if we do not partake of the water of life?

  • How does the water of life that is available in the temple heal and give life to marriages? families? our ancestors? the Church? What else flows from the temple that gives spiritual life and healing? (Answers may include truth, wisdom, revelation, and covenants.)

  • Ezekiel 47:12 describes the trees that grew along the banks of the river in Ezekiel’s vision. What did the trees have in common with the waters of the river? (They had healing and life-giving powers.)

  • What grew along the banks of the river in John’s vision? (See Revelation 22:2.) Where else in the scriptures are prophets shown the tree of life? (See 1 Nephi 8:10–11; 11:25.) In the dream given to Lehi and Nephi, what did the tree of life represent? (See 1 Nephi 11:25.)

  • How does the love of God heal and give life? What spiritual and physical wounds will God’s love heal?

3. Ezekiel measures the river’s depth.

Teach and discuss Ezekiel 47:2–5.

  • How deep was the river the first time Ezekiel waded across it? (See Ezekiel 47:2–3.) How deep was it the second, third, and fourth times he waded across? (See Ezekiel 47:4–5.) What truth do these verses suggest about the temple? (The power of the temple increases in our lives the more often we attend.)

  • Wonderful truths are taught in the temple, many through symbols. If at first our understanding of these truths or of temple ordinances is only “ankle deep,” what should we do? (See Ezekiel 47:2–5. We should wade into the “river” again and again—or, in other words, attend the temple as often as possible.)

Conclusion

Tell class members that the Lord has called the temple “a place of thanksgiving” (D&C 97:13). Express your thanks for the blessings that come because of the temple, and invite class members to share their feelings of gratitude for the temple. Testify that just as the waters from the temple healed the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea in Ezekiel’s vision, the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal and cleanse us if we will partake of it.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. “I have loved the habitation of thy house” (Psalm 26:8)

Many of the psalms mention blessings we receive from temple attendance and express beautiful feelings of love and thanksgiving for the temple. You may want to ask some class members to express their feelings of gratitude for the temple as you discuss the following psalms:

2. “The Great Symbol of [Our] Membership”

President Howard W. Hunter said: “I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8).

  • How can we make the temple the “great symbol of [our] membership” in the Church? How would looking to the temple in this way affect our outlook on life and our dedication to the Lord’s work?