This lesson can help students understand the role of prophets and why it is important for them to give heed to their counsel.
Invite a student to read aloud the following situation described by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“On December 26, 2004, a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, creating a deadly tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. It was a terrible tragedy. In one day, millions of lives were forever changed.
“But there was one group of people who, although their village was destroyed, did not suffer a single casualty.
“They knew a tsunami was coming.
“The Moken people live in villages on islands off the coast of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). A society of fishermen, their lives depend on the sea. For hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, their ancestors have studied the ocean, and they have passed their knowledge down from father to son.
“One thing in particular they were careful to teach was what to do when the ocean receded. According to their traditions, when that happened, the ‘Laboon’—a wave that eats people—would arrive soon after.
“When the elders of the village saw the dreaded signs, they shouted to everyone to run to high ground.
“Not everyone listened.
“One elderly fisherman said, ‘None of the kids believed me.’ In fact, his own daughter called him a liar. But the old fisherman would not relent until all had left the village and climbed to higher ground” (“Journey to Higher Ground,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 16).
Why do you think some people disbelieved the village elders’ warnings?
How do you think the people who disbelieved the warnings at first may have felt toward the village elders after the tsunami destroyed their village?
Explain that there are unseen dangers in the world that threaten our spiritual safety. Invite students to look as they study Ezekiel 2–3 for a principle that teaches how the Lord will warn us of dangers and keep us safe.
Remind students that while he was in captivity in Babylon, Ezekiel saw a vision of the heavens open and beheld the glory of God.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ezekiel 2:3–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jehovah called Ezekiel to do. Explain that the words impudent and stiffhearted in verse 4 imply stubbornness and an unwillingness to change.
According to verses 3–5, what did the Lord call Ezekiel to do?
Based on how the Lord described the children of Israel, what challenges would Ezekiel face as he taught them? (You may want to explain that the briers, thorns, and scorpions mentioned in verse 6 symbolize the difficulties Ezekiel would face as he taught the people.)
What can we learn from verse 7 about the role of a prophet? (Students may suggest a variety of truths, but make sure it is clear that prophets speak and teach the words the Lord has given them.)
How might understanding that prophets seek to teach the words the Lord has given them influence your attitude toward their counsel and teachings?
Summarize Ezekiel 2:9–10 by explaining that the Lord gave Ezekiel “a roll of a book” (Ezekiel 2:9), which was a scroll with writing on both the front and back. (Anciently, some writings were recorded on paper, parchment, or other materials and rolled up.) This scroll contained the words the Lord wanted Ezekiel to speak to Israel, which included “lamentations, and mourning, and woe” (Ezekiel 2:10) for their rebelliousness.
Invite a student to read Ezekiel 3:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Ezekiel to do with the scroll. Invite students to report what they find.
What do you think eating the scroll represents? (One possible explanation is that eating the scroll represents Ezekiel internalizing the word of God and making it a part of his life [see Ezekiel 3:10]. This would prepare him to teach the Lord’s word to the people.)
How did Ezekiel describe the taste of the scroll?
Why do you think he would describe the scroll with God’s word written on it as sweet when it contained “lamentations, and mourning, and woe” (Ezekiel 2:10)?
Summarize Ezekiel 3:4–14 by explaining that the Lord commanded Ezekiel to speak His words to the people. Though Ezekiel would face opposition, the Lord had strengthened Ezekiel’s resolve to teach the rebellious children of Israel.
Explain that the Lord used an analogy to help Ezekiel understand his mission and role as a prophet. Invite a student to read Ezekiel 3:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord likened Ezekiel to.
What did the Lord liken Ezekiel to?
Show students a picture of a watchman on a tower, or draw a simple illustration of one on the board.
Explain that in Ezekiel’s day, a watchman on a wall or tower had the responsibility to warn the people of impending danger from enemy attacks (see Ezekiel 33:1–6).
Display a picture of the current President of the Church.
How are the responsibilities of a prophet similar to those of a watchman?
How might prophets be like watchmen for us? (Students may use different words, but help them identify a principle similar to the following: If we heed the warnings of prophets, we can be prepared to face challenges and dangers that threaten us. Consider writing this principle on the board and inviting students to write it in their scriptures next to Ezekiel 3:17. Point out that today Church members sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.)
What are some warnings prophets have given us recently? (List students’ responses on the board. Also consider sharing a few statements of warning delivered by members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during recent general conferences.)
Ask students to select a warning listed on the board. Invite them to ponder and then respond to the following question: How can following this prophetic warning protect you from danger?
Invite students to review at home the most recent addresses from the President of the Church and sections of the For the Strength of Youth booklet. Encourage them to follow the warnings and counsel they find.
Summarize Ezekiel 3:18–27 by explaining that the Lord told Ezekiel that He would hold him accountable if he failed to raise a warning voice and call Israel to repentance.
Conclude the lesson by testifying of the role of the Lord’s prophets as watchmen and the blessings that come from heeding their warnings and counsel.
Ask students to ponder the following questions: How difficult is it to obey the Word of Wisdom today? Would you obey that commandment if your life were threatened? Explain that they will learn about the courage of Daniel and his friends, who were taken captive into Babylon and were pressured to disobey a similar commandment from the Lord. Invite students to think of different ways God reveals truth to His children. Explain that they will also study how God revealed truths about the last days through visions to the prophet Ezekiel and through the prophet Daniel’s interpretations of the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar. Ask them to note whom Daniel gave the credit to for the gift of being able to interpret dreams.