Ezekiel described his symbolic vision of the resurrection of dry bones. The multiple meanings of this vision include a depiction of the resurrection of the dead as well as the restoration of the house of Israel. The Lord also directed Ezekiel to join two sticks together to represent the union of the Bible and the Book of Mormon and the unification of the tribes of Ephraim and Judah. Through Ezekiel, the Lord spoke of the covenant He would establish with gathered Israel.
If possible, display a pair of worn-out shoes, a broken toy, and a melted candle. (You could also display pictures of these objects.) Ask students to consider what these objects have in common.
How has the condition of each object changed over time?
How might these objects represent what can happen to us physically or spiritually over time?
Invite students to look for doctrines and principles in Ezekiel 37 that can help us understand how God can restore us physically and spiritually.
Invite a student to read Ezekiel 37:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Ezekiel saw in a vision.
What did Ezekiel see in the middle of the valley?
Invite students to imagine themselves in Ezekiel’s position and visualize this valley of bones. Explain that the fact that the bones were “very dry” (verse 2) implies that the bodies in the valley had been there for a significant period of time.
What questions would you have if you were in the midst of the valley of dry bones?
Invite a student to read Ezekiel 37:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord asked Ezekiel. Invite students to report what they find. Write the following question on the board: Can these bones live? Invite a student to read Ezekiel 37:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s response to the question He asked.
What did the Lord say He would do with the bones?
Explain that the word breath in verse 5 refers to the “breath of life” (Ezekiel 37:5, footnote a; Genesis 2:7), or our spirits, which God placed in our physical bodies. In other words, Ezekiel was referring to the reuniting of our bodies and spirits.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Ezekiel 37:7–10. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to the bones Ezekiel saw.
What happened to the bones Ezekiel saw?
Explain that Ezekiel saw in vision the resurrection of many people. Resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit with the body in a perfect, immortal state. A resurrected body is no longer subject to death, so the body and the spirit will never again be separated (see Alma 11:43–45).
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ezekiel 37:11–14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said He would do for the house of Israel.
What did the Lord say He would do for the house of Israel? (He would restore the tribes of Israel from their scattered condition and give them life.)
What doctrines about resurrection can we learn from these verses? (Students may identify a variety of doctrines, such as Jesus Christ has the power to resurrect us and when we are resurrected, our bodies will be made whole again.)
To help students understand the importance of these doctrines, invite them to think of someone they love who has passed away. Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy:
“Remember as you attended the funeral of your loved one the feelings in your heart as you drove away from the cemetery and looked back to see that solitary casket—wondering if your heart would break.
“I testify that because of Him, even our Savior, Jesus Christ, those feelings of sorrow, loneliness, and despair will one day be swallowed up in a fulness of joy. I testify that we can depend on Him and when He said:
“‘I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
“‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also’ [John 14:18–19]. …
“I testify that on that bright, glorious morning of the First Resurrection, your loved ones and mine will come forth from the grave as promised by the Lord Himself and we will have a fulness of joy. Because He lives, they and we shall live also” (“Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 17).
Point to the question on the board. Invite students to answer this question by writing in their class notebooks or scripture study journals their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His power to resurrect us. Ask a few students who are willing to share their testimonies with the class. You may also want to share your testimony of the Savior.
Invite two students to come to the front of the class, and give each of them a small stick. Ask students to think of ways in which these two sticks could bless people’s lives. You may want to ask the rest of the class to add their insights. Invite the two students to return to their seats.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Ezekiel 37:15–17. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the two sticks that would bless many lives forever.
What did the Lord call the two sticks?
You may want to suggest that students mark verse 16, footnote a, to help them understand that these sticks can refer either to wooden tablets or to scrolls, which anciently were rolled around sticks (see Boyd K. Packer, “Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 51).
What is the stick of Judah? (The Bible. Hold up a Bible with one hand, and explain that the Bible was preserved primarily through the Jews, many of whom were of the tribe of Judah.)
What is the stick of Joseph? (The Book of Mormon. Hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon with your other hand, and explain that Lehi and his descendants, some of whom kept the records now contained in the Book of Mormon, were descendants of Joseph.)
What do you think it means that these two sticks or books of scripture “shall become one in thine hand” (verse 17)? (As students respond, hold up a Bible and a copy of the Book of Mormon together in one hand.)
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 13:40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Book of Mormon (described in this verse as part of the “last records”) and the Bible (described as the “first [records]”) together would make known among all people.
Based on what you have learned from Ezekiel 37:15–17 and 1 Nephi 13:40, what is the purpose of bringing together the Bible and the Book of Mormon? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that the Bible and the Book of Mormon come together as witnesses that Jesus Christ is our Savior.)
To help students further understand the importance of this principle, divide them into small groups and invite them to complete the following study guide:
Ask students to ponder what they will do to use both the Book of Mormon and the Bible to strengthen their testimonies of and faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Invite them to act on the promptings they receive.
Summarize Ezekiel 37:21–28 by explaining that the union of the sticks of Judah and Joseph also symbolizes the reuniting of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The reunited house of Israel will be led by their Shepherd and King, Jehovah. The Lord promised He would renew His covenant with the house of Israel and sanctify them.
Conclude by sharing how the Bible and the Book of Mormon have strengthened your testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
To help students memorize Ezekiel 37:15–17, give each student a piece of paper that contains a phrase from Ezekiel 37:15–17. Hand the papers out in random order, and invite students to stand in a circle so they can see all of the papers. Ask students to organize themselves so that the phrases from Ezekiel 37:15–17 are in the correct order. (Explain that they may refer to their scriptures for help.) Once the phrases are in order, invite the class to recite the verses aloud in unison. Invite students to trade papers and repeat the activity. Students should be able to complete the activity more quickly each time and eventually do it without using the scriptures.