This lesson focuses primarily on Malachi 4, which records Malachi’s prophecy that the Lord would send the prophet Elijah before the Second Coming to do a great work.
Note: As students studied the scripture mastery passage in Malachi 3:8–10, they were invited to write a paragraph in their scripture study journal about how they might explain the law of tithing to someone who had never heard of it before by using the scripture passage, analogies, and any personal experiences they have had. You may want to invite students to share some of their ideas and then recite the scripture mastery passage together as a class.
Draw or display a picture of a tree on the board. Point out and label the three essential parts of a tree: branches, trunk, and roots.
What would happen to a tree if we removed one of its vital parts? (It would die or stop producing fruit or blossoms.)
Above the picture of the tree, write the word Family. Invite students to think of this tree as a family tree.
If the trunk of the tree represents you, what might the branches and roots represent? (The roots of the tree could symbolize their ancestors, and the branches could represent their future posterity.)
As students study Malachi 4, invite them to look for how their actions can affect their family tree in the eternities.
Invite a student to read Malachi 4:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what those who are proud and wicked will experience at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Based on our discussion about the family tree, what do you think the phrase “it shall leave them neither root nor branch” means for the wicked?
Help students understand that the wicked who are destroyed at the Second Coming are left without eternal ties to their ancestors and their descendants. In other words, they are unworthy to live with their family members for eternity in the celestial kingdom.
Erase or cover up the roots and branches from the picture on the board to illustrate that the tree is incomplete and limited without these vital parts.
To help the class personalize the tragedy of having no roots or branches on their family trees, ask students to consider their own parents, grandparents, and ancestors, as well as their future spouse and children. Invite them to imagine what it might be like if they were separated from their family members in the eternities.
Invite a student to read Malachi 4:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior said He would help the families of the world before His Second Coming. (In their study during the week, students were invited to memorize this scripture mastery passage. To review these verses, you may want to ask the class to recite the passage together a few times.)
What did Malachi say Elijah would do?
Remind students that the resurrected prophet Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and conferred upon them the sealing keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 110:13–16). These keys opened the doors to family history and temple work for the living and for the dead.
Provide students with a copy of the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Invite a student to read it aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what President Eyring said we can do to turn our hearts to our ancestors.
“Many of your ancestors died never having the chance to accept the gospel and to receive the blessings and promises you have received. The Lord is fair and He is loving. And so He prepared for you and me a way for us to have the desire of our hearts to offer to our ancestors all the blessings He has offered us. …
“… There are more temples across the earth than there have ever been. More people in all the world have felt the Spirit of Elijah move them to record the identities and facts of their ancestors’ lives. There are more resources to search out your ancestors than there have ever been in the history of the world. The Lord has poured out knowledge about how to make that information available worldwide through technology that a few years ago would have seemed a miracle. …
“… When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them” (“Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 77, 79–80).
What is our role in binding families together in the last days?
Write the following incomplete principle on the board: As we do family history and temple work, …
What will happen as we fulfill our responsibility to do family history and temple work for our ancestors? (After students respond, add the following to the incomplete principle on the board: our hearts will be turned to our ancestors …)
Ask students to look again at Malachi 4:6, and point out that unless the hearts of family members turn to each other, the earth will be cursed. Explain that the earth was created to help “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). This is accomplished when we perform saving ordinances on earth that bind individuals to the Savior and bind families together. If family history and temple work are left undone, then the earth will be “utterly wasted” (D&C 2:3). To complete the principle on the board, add the following: and we will help prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Invite a student to read the completed principle aloud: As we do family history and temple work, our hearts will be turned to our ancestors and we will help prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Why do our hearts turn to our ancestors when we do their family history and temple work?
How do you think our ancestors feel toward us for doing this work for them?
What experiences have you had with doing family history and temple work for your own ancestors?
If circumstances allow, you may want to invite a student who is familiar with the website FamilySearch.org to log in to his or her account and display the website in front of the class. You could allow the student a few minutes to demonstrate how to use the website and search for a family name and to give a report of his or her experience doing this work.
Ask students to write on a piece of paper one goal that will help them more fully participate in family history and temple work. Encourage them to take the paper home and place it where it will remind them of their goal.
Because this is the last lesson of the Old Testament course of study, you may want to take time at the end of the lesson to invite students to share their experiences with studying the Old Testament in seminary this year. In addition, encourage students to continue studying the scriptures every day at home. If they will be taking the next seminary course, you might suggest that they begin studying the New Testament.