Exekiel 33–48

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 188–93


Introduction

With the destruction of Jerusalem a tragic reality, Ezekiel turned his attention to the future and gave a message of hope by prophesying of Israel’s redemption in the latter days. The following are some of those latter-day events:

  • The gathering and uniting of the sheep (the house of Israel) under the true Shepherd (see Ezekiel 34).

  • The gathering of scattered Israel (see Ezekiel 36).

  • The unification of all of the tribes of Israel (see Ezekiel 37).

  • The joining of the Bible and the Book of Mormon (see Ezekiel 37:15–20).

  • The Millennium (see Ezekiel 37:21–27).

  • The battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Ezekiel 38–39).

  • The building of a new temple in Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 40–48).

His prophecies regarding a new temple, found in chapters 40–48, are of particular interest since they deal with the reconstruction of the temple and its worship. See also Bible Dictionary, “Ezekiel” (pp. 668–69).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Ezekiel 33–48. God is long-suffering. He repeatedly allows people the opportunity to repent before executing justice, and even then He offers hope and love. (30–40 minutes)

Ask students:

  • Has someone ever criticized or corrected you in an unkind way?

  • How did you feel?

  • Did you want to do better? Why or why not?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–44 and look for how we should correct those who are doing wrong.

Summarize on the board what the Lord said in those verses. Your summary might include the following:

  • Reprove = correct a fault

  • Betimes = early or without delay

  • Sharpness = clear and well-defined

  • Show an increase of love afterward.

Explain that the Lord was patient with the Jews for many years. When they refused to repent, the time came for a sharper reproof. The Lord allowed the Babylonians to conquer them, carry them away captive, and destroy Jerusalem and the temple (see 2 Kings 25). Ask students:

  • According to the pattern revealed by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 121, what should happen after that sharp rebuke?

  • Did the Lord show an “increase of love”?

Reproduce the following chart as a handout or draw it on the board. Leave the “Latter-day Blessing” column blank. Have students, singly or in groups, read the references and fill in the promised blessings.

Problem

Message of Hope

Latter-day Blessing Promised Israel

Israel was scattered.

Ezekiel 11:16–20; 14:22–23; 20:33–44; 34:13; 36:24

Israel would be gathered again.

Israel was hard-hearted and rebellious.

Ezekiel 11:18–20; 36:26–27

The Lord would give Israel a new heart and a new spirit.

The people died.

Ezekiel 37:1–14

They would be resurrected (also symbolic of the restoration of Israel).

Israel and Judah were divided.

Ezekiel 37:15–22

They would be one in the Lord’s hand (also symbolic of the unity of the scriptures).

Israel was under siege.

Ezekiel 38:14–16; 39:1–7; Zechariah 12:9

The Lord would defeat Gog and Magog. All who fight against Zion would be destroyed.

The temple was destroyed.

Ezekiel 47:1–12

Latter-day temples would bring the promise of eternal life.

The priests and Levites were corrupt.

Ezekiel 44:10–24

True priests would teach the people to discern between the holy and the profane.

To help your students apply these principles to their lives, read and discuss the following statements by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Can we expect to become like Him, given our imperfections, unless we can learn to accept and apply needed reproof and correction … ? How essential our capacity to receive correction and reproof is” (Even As I Am [1982], 63).

“With chastisement comes the chance for improvement, which, though we do not welcome it, we at least do not reject and resent it. Chastisement may occur in the most private circumstances of life or quite publicly. Either way, it is usually a major challenge for our egos. To be dressed down, as it were, just when we are dressed up, appearing to be something other than we are, is no small blow. Do we really love light enough ‘to be made glad’—even when we are shown to be wrong, when we thought ‘others were wrong’? Can we still take reproof when what others say is essentially correct but is said poorly and insensitively—or even with the wrong motives on their part? Are we willing to be held back a grade in the school of life while our contemporaries move on—until we get a certain lesson through our heads? Our Headmaster will not hesitate to do that, if necessary” (We Will Prove Them Herewith, 118).

Ezekiel 33:11–19. Sometimes sins are more difficult to repent of because we cannot restore what was taken. (5–10 minutes)

On the board, write Why is adultery more serious than stealing, and murder more serious than adultery? Have students read Ezekiel 18:27 and 33:19 and summarize what Ezekiel taught about repentance. Have them read Ezekiel 33:15–16 and look for what else we must do besides turning from sin and doing what is right (see also Exodus 22:12). Ask:

  • How does understanding the requirement for restitution help us answer the question on the board?

  • How can a person make restitution for stealing a bicycle?

Share with students the statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the commentary for Ezekiel 33:12–19 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (p. 281).

Ezekiel 34:1–10. Church leaders have a God-given responsibility to teach us the truth and warn us when we do wrong. If they do not do all they can to save Heavenly Father’s children, they will have to answer to Him. (10–15 minutes)

Ask students why they think Church leaders keep reminding us about what we should and should not do. Have students read Ezekiel 34:1–10 and look for a reason the prophet and other leaders are required to remind us about what is right. Consider also sharing parts from the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball in the commentary for Ezekiel 34:1–10 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (p. 282; see also Jacob 1:18–19).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 and ask them what it teaches about our individual responsibilities.

Ezekiel 37:1–14. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected with perfected physical bodies. (15–20 minutes)

Show students a worn-out pair of shoes. Ask: If the shoes represented your life, how would you be feeling? On the board, write All things run down, wear out, or die. Ask:

  • How do you feel when you lose something you value or someone you love?

  • What might it be like to live in a world where nothing wears out or dies?

Tell students that the Lord has provided such a world for us. Read Ezekiel 37:1–14 with them and discuss what the Lord showed to Ezekiel. Ask: What difference does it make to know that you and your loved ones will be resurrected? Discuss some or all of the following questions and scriptures to help students understand the Resurrection:

Share your testimony that the Resurrection is real and literal. Help students understand that our happiness after the Resurrection depends on our faithfulness now. Assure them that every one of them can, with the Lord’s help, be worthy of the celestial kingdom.

weekly icon scripture mastery icon Ezekiel 37 (Scripture Mastery, Ezekiel 37:15–17). The Bible and the Book of Mormon are companion witnesses of Jesus Christ. With them we can help fulfill the Lord’s promise to restore the house of Israel by declaring the message of the Restoration. (30–40 minutes)

Note: It would be helpful to review the commentaries for Ezekiel 37:1–14; 37:15–20; and 37:15–17 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 282–84).

Show students a spoon and ask them to name different uses for it. Explain that in the scriptures there are many images that are used to convey more than one meaning and that they will study some of those images today.

Review with students prophecies regarding the scattering of Israel (see enrichment sections D and J in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 113–16, 311–16). Explain that at one point, as Ezekiel witnessed in vision the continued destruction and scattering of his people, he was overwhelmed with sorrow and asked the Lord if there was to be a “full end” of Israel (see Ezekiel 11:13). Have students read Ezekiel 11:16–20 and look for answers to the following questions (write their answers on the board):

  • In verse 17, what did the Lord promise Ezekiel that He would do? (Return the people of Israel to their own lands.)

  • In verse 19, what two blessings did He say He would give them? (One heart and a new spirit.)

  • In verse 20, what were the people to do with those blessings? (Walk in His statutes and keep His ordinances.)

Explain that in Ezekiel 37 the Lord taught Ezekiel how those promises would be fulfilled. Tell students that this chapter also contains two examples of how a prophecy can have more than one meaning. Have a student read Ezekiel 37:1–10, and then ask the class what is being described in those verses. (The Resurrection from the dead.) Have another student read Ezekiel 37:11–14, and ask: Who do those resurrected people represent? (The whole house of Israel.) Tell them that since the house of Israel will not be the only ones resurrected, an additional meaning can be found in Ezekiel’s only seeing the resurrection of the house of Israel. Ask:

  • When they came forth from their symbolic graves, where were they taken? (To their own land.)

  • What did the Lord say He would give them? (His Spirit.)

Review the list of the Lord’s promises of gathering on the board and note the similarities. Ask students what the additional meaning is that is found in Ezekiel’s vision. (The gathering of Israel.)

Show students two sticks. Write on one Judah and on the other Ephraim. Have a student read Ezekiel 37:15–17, then ask: What was to be written on and done with those sticks? Explain that some translations render the Hebrew word that was translated “stick” as “wooden tablet” (see the commentary for Ezekiel 37:15–17 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 283–84). Ask:

  • What is the stick of Judah? (The Bible.)

  • What is the stick of Ephraim? (The Book of Mormon.)

  • What were they to become? (One.)

Cross-reference Ezekiel 37:15–17 to 2 Nephi 3:12 and look for why these sticks must come together. Ask students:

  • According to 2 Nephi 3:12, what are five blessings that come to God’s people by joining those two books together? (Confound false doctrines, set aside contentions, establish peace, bring latter-day Israel to the knowledge of their fathers, and restore to latter-day Israel the knowledge of the Lord’s covenants.)

  • How does joining the Book of Mormon with the Bible accomplish those things?

Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“Ezekiel’s prophecy now stands fulfilled.

“With the passing of years, these scriptures will produce successive generations of faithful Christians who know the Lord Jesus Christ and are disposed to obey His will.

“… Into their hands now are placed the sticks of Joseph and of Judah. They will develop a gospel scholarship beyond that which their forebears could achieve. They will have the testimony that Jesus is the Christ and be competent to proclaim Him and to defend Him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53).

Explain that just as Ezekiel’s vision of the Resurrection has more than one meaning, so does the prophecy of the sticks. Have students turn to Bible map 3. Remind them that Israel was divided into two kingdoms after the reign of Solomon. The southern kingdom was governed by the house of Judah, while the northern kingdom was governed by the house of Ephraim. Have students read Ezekiel 37:19–23 and look for another meaning for the sticks. Ask: What was the Lord revealing to Ezekiel? (Ephraim and Judah would someday be united in one kingdom.) Have students read Ezekiel 37:24–26. Ask:

  • Who do you think the king over the united children of Israel will be? (Jesus Christ.)

  • Why do you suppose He was called David here? (Christ is a descendant of David.)

  • How long will Ephraim and Judah dwell together?

  • What part does the Book of Mormon play in the fulfillment of this prophecy?

  • What can we do to help bring it to pass?

Encourage students to do their part by carrying the message of the Restoration of the gospel to scattered Israel. You may wish to point out that it was not until after the Book of Mormon had been translated that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the keys of the gathering of Israel (see D&C 110:11).

Ezekiel 38–39. The war between good and evil that began in the premortal world will climax in a great battle in the Holy Land. (35–45 minutes)

Note: It would be helpful to review the commentaries for Ezekiel 38–39 and enrichment section I in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 284–86, 291–95).

Show students a calendar with days of the week but no numbers for the days and a clock with the hour hand missing. Have them read Matthew 24:36–37 and ask them what those items have to do with the Savior’s Second Coming. Tell them that Ezekiel prophesied about the great last battle of Armageddon that would take place before the Second Coming.

Reproduce the following chart as a handout or draw it on the board. Divide the class into groups and assign each group one or more of the topics in the “Theme” column to study. Have them report their findings.

Theme

Ezekiel’s Prophecy

Supporting References

A great army is assembled under Gog.

Ezekiel 38:1–7

Joel 1:1–6; Revelation 9:16; Bible Dictionary, “Gog” (p. 682)

Gog’s army marches against Israel in the last days.

Ezekiel 38:8–16

Joel 2:1–9; Zechariah 14:1–3; Revelation 9:7–11, 16–19

A great earthquake accompanies the war.

Ezekiel 38:17–20

Zechariah 14:1–4; Revelation 16:18–20

War spreads to all nations, followed by pestilence, blood, and hailstones.

Ezekiel 38:21–23

Jeremiah 25:31–32; Isaiah 3:25–26; 13:11, 15–16; Zechariah 14:12–13; Revelation 16:21; D&C 29:15–19; 87:6

The Lord fights for Israel and sends fire against Gog’s army.

Ezekiel 39:1–7

Isaiah 66:15–16; Psalms 11:5–6; 110:6; 118:10; Zechariah 12:1–9

Israel will spend seven months burying the dead and seven years burning weapons.

Ezekiel 39:8–16

Isaiah 34:1–3; Jeremiah 25:33

There is a supper of the Lord.

Ezekiel 39:17–21

Revelation 19:17–18; D&C 29:20

Israel is restored to the covenant and dwells safely in her land.

Ezekiel 39:22–29

Jeremiah 46:27–28; Joel 2:12–20

If there are any remaining questions after the groups report, answer them using the scriptures. Help students understand that righteous living is the best preparation for the last days and the Savior’s Second Coming. Read Doctrine and Covenants 115:5–6 and encourage students to be true to their covenants and to do all in their power to help strengthen their stakes, wards, branches, and homes.

Ezekiel 40–48. The Lord has always commanded His people to build temples. Ezekiel saw in vision the temple that would be built in Jerusalem. (50–60 minutes)

Display a picture of a temple and ask students how temples represent messages of hope. Have students read Ezekiel 37:25–28, and ask:

  • What do the words tabernacle and sanctuary in those verses refer to? (A temple.)

  • Where will this temple be built?

  • When will this take place? (see the commentary for Ezekiel 37:26–28 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 284).

Explain that Ezekiel 40–48 records a vision of a great temple to be built in Jerusalem in the last days to bring hope and blessing to the house of Israel. Select some verses from Ezekiel 40–42 that give details of the temple. Ask students:

  • Why do you think the Lord showed Ezekiel the temple and its courtyards in such detail?

  • Is there a temple of the Lord in Jerusalem today?

Have students read Ezekiel 43:1–9 and tell what the people must do before the Lord will dwell in His temple. Compare Doctrine and Covenants 97:10–17 and look for what the Lord has revealed on this subject in our day.

Have students imagine going to a temple or, if they have already been, have them think of their time there. Ask them:

  • How do you feel when you see the temple?

  • What inscription is found on the outside of temples? (“Holiness to the Lord—the House of the Lord.”)

  • How is that phrase descriptive of temples?

  • Why is it essential that everyone desiring to enter the temple be judged worthy to do so?

Have students read Ezekiel 44:6–9. Discuss general requirements for temple worthiness. Ask: Why does it matter who is allowed to enter? (see D&C 97:15–17). Note: You may want to invite a bishop to discuss temple recommend questions.

Explain that there are blessings reserved for those who worthily attend the temple (see D&C 109:10–15, 21–28). Tell students that Ezekiel’s description of the temple is rich in symbolism. Have them read Ezekiel 47:1–2 and ask them what will run out from under that temple. Cross-reference and read John 4:10–14. Ask what that water symbolizes. The water coming out from under the temple is also literal. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 286).

Read Ezekiel 47:8–9 and ask:

  • What happens to everything the water touches?

  • How is that like the influence of Jesus Christ in our lives?

Share your testimony of how the Savior’s influence can be felt in temples. Have students read Ezekiel 47:3–5 and look for how deep the river of water becomes. (To the ankles, to the knees, to the loins, and then deep enough to swim in.) Ask:

  • What might being “ankle deep” in the influence of Jesus Christ represent?

  • How would that be different from being “knee deep” or “immersed” in the influence of Jesus Christ?

  • How could these blessings affect your life?

  • How would they impact the Church?

Share the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter:

“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).