Lesson 140: Ezekiel 4–32
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“Lesson 140: Ezekiel 4–32,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 140,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 140

Ezekiel 4–32


Jesus Christ commanded Ezekiel to teach the Jews in captivity by using examples that symbolized God’s judgment of the city of Jerusalem. Through Ezekiel, the Lord reproved the wayward Israelites and pleaded with them to repent of their wicked ways. Ezekiel also spoke against the wickedness of nations surrounding Israel and prophesied of their destruction.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ezekiel 4–17, 19–24

Ezekiel prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering and gathering of Israel

Invite students to think of someone they have a good relationship with.

  • What has helped make that relationship strong?

  • Is it possible to have a strong relationship with someone you do not know well? Why or why not?

Ask students to consider what their relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are currently like. Invite students to look as they study Ezekiel 4–24 for how Jesus Christ helps us strengthen our relationships with Him.

Explain that the Lord showed Ezekiel in a vision how the children of Israel had separated themselves from Him through their idolatry and wickedness. Ezekiel prophesied about what would happen to Israel in the future.

Provide students with copies of the following chart, or write it on the board.

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Scripture reference

What would happen to the Israelites?

What would the Israelites learn as a result?

Ezekiel 6:1–7

Ezekiel 6:8–10

Ezekiel 12:15–20

Ezekiel 16:60–63

Ezekiel 20:41–44

Divide students into five groups, and assign each group one of the scripture blocks. (If your class is small, you may want to divide students into fewer groups and assign each group more than one scripture block.) Invite students to read their assigned scriptures in their groups, looking for what would happen to the Israelites and what the Israelites would learn as a result. Ask students to record what they find on their charts. After sufficient time, invite one student from each group to report to the class what they found. Ask students to fill in the rest of their charts or complete the chart together on the board as students report.

  • How would you summarize what Jehovah wanted the Israelites to know as a result of what would happen to them? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: The Lord provides opportunities for us to know that He is the only true God.)

Explain that the phrase “ye shall know that I am the Lord” or variations of it are mentioned more than 45 times in Ezekiel 4–32.

  • Why do you think it was important that the people recognize the Lord as the only true God?

Invite a student to read Ezekiel 14:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for one of Jehovah’s purposes for punishing Israel.

  • According to verse 11, what was one of the Lord’s purposes for punishing Israel? (After students respond, add to the truth on the board so that it reads: The Lord provides opportunities for us to come to know that He is the only true God and to draw closer to Him.)

  • What has helped strengthen your testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

  • What has helped you draw closer to Them?

Ezekiel 18

Jesus Christ teaches Ezekiel that all people will be punished for their own sins

Invite students to imagine that they are talking to two of their friends. One friend says to the other, “If I had parents like yours who were active and strong in the Church, I would probably be a better person and not do some of the stuff I do. But my parents aren’t active and don’t expect me to live all the standards, so I don’t.”

  • What would you say to this friend?

Invite students to look for principles as they study Ezekiel 18 that can help them better understand Heavenly Father’s expectations of them, regardless of their family’s level of activity in the Church.

Invite a student to read Ezekiel 18:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for an Israelite proverb Jesus Christ referred to.

  • According to verse 2, what proverb did Jesus Christ refer to?

Explain that the reference to fathers eating sour grapes and the children’s teeth being set on edge refers to the Israelites’ belief that their punishments had resulted from their fathers’ sins, which were symbolized by the sour grapes. The children of Israel excused their sins by claiming that their parents had not properly taught them the ways of God or established an environment where they could be faithful to His commandments.

  • According to verse 3, what did the Lord say to Israel about this excuse?

Explain that in Ezekiel 18:4–18 we read that the Lord used a scenario involving a man, his son, and his grandson that illustrates why the Israelites could not blame their sins on their parents. Summarize verses 4–8 by explaining that the Lord described a just and righteous man.

Invite students to scan Ezekiel 18:9 silently, looking for what the Lord said would happen to this righteous man.

  • What did the Lord say would happen to this man? (Explain that the phrase “he shall surely live” refers to eventually living in God’s presence.)

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ezekiel 18:10–13. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a description of the righteous man’s son.

  • What kind of man was the son? (Explain that in verse 13 the phrase “he shall surely die” refers to being shut out of God’s presence, and the reference to blood refers to responsibility for the man’s sins.)

  • What do you think the Lord meant when He said, “His blood shall be upon him”?

  • What are some examples from the scriptures of people who were wicked despite having righteous parents? (Possible answers may include Cain, Laman, and Lemuel.)

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ezekiel 18:14–18. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jehovah described the wicked man’s son.

  • How did Jehovah describe the wicked man’s son?

  • What are some examples from the scriptures of people who lived righteously despite having unrighteous parents? (Possible answers may include Abraham, King Hezekiah, and King Limhi.)

  • What principle can we learn from the wicked man’s son? (Students may use different words, but help them identify a principle similar to the following: We can choose to live righteously regardless of our circumstances and the choices of those around us. Using students’ words, write this truth on the board. Invite students to consider writing it in their scriptures.)

Invite students to read Ezekiel 18:19–20 silently, looking for an additional principle Israel could learn from this parable.

  • What do you think is meant by the phrase “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son” (verse 20)? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that God will hold us accountable for our own choices. Write this truth on the board.)

  • Why do you think the children of Israel needed to understand this truth?

To help students understand the truths they identified in Ezekiel 18, invite a student to read aloud the following statement from For the Strength of Youth:

“Heavenly Father has given you agency, the ability to choose right from wrong and to act for yourself. Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct your life is one of God’s greatest gifts to you. While here on earth, you are being proven to see if you will use your agency to show your love for God by keeping His commandments. …

“You are responsible for the choices you make. God is mindful of you and will help you make good choices, even if your family and friends use their agency in ways that are not right. Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God’s will, even if you have to stand alone. As you do this, you set an example for others to follow” ([booklet, 2011], 2).

  • What has God given to us that can help guide us to make good choices?

  • How has God helped you or someone you know make good choices even when family and friends have used their agency in ways that are not right?

Consider sharing your testimony that God will hold us accountable for our own choices and that regardless of our circumstances and the choices of others, we can choose to live righteously.

Write the following question on the board: What choices can I make in my life now that will help me live righteously even when those around me do not? Ask students to respond to this question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they wrote with the class.

Ask students to read Ezekiel 18:21–22 silently, looking for the Lord’s message to those who turn from their wickedness.

  • What is the Lord’s message to those who turn from their wickedness?

Summarize Ezekiel 18:24–32 by explaining that Jehovah taught that the righteous who turn away from Him and commit sin without repenting will not be saved. Jehovah called on His people to cast away their sins and “make … a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 18:31).

(Note: Many of the teachings in Ezekiel 18:21–32 are repeated in Ezekiel 33:10–20 and will be covered in more detail in the next lesson.)

Ezekiel 25–32

Ezekiel prophesies of the destruction of foreign nations

Summarize Ezekiel 25–32 by explaining that Ezekiel prophesied of the destruction of wicked nations that surrounded Israel.

Conclude by inviting students to testify of the truths from this lesson that are most meaningful to them.

Commentary and Background Information

Ezekiel 18:2. “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”

While we are all free to exercise our agency and choose for ourselves, the role of parents in raising their children in righteousness is extremely important in helping children learn how to exercise their agency righteously. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the importance of parents raising their children in righteousness:

“All are free to choose, of course, and we would not have it otherwise. Unfortunately, however, when some choose slackness, they are choosing not only for themselves, but for the next generation and the next. Small equivocations in parents can produce large deviations in their children! Earlier generations in a family may have reflected dedication, while some in the current generation evidence equivocation. Sadly, in the next, some may choose dissension, as erosion takes its toll” (“Settle This in Your Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 65–66).