Lesson 142: Ezekiel 37
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“Lesson 142: Ezekiel 37,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 142,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 142

Ezekiel 37


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.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ezekiel 37:1–14

Ezekiel is shown examples of restoration—the Resurrection and the gathering of the house of 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:

Bowen, Shayne M.

“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.

Ezekiel 37:15–28

Ezekiel prophesies that the sticks of Judah and Joseph will be joined together

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.)

Anciently, some writings were recorded on paper, parchment, or other materials and rolled up like this scroll.

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:

S&I Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Ezekiel 37:17. “They shall become one in thine hand”

Some people say they believe in the Bible but do not see a need for the Book of Mormon. Discuss your answers to the following question: Why is it important to have more than one book of scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ?

One way the Bible and the Book of Mormon are united is by the LDS footnotes that provide cross-references between the two books. Find a verse in the Book of Mormon that testifies of Jesus Christ (such as Helaman 5:12). Look in the footnotes of the verse you found, and identify a verse in the Bible that testifies of Jesus Christ.

Read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who spoke of the blessings available because you can study the Bible and the Book of Mormon together.

Packer, Boyd K.

“The stick or record of Judah … and the stick or record of Ephraim … are now woven together in such a way that as you pore over one you are drawn to the other; as you learn from one you are enlightened by the other. They are indeed one in our hands. 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. …

“… The revelations will be opened to them as to no other in the history of the world. 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” (“Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53).

Discuss your answers to the following question: How has studying both the Bible and the Book of Mormon helped you to feel prepared to proclaim and defend your testimony of Jesus Christ?

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.

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Scripture Mastery—Ezekiel 37:15–17

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.

Commentary and Background Information

Ezekiel 37:15–17. Sticks

Ellis T. Rasmussen, author of A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament, commented on the term etz:

“Commonly translated stick, the Hebrew word used is etz, a generic word meaning ‘wood’ (there are other words meaning ‘stick,’ ‘staff,’ ‘branch,’ or ‘scepter’). This was wood upon which it was possible to write. Babylonian writing tablets of wood have been found hinged together and faced with wax, with writing engraved on them. Two wooden tablets represent the scriptures from Judah (the Bible) and Joseph (the Book of Mormon) to ‘be one in mine hand’ (Ezek. 37:15–19 and fn.)” (A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament [1993], 608).

In addition, while serving as an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, Keith Meservy commented on the discovery of some ancient wooden tablets:

“The discovery in 1953 of these writing boards from biblical Calah in Mesopotamia altered the thinking of scholars about how Middle Eastern cultures made records. Wooden tablets filled with wax represent the ‘earliest known form of ancient book’ and help us understand an important prophecy of Ezekiel foretelling the uniting of the Bible and Book of Mormon” (“Ezekiel’s Sticks and the Gathering of Israel,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 4).

Ezekiel’s prophecy that the two sticks would be joined “one to another into one stick” (Ezekiel 37:17) is clarified by the phrase “shall grow together,” which is found in 2 Nephi 3:12. This phrase helps us understand that the joining together of the two sticks is a process that will occur over time.

Ezekiel 37:26. “A covenant of peace”

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related a personal story about how temple covenants provided him profound peace:

“Our son, Richard, was born with a heart defect. We were told that unless that could be cured, there was little probability that he would live more than two or three years. This was so long ago that techniques now used to repair such defects were unknown. We had the blessing of having a place where doctors agreed to attempt to perform the needed surgery. The surgery had to be done while his little heart was beating.

“The surgery was performed just six weeks after the birth and death of our baby daughter. When the operation finished, the principal surgeon came in and said it was a success. And we thought, ‘How wonderful! Our son will have a strong body, be able to run and walk and grow!’ We expressed deep gratitude to the Lord. Then about 10 minutes later, the same doctor came in with an ashen face and told us, ‘Your son has died.’ Apparently the shock of the operation was more than his little body could endure.

“Later, during the night, I embraced my wife and said to her, ‘We do not need to worry, because our children were born in the covenant. We have the assurance that we will have them with us in the future. Now we have a reason to live extremely well. We have a son and a daughter who have qualified to go to the celestial kingdom because they died before the age of eight.’ That knowledge has given us great comfort. We rejoice in the knowledge that all seven of our children are sealed to us for time and all eternity.

“That trial has not been a problem for either of us because, when we live righteously and have received the ordinances of the temple, everything else is in the hands of the Lord. We can do the best we can, but the final outcome is up to Him. We should never complain, when we are living worthily, about what happens in our lives.

“Fourteen years ago the Lord decided it was not necessary for my wife to live any longer on the earth, and He took her to the other side of the veil. I confess that there are times when it is difficult not to be able to turn and talk to her, but I do not complain. The Lord has allowed me, at important moments in my life, to feel her influence through the veil.

“What I am trying to teach is that when we keep the temple covenants we have made and when we live righteously in order to maintain the blessings promised by those ordinances, then come what may, we have no reason to worry or to feel despondent” (“Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 45).