“Unit 29: Day 1, Ezekiel 33–36,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 29: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
Through His prophet Ezekiel, Jehovah warned the Jews in Babylon of the consequences of continuing in their sins. After He condemned some of the leaders of the Israelites for not caring for the people as they should, Jehovah compared Himself to a good shepherd who loves and protects his flock. The Lord promised His people that their enemies would be destroyed and that, after returning to Him, His people would be restored to their land.
Imagine a chart that reflects someone’s sins and righteous acts. Consider whether you believe the following statement is true: “As long as you perform more righteous acts than sins during your life, you will certainly return to live with Heavenly Father forever.”
Do you believe that statement is true? Why or why not?
As you study Ezekiel 33, look for truths that indicate how Jesus Christ will judge us and what we must do to qualify to live with Heavenly Father forever. To help you understand who is speaking in this chapter, remember that in both ancient times and today, Heavenly Father appointed Jesus Christ, or Jehovah, to speak for Him to the prophets. Jehovah, “usually identified in the Old Testament as LORD (in small capitals), is the Son, known as Jesus Christ, … who is also a God. Jesus works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with Him” (Bible Dictionary, “God”).
As recorded in Ezekiel 33:1–9, the Lord again compared the role of a prophet to the role of a watchman. A watchman is responsible to warn the people of unforeseen danger (see Ezekiel 3:17–21). Remember that Ezekiel was called to preach to Israelites who had previously ignored the warnings of prophets and were suffering the consequences of their sins while living as captives in Babylon.
Read Ezekiel 33:10, looking for a question that the Lord said the Israelites had asked. To “pine away” in their sins means the people felt they were wasting away in their sins. The word live in this verse can mean to enjoy peace and happiness in this life and eventually live in Heavenly Father’s presence.
According to verse 10, what was the people’s concern?
Read Ezekiel 33:11, looking for Jehovah’s response to the Israelites’ concern. The words death and die may refer to being shut out from Heavenly Father’s presence. The word turn is the English translation of a Hebrew word that can mean repent.
What message about Himself did Jehovah instruct Ezekiel to communicate to the Israelites? What did He instruct the Israelites to do?
As recorded in Ezekiel 33:12–16, the Lord gave two examples to help the Israelites understand the importance of turning from their sins and living righteously.
Read Ezekiel 33:12–13, looking for what Jehovah taught about our righteousness (or righteous actions).
You may want to mark the phrase “all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered” in verse 13. The declaration that our righteous acts will “not be remembered” if we turn to iniquity means that those sins that are unrepented of and unforgiven would make us unworthy to live with Heavenly Father regardless of our previous righteous acts.
Read Ezekiel 33:14–16, looking for what happens to those who were wicked but turned from their sins.
In verse 16 the phrase “none of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him” means the Lord will not take those sins into account at the Final Judgment (see D&C 58:42). You may want to mark this phrase in your scriptures.
Read Ezekiel 33:17–20, looking for what the people said about the way of the Lord, or the way He will judge us, and for the Lord’s response to the people. (The word equal in these verses means just or fair [see verse 17, footnote b].)
To better understand how Jesus Christ will judge us, read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Based on what you have studied in Ezekiel 33, what will be considered when we are judged?
From the verses studied in Ezekiel 33 and the statement from Elder Oaks, we learn that Jesus Christ will judge us by the person we have become as the result of our thoughts and actions. We are not judged solely on whether we have done more good than evil. Those who will inherit the celestial kingdom are people who have turned away from a sinful life and have come to delight in righteousness.
Reread the statement from the beginning of the lesson. Ponder why the statement is untrue. For example, if someone performs many righteous acts but then turns away from righteousness and sins, that person has not truly become righteous. On the other hand, if someone who has committed many sins chooses to turn to the Lord and repent, that person is no longer wicked.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think it is important to understand that Jesus Christ will judge us by the kind of person we have become as a result of our actions?
As recorded in Ezekiel 33:21–33, Ezekiel learned that Jerusalem had been destroyed. He prophesied that those who remained in or moved into the land of Israel and rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem would also be destroyed. The Lord also told Ezekiel that the Israelites “hear thy words, but they do them not” (Ezekiel 33:32).
What are characteristics of a good shepherd?
As recorded in Ezekiel 34:1–8, the Lord compared the leaders of Israel to shepherds and the people to their sheep. Read Ezekiel 34:1–8, looking for what the Lord said about the leaders of Israel and their treatment of the people.
Read Ezekiel 34:11–16, looking for what blessings Jehovah promised His people as their shepherd. You may want to mark these blessings in your scriptures.
Think about the various ways the Lord might gather us to Him, nourish us, and “bind up that which was broken” (Ezekiel 34:16).
We learn from Ezekiel 34:11–16 that if we follow Jesus Christ, then He will bless us temporally and spiritually.
- Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do we need to do to receive the blessings you found in Ezekiel 34:11–16?
When has the Savior been like a good shepherd to you by providing one of those blessings?
Ezekiel 34:17–31 contains Ezekiel’s prophecy that the Lord would deliver His people from their oppressors. This prophecy also refers to the day when the Lord would come to the earth in the latter days and gather the lost sheep of Israel through covenants. They will live with Him in safety, never to be scattered again.
As recorded in Ezekiel 35:1–36:7, Jehovah promised that because the people of Edom rejoiced in the destruction of Israel, they would also be destroyed and their land would be left desolate. We learn in Ezekiel 36:8–38 that the Lord then promised that He would bless the land to be fruitful and would gather all of Israel to rejoice in it. This prophecy, like the prophecy in Ezekiel 34, refers to Ezekiel’s day as well as the last days.
Read Ezekiel 36:24–28, looking for what the Lord promised to do for those who choose to follow Him in the last days.
Refer to verse 26 to complete the following principle: If we follow Jesus Christ, He can .
To have a “new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26), or a change of heart, means that as we receive the Lord’s Spirit in our lives, we lose our desires to do evil and we gain the desire “to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).
Each of us can receive a change of heart if we seek it by following Jesus Christ.
- Consider ways in which you might need a change of heart. Write in your scripture study journal something you will do this coming week to invite the Holy Ghost to help you receive a change of heart.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Ezekiel 33–36 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: