“Unit 29: Day 2, Ezekiel 37,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 29: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
Filled with the Spirit of the Lord, 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 also spoke of the covenant He would establish with gathered Israel.
As you study Ezekiel 37, look for doctrines and principles that help us understand how God can restore us physically and spiritually.
Read Ezekiel 37:1–2, looking for what Ezekiel saw in a vision. What did Ezekiel see in the middle of the valley?
Imagine that you are in Ezekiel’s position, and visualize this valley of bones. You may want to mark in your scriptures that the bones Ezekiel saw were “very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2). This implies that the bodies in the valley had been dead for a significant period of time. What questions would you have if you were in the midst of the valley of dry bones?
Read Ezekiel 37:4–6, looking for the Lord’s response to the question He asked.
What did the Lord say He would do with the bones?
The word breath in verse 5 refers to the “breath of life” (see 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.
Ezekiel saw in vision the resurrection of many people. Resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit with the body in a perfect, immortal state. The body is no longer subject to death, and so the body and the spirit will never again be separated (see Alma 11:43–45).
In Ezekiel 37:11–14 we read that the Lord, Jesus Christ, said He would raise His people of the house of Israel from their graves one day. You may want to mark the phrase “and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live” in verse 14. This prophecy refers to His power to restore the tribes of Israel from their scattered condition and breathe life into them. It also can represent His power to resurrect His people.
From these verses we can learn that Jesus Christ has the power to resurrect us. We can also learn that when we are resurrected, our bodies will be made whole again.
As you read the following statement from Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy, think of someone you love who has passed away:
“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).
- In your scripture study journal, write: Can these bones live? Then answer this question by writing your testimony of Jesus Christ and His power to resurrect us.
Read Ezekiel 37:15–17, looking for the two sticks that would bless many lives forever. (Ezekiel 37:15–17 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
You may want to mark Ezekiel 37:16, footnote a, which explains that these sticks can refer to wooden tablets. They can also refer to scrolls, which anciently were rolled around sticks. (See Boyd K. Packer, “Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 51.)
One professor of ancient scripture noted: “The discovery in 1953 of … 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” (Keith Meservy, “Ezekiel’s Sticks and the Gathering of Israel,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 4).
The stick of Judah is the Bible. The Bible was preserved primarily through the Jews, many of whom were of the tribe of Judah. The stick of Joseph is the Book of Mormon. Lehi and his descendants, some of whom kept the records now contained in the Book of Mormon, were descendants of Joseph (see 2 Nephi 3:12; Alma 10:3).
What do you think it means that these two sticks or books of scripture “shall become one in thine hand” (Ezekiel 37:17)?
Read 1 Nephi 13:40, 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.
From Ezekiel 37:15–17 and 1 Nephi 13:40 we can learn that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are united in testifying that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Consider writing this truth in the margin of your scriptures next to Ezekiel 37:15–17.
- Some people say they believe in the Bible but do not see a need for the Book of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 29). Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think it is 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 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.
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the blessings available to you because you can study the Bible and the Book of Mormon together:
“The stick or record of Judah—the Old Testament and the New Testament— and the stick or record of Ephraim—the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ—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).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: 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?
Ponder what you will do to use the Book of Mormon and the Bible together to strengthen your testimony of and faith in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Act on the promptings you receive.
Ezekiel 37:21–28 teaches that the union of the sticks of Judah and Joseph also symbolizes the reunion of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The reunited house of Israel will be led by their Shepherd and King—Jehovah, or Jesus Christ. The Lord promised He would renew His covenant with the house of Israel and sanctify them.
- To help you memorize Ezekiel 37:15–17, write the first letter of each word in verses 15–17 in your scripture study journal. Use the letters you wrote to help you recite the passage aloud. Refer to the verses as needed. Repeat this process until you can recite the passage using the first letter of each word. Record your accomplishing this assignment in your scripture study journal.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Ezekiel 37 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: