The Shepherds of Israel
The shepherds of Israel.
Repentance and forgiveness.
Ezekiel's vision of the valley of bones.
The stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to fulfill our responsibilities as
“shepherds of Israel” (Ezekiel
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 43 Handout (PDF)
Introduction To Ezekiel
Ezekiel was the son of Buzi.
He was spoken of as "the priest."
He was among the group carried to Babylon in 598 B.C. with king Jehoiachin.
He was probably about age 25 or 26 when taken to Babylonia.
Ezekiel was married and his wife died during the Babylonian captivity.
Date of his mission: about 593-571 B.C.
He prophesied to the Jews in captivity in Babylonia.
Most of Ezekiel's prophecy is concerned with the conditions in Judah between
the first major deportation of the Jews and the fall of Jerusalem.
Nebuchadnezzar was king in Babylonia.
Brother Duane S. Crowther: "Ezekiel lived
the life of a captive and labored among Jewish exiles and slaves in Babylonia.
Like Jeremiah, he was commanded to perform symbolic actions. Like Jeremiah,
he struck out at the sins of Judah and gave the reason for God's rejection
of his chosen people. Though of an upper class heritage before going into
captivity, he was forced to live a life of poverty and despair. He ministered
to the common people while Daniel ministered to the royalty."
(Prophets & Prophecies of The Old Testament, p529)
The Call Of Ezekiel - Ezekiel 2
EZEKIEL 2:2-5. The call of Ezekiel.
WHAT WAS EZEKIEL'S COMMISSION?
To preach the word of God.
To testify and witness unto them. They were to know that a prophet
of God had been among them.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE CAPTIVE JEWS WERE SO SLOW TO REPENT EVEN AFTER MANY
GREAT CALAMITIES HAD BEFALLEN THEM?
Their wickedness was so firmly entrenched that it would take a great deal
of humbling to bring them down.
EZEKIEL 2:6-7. Ezekiel to preach unto them in spite
of their rebelliousness.
HOW SHOULD THE POSSIBILITY OF REJECTION AFFECT OUR EFFORTS TO PROCLAIM
"Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the
people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor."
President John Taylor: "If you do not magnify
your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have
saved had you done your duty." (JD, 20:23)
It would seem that no matter what the adversity, there is no excuse for
not proclaiming the gospel and fulfilling our callings.
HOW SHOULD WE REACT IF WE, LIKE EZEKIEL, ARE NOT GIVEN PROPER RESPECT AS
WE TRY TO FULFILL A CALLING FROM THE LORD?
While I was on my mission years ago, my companion and I were tracting
in a small town in the hill country of eastern Oklahoma. We knocked
on the door of a house. A man opened the door and said, "I know you
Mormons, you have come to take our daughters away." We tried to explain
that we were there for no such reason, but to teach the gospel of Jesus
Christ. This man would not listen and threatened to get a club if
we did not leave. We felt it best to leave. We were frustrated
and could not believe that there were still people in America so misinformed.
A few months later we returned to once again
to tract through the little town. We came to the home of this same person.
We debated whether to skip his house or knock on the door. We decided
it was not our choice. We were there to share the gospel. We
knocked on the door and the same man came to the door. We acted as
if we had not been there before and explained who we were and the message
we were sharing. Although he was not interested, this time he was
courteous. Evidently, our calm, non-confrontational approach affected
him and he treated us with respect.
EZEKIEL 2:8-10. Ezekiel commanded to eat the book.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THESE VERSES?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie compared this experience to a similar one experienced
by John in the Book of Revelation: "The
act signified that [John] was eating the bread of life, that he was partaking
of the good word of God, that he was feasting upon the word of Christ--which
was in his 'mouth sweet as honey.' But it made his 'belly bitter'; that
is, the judgments and plagues promised those to who the Lord's word was
sent caused him to despair and have sorrow of soul." (Doctrinal
New Testament Commentary, 3:508)
HOW MIGHT THIS HAVE HELPED EZEKIEL PREPARE FOR HIS MINISTRY?
He was becoming familiar with the word of God which prepared him for the teaching
he had been called to do.
Watchmen In Zion - Ezekiel 3
EZEKIEL 3:17-21. Ezekiel to be a watchman.
WHAT IS A WATCHMAN?
Anciently the military watchman was the man who had to stay awake and faced
execution if he failed to warn the city when the enemy appeared. The watchman had to be alert and vigilant.
Ezekiel was to be a watchman to Judah.
WHO ARE OUR WATCHMEN IN THE LATTER DAYS?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE THESE WATCHMEN?
Elder Boyd K. Packer told of the devastating flood caused by the collapse
of the Teton Dam in Idaho in 1976. In the immediate path of the fast-moving
floodwaters were 7,800 people. As the flood rushed down the valley,
it destroyed 790 homes and severely damaged another 800 homes, churches,
schools, and businesses. Considering the amount of water, its speed,
and the population of the area, one expert estimated that 5,300 people
should have been killed. Incredibly, only 6 people drowned.
Said Elder Packer:
"How could there be such a terrible destruction with such little loss
of life?... Because they were warned! They didn't have very long, but they
were warned; and every man who was warned, warned his neighbor...
"What about the six
that drowned? One of them was just below the dam and had no choice. Two
of them wouldn't believe the warning until it was too late. They later
found them both in their car, but they hadn't heeded the warning. Three
of them went back to get some material possessions, and they lost their
"But it was a miracle
of tremendous proportion. As Latter-day Saints we learn to heed warnings...
"Now, I see a great
similarity in what is happening in the world, a great tidal wave of evil
and wickedness in the world. It just seeps around us and gets deeper and
deeper. Our lives are in danger. Our property is in danger. Our freedoms
are in danger, and yet we casually go about our work unable to understand
that it behooves every man that has been warned to warn his neighbor....
"[We have been] warned
by a prophet. Will [we] heed the warning, or will [we] be as those six
in Idaho who thought the warning was not for them?" (That All
May Be Edified, pp220-221, 223)
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE WATCHMEN?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "As watchmen
on the tower of Zion, it is our obligation and right as leaders to speak
out against current evils - evils that strike at the very foundation of
all we hold dear as the true church of Christ and as members of Christian
nations." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p589)
"And we did magnify our office unto the Lord,
taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon
our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence;
wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our
garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would
not be found spotless at the last day." (Jacob 1:19)
The Fate of Jerusalem & Judah - Ezekiel 4 &
Ezekiel performed four symbolic acts to demonstrate the fate of Jerusalem
The Siege of Jerusalem:
EZEKIEL 4:1-3. Ezekiel performs a symbolic act
as a witness to Judah.
WHY DID EZEKIEL DO THIS?
"This shall be a sign to Israel" (v3).
It was another testimony or witness to wicked Judah of the consequences
of not repenting.
A representation of the greatness of the iniquity of Israel and Judah.
Ezekiel lay on his left side for 390 days to represent 390 years of Israel's
Ezekiel lay on his right side for 40 days to represent 40 years of Judah's
The Famine in Jerusalem.
In Ezekiel 4:9-17 Ezekiel eats small food and drink rations to represent
the famine which will take place in Jerusalem.
The Destruction of Jerusalem.
EZEKIEL 5:1-4. Ezekiel cuts his hair: burned 1/3,
stabbed 1/3, scattered 1/3.
Fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
A third to die by fire and famine.
A third to die by the sword.
A third to be scattered.
The testimony described in these four symbolic acts appear to be the last
effort by Ezekiel and the Lord to graphically testify to Judah the importance
of repenting. Judah will be left without an excuse, for they have
been warned in every possible way.
HOW ARE WE DOING IN LISTENING TO OUR PROPHETS?
Repentance & Forgiveness - Ezekiel 18
EZEKIEL 18:1-4. Men accountable for their
own sins and not that of their fathers.
The people of Judah were like children that often try to excuse their
mistakes by blaming them on someone else. Judah was trying to blame
their situation on their ancestors.
WHAT WAS THE LORD'S RESPONSE?
"The soul that sinneth shall die"
(v4). No more excuses. You are accountable for your own actions
and will receive the consequences.
The Lord explains this principle through Ezekiel:
A man lives righteously--he shall surely live (v5-9).
His son is wicked--the son shall surely die (v10-13).
His son turns away from his father's wickedness and lives righteously--he
shall surely live (v14-20).
EZEKIEL 18:20-22. The principle of accountability
"But when the righteous turneth away from his
righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the
abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness
that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath
trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die."
WHAT PRINCIPLE IS TAUGHT HERE?
Enduring to the end.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "Having received
the necessary saving ordinances - baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost,
temple ordinances and sealings - one must live the covenants made. He must
endure in faith. No matter how brilliant was the service rendered by the
bishop or stake president or other person, if he falters later in his life
and fails to live righteously 'to the end' the good works he did all stand
in jeopardy." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p149)
EZEKIEL 18:30-31. Cast aside your sins.
HOW DOES ONE RECEIVE A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT?
Consider our previous discussion on "God Will Write His Law In The Hearts
Of His People" (see Lesson
EZEKIEL 33:14-16. Promises to the repentant
WHAT DOES THE LORD PROMISE THE REPENTANT SINNER?
He shall not die.
His sins shall not be mentioned.
EZEKIEL 33:30-32. The people hear, but
do not act.
HOW MIGHT THESE WORDS OF EZEKIEL APPLY TO CHURCH MEMBERS TODAY?
HOW DO WE BECOME DOERS OF THE WORD AND NOT HEARERS ONLY?
By making a commitment and setting goals.
As we pursue commitments and goals these things become a interwoven part of our
Scripture study - Commit to reading daily from the Book of Mormon.
Service - Commit to doing at least once a day the following:
Boy Scout motto - do a good turn daily.
Go the extra mile.
The Shepherds Of Israel - Chapter 34
WHO WERE THE SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL?
The pastors or religious leaders of Ezekiel's day.
EZEKIEL 34:1-4. Shepherds of Israel condemned.
WHY WERE THE SHEPHERDS OF ISRAEL CONDEMNED?
They feed themselves and not the flock.
They use the flock for their own purposes.
Eat the fat.
Use the wool.
They have neglected those in need.
Diseased and sick.
Those that have wandered off.
They have ruled with force and cruelty.
EZEKIEL 34:5-6. Results of the shepherds'
mode of operation.
WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SHEPHERDS NEGLECT OF ISRAEL?
The sheep were scattered.
The sheep became meat to the beasts.
EZEKIEL 34:8-10. What will happen to the
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE SHEPHERDS BECAUSE THEY MISUSED THEIR POSITION?
The Lord will be against them.
They will lose their stewardship.
They will no longer be able to use the sheep for their own purposes.
EZEKIEL 34:11-15. The Lord to gather and feed his flock.
HOW WILL THE LORD DO THIS?
He will call new shepherds.
WHO ARE THESE NEW SHEPHERDS?
The righteous members of the church.
WHAT IS OUR CHARGE?
To gather and find the sheep.
To feed them in the good and fat pasture.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "An hour with
a troubled boy or girl now may save him or her, and is infinitely better
than the hundreds of hours spent in their later lives in the reclamation
of a boy or girl if they become inactive." (CR, October 1980)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "We call on
you to extend yourselves with renewed dedication.... We want you to watch,
to feed, to tend, and to care for the flock and, in the event that some
are temporarily lost, we challenge you to find them." (CR, April
The Stick Of Judah & The Stick Of Joseph - Chapter
EZEKIEL 37:1-14. Ezekiel's vision of the valley
which was full of dry bones.
WHAT DO THESE VERSES MEAN?
Bones = Israel in its lost and scattered state.
Graves = Israel's condition of spiritual death.
Spirit = the new spirit of righteousness the people will have when they
are restored from their fallen state. The source of this new life
will be the Holy Ghost.
Sidney B. Sperry: "It will be seen from
this passage that the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead ... is
invoked to symbolize the restoration of Israel's exiles to their own land.
The exiles are represented--so it seems to me--as having lost hope (their
bones are dried up) of ever living as a nation. But the Lord shows them
that they can be restored through His mighty power even as the dead will
be raised in the resurrection. The doctrine of the resurrection of the
body is assumed. Some writers contend that the idea of resurrection was
not known among the Hebrews at this early time. But the fact that Ezekiel
speaks as he did would seem to me an indication that the doctrine had long
been understood in Israel. Any true prophet would understand the doctrine
of the resurrection, so Latter-day Saints believe, and Israel had had many
prophets long before Ezekiel's time." (Voice of Israel's Prophets,
EZEKIEL 37:15-17. Stick of Judah and Stick of Joseph.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THESE VERSES?
Most Bible commentators see in these verses only a prophecy of the reuniting of the
nations of Israel and Judah.
The sticks represent scrolls or sticks wrapped with papyrus.
Stick of Judah = the Bible.
Stick of Joseph = the Book of Mormon.
An extended interpretation:
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon may only be a partial fulfillment
of this prophecy.
The second stick is for Joseph "the stick of Ephraim."
WHO WERE THE BOOK OF MORMON PEOPLE DESCENDED FROM?
Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh.
Erastus Snow quoted the Prophet as saying that Ishmael was descended from
Essentially it is a record of a few descendants of Manasseh, certainly
not the whole of Ephraim or for all of Israel.
ARE THERE OTHER RECORDS TO COME FORTH?
We know that two-thirds of the plates were sealed.
The lost tribes must have also kept records.
EZEKIEL 37:26-28. Ezekiel sees a latter-day temple
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "Ezekiel predicted
the building of a temple in Jerusalem which will be used for ordinance
work after the gathering of Israel from their long dispersion and when
they are cleansed from their transgressions." (Doctrines of
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Ezekiel was commissioned by the Lord to preach his word. We are fortunate
to have his teachings concerning the shepherds of Israel, repentance and
forgiveness, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and his teachings
regarding the latter days.
Record your thoughts on the teachings of Ezekiel. How can these teachings
be applied to your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Volume 3, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 2, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Prophets & Prophecies of The Old Testament by Duane S. Crowther.
That All May Be Edified by Boyd K. Packer.
The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Voice of Israel's Prophets by Sidney B. Sperry.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
23 July 2018