O.T. Handout #43: Ezekiel, prophet,Kohen, Babylon exile, new Temple, chptr exerpts, Joseph Smith, Rod, Branch, 2 sticks, Dry Bones, Gog, Magog, Libya, Cush November 2014
Ezekiel (Heb. חֶזְקֵאל’) Means: May God strengthen him.
Born: 622 in Jerusalem – Died 570 b.c. in Babylon
Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet. Son of Buzi [Ezekiel 1:3], born into a priesthood (Kohen) lineage of the patrilineal line of Ithamar, and resident of Anathoth. Author of the Book of Ezekiel that reveals prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, the restoration to the land of Israel and the Millennial Temple visions, or the Third Temple. His book is a record of his great and constant visions.
At 25, exiled with 3,000 upper class Jews to Babylon where he dwelt with wife. No children. In 592 BC] at 30, Ezekiel describes his calling to be a prophet (Ezek 1) in great detail about his encounter with God and four living creatures or Cherubim with four wheels that stayed beside the creatures. For the next five years he incessantly prophesied and acted out the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, which was met with some opposition.
However, Ezekiel and his contemporaries like Jeremiah and Lehi, other prophets living in Jerusalem at that time, witnessed the fulfillment of their prophecies when Jerusalem was finally sacked by the Babylonians. The date, 587 BC] is confirmed by Babylonian cuneiform records discovered by archeologists. Ezekiel was 50 years old when he began to have visions of a new Temple. He served as a prophet for at least 22 years until, he experienced an encounter with God in April 570 BC. His time of death not in scripture.
The Lord had one great prophet, Jeremiah, in the court at Jerusalem; another, Daniel, in the court at Babylon; and a third, Ezekiel, among the exiles in Babylonia. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were of priestly lineage; Daniel may have been of royal lineage (see Daniel 1:3). Ezekiel lived at the same time as Jeremiah and Lehi. But Ezekiel does not mention Jeremiah. Jeremiah was still in Judah while Ezekiel was with the exiles.
Jeremiah served the Lord by delivering His warnings and instructions to the kings and leaders of the soon-to-be conquered; Daniel, to the conquerors; and Ezekiel, to the exiles.
All true prophets have had visitations or visions from eternal worlds: ( D&C 110:2–3; JS—H 1:32; Daniel 10:5–9; Revelation 1:12–18; 12:1–6). Ezekiel used many figurative expressions to try to tell that which was far beyond mortal experience. Many times, for example, he used words like as, likeness, and appearance ( Ezekiel 1:4–5, 7, 10, 13–14, 16, 24, 26–28).
Another difficulty in understanding Ezekiel and other Old Testament writers is the cultural differences between the Jews of Ezekiel’s day and the modern reader. In his vision, Ezekiel saw four creatures, each of which had four faces. “They four had the face of a man, … a lion, … an ox … [and]
the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 1:10). The Apostle John had a
similar vision. In his vision, the creatures were described as
being “like a lion, … like a calf, … [having] a face as a man, and … like a flying eagle” (Revelation 4:7). The Prophet Joseph explained that the four beasts in John’s vision were representative of classes of beings (see D&C 77:3). Ezekiel saw that the throne of God was above the creatures (Ezekiel 1:26–28). That placement represents His having dominion over all living things, though He provides the means for all His creations, both human and animal, to enter into eternal glory, each in their appropriate order (see D&C 77:2–3).
Because Joseph Smith received from the Lord some keys for interpreting the meaning of the beasts in John’s vision (see D&C 77:2–4), the parallels between John’s vision and Ezekiel’s give some clues to the meaning of the beasts Ezekiel saw. There is, however, no parallel in John’s vision to the wheels seen by Ezekiel, recorded in Chptr 1.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I make this broad declaration, that whenever God gives a vision of an image, or beast, or figure of any kind, He always holds Himself responsible to give a revelation or interpretation of the meaning thereof, otherwise we are not responsible or accountable for our belief in it…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 291.)
Ezekiel was commanded by the Lord to teach the Jews God’s ways. In Ezek 4:4–8 , after forming the image of Jerusalem under siege (v. 1–3), Ezekiel was told to lie on his side for 390 days and to bear the iniquity of Israel (in this case it appears the Northern Kingdom is meant). Then he was to change sides and lie for another 40 days to bear the iniquity of Judah. Perhaps it represented the total number of years Israel was in bondage to Egypt and the exodus into wilderness. Total of 15 months. May have been symbolic.
Ezekiel’s personal experiences:
1. Ezekiel shut himself in his home and bound himself. The Lord made him dumb – Ezekiel 3:24-26.
2. God told Ezekiel to lie on his right side and then on his left side for 430 days – Ezekiel 4:4-8.
3. God put a limit on Ezekiel’s food and drink during that period. And Ezekiel obeyed – Ezekiel 4:12.
4. Ezekiel had to shave his head and his beard – Ezekiel 5:1.
5. God did not permit Ezekiel to be sad at the death of his wife – Ezekiel 24:15-24.
6. Ezekiel lost his speech – Ezekiel 24:27.
7. God intended Ezekiel to give a message to Israel by means of the experiences in his life – Ezekiel 24:24.
Ezekiel’s first prophecy was in the year 593 BC and he continued to prophesy for about 20 years. Ezekiel dates his last message as in the year 571 BC. Through the book, he is careful to date each message. He spoke to the exiles from Judah who lived with him near the river Chebar.
• Chapters 1-24 deal with the failure of God’s people. Ezekiel tells how God will punish them. He tells the exiles that God will destroy Jerusalem.
• Chapters 25-32 When this had happened, he changes his message. Then he tells about the punishment of the nations.
• Chapters 33-39 look forward to the future. These chapters describe the return of the people from Israel to their country.
• Chapters 40-48 describe the future temple. And the tribes of Israel will divide the country in a new way.
Examples of Teachings from Chapters 18, 34, 37.
Chapter 18: ‘The fathers eat sour grapes. But the children get the sour taste.’ This is what the people said. By it, they meant that they were the children. And they suffered because of what their fathers did. The problems that they had were not their fault. They were not to blame. They were exiles from the country of Judah because of what their fathers did.
The Law says that the sins of the fathers would affect the children. Those *sins would affect the grandchildren and their children as well (Exodus 20:5). The principle refers to those who hate God. It happens when the children copy their parents’ wicked behavior. But many exiles were referring to this rule for a different reason. These exiles were using this rule to avoid blame. But each person is to blame for his own sins. A child could choose not to copy his father’s behavior.
God declares that each person belongs to him. The father is his and the child is his. And each one is responsible to God for his own sins. A person dies because of his own sins and not because of the sins of another person.
Verses 5-9 Ezekiel now writes about a good father (verses 5-9). Then he writes about a bad son (verses 10-13) and a good grandson (verses 14-18). He may have been thinking about three kings of Judah. Hezekiah was a good man who loved the Lord. His son Manasseh was a wicked man who did not trust in the Lord. The grandson, Josiah, did what was right. And he served the *Lord.
The Lord has made it clear that all who wish to be saved must endure to the end in righteousness (see Matthew 10:22; Mosiah 4:30; 3 Nephi 15:9; 27:17; D&C 18:22; 53:7; 82:7).
Chapter 34: Ch. 33 laid down repentance as the necessary preliminary to happier times for the people, Ezekiel now promises the removal of the false shepherds as preparatory to the raising up of the Lord.
34:5: They have been scattered, because . . . no shepherd– none worthy of the name (1 Kings 22:17 , Matthew 9:36 ). Compare Matthew 26:31 , where the sheep were scattered when the true Shepherd was smitten. He used the phrase: meat to all . . . beasts–They (Israelites)became a prey to the Syrians, Ammon, Moab, and Assyria.
35:14. good pasture… high mountains of Israel– Ezekiel 17:23 , 20:40 , the phrase is “the mountain of the height of Israel” in the singular number. The reason for the difference is: there Ezekiel spoke of the central seat of the kingdom, Mount Zion, where the people met for the worship of Jehovah; here he speaks of the kingdom of Israel at large, all the parts of which are regarded as possessing a moral elevation.
35:29. plant of renown–Messiah, the “Rod” and “Branch” ( Isaiah 11:1 ), the “righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5 ), who shall obtain for them “renown. A plantation for a name, a flourishing condition, represented as a garden (alluding to Eden, Genesis 2:8-11 , with its various trees, good for food and pleasant to the sight), the planting of the Lord ( Isaiah 60:21 , 61:3 ), and an object of “renown” among the heathen.
Ch 37: Vision of Dry Bones: (v1–14). Is Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of Bones about the Resurrection or about the Renewal of the House of Israel? Often prophetic utterances have dual meanings. The well-known allegory of the scattered dry bones is example. 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 as having lost hope (their bones are dried up) of ever living again as a nation and burying their dead. 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
The symbolic meaning of this prophecy as it relates to the gathering of Israel is apparent: The bones represent Israel in its lost and scattered state; the graves indicate where Israel is as well as its condition of spiritual death. The spirit, or ruach in Hebrew ( Ezekiel 37:9), means the new spirit of righteousness the people will have when they have been resurrected, that is, restored from their fallen state. The source of this new life will be the Holy Ghost.
Ch 37:15–20 Two Sticks Being Joined Together
This passage is another example of the dual nature of prophecy. Most commentators simply believe that each piece of wood represents one of the two kingdoms, either Judah or Israel (Ephraim), which are to be bound together or united under the Lord’s direction. This act symbolizes the reunion of Ephraim and Judah into one kingdom. … However, the Latter-day Saints insist that such an interpretation is by no means complete. … What they do believe is that each of the sticks represents a scripture, a significant piece of writing. What scripture represents the stick of Ephraim. To which we reply, the Book of Mormon. The Nephite scripture is the record of the descendants upon this continent of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.
The Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon affirm that Ezekiel’s prophecy deals with the Bible and the Book of Mormon being joined together. Doctrine and Covenants 27:5teaches that the Book of Mormon is the stick of Ephraim. The Book of Mormon, in 1 Nephi 13:40–41; 2 Nephi 29:10–14; and Mormon 7:8–9speaks of the records of the Jews and the records of the Nephites being gathered together into one.
The sign that Jesus Christ gave the Nephites that the restoration of the tribes of Israel was at hand was the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which made the combining of the records possible (see3 Nephi 20:46; 21:1–7; 29:1). This truth is sustained by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “Because [the Book of Mormon] came forth, as the seeric insight of Ezekiel has so plainly set forth, latter-day Israel would be gathered, her people would become clean before the Lord, he would make with them again his everlasting gospel covenant, and his tabernacle and temple would be in their midst forevermore. (Ezek. 37:15–28.)” (Promised Messiah, p. 146.)
“In June of 1830, at the first conference of the Church, Joseph Smith read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 14. Richard Bushman in Rough Stone Rolling suggests the prophet’s decision to read from Ezekiel 14 was a reflection of a young man who didn’t have much to say and was inexperienced at preaching. After 10 years of visions and visitations from heavenly messengers (who quoted from the Bible) was he still an uninformed farm boy?
“His decision to read from Ezekiel was not a desperate performance to camouflage ignorance or attempt to impress converts and Biblical observant investigators. There was a timely message. A few weeks ago I stumbled across another public setting in which Joseph Smith read and taught from Ezekiel 14. It was to the Relief Society in Nauvoo (1842). At the front end of his ministry and the back end of his ministry he emphasized this chapter. Why?
“According to Eliza R. Snow, a member of the Relief Society, he read the stated chapter and then declared: “people should each one stand for himself.” This was the central message of Ezekiel to Jewish captives of Babylon. The Lord is going to “take the house of Israel in their own heart,” and that each individual will “deliver their own souls by their righteousness.”
Snow also recorded that Joseph stressed with them “righteous persons could only deliver their own souls” and should not depend on men or the prophet for salvation. This state of passing ones spiritual development and responsibility onto the shoulders of the prophet, (or a spouse, or a friend) will “darken…minds” he said.
“Perhaps in the early going Joseph was tiring of people coming to him for a revelation. Asking him what they should do, or wanting to know their standing before the Lord. Maybe he used a moment at the first conference of the Church to correct spiritual dependence upon others.
“I will leave the reading of Ezekiel 14 to you. And enjoy forever after the singing “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” But it is quite clear each of us should not neglect the spiritual obligation to turn ourselves to God. And “though Noah, Daniel, and Job,” or Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson minster among us, it is our dependence upon God, personal righteous and spiritual self-reliance that will carry us through the trials and injustices of life.
“On another public occasion Joseph Smith counseled: You stand…in these last days… agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works…. Fellow sojourners upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves… and see for yourselves, and know for yourselves.” The Lord wishes to answer each honest seeker personally, another important message found in Ezekiel 14.” Comments by Ryan Jenkins re The Prophet Joseph Smith discussing the prophet Ezekiel, 2011.
Ezekiel prophesied in 37:26–28 about a holy sanctuary or temple that would be part of the great reunification of Israel. Soon after this vision, Ezekiel received a detailed vision of what the new temple in Jerusalem would be like ( Ezek 40–48). President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “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 Salvation, 2:244).
Ezekiel 38–39. “Our Lord is to come again in the midst of the battle of Armageddon, or in other words during the course of the great war between Israel and Gog and Magog. At the Second Coming all nations of the earth are to be engaged in battle, and the fighting is to be in progress in the area of Jerusalem and Armageddon. (Zech. 11; 12; 13; Rev. 16:14–21.) The prophecies do not name the modern nations which will be fighting for and against Israel, but the designation Gog and Magog is given to the combination of nations which are seeking to overthrow and destroy the remnant of the Lord’s chosen seed.
“The 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel record considerable prophetic detail relative to this great war. It should be noted that it is to take place ‘in the latter years’; that it will be fought in the ‘mountains of Israel’ against those who have been gathered to the land of their ancient inheritance; that the land of Israel shall be relatively unprotected, a ‘land of unwalled villages’; that Gog and Magog shall come ‘out of the north parts’ in such numbers as ‘to cover the land’ as a cloud; that the Lord will then come, and all men shall shake at his presence; that there will be such an earthquake as has never before been known, which will throw down the mountains; that there will be pestilence, blood, fire, and brimstone descend upon the armies; that the forces of Gog and Magog will be destroyed upon the mountains of Israel; that the Supper of the Great God shall then take place as the beasts and fowls eat the flesh and drink the blood of the fallen ones (Rev. 19:17–18; D&C 29:18–21); and that the house of Israel will be seven months burying the dead and seven years burning the discarded weapons of war.
“In the light of all this and much more that is prophetically foretold about the final great battles in the holy land, is it any wonder that those who are scripturally informed and spiritually enlightened watch world events with great interest as troubles continue to foment in Palestine, Egypt, and the Near East?” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 324–25.)
That the battle before the Millennium, which is known as the battle of Armageddon, makes reference to Gog and Magog may at first be confusing since the last great battle at the end of the Millennium is called the battle of Gog and Magog by John (see Revelation 20:7–9). But the names “Gog” and “Magog” are used for both battles because they symbolize an alliance of great, evil power. President Joseph Fielding Smith clarified this point as follows: “Before the coming of Christ, the great war, sometimes called Armageddon, will take place as spoken of by Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Another war of Gog and Magog will be after the millennium.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:45.)
Obviously the battle seen by Ezekiel will be one of the greatest events of the world’s history, and so it is not surprising that the prophets speak of it again and again. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zechariah, and John the Revelator all speak of it in some detail, and it is mentioned in several places in latter-day scripture.
Ezekiel 38:1–2. Gog and Magog
The terms Gog and Magog are often joined together, as, for example, in the phrase the “battle of Gog and Magog” (see Revelation 20:8). Thus, many people assume the terms refer to two people by those names. Ezekiel 38:1–2shows clearly, however, that Gog is a name of a person and Magog the land from which he comes. Technically, “Gog of Magog” is the correct way to say it. Over the centuries, however, the names have come to mean the combination of nations that will fight against Israel in the last days. (See Notes and Commentary on Ezekiel 38–39.)
Ezekiel 38:2–6. Ancient Names and Modern Equivalents
Ezekiel specifically told his readers where Gog, the great military and political leader or leaders of the last days, would come from and with whom he would be allied in the war against Israel. He used names that were current in Old Testament times, though many of these names are not familiar to modern readers. Magog, Meshech, and Tubal were in northern Asia Minor (see v. 2). Persia was in eastern Asia Minor, and Ethiopia and Libya (Cush and Phut) were in Africa (see v. 5). Gomer and Togarmah have been associated with peoples in Asia Minor and Europe. That these nations would come from north and south, east and west, represents the teaching that all nations will fight against Israel (compare Zechariah 14:2).
Ezekiel 40–44. The Vision of a Future Temple
In one of the most remarkable visions of the Old Testament, Ezekiel had the privilege of being carried away by the Spirit to the holy city of Jerusalem to behold on the temple mount the magnificent temple to be built there in the latter days. In Ezekiel 40:3, Ezekiel was introduced to a “man” who subsequently showed him the temple and its measurements. This “man” was probably not the Lord but an authorized messenger.
Talmage: “In most of its essential features Ezekiel’s ideal followed closely the plan of Solomon’s Temple; so close, indeed, is the resemblance, that many of the details specified by Ezekiel have been accepted as those of the splendid edifice destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. A predominant characteristic of the Temple described by Ezekiel was the spaciousness of its premises and the symmetry of both the Holy House and its associated buildings.
The area was to be a square of five hundred cubits, walled about and provided with a gateway and arches on each of three sides; on the west side the wall was to be unbroken by arch or portal. At each of the gateways were little chambers regarded as lodges, and provided with porches. In the outer court were other chambers. The entire area was to be elevated, and a flight of steps led to each gateway. In the inner court was seen the great altar, standing before the House, and occupying the center of a square of one hundred cubits. Ample provision was made for every variety of sacrifice and offering, and for the accommodation of the priests, the singers, and all engaged in the holy ritual. The main structure comprised a Porch, a Holy Place, and an inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place, the last named elevated above the rest and reached by steps.
Ezekiel 40:45–46. Who Are the Sons of Zadok?
The heavenly messenger explained to Ezekiel that the Levites who would keep charge of the holy house would be the sons of Zadok. Zadok was a righteous high priest in the days of King Solomon. Zadok replaced Abiathar (see 1 Kings 2:26–27, 35) because of his loyalty to David and Solomon. Zadok was the first high priest to officiate in Solomon’s temple. Apparently the Lord desired the descendants of the righteous Zadok to officiate in the latter-day temple in Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 44:15; 48:11).