This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
October 24-30, 2022
Ezekiel 1-3; 33-34; 36-37; 47
Ezekiel was a prophet in exile. Along with other Israelites, he had been captured and sent to Babylon several years before Jerusalem was finally destroyed. In Jerusalem, Ezekiel would have been a priest serving in the temple. In Babylon, he was among “them of the captivity,” and he “sat where they sat” (Ezekiel 3:15), hundreds of miles from the temple and with little hope of returning to the beloved house of God. Then one day Ezekiel had a vision. He saw “the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28)—not back in the temple at Jerusalem but there in Babylon among the exiles. The wickedness in Jerusalem, he learned, had become so severe that God’s presence was no longer there (see Ezekiel 8–11; 33:21).
One of Ezekiel’s tasks was to warn the Israelites about the consequences of their rebellion—a warning that largely went unheeded. But there was more to Ezekiel’s message: he prophesied that, despite how bad things became, there was a way back. If God’s people would accept the invitation to “hear the word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4), what was once dead could be revived. A “stony heart” could be replaced with “a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). “[I] shall put my spirit in you,” the Lord told them, “and ye shall live” (Ezekiel 37:14). And in the last days, the Lord would establish a new temple and a new Jerusalem, “and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
This is a good summary of the Book of Ezekiel.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
The Lord wants to forgive.
“If our … sins be upon us,” the captive Israelites wondered, “how should we then live?” (Ezekiel 33:10). In response, the Lord taught them important truths about repentance and forgiveness. These questions might help you ponder those truths:
What do you think it means to “trust to [your] own righteousness”? (see Ezekiel 33:12–13).
For Latter-day Saints, exaltation is contingent on “trusting on one’s own righteousness.” So while the authors say that “the Lord wants to forgive,” it is contingent on the individual member keeping his or her end of the bargain.
Consider what these church manuals have taught:
Have class members find and read Moroni 10:32. According to this verse, what must we do to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him”? (“Deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [our] might, mind and strength.”) Explain that “deny yourselves of all ungodliness” means “give up your sins.” We must strive to give up our sins and demonstrated that we love God with all our might, mind, and strength. If we do this throughout our lives, then Jesus Christ, through his Atonement, will help us become perfect (Preparing for Exaltation Teacher’s Manual, 1998, 123. Brackets in original).
We are saved by the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We must, however, come unto Christ on His terms in order to obtain all the blessings that He freely offers us. We come unto Christ by “doing all we can do” to remember Him, keep our covenants with Him, and obey His commandments (see D&C 20:77; see also Abraham 3:25) (Book of Mormon Seminary Student Study Guide, 2000, 53).
Our Father in Heaven is a being who governs by law. Nothing is haphazard or accidental about the manner in which He dispenses His blessings. If we keep the commandments, we receive the promised rewards. If we disobey the commandments, we lose the proffered gifts (Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel Religion 301, 2003, 225).
Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life, including increased strength to overcome your weaknesses. This obedience includes actions you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord promised, “He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (D&C 1:32) (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, 135).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ assures each of us that we will be resurrected and live forever. But if we are to live forever with our families in Heavenly Father’s presence, we must do all that the Savior commands us to do. This includes being baptized and confirmed and receiving the ordinances of the temple (Gospel Principles, 2009, 233).
Many additional citations could be offered. How do these quotes not show that Mormonism stresses the importance of “trust[ing] to [your] own righteousness”?
What would you say to someone who feels that the righteous person and the wicked person described in Ezekiel 33:12–19 are not being treated fairly? (see also Matthew 21:28–31; Luke 18:9–14).
Luke 18:9-14 referenced here is an interesting passage. It reads:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Notice, one was confident in his righteousness while the other was humble and was the one set apart by Jesus. Consider the requirements necessary for a person to enter the temple. A person is required to correctly answer a series of questions in a temple recommend interview. That recommend proves the “worthiness” of the person to be able to enter. For more, click here.
Doesn’t this sound a lot like the Pharisee in the parable told by Jesus?
What phrases do you find in these verses that help you understand what it means to repent? What additional insights do you find in Ezekiel 36:26–27 and Alma 7:14–16?
Alma 7:16 (mentioned here) says, “And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.” According to this verse, the only the person who keeps God’s commandments will have eternal life.
How many commandments? Latter-day Saints know it is “all” of them. How often? Of course, they say, “all” the time.
Latter-day Saint, how are you doing at this requirement set by your church’s scriptures and leaders?
The Lord is gathering His people and giving them new life.
The gathering of Israel is portrayed in Ezekiel 37 through two symbols. As you read about the first one—dead bones being restored to life (see verses 1–14)—ponder what you learn about gathering Israel on both sides of the veil (see also Ezekiel 36:24–30).
If you look closely at this passage, you will see how God (“I”) is the one who will:
- bring you into your own land (24)
- make them clean (25)
- give the people a new heart (26)
- remove their heart of stone (26)
- place His Spirit in them (27)
- cause the people to follow in His statutes (27)
- be their God (28)
- save them from their uncleanness (28)
It is God who is doing the work according to Ezekiel, not the individual who is striving to keep God’s commandments but fails every time.
The second symbol (see verses 15–28) involves two sticks, which many scholars interpret as wooden writing boards joined by a hinge. The stick of Judah can represent the Bible (since much of the Bible was written by Judah’s descendants), and the stick of Joseph can represent the Book of Mormon (since Lehi’s family were descendants of Joseph of Egypt). With that in mind, what do these verses teach you about the role of the scriptures in the gathering of Israel? What does 2 Nephi 3:11–13 (a prophecy about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon) add to your understanding?
As far as Ezekiel 37, it needs to be pointed out that “many scholars” is a reference to just LDS scholars who hold that this is a reference to writing boards. (Or provide the reference to show a solid biblical scholar held to such a view.) Instead, scholars have clearly taught that this is talking about pieces of wood, not writing boards.
The common LDS interpretation (stick of Judah references the Bible while the stick of Joseph refers to the Book of Mormon) has been refuted any number of times. For a more detailed response to this argument, visit here.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
To illustrate these verses, one family member could pretend to be a “watchman” by looking out a window and telling the rest of the family what is happening outside. How is our living prophet like a watchman for us?
What a fascinating parallel the writers of this curriculum try to make! Look closely at these verses and see their attempt to liken Ezekiel to the church’s living prophet. He “blows his trumpet to warn the people” (3) and, if anyone ignores the warning, “the sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head” (4).
Honestly, Mormonism’s living prophet offers nothing of value to people in the 21st century because his teachings contradict the Bible. These top leaders proclaim another Gospel (Gal. 1:8-9) as well as another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4) while contradicting biblical teaching. He is no watchman but rather is more like the false prophet warned against in 1 John 4:1: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
If you are a Latter-day Saint, be skeptical of the teachings of all LDS prophets from Joseph Smith through Russell M. Nelson. Compare their words with the teachings of the Bible and you will see that these are not “watchmen” but rather thieves. As Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Trust Jesus and His Word, not the LDS prophets and their false teachings.
What do these verses teach us about the forgiveness we can receive through Jesus Christ?
Before these verses comes verse 13:
If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done.
Earlier in this article, we laid out the requirement required in Mormonism, which is obedience or else. I also cited the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, where the religious leader made a point to exult in his own perceived righteousness while the other pounded his chest due to his sin. The latter, not the former, was justified. Ezekiel 33:13 states that a person who “trust(s) in their [own] righteousness” and falls short will die for the evil they have done. How much clearer can this be?
Only those who are forgiven of their sins will be able to escape judgment unto damnation. Latter-day Saints who insist on relying on their own righteousness rather than clinging to the righteousness of Jesus will be denied eternal life–every single time.
Show your family some stones as you discuss what it means to have a “stony heart.” Let them suggest words that describe the “new heart” and “new spirit” the Savior gives us (see Mosiah 3:19; 5:2).
Stony hearts that refuse to listen to the message of salvation cannot possibly understand the meaning of the Gospel message offered in the cross of Christ. Consider 1 Corinthians 1:
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Unfortunately, Mormonism mocks the message offered in the cross. It teaches that people are saved through Christ’s “atonement” and the “grace” He provides, yet obedience to the commandments as taught in Mormonism is what really provides the way to individual salvation. To the contrary, the Gospel message is so simple. Romans 10:9-10 says,
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Unfortunately, Mormonism muddles the issue by coming up with requirements that are never taught in the Bible and can never be accomplished by any sinful human.
Family members could find two sticks and write on one For Judah (Bible) and on the other For Joseph (Book of Mormon) (see verses 16–19). They could then share stories or scriptures from the Bible and Book of Mormon that help them feel closer to the Savior and become “[His] people” (verse 23).
Unfortunately for this view, Ezekiel 37 does not teach in the efficacy of the Book of Mormon. In fact, there are just too many problems with this scripture for it to be taken seriously by the Evangelical Christian. For more, see 10 reasons why the Book of Mormon is rejected as scripture by Christians
These verses describe Ezekiel’s vision of water flowing from the temple and healing the Dead Sea—a sea so salty that fish and plants cannot live in it. Children might enjoy drawing a picture of this vision. What could the water flowing from the temple symbolize? (see the video “And the River Will Grow,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org). How does the temple help heal us? (see Ezekiel 47:8–9, 11).
The Mormon temple is a) not based on the temple as described in the Bible; b) not something Christians believe is required in our day. Consider these articles:
- 10 Reasons Why the Multiple LDS Temples Have Nothing to do with the Biblical Temple in Jerusalem
- Crash Course Mormonism: Temples
The authors of this series utilize a passage (Ezekiel 37) that has been a traditional apologetic tactic to support the veracity of the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately for the LDS position, a bad interpretation is required to support the point. And while Mormonism teaches that obedience to the commandments created by LDS leaders earns a person favor with God, this is not a biblical teaching. Once again, this Come, Follow Me series has made it very clear that the LDS Church is incapable of offering good interpretation to the Old Testament. This is yet another bad lesson.