2022 Study Summary 44: A New Spirit Will I Put Within You
Ezekiel 1–3; 33–34; 36–37; 47
“A New Spirit Will I Put Within You”
Ezekiel 1. Ezekiel sees in vision four living creatures, four wheels, and the glory of God on His throne.
Ezekiel 2. Ezekiel is called to take the word of the Lord to Israel—He sees a book in which lamentations and mourning are written.
Ezekiel 3. Ezekiel is made a watchman unto the house of Israel—The blood of Israel is required at his hand unless he raises the warning voice.
Ezekiel 33. Watchmen who raise the warning voice save their own souls—Repentant sinners are saved—The righteous who turn to sin are damned—The people of Judah in Jerusalem are destroyed because of their sins.
Ezekiel 34. The Lord reproves those shepherds who do not feed the flock—In the last days, the Lord will gather the lost sheep of Israel—The Messiah will be their Shepherd—The Lord will make His gospel covenant with them.
Ezekiel 36 1. In the last days, all the house of Israel will be gathered to their own lands—The Lord will give them a new heart and a new spirit—They will have His gospel law.
Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel is shown the valley of dry bones—Israel will inherit the land in the Resurrection—The stick of Judah (the Bible) and the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) will become one in the Lord’s hand—The children of Israel will be gathered and cleansed—David (the
Messiah) will reign over them—They will receive the everlasting gospel covenant.
Ezekiel 47. Waters issue from the house of the Lord and heal the Dead Sea—The Lord shows the borders of the land.
What do Jews say about Ezekiel?
“Ezekiel the prophet foretold in fiery language the fall of Jerusalem and predicted its ultimate restoration. The passion and force of his prophecies, as well as their substance, make him one of the most significant of the biblical prophets.” “Ezekiel wrote from Babylon in the period 593—571 B.C.E. (because he was a priest, he had been exiled by Nebuchadnezzar along with other Jerusalem leaders in 597 B.C.E.) but the subject of his prophecies was Jerusalem. Most of the Book of Ezekiel is couched in the form of a first- person report, by the prophet, of God’s communications to him or the visions he was shown, and the Book is divided clearly into two parts. The first 24 chapters were written before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. and predicted that calamity. During this time Ezekiel was locked in gloomy unsociability, communicating only with God, and pondering the imminent destruction. As Ezekiel saw it, the entire history of Israel was one continuous breach of the covenant with God, for which the fall of Jerusalem was the just and promised punishment. Ezekiel also felt that this punishment alone would not cause the people of Israel to repent, and thus he predicted exile as well.” “When a fugitive arrived in Babylon in 586 B.C.E. bringing news of the final fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was jolted out of his recluse-like existence, and he began to address himself to the people of Israel. This second part of the Book of Ezekiel is meant to console the people and predicts that God will ultimately restore and glorify Israel and give its people a new moral and spiritual nature to insure future faithfulness. Ezekiel predicts doom for foreign nations and the revival of the “dry bones” of Israel. Ezekiel’s visions and the angelic actors in them inaugurated a literary category that flourished in post-exilic prophecy and apocalyptic literature.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What else is considered in the Jewish definition of a prophet?
Let us now look at what else Jewish sources say about the prophet Ezekiel: “Ezekiel was the only prophet to prophesy outside the Land of Israel. Ezekiel saw the entire history of Israel as one continuous breach of the Covenant, for which the destruction of the Temple was the just and predicted punishment. From the prophet’s call until the start of Jerusalem’s siege the prophecies are condemnatory. During the siege years and briefly thereafter the prophecies condemn Israel’s neighbors who were involved in Judah’s revolt but failed to support her. However, although the Book of Ezekiel starts on a note of doom, it continues with consolation, and the news of Jerusalem’s fall is followed by consolatory prophecies of its restoration. Ezekiel is transported in a vision to the future Jerusalem and describes the future Temple in detail. He also gives a blueprint for the reorganization of the priesthood and the allocation of the Land of Israel to the respective tribes. Among the most striking prophecies in the Bible is Ezekiel’s vision in Babylonia, of the valley of dry bones which become miraculously reconstructed and come to life. Such a message must have been of great encouragement to the depressed exiles of Judah.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What is a little-known prophecy of the latter-days that even Ezekiel reports?
The following gives rise to a strong tradition of several “Messiahs’ addition to the ultimate Messiah, the Son of God Messiah. “And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.” (Ezekiel 34:24) Another prophet, Hosea, speaks words still full of hope even though they use strong metaphors of wickedness, they speak of the life of King David in a prophesy of the latter days, also mentioned by Jeremiah (30:9). Ancient David was allowed to gather materials to build the Temple. The Dead Sea “Temple Scroll” describes a temple to be built in latter-days. The Essenes believed that they were in the latter-days and referred to themselves as “saints.” The dimensions of the temple they planned were like the dimensions described by Ezekiel. However, the outer dimension seems to include the entire (today’s) walled city of Jerusalem. “That temples and temple ordinances are essential to the (true) faith is well established in the Bible. Malachi predicted the coming of the Lord suddenly to his temple, in the day of vengeance, in the latter times, as a refiner and purifier. 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. John the Revelator saw the day when, after the earth is sanctified and celestialized, the presence of the Father and the Son in the New Jerusalem would take the place of the temple, for the whole city, due to their presence, would become a temple.” (Doctrines of Salvation–Joseph Fielding Smith–Vol.2, Pg.244)
How did Ezekiel yearn for the Holiness represented by the temple?
The Jerusalem temple will return. Characteristically, the Hebrew use of the word ‘return’ is the same word as ‘repent.’ Returning to holiness is captured by the words on every latter-day Saint Temple, “Holiness to the Lord.” In many prayer services an important part of the Kedushah is the recitation of biblical verses. An example: “Holy, Holy, Holy” (kadosh) is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory,” (Isaiah 6:3) “And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, Holiness to the Lord.” (Exodus 39:30) and “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’s house . . . Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts” (Zecharia 14:20-21)
How do stories as well as scriptural parables carry “on-going” messages?
Each week that I sit at the Mount of Beatitudes with visiting guests, I relate the account of a shepherd who daily used to lead his flock out of the once nearby farmhouse. He would lead the sheep out in the morning and back again at the close of day. Once, as we were seated on several large rocks and as we were about to read the simple scriptural account, the shepherd brought his flock back to the farmhouse. As he approached us, he stopped and let the flock disperse as they nibbled the green blades of grass around us. We heard an occasional ringing of bells. There were about a dozen older sheep, kept from the previous year’s flock that were the “lead sheep,” and they were fastened with bells. After about ten minutes of the flock spreading out and milling around us, I noticed that almost everyone had tears in their eyes. We were in the midst of experiencing a biblical metaphor. The shepherd began speaking. I looked around, wondering whom he was addressing when the older lead sheep immediately responded by running toward the shepherd, their neck-bells ringing. This seemed to alert the rest of the flock because a moment later, they began to file behind the lead sheep who were following the shepherd. With a smile, the shepherd boy walked away, probably unaware that he was performing a pattern we were about to read. He walked a few paces and then picked up a stone. Knowingly, he looked back to see a few sheep just over the crest of the hill who remained instead of following. Skillfully, he threw the stone in their direction, catching their attention. They looked up and immediately began to run to catch up with the rest of the flock. There went the shepherd, his lead sheep, and the flock. We began to read the account of Jesus (the Shepherd) leaving the multitudes (the flock), going to the mount, and teaching just the disciples (the lead sheep) lessons that they would then teach the multitudes. “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” (Matthew 5:1-2) There was a symbolism reflection in the above shepherd story. In ancient times, when the temple was functioning, the High Priest signaled his readiness for another sacrifice by burning the fire and throwing incense in it. (This would offset the odor of parts of the animal that needed to be consumed by the fire.) The plume of smoke signaled the twelve lead priests to ready themselves. When they were ready, they rang bells that alerted the multitude to gather close to participate in the sacrifice. The imagery is obvious: the shepherd, the lead sheep and the flock.
How can the original scriptural Hebrew language give me more understanding?
Another image that this lesson emphasizes is found in Ezekiel 37. Latter-day Saints usually start at verse fifteen which begins the reference to the “two sticks” However, an even greater meaning comes by combining the account of “dry bones” (verses 1-14) with the “sticks.” Three elements are identified in Ezekiel’s first vision in this chapter: bones, flesh/skin, and the breath. The bones are brought back together, they are covered with flesh and skin, and then the breath of life brings them to life. The imagery is likened to the gathering ETZ of Israel, recognizing “I AM” who opens graves, and then leads into the “two sticks” vision. The second vision is a double emphasis of the first. The Hebrew word for breath, wind and spirit are the same (Ruach). The Hebrew word for sticks or wood is “.” The word for bones, “ETZEMOT” could be considered the plural of “ETZ,” or in other words, the sticks of the body. It is likely that Ezekiel wants us to consider the ancient body of true religion as having died, leaving a skeleton—the “sticks” of the body. Judaism with its Old Testament is what is left, the stick of Judah, the skeleton of true religion. The old covenant was true and yet it died. In latter-days the remaining skeleton is clothed with a new body, (the Book of Mormon), and breath (the Spirit of the Lord) the have been given so that the true religion is resurrected. The body is alive again, never to die. The covenant is restored anew, never to die again, “The New and Everlasting Covenant!” Like our own bodies, the Gospel is eternal, however must go through mortality, die and be resurrected, eternal yet born again! “The gospel is the new and everlasting covenant by means of which God, on his own terms, offers salvation to man. Baptism is the formally appointed means and ordinance which the Lord has provided so that man can signify his personal acceptance of all of the terms and conditions of the eternal gospel covenant. Thus, in baptism, which as part of the gospel is itself a new and an everlasting covenant (D. & C. 22), man covenants to abide by all of the laws and requirements of the whole gospel.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Pg.69)
What did Ezekiel have in mind as he spoke about a latter-day temple, water, and salt?
Ezekiel gives us the imagery of water and salt as he envisions living water coming from the Latter-day temple to cover the waters of the Dead Sea. Both salt and water are necessary for life. In Judaism, salt is used to prepare meat so there is no blood left in it. All sacrifices had to be prepared with salt. In praying before a meal, bread is broken, and salt is poured with the thought that even if we only had bread and salt, we would be grateful. “Because salt is one of the most basic commodities and essential for human life, it is often used in the Bible as meaning food generally. Cleansing and hygienic powers are also attributed to salt…” “In the dietary laws, too, salt is important. Before meat can be cooked, the blood must be removed, which is done by sprinkling coarse salt on it and leaving it for an hour. Salt has the property of attracting liquids and when, at the end of the hour, the meat is thoroughly washed, it is blood- free and ready for cooking.” “Salt is plentiful in Erez Israel and indeed the Dead Sea is known in Hebrew as the Salt Sea. (Sea and lake are the same words in ancient Hebrew, yam – so, Mormons, take note, there is another “Salt Lake!) It is in that region of the country that Lot’s wife was transformed into a pillar of salt when, in defiance of the angel’s instructions, she looked back on the destruction of Sodom.” “Bread with salt was regarded as the poor man’s food but sufficient for the humble student of the Torah, and it has remained a custom to sprinkle a little salt on bread partaken at the beginning of meals. In Jerusalem it is the custom to greet official guests of the City Council with bread and salt as they enter the city’s limits.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) Every week when I go to the Dead Sea, I insist that everyone put their fingers in the water and touch their tongue. The grimaces are a once in a lifetime experience! That is the appropriate time to read Ezekiel’s prophecy of water coming out of the temple and healing the Dead Sea! It will still be salty, but there will be all manner of fish in it like the waters of the Great Sea (the Mediterranean) – salty but with new health. “And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.” (Ezekiel 47:10) The temple provides a return to health, a healing of the soul.