Old Testament Lesson 44 (Ezekiel 43-44; 47)

ENTHUSIASTIC EXPRESSIONS OF JOY

There have been many sacred occasions that were accompanied by enthusiastic expressions of joy. Our lesson begins with a list of these:

● The creation of the earth (Job 38:4–7).
● The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (John 12:12–16).
● The Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

There have been many others, mostly shouts of “hosannah” associated with holy temples:

● The dedication of Solomon’s temple.
● The dedication of the Kirtland Temple.
● The dedication of every latter-day temple since that time.

“The Hosanna Shout is whole-souled, given to the full limit of one’s strength. The congregation stands and in unison shouts the words ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen,’ repeating them three times. This is usually accompanied by the rhythmic waving of white handkerchiefs with uplifted hands. The epithet ‘Lamb’ relates to the condescension and atonement of Jesus Christ.”1

A GLORIOUS LATTER-DAY TEMPLE

Ezekiel received a glorious vison of that latter-day temple that will be built at Jerusalem.

● The glory of the Lord will fill the temple (Ezekiel 43:2, 4–5).

● The temple is “the place of [the Lord’s] throne” on earth (Ezekiel 43:7).

● The Lord will walk in the temple, calling it “the place of the soles of my feet” (Ezekiel 43:7).

● The temple is a place where the Lord will “dwell in the midst” of his people (Ezekiel 43:7).

● The laws of the Lord in the temple (Ezekiel 43:11).

● There are ordinances that the Lord wants us to perform in the temple (Ezekiel 43:11).

● Even the grounds that surround the temple “shall be most holy” (Ezekiel 43:12).

● Only those who are worthy should enter the temple (Ezekiel 44:6–9).

● In the temple we learn the difference between holy and profane and between clean and unclean (Ezekiel 44:23).

● A part of the land will be set aside for the temple and the priests (Ezekiel 45:1–8).

Animal Sacrifices Again

● Sacrifices will again be offered in the latter days (Ezekiel 43:13–27).

— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“When these temples [the temple seen by Ezekiel and others to be built in the New Jerusalem] are built, it is very likely that provision will be made for some ceremonies and ordinances which may be performed by the Aaronic priesthood and a place provided where the sons of Levi may offer their offering in righteousness. This will have to be the case because all things are to be restored. There were ordinances performed in ancient Israel in the tabernacle when in the wilderness, and after it was established at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, and later in the temple built by Solomon. The Lord has informed us that this was the case and has said that in those edifices ordinances for the people were performed. . . .

“We are living in the dispensation of the fulness of times into which all things are to be gathered, and all things are to be restored since the beginning. Even this earth is to be restored to the condition which prevailed before Adam’s transgression. Now in the nature of things, the law of sacrifice will have to be restored, or all things which were decreed by the Lord would not be restored. It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation. Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored.

“The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fulness of the restoration in this dispensation. Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character.”2

● Only worthy Levites and priests will administer in the house of the Lord; instructions are given here to regulate their conduct and worship (Ezekiel 44:5–31; Ezekiel 45:9–46).

— The Sons of Zadok. 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 (Ezekiel 44:15; 48:11).

Geographical Changes in the Holy Land

● Water will spring forth from under the foundation of the temple (Ezekiel 47:1–5; Zech. 14:8; Joel 3:18).

● The waters of the Dead Sea “shall be healed” (Ezekiel 47:6–8).

— The sequence and proximity of these verses would seem to indicate that the river from the temple mount will be one of the causes of the healing of the Dead Sea.

— At the present time the Dead Sea is approximately 27 percent salt, while the normal seas of the earth are about 5 percent.

— Not all the areas around the Dead Sea will be healed (“the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be . . . salt”). But the sea itself will support fish life, and on the banks of the river “shall grow . . . trees for meat [food] . . . and the leaf . . . for medicine.”

— The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance.”3

Temple Symbolisms: Living Water and Trees of Life

● The water became deeper each time Ezekiel waded across it (Ezekiel 47:2–5). This symbolically represents the idea that the power of the temple increases in our lives the more often we attend.

● In a vision similar to Ezekiel’s vision of the temple, John the Beloved was shown the throne of God (a temple in heaven) from which the “water of life” flows (Revelation 22:1–3).

● The trees along the banks of the river also had healing and life-giving powers (Ezekiel 47:12).

— The tree of life grew along the banks of the river in John’s vision (Revelation 22:2).

— Lehi also saw water flowing beside the tree of life (1 Nephi 11:25; 1 Nephi 8:10–11).

Political Boundaries in the Holy Land

● The borders of the land and the inheritances of the various tribes of Israel are described (Ezekiel 47:13–23). The division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel in the last days will correspond roughly to the division determined in the days of Moses and Joshua (Ezekiel 47:13–48:35; Ezekiel 48:1–35; Joshua 13–21).

● The Holy Land will be divided in strips running between the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Dead Sea and the Jordan River on the east. Each of the twelve tribes will be given a strip of land with a strip out of the middle for the prince, the city, and the Levites, that is, the priests. Joseph will receive a double portion (Ezekiel 47:13) since Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, both became tribes in Israel.

— Sidney B. Sperry said: “Of interest to the Latter-day Saints is the fact that provision is made for the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. It is quite evident from Ezekiel’s vision that not all of Joseph’s descendants are to have their inheritance on the American continent, as some of our people have supposed. We may be justified in believing, however, that most of Joseph’s seed will be provided for on this land (Ether 13:5–12), but Ezekiel very obviously implies that some of Joseph’s descendants will dwell in Palestine.”4

● Strangers (Ezekiel 47:22–23). Undoubtedly there will be converts who are not part of blood Israel who will receive an inheritance because of their devotion to the gospel. They will then be adopted into the house of Israel. These strangers may be some of the gentile peoples who will accept the gospel in the last days.

The Holy City of Jerusalem

● Ezekiel described the gates of the city (Ezekiel 48:31–34). The city will have twelve gates, one for each tribe (including Levi and one for Joseph).

— The requirements to enter into the gates of the holy city (Revelation 22:13–17).

● Jerusalem will be called holy (Ezekiel 48:35). Jerusalem will be called Jehovah-shammah— “the Lord is there”. The Joseph Smith Translation (JST Ezekiel 48:35) reads: “And the name of the city from that day shall be called, Holy; for the Lord shall be there.” The temple will be built as a symbol to Israel that the Lord is with his people.

● The Lord will come to the temple and His glory will be there (Ezekiel 43:1–12; Ezekiel 44:1–4).

THE CENTRALITY OF THE TEMPLE IN OUR LIVES

● David wrote “I have loved the habitation of thy house” (Psalm 26:8). Many others of his psalms also contain his expressions of gratitude:

Psalm 24:3–4
Psalm 26:6–8
Psalm 27:1, 4–6
Psalm 65:4
Psalm 84
Psalm 122
Psalm 134

● You may wish to consult the LDS Hymns for music which is inspired by these psalms and share one or more of those hymns with your class.

● President Howard W. Hunter spoke often of the temple during his brief period of presiding over the Church in the 1990s. On one occasion he said:

“I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would e worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.”5

Notes:

1.  In Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols., [1992], 2:659.
2.  Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:93–94.
3.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 286.
4.  The Voice of Israel’s Prophets [1953], 236–237.
5.  In Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8.

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