new life
Week 44 is scheduled for study Oct. 24-30, 2022. New life is the theme for this week. It can come from listening to God’s words, repenting, or from our temple covenants. The Lord promises to both physically and spiritually heal His people.

Day 1

Ezekiel was invited to symbolically “eat” God’s word—to fill himself with it (see Ezekiel 2:9-3:3, 10). How will you fill yourself with God’s word this week?

Ezekiel 1-3 – Thou shalt speak my words.

If you happen to find the text of today’s lesson from the manual a bit on the cryptic side, watch Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk entitled, “The voice of Warning” and it should all become clear. For a moment I would like to talk about my impressions of what it means to speak God’s words, which was the injunction given to Ezekiel.

We all have our own perception of life, of circumstances, and of all that goes on around us. When we choose to voice our thoughts on what is going on around us or on what people may need to hear to find happiness or to become better, it can become tricky. The danger we face when we decide to act in any way as a guide in the lives of others, is that we are only mortals, and are naturally flawed. We don’t have a complete view of the eternities, the doctrines of God, nor of the path each person should pursue in their own life. We only see things from our own perspective.

Yet even with that being the case, we are all commanded to warn our neighbor, just as the prophets are sent to warn the people of the whole world. As Elder Christofferson mentioned in his talk, we are all the good Samaritan from the parable Christ gave about caring for one another. It is our responsibility to warn each other, both in the church and outside the church of the consequences of sin, and to sound the good news of the gospel of Christ and the joy it brings to those who repent. The trick is to always speak sound doctrine and the truth. Where does sound doctrine and the truth come from?

The words of the Lord are found in two places, the writings we have as the scriptures, and the writings and recordings we have of the messages from those commissioned by Christ, himself to preach his gospel to all the world – the prophets. I believe that when we teach others the way back to God, our preaching must be informed by three sources, the Spirit, the scriptures, and the prophets. If what we teach others conflicts with any one of these three sources then we are out of bounds and need to repent. All that we teach as doctrine should be backed up by the power that is inherently contained in the words of the prophets, the scriptures, and as taught by the Spirit. All three of these sources will always be in agreement. If we feel that we have been taught something by the Spirit (for example) that disagrees with any one of these three things then we need to humble ourselves and find out where we went wrong, for we are indeed wrong.

There is power in speaking the words of Christ. All of the scriptures teach his words, and the Spirit testifies of the truth of what he speaks. As long as what we teach agrees with all three of God’s witnesses of the truths He wants us to live by then we will always be safe.

As a personal example, I am constantly afraid to voice my own opinion about gospel related principles. I never write them in these commentaries unless I can explicitly think of someplace in the scriptures or the talks of the prophets I have been taught what I write. I also rely on whether or not it feels right. If I don’t feel comfortable that I can back myself up with the words of God or His messengers then I don’t publish it for others to read. I don’t want to be responsible for someone falling away or committing sin in the future and have it be on my head for having taught false doctrine. I also hope that because I believe I am speaking truth that someone will benefit from what I write and do good. By teaching the truth, whether or not someone accepts it, I will, as God said to Ezekiel, deliver my own soul.

Day 2

Ezekiel was invited to symbolically “eat” God’s word—to fill himself with it (see Ezekiel 2:9-3:3, 10). How will you fill yourself with God’s word this week?

Ezekiel 33:10-19 – The Lord wants to forgive.

In my mind the number one lesson in all of today’s thoughts from the manual is the idea that we are accountable for everything we do in this life. There is no such thing as “our own righteousness” or our own truth. God has set the standard for behavior and truth, and we all have to answer for how we behave in relation to what He has given us. I noticed that when the verses mention our “own righteousness” it is followed by a phrase about us committing sin. That immediately said to me that living by my own standards of behavior will result in sin, for living by the Lord’s standards of behavior leads us to holiness and goodness.

Since the Lord takes no pleasure in punishing anyone for committing wickedness, but finds joy in blessing us for being good and doing good, it looks like goodness is a better path to choose. None of us can choose to be judged by someone other than the Savior. God has already declared that he will judge all of us. There is nothing we can do to change that. Our only option is to choose how we will live so we can pick the judgment we receive. That fits with what we are taught throughout the scriptures. The prophets tell us repeatedly, especially in the Book of Mormon, that we are free to choose for ourselves either eternal happiness or eternal damnation.

We should marvel at ourselves that some of us resent having to do good in order to receive a reward of eternal goodness. It is very much like a child who wants to do everything their own way, but not have to face any of the natural consequences for their behavior. Many a physical, emotional, and spiritual scar has been acquired through that thinking. And what would we think of God if He actually took delight in punishing us? Who wants to live eternally with someone like that?

It is important that we accept the eternal truth that God is love. He is forgiving, kind, generous, and supportive. He is the kind of person we should desire to be around. But such goodness has rules. We can’t expect anything less. No matter how much He may want to forgive us of our trespasses, He can’t if we aren’t willing to conform to His laws of goodness, those very laws that create the happiness we all desire.

Day 3

Ezekiel was invited to symbolically “eat” God’s word—to fill himself with it (see Ezekiel 2:9-3:3, 10). How will you fill yourself with God’s word this week?

Ezekiel 34 – The Lord invites me to feed His sheep.

I am not aware of any society of ancient date that wasn’t at its heart agrarian. The raising of herd animals, especially sheep, was common to most societies. It makes sense that the Lord would use an example that would be readily understood by most people, such as raising sheep. His people were always herdsmen, from the days of Abraham onward.

As the great Shepherd, Christ has always taught with stories about sheep. These were tales that were clear and understandable to everyone in their society from the highest to the lowest. Sheep are dumb animals – lovable, but dumb. They tend to follow most anything who chooses to lead, even if it gets them into trouble. They often wander off and get themselves lost and need to be found. Sheep can’t defend themselves. They need to be protected. It is almost as if the Lord created sheep just for the purpose of demonstrating what His children would be like in mortality.

Jesus has always had problems with those who have been given charge of his flock, but either ignore them or take advantage of them in their innocence or ignorance. In Ezekiel 34 the Lord takes issue with the fact that the leaders of the people, they who were supposed to watch out for the welfare of God’s children, were taking advantage of them and serving only their own self interests. The people who were supposed to be Israel’s spiritual leaders were not caring for Israel’s spiritual wellbeing (Ezekiel 34:4).

The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

Verse four describes perfectly how we will be judged for our response to the ministering efforts given to us by the Prophet today. Some will say that we can text someone and call it a day. I think the Lord’s requirements for what constitutes good ministering is more than just a note or a text. What the priests and leaders of ancient Israel had missed was the meaning of, and purpose for ministering to Christ’s flock, his people. They saw his people as a resource to be exploited. How different from them are we if we look at Christ’s people and view them with indifference? Which is worse? I see them as both equally condemnable.

Day 4

Ezekiel was invited to symbolically “eat” God’s word—to fill himself with it (see Ezekiel 2:9-3:3, 10). How will you fill yourself with God’s word this week?

Ezekiel 37 – The Lord is gathering His people and giving them new life.

Ezekiel saw in vision the spiritual state of God’s covenant people when he saw the valley of dry bones. This state of decay and death would not be completed until the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. But the purpose of Ezekiel’s vision wasn’t to just see how decayed his people had become. The vision was shown to him to give him hope in the future when those dry bones would rise again in splendor.

The promise of the Lord to Israel was that at some future date He would bring new life to their people, restoring them to their ancient lands, to their covenant status before Him, and that He would finally produce an Israel that would be faithful to the covenants they were given. The result of this covenant status would mean they would be blessed beyond anything ancient Israel ever experienced.

I can’t explain how it works, but this promised state of bliss between God and His people would be brought about because of the marriage between the record of the Jews (the Bible) and the record of Joseph (the Book of Mormon). There is something about the power of these two books being brought together that is promised to have the effect of not just restoring knowledge that would be lost over the centuries, but that the combination of these two books of scripture would have an amazing effect on the people. God told Joseph of Egypt that they “shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.” (2 Nephi 3:11-13)

This “new heart” God speaks of to Ezekiel is the result of people reading both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon may seem like a simple record to us, partly because we are so accustomed to having it in our lives. But it took the Lord almost 3,000 years to write it at the hands of countless prophets, and over the duration of two full civilizations, the Jaredites and the Nephites. The lessons gathered from all their experiences, and the teachings of their prophets, open our eyes and quicken our understanding of God’s plan of salvation in a way that just the Bible alone cannot give us. Together they provide us with a grand scope of God’s dealings with His children from the days of Adam until the coming of Christ in the future.

FHE/Personal Study

Ezekiel 47:1-12 – The vision of water

This topic was discussed in a previous year’s curriculum.

As you read this article and think about what the water represents, include in your thinking Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones. I think all of these witnesses of God’s life-giving abilities help to support the idea that God has the power, and the desire to not just restore His people to their former glory, but to surpass anything Israel has been blessed with in the past as they come to Christ and honor their temple covenants in the future.

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OT44-2022 – A New Spirit Will I Put Within You

Week 44