Whereas previously in the Old Testament, the Lord has promised that the sins of the fathers will be upon the heads of the children until "the third and fourth generations" (see Exo. 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deut. 5:9), in Ezekiel 18, this message is changed. Now, the Lord says, each person is accountable for himself. His father may be evil, but he can choose to be righteous. This has many comforting implications for us of the latter-days as well. It is nice to know that we are not doomed by genetics or environment to commit whatever sins or weaknesses our parents may have possessed. Each generation can have a fresh start. This is the message of the entire chapter, concluding with this encouraging cheer: "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?...Wherefore, turn yourselves, and live ye" (18:31-32).
CHURCH LEADERSHIP & CHRIST AS OUR SHEPHERD
Chapter 34 is a scathing rebuke to church leaders (shepherds of Israel) who have misused power, misinterpreted scripture, and misled those seeking the truth, juxtaposed (there's that word again!) against the perfect example of Christ as a true Shepherd. Verses 17-25 are a symbolic representation of the Great Apostacy.
Double-clicking on the following pages should pull them up in a separate window where they can be easily read. Unfortunately, the blogger would not accept a .pdf document file, so they are picture files, and don't equal a normal page size. But by right-clicking on them, and choosing "Save Picture As," they can each be saved and inserted into a Word document, re-sizing as desired, and then the document can be printed off and given to class members as a handout. Please be sure to copy and paste in the reference, which is printed below the pages.
Chapter 37 contains the vision of the dry bones, famed in American Negro spirituals. What imagery about the great power of the resurrection could be more vivid than a vast and gruesome graveyard full of unburied bones--perhaps the site of a horrific battle--suddenly becoming animated? There is a rattling sound, a shaking, as the bones clatter up and reassemble themselves. Then the flesh and skin appear and reattach themselves. A wind, or a spirit (see footnote 9a), breathes life into the bodies. The spirits, the breath, comes from "the four winds" or from all the areas of the earth (see symbolism for the number 4 in a previous entry under "Chapter 15 Clarifications). Who are these dead revived? "These bones are the whole house of Israel" who had lost hope, who seemed dead. But the Lord can reach His people, even beyond the grave, and restore them to their rightful place.
Here is another vision with dual meaning: Besides the obvious message of the Resurrection, another message just as vital is that the children of Israel who were spiritually dead, cut off the from the knowledge of their Savior, and scattered to all the atheistic lands of the earth, will be brought back to the spiritual life and light of the gospel.
This will be accomplished by the conjoining of the Book of Mormon and the Bible (the stick of Joseph and the stick of Judah). Then the Lord will be able to make an "everlasting covenant" with them, setting His temples "in the midst of them" (v. 26-27).