Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, November 30, 2018

“Every Thing Shall Live Whither the River Cometh”




Scripture references have been highlighted in red and are hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window. Please click to read!    Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.


Have you ever been excited while watching a sporting event or concert, or some other kind of entertainment? Have you ever been so excited at such an event that you stood and shouted or cheered? Did you know there are events in the Bible that command the same excitement? How about:

The creation of the earth (Job 38:4–7) did we now shout for joy and gratitude as we were presented with the plan and all that would transpire for us. Or the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (John 12:12–16). and even further the Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

When thinking about shouting at a football game, or rocking out at a concert how do you think the excitement of those things compare to the joy of the sacred events mentioned above?  They do not compare.  While the excitement of sporting events or other entertainment is temporary, the joy associated with sacred events is eternal.

As far as church goers go, as Latter-day Saints we are a reserved and reverent peopke but there is a sacred event if tbe church where we do show joy and gratitude by standing, shouting, and waving do you know what it is? During the dedication of a temple, the congregation participates in a great expression of joy called the Hosanna Shout.“  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” (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 2:659).

As we move forward through the Old Testament, we gain help to put into perspective and understand the excitement and joy we experience with things here on earth as compared to the excitement and joy we gain through the Holy Temple. Ezekiel with his marvelous visions gives us analogies that teach us many things we need to know in order to accomplish this understanding.

To learn about Ezekiel, the man, the prophet, and his mission click here:  Ezekiel


1. Ezekiel is shown a vision of the temple in Jerusalem Ezekiel 43:1–12; 44:6–9, 23


In  these chapters of Ezekiel we learn that the glory of God fills the temple, the glory of the Lord fills the house of the Lord and His throne is there.  He promises to dwell in the midst of Israel forever, then Ezekiel sees the altar and the ordinances of the altar.  No strangers may enter the sanctuary and the services of the priests in the temple are explained.

President Russell M Nelson has taught: "Each temple is symbolic of our faith in God and an evidence of our faith in life after death. The temple is the object of every activity, every lesson, every progressive step in the Church. All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. President Hinckley declared that 'these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.' Ordinances of the temple are absolutely crucial. We cannot return to God's glory without them. . . . 

What can we learn about the temple from these verses? Ezekiel 43:1–12; 44:6–9, 23

1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east:

2 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.

3 And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.

4 And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.

5 So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.

6 And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.

7 ¶ And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.

8 In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.

9 Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.

10 ¶ Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.

11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.

12 This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.



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

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

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

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

We learn about 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).


"In the temple we receive an endowment, which is, literally speaking, a gift. We need to understand the spiritual significance of it and the importance of keeping the sacred covenants and obligations we make in receiving this gift. . . .

"In each temple the sealing authority of the priesthood is exercised. Jesus made reference to that authority when He instructed Peter and other Apostles, 'I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven' [Matthew 16:19]. . . . Just as priesthood is eternal—without beginning or end—so is the authority of that priesthood. Consequently, the ordinances and covenants of the priesthood also transcend time. . . .

"Because a temple is sacred, the Lord asks that it be protected from desecration. Anyone may enter who is willing to prepare well for that privilege. . . . Judges in Israel who hold keys of priesthood authority and responsibility help us prepare by conducting temple recommend interviews. . . . Succinctly stated, an individual is required to keep the commandments of Him whose house it is. He has set the standards. We enter the temple as His guests. . . .

"The wearing of the temple garment bears great symbolic significance and represents a continuing commitment. Just as the Savior gave us an example of His ability to endure to the end, wearing the garment is one way we demonstrate enduring faith in Him and in His eternal covenants with us. . . .

"Because the ordinances and covenants of the temple are sacred, we are under absolute obligation not to discuss outside the temple that which occurs in the temple. Sacred matters deserve sacred consideration. . . .

"The teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds. . . .

"An eternal perspective helps us maintain complete fidelity to the covenants we make. President Packer emphasized that 'ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into [God's] presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality.' . . .

"Each temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a stepping-stone to eternal glory for us and our family. I pray that each member of the Church will prepare for the marvelous blessings of the temple." 
(Elder Russell M Nelson "Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple," Ensign, March 2002, 17–23. )


2. Ezekiel sees a river flowing from the temple that gives life to the desert and heals the Dead Sea Ezekiel 47:1, 6–12

Continuing to Chapter Ezekiel 47:1, 6–12, Waters issue from the house of the Lord and heal the Dead Sea, then the Lord shows the borders of the land.


map of Judea

These verses are a vision that depicts a river of water flowing from beneath the temple and bringing life to everything it touches (Ezek. 47:1-12) The symbolic waters seem to convey the idea of truth, life, and healing emanating from the Lord's house to fill the world. "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst," Jesus said, "but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). In the Millennium, Isaiah wrote, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9). Truth and eternal life will flow freely in that day, and a literal transformation of the planet will take place as well: the parched places will become green, the deserts will blossom as a rose (Isa. 35:1-7), and "the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory" (Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kent P Jackson)

Lets read these verses:  


1 Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

6 ¶ And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

10 And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; 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.

11 But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.

What did Ezekiel see coming from the east doors of the temple in Jerusalem?  1 Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.


Where did the water go? 8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

The Judean wilderness is a barren desert, and the Dead Sea is too salty to sustain animal life. According to Ezekiel’s vision, what changes will take place in the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea because of the river flowing from the temple?   6 ¶ And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

10 And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; 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.

11 But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.


The Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed: “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.” (Teachings, p. 286.)   The waters issuing forth from under the temple and the healing of the Dead Sea may occur when the Lord Himself sets foot upon the Mount of Olives, causing this mountain to divide in two and create a large valley.  (Old Testament Student Manual)

In a vision similar to Ezekiel’s vision of the temple, John the Beloved was shown the throne of God (Revelation 22:1–3; note that in Ezekiel 43:7, the Lord calls the temple “the place of my throne”). 

1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:


What flowed from the throne of God in John’s vision?  Revelation 22:1.
1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 

What is the “water of life”?  The doctrines of the gospel.

How are we like the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea if we do not partake of the water of life? 

How does the water of life that is available in the temple heal and give life to marriages? families? our ancestors? the Church? 

What else flows from the temple that gives spiritual life and healing?  Truth, wisdom, revelation, and covenants...

Ezekiel 47:12 describes the trees that grew along the banks of the river in Ezekiel’s vision. What did the trees have in common with the waters of the river?  They had healing and life-giving powers.

What grew along the banks of the river in John’s vision? Revelation 22:2.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 

Where else in the scriptures are prophets shown the tree of life?  1 Nephi 8:10–11; 11:25.

10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

In the dream given to Lehi and Nephi, what did the tree of life represent? 1 Nephi 11:25
25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.


How does the love of God heal and give life? 

What spiritual and physical wounds will God’s love heal? Any and all...


3. Ezekiel measures the river’s depth Ezekiel 47:2–5

How deep was the river the first time Ezekiel waded across it?  Ezekiel 47:2–3

2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

How deep was it the second, third, and fourth times he waded across?  Ezekiel 47:4–5

4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

What truth do these verses suggest about the temple?  The power of the temple increases in our lives the more often we attend.

Wonderful truths are taught in the temple, many through symbols. If at first our understanding of these truths or of temple ordinances is only “ankle deep,” what should we do? Ezekiel 47:2–5. We should wade into the “river” again and again; or, in other words, attend the temple as often as possible.


Psalm 26:81. “I have loved the habitation of thy house” 

Many of the psalms mention blessings we receive from temple attendance and express beautiful feelings of love and thanksgiving for the temple. 

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 


Psalm 26:6–8 
6 I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord:

7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

8 Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.



1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?


4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.



4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple. 


1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!

2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.

4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. 


1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.

2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:

4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.

5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.

9 Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.


1 Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord.

2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.

3 The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.


Conclusion

The Lord has called the temple “a place of thanksgiving” (D&C 97:13).  Just as the waters from the temple healed the Judean wilderness and the Dead Sea in Ezekiel’s vision, the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal and cleanse us if we will partake of it.  The temple, attendance and participating in all sacred ordinances are central to the gospel Jesus Christ.  Our healing, our salvation and the salvation and healing of our loved ones depends upon our gratitude, understanding and attendance of the temple.  

As President Howard W. Hunter addressed the Saints in his new calling as president of the Church in 1994, 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 be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend. . . . Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. . . . If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple." (Howard W. Hunter, "Exceeding Great and Precious Promises," Ensign, November 1994)

How can we make the temple the “great symbol of [our] membership” in the Church?  By making it central in our lives. How would looking to the temple in this way affect our outlook on life and our dedication to the Lord’s work?  It will change us and we will become as Christ with a desire to not sin, to do the best that we can and live in harmony with the gospel, to help save the lives, the souls of others for we will love as he loves.  It will give us a desire to serve and to do so willingly, happily and with magnification.  It will make us new people, ones who earn eternal live and live for that eternity with all the blessings offered to us.   

Resources
Old Testament Student Manual
Studies in Scripture Vol 4 Kent P Jackson
Ensign
Conference Reports
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants 










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