Is The Book of Mormon Mentioned In Ezekiel 37?
Many Latter-Day Saints (hereafter LDS) honestly believe that the Bible and the Book of Mormon testify to the same gospel of Jesus Christ. A good question to ask LDS: "Is there any evidence that the Book of Mormon would come forth as a latter-day revelation from God that would testify to the gospel?" The LDS usually reply is Ezekiel 37:15-23 (please read).
To help aid in your understanding and memorization, we provide the following acrostic: STICK
S- Saints' Interpretation of Ezekiel 37
T- The True Meaning of The Two Sticks in Ezekiel 37
I- Interpretation Fits The Context
C- Context Is Important
K - Knowing The Truth
S - Saints' Interpretation of Ezekiel 37
LeGrands Richards, former Apostle of the LDS church wrote:
"In ancient times it was the custom to write on parchment and roll it on a stick. Therefore, when this command was given, it was the equivalent of directing that two books or records should be kept. When their children would ask the meaning of this commandment, when the Lord would ‘take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.' Now, granting that the Bible is the stick of Judah, where is the stick of Joseph? Can anyone answer? God commanded that it should be kept and that it should be kept to record the fulfillment of his greater promises to Joseph. It would naturally be a record kept in another land, since Joseph was to be separate from his brethren. It is plan from the reading of this scripture that the record of Judah, or the Holy Bible would remain with the people, and that the record of Joseph would be joined unto it, and that the two would become one. Could this promise be fulfilled in a more simple and perfect manner than it was through the coming forth of the book of Mormon? God led a branch of the house of Joseph to America and commanded them to keep records of all their doings. He then commanded his prophet, Moroni, to hide this sacred record in the hill Cumorah in the western part of the state of New York, U.S.A. Centuries later he sent Moroni back to deliver the record to Joseph Smith and gave him power to translate it with the assistance of the Urim and Thummim. Now the two records have been joined together, constituting a complete fulfillment of another great prophecy... Until someone can explain where the record of Joseph is, the Book of Mormon stands unrefuted in its claim to be ‘the stick of Joseph (emp. mine). '" (A Marvelous Work and A Wonder Salt Lake City, 1973, pp. 67-68)
Latayne Colvett Scott states concerning Hugh Nibley's interpretation of Ezekiel 37: "‘stick of Judah' is the Bible, because it was written by Judah's descendants, the Jews; and that the ‘stick of Ephraim' is the Book of Mormon, written by the Nephites who were descended from Ephraim." (The Mormon Mirage, 1979, p. 58)
According to LDS interpretation of Ezekiel 37, the stick of Joseph = the Book of Mormon and the stick of Judah = the Bible. Will this interpretation hold up in the context?
T- The True Meaning of The Two Sticks In Ezekiel 37
First, Ezekiel is to take the two sticks and write on them: "For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions ." Then take another stick and write on it, " For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions ." That is all! There was nothing else Ezekiel was to write on these sticks. The Book of Mormon and the Bible have a lot more text than this.
Second, Ezekiel is the scribe. He was the one to write on them. "The son of man" (occurs about 90 times in Ezekiel) refers to Ezekiel himself. Ezekiel did not write the Book of Mormon however!
Third, Ezekiel is to take two sticks and these two sticks represent two tribes (Ephraim and Judah), not two records. Notice what the text states again: "And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?'- say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."
Fourth, Ezekiel reveals what the divine interpretation is: "Then say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God." Does the inspired commentary even hint to the Book of Mormon? No!
It is speaking about the tribe of Ephraim ( that is, the northern kingdom of Israel, since Ephraim was the prominent tribe in the northern kingdom), for some of them were going to return to Jerusalem from captivity. The tribe of Judah (that is, the southern kingdom of Israel, since Judah was the prominent tribe in the southern kingdom), would also return to their homeland to be joined together as one nation. They would no longer be divided into two nations again. Since Jesus was to become the "son of David," He would rule over the new Israel (that is, His own special people - the church, Romans 9:6; 11:26; Galatians 6:16; Hebrews 8:8-10).
I- Interpretation Fits The Context
The divine interpretation fits the context since Ezekiel is writing concerning his own people who had been sent into Babylonian exile and desired to return to their homeland.
C- Context Is Important
Context is very important in the study of God's Word. To take a verse out of its context, makes the verse a pretext. We should strive to allow the context to determine the true meaning of the text. When we take a closer look at the passage in its historical context, we find that the overall context of the book of Ezekiel fits the divine interpretation that has been given. Let us remember that it was sin that brought about Judah's exile into Babylonian captivity. Consider the context surrounding Ezekiel 37:
Chapters 1-24 are a survey of Ezekiel's ministry to those who are exiled in the foreign country. The people of Judah need to recognize the seriousness of their sin and to repent of it.
Chapters 25-32 are Ezekiel's prophecies against the Gentile nations (such as Tyre) who would not submit to the authority of God.
Chapters 33-48 are Ezekiel's prophecies showing forth the hope of the exiles in that they would be able to return to the land of Palestine after the seventy years of captivity and glimpses of the forthcoming Messianic age.
K -Knowing The Truth
It is so important to recognize that we must know the truth if we desire to be set free from sin (John 8:31, 32). We should not desire to be part of any false religion (Galatians 1:6-9). We should desire to "buy the truth and sell it not" (Proverbs 23:23). To those reading this article who want to know Jesus: Don't you want to learn the evidence about who Jesus claimed to be? Don't you want to learn about the church that Jesus built - the one church of the Bible (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22,23; 4:4)? We invite you to "Come and see" (John 1:46) the One who is "the way, the truth, and the life"; the only One through whom we can have salvation (John 14:6; 3:16; 8:24; Acts 17:30; Matthew 10:28,29; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).
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