Joshua Chapter 5

The Israelites, under the direction of the prophet Joshua, crossed the Jordan River and camped near the land of Jericho. The Lord had brought them into this land, in such a way, as to make the other nations nervous. This had been promised prior to their crossing the river. The nations would know and fear the people of the living God. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

Fear came upon the people of the land of Canaan. They knew that the people of Israel were a powerful people because of the miracles that God had done for them.

2 At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.
5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.
6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

The Israelite males were circumcised, just as their fathers had been who made the first covenants at Sinai. This was necessary because all those who had been circumcised the first time, had since passed away. The Lord had not required circumcision as they had wandered for forty years. The place they camped, was called Gilgal by the Lord.

10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.
11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.

As they camped, they kept the Passover and ate the old grains that came from the land. I think this was new for them, because as a nomadic people, they had been fed by the Lord for forty years, and had not regularly eaten the crops as other people would have done.

12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

At that point, the blessing of manna stopped and they began to eat the fruit of the land. I imagine that would have been quite a change for all the people, since all of them were raised from childhood or infancy with daily manna from the Lord.

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
15 And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

The captain of the host of the Lord came to Joshua. Joshua worshiped him and then asked what the directions of the Lord were for him. Joshua, much like Moses, was told to remove the shoes he wore, because he was then on holy ground.

This was a time of great changes for the Israelite people. They were finally becoming prepared to take the land and settle there. I am sure this was a time of great excitement and anticipation. These people had never known this kind of life that they were now facing. I am sure that the need for courage and faith in the Lord, was of great importance. They showed their faith, by performing the ordinance of circumcision and renewing the covenants with the Lord. They were becoming more sanctified by the Lord, and allowing Him to lead them. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have each week to renew my own covenants with the Lord, by partaking of the Sacrament. Through this renewal, I know that I can be more sanctified as well. With this weekly renewal and sanctification, I am better prepared to face my own adversaries and the every-day trials of life.

Joshua Chapter 4

The Israelites had followed the instructions of the prophet, Joshua, and went behind the Ark of the Covenant to the shores of the Jordan River. They camped near the river. Twelve men, one from each tribe, were chosen from among the people. They followed the priests who bore the Ark, and when they entered the water, it was stopped in a heap, much like the parting of the Red Sea. The people began to walk across on the dry land. This chapter continues this story as follows:

1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

After the people had crossed the river, the twelve men who had been chosen from the tribes, were to gather twelve stones from the ground where the priests stood, who had carried the ark. They were to take the stones with them to the place they camped for the night. Joshua teaches us that the reason for these stones, was to have a monument to be held in remembrance of this event. When their children, or their posterity, would ask what these stones meant, they would teach them that they were to remember when the Lord stopped the waters of the Jordan for the children of Israel. Twelve stones were placed in the middle of the Jordan River, where the ark of the covenant was carried by the priests.

10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.
11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.
12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:
13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

When all of this was accomplished, the priests who bore the ark carried it onto the other side of the river where the Israelites were. The men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, led the people, armed to fight, just as they had promised. There were 40,000 men prepared to battle in the Israelite army.

14 On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.
15 And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.
17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.
18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

The children of Israel, were able to witness for themselves, that Joshua had been magnified by the Lord, and was indeed the Lord’s prophet. Once the priests were commanded to come out of the Jordan River onto the shores of the other side, the river returned to it’s normal course.

19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.
21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:
24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.

The Israelites camped in Gilgal, just outside of the land of Jericho. The twelve tribes set up the twelve stones as a memorial of what the Lord had done for the Israelites at this place.

I was pondering on the use of stones and the river in this story. Stones are a part of the land, which is what they were able to walk on without difficulty. These stones would have been large enough to remain there for generations, and they cause me to think about the rock of our salvation, who is always there for us. These stones were to stay unmovable and always be a reminder of the strength of the Lord for His people. The Lord is our rock, just as he was the rock of salvation for the Israelites. If we place our trust in Him, he will help us to cross the rivers of trials we deal with in our own lives, as if we are on dry land. The waters will not be able to drag us down, as the river would have done for this people.

Additionally, the Ark of the Covenant was not only a physical representation of the Lord among the people, but a container which held the words of the covenant the people of Israel had made with the Lord. It is a reminder to me, that we need to allow our covenants to lead our lives. If we are willing to put our covenants with the Lord first, to give us guidance and direction, we will be kept safe and find our way to our promised land. I am so grateful for my covenants and have felt the blessings of allowing the Lord to guide me through them.

Joshua Chapter 3

The Israelites were commanded to prepare their things, because in three days time, they would be starting their movement into the promised land. The first city they were going to arrive at, would be Jericho. Joshua, as their leader, sent spies into the land, who returned to say that the people there had heard of the great and terrible things the Israelites had done, and feared them. God had told Moses and Joshua that this is how the nations would feel, and so with faith, the Israelites continued to prepare.

1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

Joshua and the people left the camp in Shittim and arrived at the shore of the Jordan River. They stayed there for three days. The instruction was given to the people, that when they saw the ark of the covenant and Levite priests go before them, they were to follow it. They were specifically instructed to have a distance between themselves and the ark, so that the Lord could lead them into this unknown land. The Lord was not going to send them into this land, without his guidance as to where they should go. He would lead them, much like he had led them before with the cloud that went before them in the wilderness. This reminds me of the story of the Book of Mormon, when the family of the prophet Lehi were guided to their promised land by the Liahona, which was a gift from God.

Joshua instructed the people to sanctify themselves because the Lord would do wonders for them. Finally, Joshua gave the command to the priests, to take the ark and go before the people, which they did. This command to be sanctified for the wonders of the Lord, was much like the commandment given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when they would witness the glory of the Lord on the mount. They had physically prepared themselves for the journey to come, and now they were being called to be spiritually prepared to receive the blessings of God. I imagine it is a lot like the call for us today, to become worthy to enter temples. The latter-day saint temples are dedicated houses of the Lord, in which the righteous can receive great blessings from the Lord. People must be sanctified to enter, because the spirit of the Lord dwells there.

7 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

Joshua is given a promise that the Lord would show the Israelites that he was indeed the prophet of God, just as Moses had been. It is so important for us to have a testimony of the Lord’s prophet, so that we will not doubt that we are being guided by the words of God. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had in my life, which have strengthened my own testimony in the modern prophets, and help me to know that we have a living prophet on the earth today.

God told Joshua to tell the priests that bore the ark, to go into the first part of the water and stand still in it. This was to be an act of faith on the part of the priests. Moses, when he parted the Red Sea, had to first stretch out his hand as an act of faith in God. We can follow these examples in our own lives, by taking a step in the direction of the council we are given by the Lord and his servants. When we go forward in faith, rather than waiting for something to happen first, we can do great things, just as these worthy men of the priesthood would do.

9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God.
10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

Joshua called the people forward and told them that the Lord would show them that he was there with them and would lead them to victory over the nations of the land. Then, he gave the instructions to the people that twelve men, one from each tribe, were to be chosen. He also told them that as the priests took the ark into the water, the Lord would cut the waters off and cause them to stand up in a heap. This would have been much like the waters of the Red Sea, when Moses parted them by the power of God.

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

The Jordan River, which is described here as being high water at the time of harvest, was stopped when the feet of the priests went into the brink. I think the additional description of the Jordan, was given so that we could know that the water was not some simple stream, but an overflowing river. Once the water stopped, the people of Israel crossed over on dry land. It is interesting to me to see that the waters mark the journey of the Israelites. The beginning of their journey through the wilderness, involved the parting of the Red Sea and the Israelites crossing the dry land. Then, their journey ends with the waters stopped in the Jordan, and the Israelites crossing the dry land again. Both times, the Lord, who is the living water, made the waters of the earth do His bidding. Both times proved to the people that the prophet was indeed a man of God, chosen to lead them forward. The water was the symbol of the next phase of their lives.

Water is a very symbolic thing in the gospel. I can’t help but reflect on the most significant moment in my life that is relating to water, which was my baptism. In my own life, entering into the waters of baptism, marked the next phase of my existence. It is a time I can often reflect on, and remember the decision that was laid before me. Taking that faithful step into the water, has led me on a path of discipleship and great blessings. Additionally, the Lord caused that water to do His bidding, which was to cleanse me and give me new life. I am very grateful for that choice and the opportunities, lessons, and growth it has given to me.

Joshua Chapter 2

The Israelites were encamped on the eastern side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. This was a city surrounded by a wall. It would be the first city that the Israelites would come to once they crossed the river into the promised land. The Israelites had just been given the direction from the Lord, to gather their belongings and prepare themselves to cross the Jordan into the land of inheritance. This chapter begins:

1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:
5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.

Joshua sent two spies to Jericho. They ended up staying at the house of Rahab, who was a harlot. The king of Jericho learned of their arrival and sent for the men who came to search out their land. Rahab hid the spies and told the men of Jericho that she did not know where the Israelite spies were. She said that the men had come to her, but left when the night came. She convinced them to go search for the spies, when truly, she had hidden them on her roof.

8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;
9 And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token:
13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.
16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.
17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.
18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.
19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.
20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.
21 And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.
22 And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.

Rahab told the spies that she knew God had given them the land and that the people feared them because of the power God had done great and terrible things. The Lord had previously promised the Israelites that the nations would fear their coming, and this was fulfillment of that promise. Rahab must have understood some of the nature of God, even though she lived in a nation that was not following after Him, and was personally living a life of sin. This is a reminder to me, that we are all fallen people in a fallen world. Just because a person is not living righteously, does not mean that they could not do good for others. Those who do good, will be blessed by the Lord and I think that Rahab believed this.

Rahab begged them to spare her, along with her family, because she had helped them. The spies promised her that if she would not tell anyone about them, they would be preserve her family. She helped them to escape the town and told them to hide in the mountain for three days while they were pursued. They made a plan for Rahab to hang a scarlet cloth in her window, so they would know which home to spare. Any of her family that was in the house would be fine, but any outside of their home would not be spared. If she told anyone, they would not be held to their promise. They escaped to the mountain and she tied the cloth in her window. The men who were looking for them, could not find them.

23 ¶So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them:
24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.

The spies returned to the Israelite camp and told Joshua what had happened in Jericho. They had greater faith, because the people of Jericho feared the Israelites.

This is a story of faithful actions for Joshua, the spies, and Rahab. Joshua acts in faith, by preparing for their journey and causing the spies to go into the land. The spies faithfully go into Jericho and, continuing in faith, rely on Rahab for protection and help to know about the people in the land. Likewise, Rahab shows great faith in the face of the fear that has come upon her people. She knows her life is in danger now that the Israelites are preparing to come into their land, and she shows her faith by helping the spies. I think that all 4 of these individuals, trusted that the Lord would bless them if they would go forward in their faith.

It is interesting to note, that Rahab was to hang something scarlet from her window. To the Isrealites, a home marked by scarlet had significant meaning. The homes of the Israelites had been marked by the lamb’s blood when they were threatened with the destroying angel in Egypt. The blood had been the thing that saved their people. This thread or cloth would be the thing to save Rahab and her family as well. Both things were representations of the saving power of the Lord. The blood of the atonement of Jesus Christ marks the faithful, to be saved from the destroying power of sin in our lives. I am so grateful for the knowledge of the atonement and reminders such as this story, which help me to remember what it does for me personally.

Joshua Chapter 1

The first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are called the books of Moses. They tell the history of the prophets and people of God, from Adam and his family, down through Moses and the Israelites. The ending of these books, records that Moses was taken by the Lord and Joshua, who was previously called and set apart by Moses, becomes the new prophet and leader of the children of Israel. The book of Joshua begins with the following:

1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The Lord speaks to his new prophet, Joshua. Joshua is commanded to take the people into the promised land. The Lord promised Joshua that no man would be able to stand before him, because the Lord would be with him for the rest of his life, just as he had been with Moses. The phrase “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” is quoted a lot, to show that the Lord does not desert those he has called to do his work. In modern revelation we read, “He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:83)” When we faithfully serve in our callings, the Lord sustains us and guides us.

The Lord tells Joshua to be strong and of good courage in his charge to give the people the land of their inheritance. He is told again to be strong and courageous in order to be strictly obedient to the law. It is not an easy thing, to keep the commandments of God in a world that seems to pull us every other direction. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to stand firm and remain faithful to the covenants made with the Lord. The faithful cannot be selective on the commandments they choose to obey, but must strive to keep all the commandments of the Lord. Joshua is also commanded to meditate on the law day and night. I think this is another way of saying that he needed to study it and then write it upon his heart, so that he would live the law with exactness. If he would do this, he would be successful and prosperous. When we, like Joshua, are strong in the faith and courageously do what is right, studying the scriptures and living the principles found in them, we will have no reason to fear either. The spirit of the Lord will strive with those who choose the right and do the will of the Lord.

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it.

Joshua began to prepare Israel to cross the Jordan into the land of their inheritance. He did this by giving commands to the tribe leaders, which they were then to give to all the people. They had three days to prepare themselves to travel again.

12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15 Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

Joshua reminded the two and a half tribes who had already claimed their inheritances, that they promised Moses they would go with the rest of the host of Israel, to gain all the lands promised. After they served in the army of Israel, they would be able to return to their homes.

16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

The men agreed to do follow the commands and leadership of Joshua, just as they had been willing to follow Moses, because they knew the Lord was with him. They also decided that those who were disobedient to Joshua, and therefore went against their earlier promise to Moses and the Lord, would be put to death.

“Be strong and of good courage”. There are many times in my life, when I have walked by faith alone and this is a motto that has been able to help me a great deal. Remembering that the Lord can be our strength during trials, is a huge help in these difficult times. I find great hope in the promised blessings of keeping the commandments, and cling to faith in Him and his help to overcome all that I face. We may not be going against men of great stature in battles or facing death, but our trials are our own for a reason and they are not easy. We can all grow from our trials when we face them with all the strength we can and with the courage to do what is right.

Deuteronomy Chapter 34

Moses was the prophet who delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, through the power and direction of the Lord. He then led the people by the power of the Lord, to Mount Sinai, where he received revelation and taught the people the laws of God. With the priesthood and continued revelation, he led them for the forty years they wandered in the wilderness, before arriving near the promised land. He led their armies into battles, where they were victorious because the Lord was on their side. He taught as the Lord commanded and the people made precious and sacred covenants with the Lord. Moses had not been entirely perfect through his life, and because of a choice he made during his leadership, he was to be taken from the earth before he could enter the promised land. The Lord called Moses to go up into the mountain to die, just as his brother Aaron had previously. This chapter finishes the story of Moses. It begins:

1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

Moses went into the mount and saw the land as he had been promised by the Lord.

5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.
6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

Moses was taken by the Lord. In Alma 45 we read the following:

18 And when Alma had done this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of.
19 Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial.

Here we learn that the description of Moses being buried (by the Lord), means that he was taken up by the spirit, which would explain why no one would know where he was buried. Being taken from this world by the spirit, means that Moses was translated and did not suffer through death as most men do (see 3 Nephi 28:1-9, 36-40 for information on translation). In the Bible Dictionary under “Moses”, it teaches that in order to do part of the mission he had on earth after his life, but before the resurrection began, it was necessary for him to be a translated being with a body and not a spirit awaiting the resurrection.

7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

Moses did not die of “old-age”, as many do today. He lived to be 120 years old, but is described in such a way to say that he was not a man who was going blind or becoming unable to perform his duties. It causes me to ponder on the scriptures that teach us that men will live to the fullness of their age during the millennium, and then they will be changed to their next state as translated beings are. I am sure it is a great blessing to experience that mighty change without going through the pains and struggles of physical death.

8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

The Israelites mourned over Moses for thirty days, while they remained in the land across the Jordan River from Jericho. I can only imagine the heartache felt when Moses left them, because he had done so much for his people.

9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.

Joshua, who had been called and set apart, to be the next prophet and leader of the people, was made full of the spirit of wisdom. I think this is another way of saying that the mantle of his calling, rested upon him now that Moses had gone. The Israelites knew he was to lead them, and because the Lord had commanded them through the words of Moses, they hearkened to Joshua and sustained him as their leader.

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,
11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

Moses was a prophet of the higher priesthood, who led with great authority and power from the Lord. When he was taken, this priesthood was also taken from the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:25 we read, “Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;”. The experiences that the Israelites had with him as their leader, would stand as examples for the rest of time. He was Israel’s greatest prophet. They would continue to focus on him and his teachings as long as they were a nation. This was necessary in order to establish the word of the Lord among the people. Even if they would not always follow the commandments and would be scattered later as had been promised, they had been established as the people of the Lord, who had the law of Moses, which was the law of the living God. All the earth would continue to be blessed by the Israelites because of the work that Moses did. Moses was one of few men, who ever lived and knew the Lord as personally as he did, even seeing Him face to face. He was more faithful and obedient than most men who have ever lived, which is why he was able to do so many great and marvelous things for the people of his time.

I am grateful for the prophet Moses and for the scriptures which teach me of his life and mission for the Lord. I know that his righteousness and leadership was necessary for us to have the gospel as we do today. His mission did not end with his being taken from the Israelites, but has continued with the need for restoration of keys of the priesthood throughout time. I have enjoyed the study of his life and law, which has strengthened my testimony and helped me gain a greater understanding of the gospel which I live today. I am also grateful for the love of God, to allow us to have living prophets today. I know that these prophets are called for our time and to help us find our way back Home.

Deuteronomy Chapter 33

At this point in the story of Moses and the Israelites, Moses has completed his sermons to the people and is preparing to go up into the Mount to die. Throughout the scriptures, we have records of what the prophets have done when they know they are about to leave their mortal life. It seems that quite often, they take the time to leave a blessing upon the people or upon their families. In this chapter Moses leaves a blessing upon the tribes of Israel. (This is just my simple understanding of what the words of Moses mean, and I know I do not have a perfect grasp of all the words spoken). It begins as follows:

1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
2 And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
4 Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
5 And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.

Moses was a man, who led the saints of his day under the had of the Lord. The people were loved by the Lord, and He gave them His word in the Law of Moses, as well as a promised inheritance.

We have a prophet today, who leads the saints of God now. He is a man called of God, and serves under the direction of God. In modern revelation it tells us how our prophet should be like Moses. In Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 107, we read the following:

91 And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses—
92 Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.

6 Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

Moses blessed the tribe of Reuben, that they would not die, but would be great in number. They still did not hold any greater blessing even though they were the tribe of the firstborn, because those blessings were given to Joseph and his posterity. However, being blessed to have numbers, was a great blessing for their tribe.

7 And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

The tribe of Judah was blessed that they would have sufficient for their needs and aid when faced with enemies or other nations they would need to drive out of the land.

8 And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;
9 Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
11 Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.

The tribe of Levi was blessed to have directions from the Lord, to teach the children of Israel all the Lord’s judgments, or ordinances, and the law. This was the duty of their priesthood, which only they held among all the Israelites. They were blessed to continue in their service to the Lord with incense and sacrifices. They were also blessed to have their work and service accepted by the Lord, and to be protected from any enemies.

12 And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.

The people of Benjamin were blessed with safety and protection provided by the Lord, and the presence of the Lord to be with them.

13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,
14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,
15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

The tribes of Joseph, meaning Ephraim and Manasseh, were given a blessing on the land and all around them. They were blessed with glory and the power to push people together. This is the greatest blessing of the tribes, and draws attention to the calling that these people have for gathering the house of Israel in the latter days. As mentioned earlier, they received the greater blessing, because they still maintained the birthright of the tribes of Israel.

18 And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.
19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.

The tribe of Zebulun received a blessing over their travels, I think. This tribe was already blessed with what sounds like the ports of the sea (Genesis 49:13), where they would be able to work for their good and be blessed by the “abundance of the seas”. The tribe of Issachar was given a blessing in their homeland, and what sounds like blessings of treasure in the land. These tribes would bring people to the house of the Lord to offer righteous sacrifices.

20 And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.

I think that the tribe of Gad was blessed to be enlarged and have strength. They had already been blessed to gain the land of their inheritance, which was right by the Lord. I think they may have been blessed to be judges in Israel.

22 And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

The tribe of Dan was blessed with being like a lion’s cub, I think in the hand of the Lord. They would be protected as a cub is protected by it’s father. I think they would have an inheritance of rich soil, as well.

23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord: possess thou the west and the south.

The tribe of Naphtali was blessed with favor and blessing of the Lord. They were blessed to posses land in the west and south of the land of promise. The footnote indicates that this means the sea of Galilee was an inheritance to this tribe.

24 And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

The tribe of Asher was blessed with children, and to be accepted by others. They were also blessed with strength.

26 There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
28 Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.
29 Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.

In this blessing, Moses again reminds the people that there is no other God as the God of the Israelites, who is the God of the righteous. God was the only one who would give help and be a refuge and defense for the Israelites. If they stayed a righteous people of God, they would be blessed to stay in his safety and he would destroy and scatter their enemies. The land would be blessed for them, as well. In all things, Israel was blessed to triumph with God on their side.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the fullness of the priesthood has been restored, which allows men today, to be called as patriarchs and give amazing blessings to the saints. I have received my own patriarchal blessing, which tells me that I am a covenant member of the tribe of Ephraim. That means that these blessings apply to me as well, if I choose to live faithfully. Likewise, it means that I have a duty to serve in these latter days, in the gathering of Israel. My life is greatly blessed by God, and I know that this comes through my faithful living of the commandments of God.

It is interesting to learn the importance of blessings in life. Why do we give and receive blessings? It would have been easy for men of God to leave this earth without pronouncing blessings on their people and posterity, but it seems a rite of passage in a man’s life to do so. It is a natural desire for men to leave something behind for their children. Some men choose only to leave the physical possessions of this life, but men of God, choose to leave words of wisdom, guidance, and love. With the addition of the priesthood, men are able to leave blessings of God upon others as the spirit directs them to do so. These blessings may help others to live in a way that is more righteous or will help them to go further in their mortal progression. Overall, these blessings show me that true men of God desire the best for their children. As they desire to be more like their Father in Heaven, they give their love through their words to their family. I am so grateful for the words of righteous men and women in my own life and for the great words of the prophets of old.

Deuteronomy Chapter 32

In the previous chapter, Moses was commanded by the Lord, to make a record of the teachings he had given. As part of that record, we have this chapter, which is known as the song of Moses. It begins:

1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
3 Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
6 Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?

I love the imagery of learning that is given to us in verse 2. When we are tender in our learning of the gospel, the teachings of Moses are simple as the dew in the morning, which is there waiting for us as we arise. When we have grown a little, his teachings are a light rain, and when we have grown in our gospel learning, the teachings are like rain showers on established grass. In all things, we grow line upon line and our learning builds upon what we have already come to know and understand. Likewise, if we do not allow the rain to come upon us in any quantity, our grass will wither and die.

The words of the scriptures, are a testimony of the Lord and His greatness, spoken to heaven and earth. When people go wrong, it is because they choose that for themselves. Those who live a perverse and crooked life, are not behaving as children of the Lord should. We are all His children, because He has created us and given us all, including His grace through the power of His atonement. However, when we are disobedient to His laws, we choose to no longer be considered His children and refuse the promised blessings for after this life.

7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
12 So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.

If any of the Israelites wondered about the history of their people, they should have been able to go to their fathers and elders, to learn of it. I know there are some people today, who would claim that we should not look to our history for learning, but everything about the scriptures teach us that this is not true. We need the stories of the people in history, to know how we should live now. They are a great example for us.

The people of the Lord, have always been led by his hand as His chosen people. He has taught His people and protected them.

15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

When the righteous people have been greatly blessed, they forget the Lord who gave them all. Time and time again, the people of the Lord have turned to other gods and false idols, both old and new. The people forget the Rock of salvation, or the Lord, who brings their salvation.

19 And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.
20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
24 They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.
25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
26 I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
27 Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this.
28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.

The Lord would hide himself from the people, because they forgot him and turned to other gods and wickedness. They would have mischiefs, fire, animals, poison, swords and terror come upon all the people, to destroy them. The people would be scattered and forgotten. These things would come because they would choose not to listen and heed the word of the Lord.

29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?
31 For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
33 Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
34 Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
36 For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.
42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.
43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

Wisdom is being obedient to the counsel of the Lord. The people would not understand that the Lord was the reason for their deliverances. They would choose wickedness over righteousness. I think the idea that the vine was the vine of Sodom, is to say that the fruit of the wicked, is wickedness. Instead of sweet fruit of the vine, they would have fruit of gall and bitterness. The Lord would bring vengeance and recompense upon the people and those who deserved wrath at His judgement, would receive it. Some day, the people would see that false gods could not be there for them in their need, but that the Lord is the only god. The Lord is the only living god. He can bring life, death, resurrection, and deliverance. Those who served the Lord, and would be his people, would be avenged and receive the Lord’s mercy.

I think of the rock mentioned in these verses. Our rock, is the thing that we choose to build our foundation upon. The only true rock that will not fail us, is the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The rock that the disobedient people would choose, would not remain in their times of difficulty. We can choose to place our faith and trust in a lot of things in this world, but only the Lord will remain a sure foundation for us.

When Lot first chose Sodom as a place for him to settle, it seemed a good idea. The land of Sodom was very desirous and it says in Genesis 13, that it was as the garden of the Lord. There are a lot of things in this world that look pleasing at first, and we are naturally drawn to them. Like Sodom, however, if these things are not pointing us towards righteousness, they will lead to an awful result of bitterness and destruction.

44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.
45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
48 And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
49 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
50 And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.

Moses and Joshua spoke these things to the people of Israel. At the end of his words, Moses told them to take his words to heart, or to listen and follow all that he had taught them, and to teach their children to be obedient to them also. He promised them that if they were obedient, they would have their days prolonged in the land. Then Moses was told by the Lord, to go into the mountain to die and be gathered to his people, just as Aaron had done. Before he died, he was going to be allowed to see the land that he was not allowed to enter because he had trespassed against the Lord.

I love music. For me, a song can be in my mind and heart much easier than words alone. I don’t think I am alone in this, because we teach basic principles to our children through music, such as the ABC’s. Calling this chapter the song of Moses and reading that they were to take these things into their hearts seems quite fitting. This is part of why it is important for us to learn and know righteous and inspired hymns, which help us to remember the principles of the gospel, the purposes of life, and the amazing things that the Lord has down for his people. I am so grateful for beautiful music and the messages that I can learn from it.

God speaks to all people of the earth, and always has. While not everyone has always had the privileges of knowing the gospel, it is still for all people. I believe that their is one God who created all people. He knows and loves us all, and speaks to the world today through His chosen prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Just as He led the people through Moses, he leads today through the modern prophets. It is amazing to live in a time when a prophet can lead us and teach us the word of the Lord for our day.

Deuteronomy Chapter 31

At this point in the books of Moses, the prophet had finished preaching the word of the Lord to the people. They had made covenants to keep the law, so that they could prosper in the land of promise. Moses was near the end of his mortal life at this time, and was ready to help them finish the final preparations before they continued on their way to their inheritance. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.
2 And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
3 The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said.
4 And the Lord shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.
5 And the Lord shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

At the age of 120, after about forty years of being their leader, Moses could no longer lead the Israelites. The Lord had told him that his work was done and that he would not enter the promised land. (Side note: Moses lived as an Egyptian prince for about 40 years, then he fled and lived with the family of Jethro, a priest of Midian, for another forty years. At the age of 80, the Lord called Moses to save his people, and then after about 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and leading the children of Israel, he was taken from this life. It is interesting how his life was broken up into these 40 year periods, each marking a major change for him.) Moses told the people that God would go before them, with Joshua as their prophet and leader. The nations in the land would be destroyed with the Lord’s help. Moses told them have courage and to not fear the other nations that would be in the land, because God was with them. The Lord’s promise that he would not fail them or forsake them, is a promise to all the people of God today as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 68 we read the following:

5 Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.
6 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.

Anyone who serves God and strives to live righteously during the constant battle we wage against the adversary, has this promise. The Lord will always be with those who are fighting for His cause.

7 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.
8 And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Moses gave counsel of encouragement directly to Joshua, where he again told him to “be strong and of good courage”. Joshua had the responsibility of leading the people to victory, so that the promised inheritance would be received by all the children of Israel. They would have to fight nations that were stronger and more numerous then they were. They would also need to continue to be strong in keeping the commandments, in order for the Lord to remain on their side. Joshua needed confidence in the Lord at this time, because the task he was facing was going to be extremely difficult. He also needed confidence in himself. It would have required a great deal of faith and trust in the Lord, to go forward in this calling and it must have been difficult following in the footsteps of a spiritual leader, such as Moses. I am sure that this counsel was needed and appreciated by Joshua. The fact that Moses was instructed to say these things to Joshua and the people, reminds me of the love of God for each of us. He wants us to know that He is aware of us and our difficulties, and that he can help us to accomplish great things. The Lord promises us help as well, if we will go forward with faith in our own callings in life. I am so grateful for this promise and I believe that it is the power of the atonement that gives us the strength to endure. If we have faith in the Lord and His power, we will have the ability to endure all things well, even the giants that we have to conquer.

9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel.
10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11 When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.

Moses gave a record of the law to the elders of Israel. They were commanded to read the law every seven years in the feast of tabernacles. This they were to do, so that they would know the law and continue to obey it. It would not have been long, before the message would have been forgotten, so it was important that they have the opportunity to be reminded. We are told to gather often, so that we can be instructed and edified by the word of the Lord as well. In this, we will be able to remember the commandments we have been given, the covenants we have made, and the love of God for His people. The strength that comes from gathering and hearing the word of the Lord, provides the knowledge to be obedient, and the ability to endure through the difficulties that every day life throws our way.

I think it is important for us to realize that because Moses had these words recorded and preserved, we have the words today. The books of Moses were part of the brass plates which the family of Lehi took with them to the Americas, and so they effected the people of the Book of Mormon who would then live the law of Moses. Without the law, they would not have been able to continue in righteousness for the times that they did. The books of Moses were also preserved in the old testament of our bible today, which allows us the opportunity to have these words, so that we might know and live the way God wants us to live. Record keeping is vitally important, especially when it comes to things of a spiritual or eternal nature nature, such as inspirations and commandments received from the Lord.

In their days, they did not have the ability to provide all the words of Moses in every home. They had been told to keep the commandments and covenants written and carried on themselves and placed around their homes so that they could remember, but they needed to gather together in order to hear the complete law. We are so blessed to live in a time when not only can we have a copy of the written word of the Lord in a physical book, but we have devices of all sizes and computers, which mean we can easily keep the word of the Lord with us at all times. This is such a blessing and I think it is taken for granted by many. We need to be grateful for the access we have to these words, and show that gratitude by studying them regularly and making them a part of our lives.

14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.
15 And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.

Moses, who was nearing the end of his life, was commanded to call Joshua to go with him to the tabernacle. They presented themselves there and the presence of the Lord appeared there.

16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?
18 And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.
19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.
20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.
21 And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.

Moses was told that it was his time to die and be with those who had gone before. He was also told that the Israelites would follow after false gods, forsake the Lord and brake the covenants they had made. The Lord told the prophets that this specific law being broken so many times throughout the Bible, and it makes me think about the things that our prophets and apostles warn us of today. I that the some of the sins that are spoken about and warned against quite frequently, are those of sexual nature. One warning in particular is about the effects of seeking after and indulging in pornography, which can lead to destruction of those things that should matter most. I know that the modern prophets continually repeat their warnings, because they know this is a challenge in our day, the way idolatry was in the days of Moses. We can look back at the story of the Israelites and see that if they had listened to the warnings of the prophet, Moses, they would have been able to continue with the Lord by their side, but do we look at ourselves the same way? We have modern prophets called to lead the Lord’s people in the ways of righteousness, and we need to listen to their words of warning, so that we can also have the Lord by our side.

The Lord told Moses that the people would be forsaken and the Lord would no longer be among them. The curses that had been promised, would come to pass among the Israelites. Moses had to record the law as a witness against the disobedient, so that the judgements that would come upon them would be just. The Lord knew their weaknesses and knew what they would do in the face of temptation. I hope that I am a person who the Lord can see as loyal and faithful. I know that having the word of God in my life is the key to remaining obedient to the commandments.

22 Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.
23 And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.

Moses did as he was commanded by the Lord, both in giving the words to the people, and in charging Joshua, who would be his successor in leading the people, with the responsibilities of leadership and sharing words of faith and hope with him.

24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,
25 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying,
26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.
27 For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death?

The written law was to be put in the ark of the covenant as a witness, along with the commandments received at Sinai, and I believe a basket of manna. All these were to be kept there by the Levites, to be had in remembrance of the commandments, covenants, promises and blessings that the people had received from the Lord. Moses knew that the people were not a perfect people, and that the natural man in them was an enemy to God. He also knew that they would grow further from the Lord after he had been taken from them, because greater knowledge and priesthood would go with him, and they would not always remember these things they had been given. It is so important for us to have the law of God, but it is more important for us to live it so that we can be worthy of the spirit. The spirit helps us to recognize truth, and he will continually testify of Christ to our hearts, if we will listen and obey. We can keep the spirit with us, when we hold a remembrance of our own covenants, blessings, promises, and commandments.

28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.
30 And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.

Moses called the elders of Israel again, so that he could speak to them of those things that were most important. If Moses had not done this, he would have been held accountable for not doing all that he could to bring the Israelites to the Lord. In doing this, his words were a witness against all those who would choose to rebel against the commandments. Moses gave the words to those who were gathered, as he had been commanded.

There are many things that we can fear in the world today. In this day, there is easy access to some of the most dangerous and frightening things. The adversary of us all, is seeking to do all that he can to destroy the happiness of mankind by causing us to fear. The message to have courage and not fear, is so important for us today. We cannot win our own battles without the Lord on our side. We can know that we have the promise of His companionship, if we follow the commandments and put the Lord first in our lives. When we do what is right, in the sight of God, he can bless us with greater courage and faith. We will know what is right, if we make a constant effort to read, study and ponder the scriptures. These books of Moses, as well as all the other inspired words of the prophets, need to be a guide in our lives. I am so grateful that Moses was obedient to the commandments he was given, and that because of his obedience, we have these ancient scriptures today. I know that these words are for us today, as much as they were for the people of ancient Israel. My life as been greatly blessed by striving to learn and live the principles found in the scriptures. My hope is that I can influence others around me, to have a love of the scriptures as well, so that they can obtain the courage needed to endure in our day.

Deuteronomy Chapter 30

The Israelites made sacred covenants with the Lord, and were promised great blessings if they would be obedient to the commandments of God. They were also promised a lot of awful curses if they would not be obedient. Among those was a scattering of the people across the earth. This is what is called the scattering of Israel. The Israelites learn more of what will happen in this chapter. It begins:

1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee,
2 And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3 That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.
4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
5 And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
7 And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
8 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
9 And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.

The scattered people would some day be brought to a remembrance of the covenants that their ancestors made. When they remembered these things, they would return to the Lord through repentance, and obey his commandments. The Lord would then deliver them from captivity and gather the house of Israel from every place to which they would be scattered. They would be gathered back to the promised land, and blessed with great blessings, as had been promised already to the fathers. In that day, the Lord would place curses upon the enemies of the Israelites. The blessings would be had among all those who willing gave all their heart and soul to the Lord, and were obedient.

Each of us becomes separated from the Lord as well, when we disobey any of his commandments. We also, need to be gathered back in through the repentance process. We return to the Lord, when we humble ourselves enough to admit to God that we have been wrong and have gone against His word. We receive the blessings, when we turn away from any sin and draw nearer to the Lord instead. I am so grateful for the blessings of repentance in my life. I have felt a great sense of peace and love, when I have used the atonement in my life, to turn back to the Lord and remember the commandments and the covenants that I have made with the Lord to keep them.

11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

The people were reminded that the commandments and God’s law, were right there for them to live. They did not need to go seeking after it elsewhere, because it had already been given to them. When lived, they could in their mouths and in their hearts. The footnote of verse 11, for the phrase “hidden from thee”, reads, “too hard for you”. The commandments were not too hard for the people to follow. They were plain to them and anyone who desired to be devoted to the Lord, could follow them. Likewise, the commandments that we are asked to live now, are not too hard for us to follow either. In Doctrine and Covenants 93:31 it says, “Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.” These commandments are plain and so simple. I think of how often the modern day prophets have taught us, that in order to receive the blessings of God, we need to do simple things such as daily prayer and scripture study, having family home evening, attending church meetings and so on. These things really are simple and it’s easy to understand what is required of us, and yet there are many who feel these things are too difficult, and they “receive not the light”. We should desire to receive the light of Christ, through keeping the commandments near to us, in our own mouths and in our own hearts.

(Note: If you would like to know what the modern prophets and apostles have to teach us, you can learn a lot this coming weekend from the Latter-Day Saint General Conference. To read more of what General Conference is, you can do that here: What is General Conference?)

15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

In the words of Moses, he had given them the choice of life or death. Life, which was doing and gaining all that was good, and death, which was doing and gaining all that was evil. If they chose life, they were choosing to be obedient to the commandments and loving God. Likewise, they would choose the blessings that come from doing good. If they chose death, they were choosing to be disobedient to God’s commandments and turning from Him. If they made that choice, they were also choosing the consequence of curses, such as a promise to perish. Moses seals this promise by calling heaven and earth to record this covenant and its promises to stand against them. He pleads with the Israelites, to choose life.

What I see as the main purpose of this chapter, is the message of this last section. It reminds me so much of the words of the prophet, Lehi found in 2 Nephi 2:

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;
29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

Lehi was a prophet who knew and lived the law of Moses. He had the brass plates, which taught this law, and he had studied the words and lived them. His testimony here is a second testimony of this principle. “Life” in the words of Moses, can read as “eternal life”, which is the greatest blessing that God has to give us. It is liberty from Satan’s power, and freedom to enjoy the blessings of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, the “great Mediator of all men”. On the other hand, the word “death” in Moses’ words, can read as “eternal death”. Eternal death is captivity to the power of the devil, and a cursing of the misery which will come in living in the kingdom of Satan, which is hell. Both Moses and Lehi teach us here, that it is a choice we make. All of us have our agency, which is the eternal gift of choice, and we need to be active in choosing our own destiny of eternal life and its blessings, or eternal death and its curses.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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