Deuteronomy Chapter 17

The Israelites were preparing to enter the promised land, where they would be able to settle and find some normalcy to their lives. They had been wandering for over 40 years, and continually had the possibly to being told to pick up and leave where ever they were to move on to the next place the Lord wanted them to be. That is a life of uncertainty and relying a lot on faith in the Lord, or faith in their leader, Moses. It had not been an easy life for them, even though they were being led by the Lord and blessed daily by Him. Moses needed to give them the teachings of the Lord, that would give them the best chance for remaining true and faithful. His teachings continued with the following:

1 Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God.

All their sacrifices to the Lord, were to be according to the standards He had established. This meant that they were not to sacrifice any animal that was not considered worthy for that purpose. All of their sacrifices were to be free of any blemish or defect.

2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant,
3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:
5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

If it was discovered that any person was worshipping false gods, they were to verify if it was true and certain. That person was to be put to death by stoning. This would require two to three witnesses of the sin. No one was to be put to death with only one witness against them. The witnesses were to be the first to cast a stone, followed by all others there. As I read this, I am reminded that this was just as much a commandment not to worship false idols, as a commandment to destroy any people who would lead them astray into idolatry. It was their duty to God, to make sure that they kept their land free from those who would have them follow after other gods. We have a duty today, to do all that we can to separate ourselves and our families from those people and things that would do this as well. We need to be aware of the influences that come into our lives, that would pull us away from putting the Lord first in our lives, and do what we are able to do, to get them out of our lives.

8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose;
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:
11 According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left.
12 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

Any greater issue, or harder case of judgement, were to go to the holy place where they could be heard by the priests and judges. The cases would be heard and judgment was then to be made by the priests and judges. Whatever sentence was determined by them, was to be followed and observed with exactness, by the people involved. Anyone who would not follow the sentencing of the case, would be put to death. This gave the priests and judges a lot of power among the people, and would only work well, if they were righteous men who knew and followed the laws of the Lord. There are priests and judges in Christ’s church today. We have men, who are called to be judges over the people in gospel matters, namely bishops, branch presidents, and other priesthood leaders. The same counsel from the Lord would apply today. If there is a matter, which needs to be solved that is more difficult than a family could deal with on their own, they may take it to their local priesthood leader. These men have the authority from the Lord, to decide what should be done. When they follow the inspiration from God, we should listen, hearken and respect the counsel and direction given. If we desire to draw nearer to the Lord, we should not assume that we know better and can solve it according to our own ways. I am so grateful that the Lord has established a line of the priesthood, to take care of these types of things. I believe in the power and authority given to my own bishop, as a man called by the Lord and set apart by others who have the authority to do so. The Lord is guiding our leaders today, and we will be blessed if we choose to follow their counsel and not our own wisdom, or the wisdom of the world.

14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

It was standard in those days, for nations to have kings to rule over them. For Israel, they would have prophets and kings to rule and guide them. They were to choose kings in wisdom, which meant to follow the word of the Lord, who would choose worthy men to rule. They were not to have a king from any other nation. The king was not to gain horses for himself by making them return to Egypt, where their horses could be multiplied. The king was also not to gain wives or treasure for himself, which was very common for the kings of that time. I think this was a way of saying that the kings were not to let the power given to them, cause them to focus on their own wealth and prestige, which leads to greed, selfishness, and falling away from the ways of the Lord. All the kings were to have a copy of the law of Moses, which was to be kept with him, so that he could read it every day of his life. They were to study the law and live them daily so that he would remain a righteous and worthy leader for the people of God.

I am so glad to live in a land that is not ruled by a king today. The likelihood of a truly righteous man of God, being made a king over the people, seems far-fetched. A righteous leader is more likely to lead a righteous people. If a crowned king is a man after the desires of his heart instead of being interested in following God first, his people are likely to follow in the same ways. This is part of the reason, why it is so important for us to do our part in choosing good leaders today. When our leaders care more about power and prestige, then they do about serving others, following after those things that are good and right, and doing those things that are best for the people, they will lead the majority of the people astray. This is what brings physical and spiritual destruction to good people, in the mightiest of nations. I have a hope that more people will desire the freedoms and blessings that come from good people leading a nation, than otherwise. I have a prayer in my heart that this will be true for my life, so that my family and other loved ones will have the desire to live lives devoted to the Lord and not follow after the ways of the world.

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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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