Posts Tagged 'Accountability'

1 Kings Chapter 16

Baasha was the king of Israel and ruled unrighteously over the people. He ruled at the time that Asa ruled in righteousness over the people of Judah. They had continual war against one another. Baasha had become king, by conspiring against Nadab and killing him. Then, he destroyed the entire house of Jeroboam, in fulfillment of prophesy. This next chapter begins:

1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,
2 Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins;
3 Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
4 Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat.
5 Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
6 So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead.
7 And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the Lord against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him.

Jehu received a revelation and prophesied against Baasha. Since Baasha had been wicked and followed after the ways of Jeroboam, leading the people in sin, his posterity would be destroyed just as the house of Jeroboam. The footnotes for sin in verse 2, references unrighteous dominion. The Lord had allowed Baasha to rule over the people, but Baasha had likely taken this to mean that he could rule in unrighteousness without accountability to God for his choices. When given a stewardship over others, a person should consider what is best for those they serve, not for themselves. Baasha died and his son Elah became king. Again, Jehu prophesied against the house of Baasha, because of the wickedness of Baasha in his leadership.

8 In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years.
9 And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah.
10 And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead.

Elah ruled for only two years, before his captain, Zimri, conspired against him and killed him when he was drunk. Then Zimri became king.

11 And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.
12 Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet,
13 For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities.
14 Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

Zimri destroyed the house of Baasha, just as had been prophesied by Jehu. This was because of the wickedness of Baasha and his son Elah, which led the people to continue in sin.

15 In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines.
16 And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp.
17 And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.
18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died,
19 For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the Lord, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.
20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

Zimri reigned for seven days, when the Israelites were in encamped against the Philistines in Gibbethon. The people in the camp heard that Zimri had killed the king, so they made Omri the king of Israel. Omri was the captain of their army.

21 Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri.
22 But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.

The people of Israel became divided between wanting a man named Tibni to rule, and wanting Omri to rule. Those who wanted Omri for their king, prevailed. Tibni died and Omri became the king of Israel.

23 In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah.
24 And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.

Omri reigned for twelve years. The first six, he ruled in Tirzah where the previous kings had ruled. Then, he built a city, which he called Shemer, on the hill Samaria.

25 But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him.
26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities.
27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
28 So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.

Omri was worse then all the kings before him, and ruled in great wickedness. He continued to lead the people in the idolatrous ways of Jeroboam, as well as what these verses describe as vanities. After twelve years, Omri died, and his son Ahab ruled in Israel.

29 And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.
30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.
31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahab ruled in Samaria, for twenty-two years. He also ruled in wickedness, just as his father Omri. He added to his wickedness, by marring Jezebel, the daughter of the Zidonian king. Ahab served and worshipped Baal, building a temple and altar to Baal in Samaria. He built a grove and led the people in great wickedness and sin, worse than all those who had ruled in Israel before him.

34 In his days did Hiel the Beth-elite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

Meanwhile, Hiel built the city Jerico again. Joshua, who had been the first leader of the Israelites when they had first entered the promised land, had spoken a curse upon any who would build up Jerico. The curse that would be laid in that man’s children, from the foundation to the gates. Hiel fulfilled the prophecy of Joshua.

Israel was engrossed in great wickedness. The Israelites served and worshipped idols, conspired and killed their kings, and committed sins of all kinds. The kings angered the Lord against them, because the Lord had allowed them to rule over his people, but they led them further from Him. In Mosiah 29:17 we read, “For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!” Israel was falling further away from the Lord because of the wickedness of their leadership. Meanwhile Asa ruled righteously in Judah, attempting to lead the people back to the Lord. This chapter shows again, that rulers who lead in wickedness, cause their people to sin. Eventually, their wickedness brings their own destruction. I know that leaders have the power and influence to bring entire nations down to destruction. I don’t doubt this, because I have seen homes where the influence of a parent who leads with unrighteous dominion, can destroy a family. It is also happening in businesses, schools, and governments around the world. Only in those places where leaders hold themselves to a moral standard, recognizing that they will be held accountable to a higher power for the choices they make, caring for those who they have been chosen to lead, do we see continued blessings and prosperity that brings lasting happiness.

Once again, we see from this chapter, that the prophecies of the Lord, will be fulfilled. The scriptures are full of signs that the Lord will keep His word. While in this case it meant destruction for wickedness, I have hope that the great and marvelous things that have been prophesied for our day, will also come to pass. I believe they will and I hope to be a part of the blessings that will come.

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1 Samuel Chapter 29

In the previous chapter, the Philistines gathered together to go to war against the Israelites. Saul, in his fear, desired to know what to do, but God was slow to answer him, so he turned to the help of a witch. She foretold his death, the death of his son, and the Israelite defeat in battle against the Philistines. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.
2 And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rearward with Achish.
3 Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?
4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?
5 Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?

David had become the captain of the guard to Achish, who was the king of Gath. He was gathered with the Philistines, and was in the rear of the host with Achish. As they traveled, the princes of the Philistines questioned why David was among their troops, but Achish spoke for David saying that David had been a good servant to him. The princes were angry and they were worried that David would turn against them in battle. They wanted David to be sent back to his home, just in case he would join with Saul and defeat them. They had heard of David’s strength in battle.

6 Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the Lord liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.
7 Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.

Achish told David that he felt that he had been a good and loyal servant to him, but that the princes of the Philistines did not favor him. He told David to go in peace, rather then make the princes displeased.

8 And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?
9 And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.
10 Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.
11 So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

David asked what he had done, considering he had been loyal. He wanted to fight for his lord, Achish. Achish told him that he knew he had been good to him, and it sounds like he was saying that he trusted David, but they princes had told him that David was to be sent away. Achish told him to leave first thing in the morning, so that is what David did, while the Philistines went to Jezreel.

It was good for David to show that he would have been loyal to the Philistines, who had allowed him to live among them during a time when his life was threatened by Saul. I wonder if the Lord had allowed feelings of unease to effect the princes, so that David would not be blamed later, for an Israelite defeat. With this choice to send him away, David was not questioned in his loyalty to Achish, and he would not be held accountable for fighting against Israelites either. This would probably work out for his good in the future. Sometimes things in our lives do not go as we expect them to, but if we are doing what is right, the Lord will allow all things to be for our good. Just like the Lord told the prophet Joseph Smith, during a difficult time in his life, “if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good (see Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).” I am grateful to know this principle when I deal with my own daily life, difficulties and trials, because it can be a source of great comfort and strength to know that something good can come from all of it in the end.

Ponderizing – Week 10 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is 2 Nephi 28:30.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

God is our creator. He knows how every particle of our being works together and allows us to breathe, move, think and love. He knows how we learn, and while we all learn at different paces and our learning is focused in different areas from one another, there is an eternal principle that applies to all people. We learn by building on the things we already know. This is why it takes time to build a vocabulary. This is why we study our alphabet and sounds for quite a bit of time before we start to read. This is how we are able to retain the basics in order to understand deeper concepts. In keeping with this eternal principle, and because God desires for us to learn and gain understanding and knowledge, God distills his teachings upon us in this manner: line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.

If God intended for us to have all knowledge at once, or even in just a short span of time, we would not have needed to live any longer than that short amount of time. Yet, we live and are learning to the day we leave this mortal life. And, I believe, that our learning may continue after this life, for as long as is necessary for us to gain a perfect knowledge. In his perfect understanding of His creations, God gives us time to learn and time to grow in knowledge.

This verse teaches us that we can choose what to do with the teachings that come for God. The first option, is to hearken to God’s precepts and to listen attentively to His counsel. The second option, is to decide that there has been enough knowledge given by God. The promised consequences of choosing the first option, are wisdom and more teachings to learn from. On the other hand, the promised consequences for choosing the second option, is that the knowledge one already has, will be taken away. This may seem unloving of God, to remove our knowledge from us. It is not, however, something that changes the perfectly eternal love of God for his children. In fact, it is a gift of love, because there will be a day when all will be judged. Those who have a knowledge of His teachings, will be held accountable for how they lived their life according to that knowledge. In His great and eternal mercy, God removes those things which we cannot seem to handle, so that we will not be held accountable for actions against those things that we clearly have not understood.

This life is a gift of preparation for our eternal lives. We were given this opportunity to work towards something. We choose if we will move forward in our personal progression, or if we turn away from that. There is no option for standing still when time continues to move forward. We have a blessed opportunity to learn from God each and every day of our lives, so that we can become better people.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

I am so grateful for the patience and wisdom of God. He is truly long-suffering with me. He is loving and knows me perfectly. I know that there are many things I am taking a long time to learn, but thankfully, I also know that God will only give me what I can handle at this time. When I have chosen to live according to what I learn, I know He will give me more to learn from. I hope that more of God’s children will have a desire to learn rather than to give up on God in His role as their teacher. I know He is our loving Father and that His greatest desire is for us to grow in the light and truth of His teachings, because it will bring us back into His presence and allow us to continue to progress in the eternities. He wants to see us grow into beings of great wisdom and knowledge. We need to be patient with God in what he gives us to learn. Likewise, we need to be patient with ourselves in our level of learning. Finally, we need to remember to be patient with others, who are also learning line upon line in their own lives.

Deuteronomy Chapter 19

In chapter 17 of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites of the importance of having righteous leaders. Specifically, he taught them the importance of judges who would do their duty without prejudice and according to the laws of God. It was important that they remembered to carry out judgements of God’s established laws, in a manner that was pleasing to God. Only then, would they continue to be led by the spirit of the Lord. Moses continues the teachings of the Lord, with regard to how they were to handle some of those individuals judged as guilty by the law.

1 When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
2 Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
3 Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

After becoming established in a land free of other nations, they were to create three cities of refuge within the land. These three cities were to be established with roads and borders. They were for those who had committed manslaughter.

4 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
7 Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
8 And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Those who had a place in the cities of refuge, were they who had ignorantly or accidentally killed another, without any premeditation or the intention to murder another. An example of manslaughter is given, where two men are chopping down a tree, and the axe slips from one man’s hand and kills the other accidentally. Those convicted of manslaughter could go to a city of refuge and live without fear of the death being avenged by an angry family member or friend. This because manslaughter was not a crime worthy of death according to God. If the Lord blessed them with more land, they were to add more cities of refuge. God did not want innocent blood shed in the land of promise, which would make them unworthy of the land.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

If a person murdered in cold-blood and then escaped to the city of refuge, the leaders were to take him out of that city. All murderers were to be put to death and not shown pity when they were found guilty. If they did not follow through with this, the people would be held accountable for their choice.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

The people were not to remove the landmarks left in the land from old times. I believe that the word landmarks is the marks of boundary on the land. The Israelites were not to decide for themselves how they should change the boundaries of their inheritances, but were to leave them as they were first divided in the land.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

If only one witness spoke against another person, they could not be judged for that thing. All cases were to be judged bases on the words of two or three witnesses. The Lord has been consistent in the law of witnesses throughout time. In the time of the restoration of the church, the Lord said, “and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:28) Witnesses are so important to our being able to know truth from those things that are false. Most important, is the witness we can receive from the spirit of the Lord, which is undeniable by our own spirit, and if we listen, He will teach us what is true.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

False witnesses were to be judged along with those they testified against. The judges and elders of Israel, were to look hard at the details of the case and decide if the witness was being truthful. If the witness was found to be lying, then he would be judged guilty in the matter and receive the punishment that he had hoped for the one was innocent. As a result, those who were seeking that another be falsely accused and receive punishment, would receive that punishment equally. In doing so, the leaders of Israel would show to the rest of the people, that anyone who bore false witness against another would be held accountable.

The act of intentionally murdering another person, is never right. God established the law against murder, long before the Isrealites existed. Cain was cursed and cast away from the presence of the Lord, when he committed the first murder (Genesis 4:8, 11, 14; see also Moses 5:32, 36, 39). The law is specifically stated in Genesis 9:6, when we read the law as given to Noah’s generation, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Then it was established with the Israelites, when Moses first brought them the ten commandments. In Exodus 20:13 we read, “Thou shalt not kill.” Any man who was guilty of murder was rightfully to be put to death, by the standards of the Lord. The Lord has re-established His law in our day as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 42, we read the following:

18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

Any person who murders another of God’s children, will be held accountable by God for their sin. Whether or not they are not punished in this life for their crime, they will be judged appropriately at the judgement seat of the Lord and all will be made right by God.

Just as all kings and their rulings, and judges and their judgments, were to be just and righteous, all the punishments for those guilty, were to be just and righteous. When men are punished for accidents, or innocent men are convicted of crimes, there is little hope in the law for those who are trying to live good lives. This kind of government leads to chaos, rebellion, and falling away from those things that are good and true. It was so important for the Israelites to remember these things, so that they could remain faithful to the Lord. It is important for these things today as well. When good laws are established to maintain freedoms and allow people the ability to righteously follow their beliefs, it gives men the ability to openly follow after the Lord. When governments choose to altar these good things, for their own purposes, one things leads to another and apostasy is sure to follow. Those who are striving to live a life of righteousness, need to do all that they are able to ensure that those who are leading them are protecting the freedoms and the good laws of the land.

Deuteronomy Chapter 13

The children of Israel had been a people living among a very idolatrous nation, Egypt. They had been delivered by the Lord, but continually showed a weakness for following after other gods. They were about to enter a land where the nations worshiped false gods as part of everyday living. Moses had taught the people the importance of worshiping the Lord, and doing all that they could to remove the temptations of idolatry. His teachings continued with the following:

1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

The Israelites were warned that there may come a time, when a prophet or dreamer would promise a sign or wonder. If the things they promised came true, and that person called upon them to seek after other gods to serve, they were not to follow after them. They had been shown time and time again, that the only true and living God was the Lord, and that anything else was false and wickedness. The Lord would test them to see if they truly loved God, by expecting them to follow Him, obey His word and keep His commandments. The Israelites were commanded to put any false prophet or dreamer to death for trying to lead them away from the Lord with false doctrine. In this way, they would remove the temptation from the people.

6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

Likewise, if any member of their families or friends, tried to draw them away to idolatry, by any means, they were not to follow after them. They were instead, to be put to death, just as the false prophets and dreamers, and shown no pity or mercy in their wickedness. Their were commanded to stone them for trying to lead them after false gods and away from the Lord.

12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
14 Then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.
17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;
18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God.

If a city among the Israelites, was heard to have gone astray into the sin of idolatry, they were to investigate the possibility. They are called here the children of Belial, which according to the bible dictionary is another way of saying wicked men, who were worthless. If they found that the city had indeed become an idolatrous city, they were to destroy the people of the city and everything in it. Anything left was to be burned, and the city was not to be built again. If they were to continue to receive the promised blessings of the Lord, they could not keep anything from the wicked place. They would be blessed for obedience to this and all the commandments of the Lord.

Part of obedience to the Lord, was having the courage to destroy those who were leading others into idolatry, even when it was loved ones. This is a perspective of these commandments, which I have only recently been considering. Following after the Lord and not being idolatrous, was only part of the commandment. I am sure that for some this would not have been a hard thing to do, and that they would have felt safe in knowing they would only follow the Lord. However, the love we have for family is strong, and I can imagine the great and heavy burden it would have been to learn that someone you loved was worthy of death at your hand. I know that there may have been many who were guilty of not following through with destroying those who had chosen a life of idolatry and were therefore also guilty of disobedience to the commandments of the Lord. This may have been the more difficult test that the Lord allowed the Israelites to experience, in order to show their complete devotion to the Lord.

In Matthew 10:28 we read, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Those family members of people who had turned to wicked idolatry, would have only been able to give a physical death to those who had chosen wickedness. It was the mercy of the Lord, that this punishment be given, because the temptations of Satan bring the greater spiritual death, which separate both body and spirit from returning to our God. If the individuals had been allowed to continue in their wickedness, they would have worst to come after this life. I think that this is the point of view the righteous would have needed to remember in order to show obedience to this commandment.

When I wonder about this commandment for the Israelites, I think as well about what is expected of me now, especially as a parent. It is my duty, to teach my children what is right and wrong. It is also my duty, to give loving correction, when they go astray. This is not an easy thing sometimes. I am sure it will become more difficult as they get older as well. Their are many people today, who value the friendship of their children more than consider the duty they have to the Lord. The better thing for parents to do, is to be a parent first, and call children to repentance when necessary, rather then allow them to follow after the other gods of our day. I am glad that this does not require the same consequence of capital punishment today, meaning death, but I also realize that there is a gravity to my choices that may help shape the eternal destiny of those I love. There will be great sorrow for those who are lost to wickedness. Moreover, I will be held accountable for their sins, if I do not do my part as a parent and teach and guide as I know is right.

Deuteronomy Chapter 4

The Law of Moses was given to the children of Israel, through the prophet, Moses, while they were in the area of Mount Sinai. Within that law, there were commandments and statutes, which they were to keep in order to turn their hearts more fully to the Lord and to live with one another in peace and happiness. At this point in the narrative of the Israelites, Moses was preparing them to have a new leader and to finally gain the promised land and rest from their journeys. He continues to instruct them in this chapter.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
3 Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.
12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Moses instructed the people, that they were not to alter the laws and ordinances of the Lord, whether to add or take away from them. In the book of Revelation we read a similar verse, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18). No man has the right to alter the words of the Lord, found in any book of scripture. If they do, it is only done to mislead others into apathy and sin.

Moses reminded them that there were consequences if they turned to other gods, as some of the people had done previously. In the case of those who sinned by following Baal-peor, they were all killed by the Israelites, plus a plague was brought among the people. The law of Moses, was the law they were to live in the land of promise. When they lived this law, they would be seen by others, as a great nation, with wisdom, and understanding, because God would be with them. He told the Israelites to remember the things which they had witnessed, and to teach them to their children, especially those things they witnessed in Sinai, when the Lord spoke to the people from the mount. He told them to remember when the ten commandments had been given to them. In modern times, we have also been told to watch ourselves and remember those things we have in the scriptures and the words of our prophets. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read:

43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

When the word of the Lord is given to us, in scripture or by the prophets, we are going to be held accountable to our understanding of those things, and for how much we teach them to our children, just as the Israelites were held accountable in their day. We might think that we’ll never forget the feelings we have at one time, or the things that we have witnessed at another. But, it is easy to forget if we are not living and teaching those things that we have learned. In addition, our children will never know, if we do not teach them. When I think of how important this is, I am reminded that many in the world today do not know of the gospel of Christ. Many do not know that we have living prophets today, just as they had Moses of old. Many do not know that revelation continues today and that we can each receive personal revelation for ourselves. Many do not know that we can make sacred ordinances and covenants with God, which can bring us eternal blessings. There is great importance in the missionary work going forward in our day.

14 And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
20 But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
21 Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:
22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Moses had been commanded by the Lord, to teach the laws (the law of Moses), which would be the laws of the land of inheritance. These laws would bring them peace and happiness as a people, just as the laws of God can do for us today. Moses told them to notice that there was no idol being worshipped on the day when they witnessed the voice of the Lord speaking to them. Moses taught them that they were not to make any images, like man or animal, or they might fall prey to worshipping that idol. They were the people of the Lord, chosen and delivered from Egypt. Because of the choices to fall away to worshipping other things, the Lord had not allowed Moses to enter the promised land. Moses pleads with the Israelites, to remember their covenants not to make false idols, because the Lord would be able to consume them with His fire.

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.
28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
33 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Moses taught the children of Israel, that if they should turn to worshipping idols after the generations have passed, judgement would be upon them and they would shortly be removed from the promise land and the nation of Israel would be destroyed. He promised them that they would be scattered among gentile nations. Those nations would lead them throughout the lands, serving their gods and idols, which are not real, but are made of wood and stone. He teaches us here, that the living God sees, hears, eats and smells. Moses also taught them, that if they would, instead, continue to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul, they would be blessed. He promised them that they would find the Lord and if they repented and were obedient through difficult times. The Lord would be merciful and remember the covenants of their fathers. Moses reminded them, that in all the time of the world, there had been nothing quite like the miracles and manifestations that they had witnessed. Never before had a people witnessed the glory of the Lord among them, as they had in the fire, or heard His voice speaking to them. Never before had a people been delivered from another nation, by such miracles and wonders. These things were a part of their lives, so that they would know the Lord was their God. They had been blessed and protected, because the Lord loved their fathers and had made promises to them. The Lord had made them a mighty nation, giving them the strength to drive the nations from before them, and giving them the promised land to inherit. Moses told the people to recognize that this had been the work of the only true God. They needed to be obedient to the commandments, in order to continue to receive the blessings of God and live a long life.

41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

The cities of refuge were then created (Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan), for those who might kill another without intention to do so.

44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.

Moses had concluded his teaching of the commandments and statutes of God, by bearing his testimony of the consequences of disobedience and repentance. Moses taught them of the causes for the eventual scattering of the Israelites, specifically the worship of false gods. Then he taught them of the gathering of Israel in the last days, when they would turn again to the Lord. He witnessed to them, of the goodness and mercy of the Lord and promised they would be blessed if they would remember the Lord.

We have the blessing of being able to look at these words in hindsight. The scriptures teach us, that the people inherited the land of promise, and then over time, they fell away to the worship of other things. Then, just as Moses said, they were scattered throughout all the nations of the world. It seems to me that today, there has got to be a bit of Israelite blood in all the nations. As the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, reaches all the nations of the world, there are some who are being drawn back into the house of Israel. The gathering is happening now, just as Moses promised them so long ago. This is not so much a physical moving back to Israel, but a spiritual gathering of hearts to the Lord. This is only possible through the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He made repentance possible to all people and His power is what moves the gospel forward now. We can all turn and find Him, if we will seek with all our heart and soul. The commandments are provided for us today, so that we may have the opportunity to obey and be blessed. The same great blessings that were given to the fathers of the Israelites, can be ours now, if we will turn away from the false gods of our day, and turn to the Lord.

Numbers Chapter 30

Moses, as the first leader of the Israelites, was responsible for establishing the Lord’s laws and statutes for the people. In preparation for their inheritance of the promised land, the Lord gave many instructions on how they were to live. This instruction continues with this short chapter, which reads:

1 And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded.
2 If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
3 If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth;
4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand.
5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.
6 And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul;
7 And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.
8 But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her.
9 But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.
10 And if she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath;
11 And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her, and disallowed her not: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.
12 But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the Lord shall forgive her.
13 Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.
14 But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them.
15 But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.
16 These are the statutes, which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father’s house.

Any vow or oath made with the Lord, was to be kept. Any vow, oath, or bond, made by a young woman, while living in her father’s house, could be disallowed by her father, at the time he heard it, if he did not accept it. She would not be held accountable to that promise by the Lord. If her father accepted it when he first heard it, the vow was to be kept. The same went for a woman whose husband heard her vow. Any widow or divorced woman, who made a vow, was to keep that vow. If while in her husband’s house, a woman made a vow and her husband accepted it, she was to continue to keep it. If her husband had not accepted it, she was not expected to keep it. When a vow was disallowed, the man bore the iniquity of his wife or daughter.

This may seem a strong thing by our standards today, but I believe that if a man was leading his family in righteousness, he would know by the spirit if a vow was appropriate or not. As the head of his household, he was responsible for the actions of his family. I am grateful that I can make this choice for myself today. I recognize also, that by doing this, the responsibility is mine to be faithful to the promises I make. In ancient times, the father may have been held accountable eternally for the actions of his wife and daughters. Because I have made this choice for myself, I will be held accountable, and I need to be sure I am living up to the things that God expects of me. I am often in awe of how strongly people of long ago felt about the oaths they made. They would not have made promises without expecting to hold to them. I have a prayer in my heart, that more people today, will recognize the gravity of the promises they make to the Lord, because I know that there will be consequences for every promise made.

Leviticus Chapter 24

The book of Leviticus continues to cover the law of Moses, as received from the Lord. The children of Israel were given instruction for daily life, as well as specifics commandments regarding the holy tabernacle. The word of the Lord continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.
3 Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.
4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually.

The Israelites were to provide pure oil for lighting the lamps in the tabernacle of the congregation. The lamps were to be continually burning and the sons of Aaron were to make sure they were trimmed and lit at all times. I’d like to think about why it was necessary for the lamps to be lit at all times. If the lamps were lit, the spirit of the Lord would dwell with them. I wonder if this was evidence of the spirits of the Israelites. If there came a time, or rather when there was a time, when the lamps went out, it would have been due to disobedience or apathy of the people. When people get to that point, the spirit of the Lord cannot dwell among them. Likewise, our own spiritual lamps must be lit at all times. We cannot allow life to draw us away from this duty. If we do not keep the lamp of faith burning in our hearts, the spirit will withdraw from us.

5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord.
7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
9 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.

They were commanded to have twelves loaves of bread, or shewbread, with frankincense, in rows on the table within the tabernacle. This was a memorial and offering to the Lord. I am figuring that the number was twelve, to represent the tribes of Israel and the covenant between them and God. This was an offering, which the sons of Aaron were to eat. Reminding me, once again, of the sacrament we partake of each week to renew our own covenants with God.

10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;
11 And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)
12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shewed them.
13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

There was a man of the Israelite tribe of Dan, and of Egyptian blood. He was out among the people along with another Israelite man. The first committed blasphemy, and was then taken and brought to Moses. As a witness of what was done, those who heard him were to lay their hands upon him. Then he was to be put to death by stoning. Moses was to teach the people that any who cursed God, Israelite or stranger, was to be held accountable for that sin and would be put to death by stoning.

17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.
19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.

Moses was to teach them again, that anyone who killed another, would be put to death. Those who killed someone’s animal, was to give equally to that individual. Moses was told the law was eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Those who hurt or killed another, would receive punishment in kind. The law would be the same for the Israelites and any who came into their camp or land from without.

23 And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.

Moses went and commanded the people those things that God had said.

Most of these things have been mentioned already in the previous chapters of the Bible. Repeated instruction on the way things should be in the tabernacle, was necessary to keep it a holy place to the Lord. The people knew well enough to bring a sinner to the prophet for what they should do, but may have needed multiple reminders of the law before they knew just what to do when something happened. I wonder what life would be like now if the law of Moses was practiced all over the world. If people knew any kind of punishment would come with cursing the Lord, would they take his name in vain so frequently? I doubt it. If there was laws now that required the death penalty for all those who killed others, would it happen as often as it does? If it was standard for someone to make restitution for hurting another, by being hurt themselves, would people be gentler towards others? Moreover, I wonder what kind of punishments I would have received for the things I have done in my life or what kind of person I would be today if the law of Moses was still in place. It is not today, because the Savior fulfilled that law and gave the higher law to men. More is expected of us, but the punishments are more often spiritual and therefore of greater significance than something just physical. In Matthew 5 we read the following words of the Savior:

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Jesus teaches us that as the one offended or hurt by another, we should have mercy on them and forgive them. I’ve heard it said that usually when others are of a mind to hurt someone, it is because they are lacking in something, such as love or self-worth. Punishments according the law are fine, but the greater response from us personally, is to give them our forgiveness and kindness. We cannot say that anything done to us is an exception to this, because of the example from the Savior himself. He allowed others to hurt him, break him, and kill him, and in the end he pled for their forgiveness from God.

Being forgiving and showing mercy to others is a very difficult thing at times, but I know that our lives are better for it. I hope that I can live my life worthy of spiritual blessings and not of those things that would punish me spiritually. I also hope that others will find it in their hearts to forgiven me of the many things I may do to offend them. I know that in forgiving others we are forgiven, and in being merciful, we find mercy. Hopefully, more of us can find the strength and faith to live as the Lord commands.

Genesis Chapter 17

It seems like forever since I was reading this book of scripture. My family has officially moved into our new home, after several weeks of working on it, and now life is getting back to normal again. As a reminder of the last chapter I studied, Hagar had given birth to Ishmael, the son of Abram, who was 86 at the time. This chapter begins:

1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Thirteen years after Ishmael was born, the Lord, Jesus Christ, appears to Abram and commands him to walk before him and be perfect. When I think of walking before the Lord, I think it means walking in faith before the blessings of the Lord are received. The footnote for the word perfect references integrity and walking in truth at all times. If we are honestly obeying God’s commands, we walk in faith, truth and integrity. When we knowingly sin, we cannot have integrity and truth in our hearts. The Lord has shown us the way to live and if we can walk before Him, just as Abram was commanded to do, we will not go astray from that which is perfect and true.

In the Joseph Smith Translation of this chapter we read the following:

3 And it came to pass, that Abram fell on his face, and called upon the name of the Lord.
4 And God talked with him, saying, My people have gone astray from my precepts, and have not kept mine ordinances, which I gave unto their fathers;
5 And they have not observed mine anointing, and the burial, or baptism wherewith I commanded them;
6 But have turned from the commandment, and taken unto themselves the washing of children, and the blood of sprinkling;
7 And have said that the blood of the righteous Abel was shed for sins; and have not known wherein they are accountable before me.

Abram prayed to the Lord and his prayer was answered. The Lord told Abram that the people had fallen away from Him and had no longer been baptized as they had been commanded. The people had started to pervert the righteous ways of the Lord and were no longer understanding the reasons for the commandments they had been given. But Abram was recognized for his righteousness and his desire to follow the commandments of God. The Lord has already made promises to Abram several times before this, which are related to his seed. Here is where the covenant is officially made and Abram is given the name of Abraham. If Abraham and his seed would walk in the Lord’s way and become perfect through Him, they would inherit the promised land forever. Abraham was promised to have his seed multiplied and that he would be the father of nations and kings. This covenant and promise is what we know as the Abrahamic Covenant. We know that his seed was multiplied, or rather that he was fruitful, because the twelve tribes of Israel came from his line and the seed of Abraham can be found all over the world today because of the scattering promised by the Lord. In addition, the seed of Abraham grows every time someone chooses to come unto Christ and be baptized, even if they are not a literal descendant of Abraham. I believe that the time will come, when the righteous and covenanted descendants of Abraham, will receive their inheritance of the promised land and it will be theirs for eternity.

Verse 7, also references some verses from the Joseph Smith Translation of this chapter, which read as follows:

11 And I will establish a covenant of circumcision with thee, and it shall be my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations; that thou mayest know for ever that children are not accountable before me until they are eight years old.
12 And thou shalt observe to keep all my covenants wherein I covenanted with thy fathers; and thou shalt keep the commandments which I have given thee with mine own mouth, and I will be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee.

The covenant was established, or rather the physical ordinance related to this covenant was circumcision, and it was made known that children would not be held accountable until they were eight. This is something that is not a common understanding among Christians, and may possibly be only recognized as true doctrine in the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). We believe that children are still not to be held accountable until the age of eight, and therefore are made perfect in Christ through the atonement, without the need for repentance. This is why we believe that children do not need to be baptized until they have become accountable and are eight years old.

9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

The ordinance of circumcision was established for every male who was eight days old who was a part of the family of Abraham, or the family of children of God. This was a part of the law preceding the law of Jesus Christ. When Christ was crucified, the law was fulfilled and as I understand it, this token of the covenant was no longer commanded by God. In Moroni 8:8 we read, “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.” Those who are uncircumcised today, are not breaking any covenants with God.

15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

Abraham’s wife was also to be called a new name, Sarah. Then she was blessed and told that she would have a son, even though she had been barren thus far. By the wording here, Abraham seemed a bit shocked by this because of their age, but the Joseph Smith Translation of the word says that Abraham fell upon his face, and rejoiced. Being a man of God, I think this sounds much more fitting for our understanding. This makes the thoughts of Abraham seem less like questioning the words of the Lord, and more like being amazed at the possibility. God confirmed that she would indeed have a son, when Abraham was a hundred years old, and the son’s name would be Isaac. This was probably an amazing thing to reveal to Sarah, who had wanted to be a mother and was not able to be. I have witnessed the heartache that comes to those who want to be mothers who cannot. I am sure this was an overwhelming blessing, even in her older age. Her son, Isaac, would be blessed with an everlasting covenant for him and his seed.

It sounds to me like Abraham wished that Ishmael, his first son by Hagar, would be blessed by God. Ishmael was also blessed to be the father of many, but he would not be the bearer of the covenant with God. The Abrahamic covenant was not passed on to Ishmael, but we learn later in the scriptures that Ishmael did become the father of twelve sons and of many nations.

23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

Abraham immediately followed the commandments of the Lord and required that all the males in his household be circumcised. One of the many good examples set by Abraham, is that we should follow the commandments of God as soon as we have knowledge of them. If we procrastinate, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow His ways and we allow Satan the ability to place distractions in our path, which draw us away from the things that are righteous and good. I know that we can receive the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. I know that we need to follow God’s commandments in order to receive these blessings and I look forward to the day when all the blessings will be given to the righteous and covenant people of God. I hope that I will be among those people in that day.

Baptism

(View the entire lesson here: Baptism)

Baptism

The Commandment to Be Baptized

Why must we be baptized?

“We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost (Articles of Faith 1:4).” Baptism is an ordinance we must make in order to be accepted back into the presence of God. All people will be resurrected and judged for their works, but only those who obey the commandment to be baptized will be able to gain exaltation into the celestial kingdom. In John 3 we read, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (v. 3). . . Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (v. 5).” Baptism makes of clean of all sin and therefore worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which will not stay where there is sin.

We Must Be Baptized for the Remission of Our Sins

Like it says in the fourth article of faith (see above), baptism is for the remission of sins. Being baptized cleans us spiritually, just as the water we are immersed in cleans us physically. This ordinance removes our sins from us and allows us complete forgiveness for the wrongs we have done prior to being baptized.

We Must Be Baptized to Become Members of the Church of Jesus Christ

When we are baptized we are formally accepted into Christ’s church. We make a commitment to do all that we can to move His work forward. We take upon ourselves His name and covenant to represent Him in all that we do. We cannot do the work of the Lord, without turning our hearts and desires over to the Lord and deciding to do His will. Our desires and the works we do in this life, will be the proof provided at the judgment day.

We Must Be Baptized before We Can Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost

Just as I said above, being baptized by water prepares us for the baptism of the spirit. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is so precious. It will be the one thing that will always guide us to do what is right and to stay on the strait and narrow path that returns to our Father in Heaven. We should all have a desire to have this amazing gift.

We Must Be Baptized to Show Obedience

This life is an opportunity for all of God’s children to prove ourselves worthy of His blessings of eternal life and exaltation. The key to proving ourselves is obedience. We have been given the commandment to be baptized. We must be obedient to all of the commandments, if we desire to return to live with God again. In Matthew 3 we read, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him (v. 13). But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me (v. 14)? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him (v 15).” If the purpose of baptism was strictly for remission of sins, then the Savior himself would not have needed it. It is however a commanded ordinance, and all men must be obedient to receive the blessings of eternal life.

We Must Be Baptized to Enter the Celestial Kingdom

If we wish to enter the Celestial kingdom, then we must be “born of water and of the Spirit” (see John 3:3, 5 above). I know that we all have this desire somewhere within us because we all chose to follow the Savior and come down to the earth to be tested. We all were excited to prove ourselves worthy and I am sure that before coming to this earth, every person who has ever lived or will ever live, felt that returning to live with God was their goal. Only those who have been baptized, can be worthy of the glory of the Celestial kingdom.

The Correct Mode of Baptism

How should we be baptized?

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the proper way to be baptized is by immersion and only after we have repented of our sins. The Lord revealed to the early saints the manner in which we should be baptized. In D&C 20 we read, “Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent (v. 72)—The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen (v. 73). Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water (v. 74).” In Matthew 3:16 we read that Jesus was baptized he came out of the water. We follow his example when we are brought out of the water as well. It is important to note also, that this can only be performed by one who has authority from God (see D&C 20:73 above). Anything else is not recognized by God as baptism, and is done in vain.

In the Book of Mormon, the Savior himself taught the precise way that baptism should be performed. In 3 Nephi 11 we read, “And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying (v. 24): Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen (v. 25). And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water (v. 26). And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one (v. 27).”

Why is authority to perform a baptism important?

The authority from God is required for all things that are done in the name of the Lord. In order to make the covenants of baptism two parties must be present; the person who is being baptized and committing to keep the commandments of God, and one who is authorized to stand in place of the Lord (because God is not physically there) to commit to give the promised blessings. Otherwise, there is no covenant and therefore there are no blessings that can be given by God.

In what ways is baptism by immersion like the burial and Resurrection of the Savior?

In Romans 6 we read, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound (v. 1)? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein (v. 2)? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death (v. 3)? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (v. 4). For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection (v. 5): Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (v. 6).” When we are baptized with water, we are fully buried by it. When the Savior died, he was buried in the tomb. Then he was resurrected and came forth out of the tomb to live again. When we are baptized, we are brought out of the water, ready to live again. Writing this also makes me realize that the person who is in effect acting in place of the Lord, lifts us out of the water, just as the Lord is the only person who can lift us from the grave unto resurrection. This realization, in addition to the knowledge that only the Lord can free us from the sin that keeps us bound, makes the ordinance of baptism even more sacred to me.

Baptism at the Age of Accountability

Who should be baptized? What might you say to a friend who believes that infants need to be baptized?

All people who have the desire to be baptized and who understand and are willing to repent of their sins, should be baptized. There are some religions who perform baptisms of infants and children who do not understand fully what is right and wrong. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do not believe that this is God’s will for little children. In Moroni 8, Mormon teaches us regarding this ordinance. “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me (v. 8 ). And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children (v. 9). Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children (v. 10). And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins (v. 11). But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism (v. 12)! Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell (v. 13). Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell (v. 14). For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism (v. 15). . . . Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy (v. 19). . . . For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing (v. 22)—But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works (v. 23).”

Any person, who is not capable of understanding fully about sin, is not capable of sinning and therefore needs no baptism. They are fully covered by the atonement of Christ and His mercy will save them. At the age of 8, all people with full use of their minds, are commanded to repent and be baptized. To anyone who says that children must be baptized, I would ask them when, in the Savior’s ministry, did he ever teach us that children were sinners. He did not. What he did teach can be found in Matthew 19:14 which says, “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

We Make Covenants When We Are Baptized

In Mosiah 18 we read, “And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light (v. 8 ); Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life (v. 9)—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you (v. 10)?”

What do you think it means to bear one another’s burdens? to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all places?

When others are burdened, it is our responsibility as followers of Christ, to do all that we can to help them. When we serve those who are weighed down with trials, we begin to take some of that load off of their shoulders and these things become easier for that person to bear. Whatever service we can give is a fulfillment of the covenants we make, whether it is to be a listening ear, to give advice, or to physically help someone who cannot do what is needed on their own. When we do these things we are often times an answer to others prayers. We need to be in tune with the spirit so that we can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands.

It is also part of our covenant that we will take the name of Jesus Christ upon us and therefore we must stand as a witness at all times and in all places. This means that we must do more than make Sunday a day of worship. We must live as the Savior would have lived, every day of our lives. We need to remember to reflect the Savior’s life whether we are at church, in or homes, at work, or out in the world. We need to be an example to our children, our families, our peers, and so on. This also means that when we are moved upon by the spirit, we need to share our testimonies of God and His gospel.

Baptism Gives Us a New Beginning

How was your baptism a new beginning?

Baptism was the time when my choice to do what I believe to be right, became a sacred choice to me. I remember feeling clean and ready to commit myself to being good. Being baptized gives us a fresh start with the slate of our lives wiped clean. I love seeing converts of the church right after they are baptized, because you can see a new fire in them. Baptism brings a new excitement and joy in the hope of eternal life.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to know of the gospel and to make the covenants of baptism with my Father in Heaven. I am grateful to my parents for raising me in the church, so that I did not have to wait to have the blessing of the Holy Ghost. I am so happy to be a member of Christ’s church and to continue to strive daily to do what is right and to be a witness to others.


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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