Posts Tagged 'Commandments'

2 Kings Chapter 23

Josiah was a righteous king of Judah. He had worked to repair the temple and in doing so, the book of the law had been found. He read the book and then mourned for the weakness of those who had come before and the future of his people because of their wickedness. He prayed about the book, and because of his faith, Josiah would be blessed with peace in his own life. This chapter continues to tell of how he led the people.

1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.

Josiah gathered the elders, the men of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem, including priests, prophets, and people of all walks of life. He read all the words of the book of the law, or the book of the covenant. This was the book that had been found in the temple, which had caused him to go to the Lord in mourning. The king could have read the words for himself and chosen to lead the people according to that, but he took it a step further when he invited the people of the land to share in coming to a knowledge of the word of the Lord. This was good, because it gave the people a chance to choose for themselves from their own understanding, whether they would want to follow the law or live as they had been living.

3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

Then, Josiah made covenants to the Lord, to be faithful, obedient to the commandments with all the heart and soul, and to perform all the rites and ordinances of the covenants in the book. The people agreed to the covenants.

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.
5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.

Josiah commanded for all the items in the temple and around it, that were devoted to the worship of Baal and any other gods, to be removed from the temple. They were taken outside of Jerusalem to fields where they were burned. The ashes were then carried away to Bethel. The king, destroyed (or put down) the wicked or false priests, who had been ordained to serve in the idolatrous temples around the land of Judah, including those who served Baal and other gods. He removed the idol found in the temple and had it burned and ground into powder outside of Jerusalem. The powder was cast on the graves of their children, possibly all those who were sacrificed to that very idol. He destroyed the places where the sodomites were doing wicked acts, removed all the wicked priests in the land of Judah, and defiled their places of worship.

9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.

Those priests that were removed, did not go to the temple in Jerusalem, but returned to their own people, as was part of the law of Moses. Josiah destroyed Topheth, which was the place of burning, or where the people sacrificed their own children to false gods. This sacrificing of children with fire, was strictly forbidden in the law of Moses. He took the chariots away, that were used to worship the sun, and he burned them. He destroyed the altars in the kings house, or on the roofs of the houses, as well as those in the temple. He ground them down and tossed the dust into a brook. Then, he destroyed the places of worship around Jerusalem and destroyed the wicked men there.

15 Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17 Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el.
18 And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el.
20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah continued to destroy all things related to idolatry in Bethel, which had been built by Jeroboam because Jerusalem had been too far for them to go to comfortably for their worship. He burned the place of worship and its grove. He burned the bones of the dead, found in the sepulchres, upon the altar. He saw a specific sepulchre and asked who was buried there. The men of Bethel told him it was the sepulcre of the man of God from Judah, who had prophesied of the things that Josiah had done to the altar (see 1 Kings 13). The prophecy had been fulfilled. Josiah commanded the men to leave the bones of the prophet, so none of the men touched them. The places of worship in Samaria were taken away, just as the place in Bethel. All the wicked priests were destroyed as well. Then, Josiah returned to Jerusalem.

21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22 Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23 But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the Lord in Jerusalem.

The king gave a commandment that the people were to observe the passover, as they were commanded in the law of Moses. There had not been one observed like this, in all the days since the first time of the judges in Israel. This passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (see 2 Chronicles 35 for more on this observance of the passover).

24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.
25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Josiah continued to follow all the laws in the book of the law, by getting rid of any involved in witchcraft and sorcery that were discovered in all the land of Judah (see Deuteronomy 18). No other king in the land of Israel, had completely given himself to following after the law of Moses.

It is amazing to be described like this in the history of the kings of Israel. Josiah was like no other king because he was loyal to the Lord, trusted Him, and stood up for those things which he knew to be true. His choices to cleanse all of Judah, were bold and courageous. He is an example of “standing up and being all in“, not wavering in his faith, and being a force for good in the lives of those under his influence.

26 Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.
27 And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

However, Manasseh had done such wickedness and the people with him, especially with sacrificing so many lives to his evil ways, that the Lord would still hold the people of Judah accountable for their actions. Judah would be scattered, just as Israel had been scattered, including all that were in the city of Jerusalem. The temple had been desecrated by wicked acts, and the Lord would no longer be among the people there.

29 In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.

Egypt came up against the Assyrains, and Josiah went against him. Josiah was killed in Megiddo and was taken back to Jerusalem and buried there (see also 2 Chronicles 35). Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, was anointed king by the people.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.

At the age of 23, Jehoahaz began his reign in Jerusalem. He only reigned in wickedness for three months, then Pharoah-nechoh took him captive and made the land of Judah subject to Egypt. Judah had to pay Egypt 100 silver talents and a talent of god. Pharoah made Eliakim the king instead and calld him Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken into Egypt and died there (see also 2 Chronicles 36). Jehoiakim paid tribute to Egypt by taxing the people.

36 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.

Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem, from the age of 25 to about 36. He led the people in wickedness. Sadly, all the work that Josiah had done, to help the people return to righteousness, was quickly undone by two unrighteous kings that followed after him. This is a testimony and a witness to me, of the importance of heeding the warnings and preparing ourselves to withstand temptations in our own lives. The Lord had warned the children of Israel, that any amount of idolatry, would bring their entire nation down to destruction. Over a short amount of time, some of the people chose to allow other nations to influence them and turned to the wickedness of idolatry. Once the temptation had been allowed to be a part of the land, it was nearly impossible to go back to following strictly after the Lord. Josiah worked hard to bring as many back to following the commandments as possible, but even his own sons were not willing to continue in righteousness. There are warnings that have been given in our own time. We need to heed the warnings of modern-day prophets, so that we may avoid temptations, remain safe spiritually, and have the kind of peace that Josiah was able to have in his life. (A good talk on warnings in our time, as it relates to our children is “Watching with All Perseverance“.)

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2 Kings Chapter 17

Israel had a king named Pekah, who began his rule while Azariah was king in Judah. Shortly after Pekah became king, Jotham began to rule in Judah. This lasted well over a decade, when Jotham died and Ahaz became king of Judah. Then, a man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah, killed him, and became the king of Israel. This chapter begins at this point in the history of Israel.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahaz had ruled in Judah for twelve years, when Hoshea became king of Israel. He only ruled for nine years. He was not a righteous leaders, but ruled in ways that went against the ways of the Lord. However, he was not as bad as some who had been kings before him.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

The Assyrians came against Israel, led by Shalmaneser. Hoshea allowed Israel to become servants to the Assyrians, and paid tribute to their king. Shalmaneser found out that Hoshea had sent messengers to Egypt, but had not brought tribute to him in Assyria as he had done each year, so Shalmaneser had Hoshea captured and put in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

Shalmaneser went throughout Israel and besieged the capital of Samaria for three years. Then, he captured it and carried the people of Samaria into Assyria, to places like Halah, Habor and the cities of the Medes.

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

The Israelites had sinned against God, even though He had saved them from the Egyptians. They chose to fear other gods, such as Baal, before they feared the Lord, becoming like those other nations who had been in the promised land before they lived there. The nations that their ancestors had worked hard to destroy from out of the land, under the direction of God. The Israelite people had done much wickedness in secret, and had built temples in each city, where they made sacrifices and offerings to their made-up gods. They built idols to worship and placed them all through the land. The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to do these wicked, idolatrous things.

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.
16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

Many prophets and seers were raised in Israel, to testify the word of the Lord against them and against Judah. The Isarelites were called to repent and return to following the commandments of God. The people would not hearken to the prophets, and they rejected them. They would not believe their words, and many generations in turn, refused to turn away from wickedness. They became a vain people, following after the traditions of the other nations around them. The Israelites made idols to worship Baal, including two calves in one high place. They had done this, so that it was convenient for people, who were far away from the temple, to worship often. There they built a grove or a place to worship where many acts of evil were committed in the name of Baal. This included the act of sacrificing their own children. They also used divination and enchantments. All these things caused the Lord to be provoked to anger against them. Because of these things, the Lord had them removed from the land of promise, leaving only the tribe of Judah. This was the main part of the scattering of the ten tribes of Israel.

19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

Ahaz ruled in great wickedness, and when he died, his son, Hezekiah, became ruler of Judah. The people of Judah were then a wicked people, who created their own laws to live by. As a result, the Lord rejected them along with Israel. Over the course of time, and because they had allowed the influence of evil to cause them to walk in sin, the Israelite nation was left to the hands of enemy nations, and God allowed them, specifically the ten tribes, to be carried captive into Assyria.

24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.
27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

The Assyrian king placed men from several foreign cities, in Samaria and the land of the Isarelites. As a side note, I have studied some of the practices of ancient times and one of them was to take a conquered people and remove them from their own land to an unknown place. When the kings did this, some believed it would cause the people to become more loyal to them, since they would not have any comforts or anything familiar to fall back on. They would need to rely on the government to know what to do in their new life. This act would also lower the chances for rebellion, because a conquered people were not left to gather together and rise up against an unwanted leader. So, the Assyrian king removed the Israelites from their familiar lands and from the common society and they became servants of a new land and king. Then, the king took others from different places and put them together in Samaria, creating a new society of people who were more likely to be loyal to him and easier to manage or control.

The foreigners were not a god-fearing people, and were not acceptable to the Lord, so He sent lions into the land and some of the men were killed. The people told the king that those who were there did not know the ways of the God of the land, so they were being killed by lions. The king commanded that an Israelite priest be returned to Israel, or Samaria, to live there and teach the people about the Lord. They did as he commanded, and the priest lived in Beth-el.

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;
35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Nevertheless, these people were from many nations who had their own gods, so they used the high places to worship their gods. Each group of people followed after their own traditions of worship, even including human sacrifices. They learned to fear the Lord as well, but they did not worship Him alone, much like the people who had already been carried away from the land. Their manner of worship and their lifestyles became a mixture of all types and continued from generation to generation in a land where the Lord had made covenants with the people of Israel. They lived according to their own interpretations of what God wanted, and therefore were never fully committed to following the Lord. The Lord has given men strict commandments in order to provide safety and assurance of greater blessings to come. When we pick and choose which commandments we will keep, or begin to put our own interpretations into those commandments, we forfeit that safety and assurance in favor of our own wisdom and the consequences will follow.

Sadly, the people of the Lord had forgotten Him and turned to false gods and unholy acts in the name of those gods. Nonetheless, the Lord had not forgotten them and had given them chances time and time again, to repent and return to righteousness. They did not, and so the Lord allowed them to deal with the consequences of their choices. The ten tribes of Israel were scattered among foreign lands and another people were placed in the land that had been promised to the faithful people of the Lord. We are also given the opportunity to be the Lord’s people. Those who are faithful today, can receive promises of God by making covenants, just as the Israelites had done. If we have made covenants with God, we have a need to remember Him. We will face the same challenges of the temptation towards idolatry in our own lives, though we may not recognize the things we choose as gods. Anytime we willfully turn from the Lord in an effort to worship something else, or raise something else to a place above the Lord, we are in fact doing what the Israelites did in ancient times. The adversary knows this and is working hard to draw us away with all types of distractions and temptations. If we can remember the Lord, especially when faced with temptation, we will be blessed beyond anything we can imagine. If we make choices to turn from the Lord, without repentance, we will deal with the consequences of our choices, and be scattered. To keep the Lord in our remembrance, the modern prophets and apostles have taught us that we need to pray, study the scriptures, repent, attend church and partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants with the Lord, and serve those in need. I am so grateful for the blessings of remembrance. I know that if we have a remembrance of the Lord and the things that He has done for us, especially that of the Atonement, we will not be put in bondage and scattered like the Israelites, but will have freedom and the blessings of eternity.

1 Kings Chapter 18

The prophet Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. Ahab had married Jezebel, and he and his wife led the people of Israel in the worship of Baal. The worship of Baal was a wicked practice and led to great evil among the Israelites. Elijah had the sealing power and had closed the heavens in the land, meaning the people were suffering in a time of drought and famine. During this time, he had been blessed and preserved at the hand of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Elijah was commanded to return to Ahab, and then the Lord would allow rain to fall upon the earth again. So, Elijah went to Ahab in Samaria, where the famine had become very sore. Ahab called for his governor Obadiah. Obadiah had secretly saved a hundred prophets who were going to be killed by Jezebel, hiding them in caves and giving them food and water. Ahab sent Obadiah to find a place with water in the land, where they could save the animals they had left. Obadiah and Ahab parted ways.

7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
15 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah met Elijah on the way, and recognizing him, fell down and honored him, asking if he was, in fact, Elijah. Elijah confirmed this and told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was there. Obadiah was afraid that he would be harmed by Ahab if he returned to him saying that he knew where Elijah was. This was because Ahab had been hunting for Elijah the whole time he was in hiding, causing his people to make oaths promising that they did not know where Elijah was. If he returned saying he knew, Obadiah was worried that Elijah would not remain there, and then Ahab would kill him for it. Obadiah told Elijah that he had saved the prophets and that he feared the Lord, and he begged that Obadiah would not send him to do this. Elijah made a promise to him, assuring Obadiah that he would reveal himself to Ahab that very day, so Obadiah returned to Ahab and told him. Then, Ahab went to find Elijah.

Obadiah honored Elijah by falling on his face in a manner that showed great respect in their day. I wonder what it must have been like to be Obadiah in that moment. Clearly he had a love from the prophets of the Lord. He recognized Elijah and must have felt some awesome feelings at their meeting. In my own experience, I have had the opportunity to meet one who I believe to be a man of God. At the time, he was a member of the Seventy, and he came to our stake to call a new president. I attended a few meetings where he was present and the spirit he brought with him, was amazing. As the first meeting came to a close, I found myself having the desire to stay there and hold onto that spirit as long as I possibly could. Later, I had the opportunity to meet him personally and have a short conversation with him. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of respect and honor I had towards this man. I am sure that Obadiah felt some of these same feelings towards Elijah.

Obadiah’s role in this chapter, is a good example of trust in the Lord’s servants. Obadiah was able to put aside his fears of what the king might do to him, and trust in the promise from Elijah that he would remain to meet Ahab. He followed in faith, and although we don’t learn of anything more about him in this chapter, I am sure that he was blessed for his faithfulness.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Ahab saw Elijah, but did not honor him. Instead he blamed him for the troubles of Israel. Those who do not live as God would have them live, cannot recognize the blessings of God around them. Elijah’s presence there, was a blessing to Ahab, though he did not see it yet. Elijah said that the troubles they had were because of Ahab and his family, who had turned from the Lord and His commandments, and worshipped Baal instead. When people have come to know the Lord, and then reject Him and follow after their own heart, they bring troubles upon themselves. Elijah called for a gathering of Israel at mount Carmel, along with all the priests of Baal. Ahab obliged and a gathering was called. Elijah asked the people how they could continue to try to follow after both God and Baal, saying if they believed God was their God, they should follow after Him, but if they believed Baal to be their god, they should follow him. There was no response from the people. This is an eternal principle. There is no way to be devoted to God completely, and then do likewise towards anything else, because God expects all who serve Him, to put Him first in their worship, trust and faith. The people must have known that choosing to worship anything else, was pinning themselves against God. Over time, it would grow harder to try to split allegiance between the two and one would have to give out.

Elijah called their attention to the fact that he was the lone prophet of God there, while there were hundreds of their prophets of Baal. So with that he challenged them, to choose two bulls for sacrifice. They could choose one for themselves and he would take the other. They would both prepare their sacrifice upon the altars, with the exception of any fire. Then both would call upon their respective gods, Elijah to the Lord and the priests to their gods, to answer with fire from heaven for the sacrifice. The people agreed to this challenge. The priests prepared their sacrifice and proceeded to call out to their gods for hours with no response. It says here that as a result, they leaped upon the altars themselves. Elijah mocked them saying things like, their god must have sleeping or on a journey somewhere. The priests cried and cut themselves, which was a custom forbidden by the Lord. They continued to do this and their prophesying all day, until the time of the evening sacrifice, and their was still no answer.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

So, Elijah gathered the people to him, repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been broken, by adding twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He made a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice with wood, and then called for it to be covered in water. He had them pour water on the sacrifice and wood three times, and then cover the surrounding ground and fill the trench with water as well. Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, he prayed to the Lord that he would be heard, so that the people would know that He was the God of this people. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, that there would be an opportunity for the hearts of the people to return to God. The Lord answered his prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and all that was at the altar, including the water. The people witnessed this and fell down to worship the Lord. Elijah commanded that all the prophets of Baal be killed.

41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah told Ahab to go eat and drink, perhaps this was much like telling him to go about his day, and then the rain would come. As Ahab did just that, Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and threw himself on the ground, much like a manner of worship. He told his servant to go look towards the sea, but the servant saw nothing. Elijah told him to return to look seven times. On the seventh time, the servant said that a little cloud of the sea arose. The servant was commanded to go to Ahab and tell him to prepare his chariot, go down and not to stop even because of the rain. While this was done, a great storm came. Ahab rode to Jezreel. Elijah started to run, and by the hand of Lord, reached the entrance of Jezreel before Ahab.

Ahab was in a position, where he would do anything possible to bring water to the land. He had hunted for Elijah to take the drought away. I think that the Lord’s timing was perfect and not only allowed for Ahab to be in a state of humility because of their troubles, but meant that Elijah’s life would be spared. I think that if the time had been any sooner, Elijah may have been killed as the prophets before him. However, just as Ahab was trying to save the last animals from starvation and thirst, he was able to find the man he felt had brought this upon him and his people. Then, Elijah was able to prove to Ahab and the people of Israel, that there is no other God save the Lord.

This was quite a miracle to witness. The priests of Baal were given every opportunity in a full day’s time to pray, but their answer did not come. Their worship of objects, could not provide relief to their suffering, because their gods were not real. Elijah on the other hand, did all that he could to show that the Lord was true. This was a much needed witness to the people of Israel. They had been in a spiritual drought and famine without seeing it for what it was. In recognizing that they were trusting in false gods, the people had the opportunity to have their spirits fed and renewed.

Likewise, opening the heavens was a miracle. It showed that the Lord was in fact able to take away and give to men, and that He would do great things through the voice of His prophets. This was a miracle that more of Israel would have recognized as a blessing, because their very lives depended on having water to drink and food to eat. The people of Israel were greatly blessed at this time, to have both their physical and spiritual beings saved by the Lord. Now would have been the time for them to repent and return to the Lord.

The miracles performed in this chapter, cause me to reflect on my own life experiences. I have not witnessed the fire of the Lord, or the heavens open quite so literally, but I know that I have experienced many small miracles from God. These small miracles should stand as a witness to me, that the Lord is the only true and living God. There is nothing in this life that should be placed before Him in my worship. The Lord is the source of all that I need to succeed and survive. I know that in my life, I have been sustained as Elijah was, and the heavens have opened to give me all that I have truly needed, when I have been willing to recognize God, listen to his chosen servants, and strive to keep His commandments.

1 Kings Chapter 13

Jeroboam had become the leader and king of ten of the tribes of Israel. He had been among those who revolted against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Jeroboam had been told that he would rule, by a prophet. He had also been promised continual reign and support of the Lord, if he would remain faithful to God. However, early in his reign, he turned to the worship of false idols, in order to keep his people away from the temple in Jerusalem and from returning to Rehoboam. Jeroboam had quickly become a wicked leader to the people of Israel, leading them into apostasy from the Lord.

1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Beth-el: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.
6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
7 And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.
8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
9 For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.

A prophet came to Jeroboam from Judah. Jeroboam was an the altar of one of the temples. He prophesied that there would be a man called Josiah, of the house of David, who would offer or sacrifice priests and men upon the altar. The prophet said that the altar would be broken down and the ashes upon it would be scattered. Jeroboam heard what had been said, and with the direction of his hand, told his men to grab the prophet. When he did this, the hand he used became dried up and he could not pull it back toward himself. The altar was broken and the ashes were scattered. Jeroboam told the man to ask the Lord to restore his withered had. The prophet prayed and the hand of Jeroboam was restored. Jeroboam asked the prophet to go with him and be refreshed and rewarded. The prophet said that he would not go with him, even if he had been offered half of the king’s house. He refused even the slightest offering of bread or water as well. He told Jeroboam that the Lord had commanded him that he should not eat or drink there, or even go back the way that he came. Then, the prophet left another way, as he had been commanded.

11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.
13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.
15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.

In Bethel, where the prophet had come to deliver his message from God, there was an old prophet. This old man’s sons told him of the prophet from Judah, and directed their father as to which way he had gone. The old prophet rode after the prophet from Judah, finding him sitting under an oak tree. He asked him if he was the prophet from Judah and the other said that he was. He offered him bread, but the other refused him just as he had refused Jeroboam. The old prophet told him that he too was a prophet and had revelation from an angel that he was to offer him bread and water. Verse 18 says that this was a lie, which causes the thought that the old prophet was attempting to deceive him. However in the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse it reads, “Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water[, that I may prove him; and he lied not unto him]. This translation leads us to see that the Lord intended on testing the prophet from Judah, who gave in and went to his house to eat and drink. (see footnote 18b)

20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

As they ate, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet, and he told the prophet from Judah that because he did this thing and disobeyed the Lord, his dead body would not return to the resting place of his family.

23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto him.
27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.
28 And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.
29 And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.
30 And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!
31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones:
32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Beth-el, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.

After the prophet from Judah had finished eating and drinking there, he left and was met by a lion along his path. The lion killed the prophet and stood by the body of the man, along with the donkey he had ridden there. Men who passed by the body and lion, told the old prophet what they had seen. The old prophet went and found the body, which had not been disturbed by the lion. The lion had also not eaten the donkey. He took the body, laid it on the donkey, and went back to the city, where he buried the prophet from Judah in his own grave and mourned for him. He told his own sons to bury him along with this man when he died, because he knew the dead prophet’s prophecy would come to pass.

33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.
34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.

Jeroboam still did not repent of his wickedness, but continued to worship false gods. He continued to raise people to be priests, who were not of the line of Aaron. Because of this sin, Jeroboam and his line were cut off from the Lord and would eventually be destroyed.

When reading this story, one could focus on those things that happened with Jeroboam, as well as those that happened with the prophet from Judah. With either one, their is a lesson in the consequences that come from disobedience to the Lord. Jeroboam was cursed for his actions against the man of God, and eventually chose to be cut off because of sin. The prophet, who had done a portion of what he had been commanded, did not follow the commandments of God with strictness. He was then cursed for his choices as well, and served as an example to others in Israel. Both were given an opportunity to return through obedience to the word of the Lord, and both chose to follow their own path and find ultimate destruction. There is a verse in the book of Alma, that teaches an eternal principle relating to wickedness. In Alma 41:10 it reads, “wickedness never was happiness”. There will be no reward of happiness for those who choose to sin and wickedness. The consequences of sin may be immediate, as was the consequences to the prophet along his journey home. On the other hand, they might not come until we have lived a long life of wicked choices, basking in the glory of men and earthly treasures. The point is, that the consequences will come to the wicked and the reward will not be happiness, but eternal misery. I know that if more people realized just how small the time we have in our earthly life is when compared to the span of eternity, they would not choose to live for eternity in misery to have false happiness in this life. This is the reason for my hope in Christ. We all make mistakes. We all give into temptations of some kind. And we all will have the opportunity, to turn to Christ and receive forgiveness and mercy from Him who gave everything for us.

1 Samuel Chapter 9

The people of Israel had tired of their system of judges, and desired to have a king. The Lord consented, allowing the Israelites full use of their agency, even though it could bring the people to turn away from Him. Samuel preached to them on the consequences that would come with a wicked king. The establishment of a king over Israel, begins with the following:

1 Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.
2 And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.
3 And the asses of Kish Saul’s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.
4 And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.
5 And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.
6 And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go.
7 Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what have we?
8 And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.
9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
10 Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was.

Saul was a choice, goodly young man that stood taller than others around him. Saul was sent by his father, to look for his father’s donkeys, which had been lost. He searched through the land, but was not finding them. When it seemed they had been away from his father’s house for too long, Saul decided to return so that his father did not worry about him. The servant told Saul of a man of God, Samuel, who was a seer and could, by the power of God, reveal to them where they should go. Saul did not have anything to offer, but his servant was willing to offer his own money in order to know where to go, and so they went into the city to find Samuel.

11 And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?
12 And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people to day in the high place:
13 As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.
14 And they went up into the city: and when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high place.

As they approached the city they asked some young women, who were headed to draw water, if they knew where the seer was. The women told them that the seer was there, just ahead of them, and if they hurried they would catch up with him before the sacrifice was going to be made in the high place of the city. As they went into the city, Samuel came out to meet them.

15 Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,
16 To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.
17 And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.
18 Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is.
19 And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me to day, and to morrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart.
20 And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father’s house?
21 And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
22 And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons.
23 And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee.
24 And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left! set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day.

The Lord had previously revealed to Samuel that a Benjamite, whom he saw that day, was to be anointed captain and king of the Israelites. This man would deliver the Israelites from the Philistines, in an answer to the prayers of the people. When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord revealed to him that Saul was this man. Saul approached Samuel to ask where the seer was. Samuel told him that he was the seer and asked them to join him for their meal and to stay with him, then he would send them on their way the next day with the answers that Saul sought. As if to prove himself a true seer, or better yet, to show Saul that he could indeed receive revelations from God, Samuel told him to forget about the lost donkeys because they had been found. Samuel also told him that he, Saul, was the answer to the desires of the Israelites. Saul could not understand why this would be said, because he was from a family, which was the least among the smallest tribe of the twelve tribes of Israel. Samuel took Saul into the meal and sat him in the seat of honor among a gathering of people. Then Samuel told his cook to bring the portion of meat that had been set aside, and he gave it to Saul. Samuel had been prepared to entertain Saul as his honored guest for the meal, since the time he invited the others to come.

25 And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.
26 And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
27 And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.

After they left the gathering, Samuel had Saul and his servant stay with him. In the dawn of the morning, Samuel called for Saul to meet him on the rooftop, and Samuel told him that he could be on his way. Samuel was leaving the city as well, and as they were about to go out of the city, Samuel told Saul to have his servant go on ahead so that he could have some time to share the word of God with Saul. Samuel had told him that he would tell him all that was in his heart, or perhaps all that he desired to know, and this is what he was about to do.

The character of Saul is shown in this story, when not only are we told that he was a choice young man, but that he was humble and would seek the word of the Lord through a seer, in order to know what he should do or where he should go. I am sure it was a bit of a shock and a surprise, to be told that he had been chosen to lead Israel. And then to follow it with being treated by Samuel as a true leader would have been treated, among a gathering of many people. Nevertheless, Saul was treated this way, because the Lord had chosen him to be the king of Israel. It is a wonder that God would select a king, when we can learn from the previous chapter, that God had not wanted Israel to have a mortal king. However, because God made the selection, it was a man who had the character of being the right king for Israel. This is because God can look on the heart of an individual, where others will only see what is on the outside. The right king would not have been a man that had the appearance of a king, but a man that had the character of a good king. God continued to care for the people of Israel, by helping them to have a good king.

The Lord called his ancient leaders, even kings, through inspiration received by His holy prophets. This is not a pattern that was done away in ancient times. In the restoration of the gospel, the Lord continued to follow this pattern. The modern prophets and apostles of the church of Jesus Christ, are called by inspiration to lead the people of the Lord. Just this previous weekend, I watched as three new modern apostles were called to serve as special witnesses of Jesus Christ, and the spirit confirmed to me, that these men are indeed called of God. It is such a blessing to live with a knowledge of revelation from God.

Something else to learn from this story, is that when we feel impressed upon to find help, especially from those who we know to be people of God, we should not let other things stop us. Saul and his servant did not have a gift or offering to bring to the seer, and because of that, they may not have entered the city to get the help they needed. In the exchange between Saul and Samuel, the money or gift he and his servant had decided to bring, was not mentioned again. It seems that it was possibly unnecessary in the circumstances. I am sometimes guilty of trying to excuse the promptings I feel, because I know that there has to be some reason why God would not want to help me. I have nothing to offer Him. Or my reasoning teaches me that it would not work, but these thoughts are not right. We can always offer the Lord a willing heart and mind. The Lord would not inspire us without some reason that will bless us eventually. And as we read in 1 Nephi 3:7, “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” God would not prompt us to do something that would then be impossible for us to do. When we recognize inspiration and promptings of the spirit, we should follow through with them, so that we can be the instrument that God needs us to be. From these things, we can grow and be blessed beyond anything we can now imagine.

Joshua Chapter 8

The Israelites have begun to take over the promised land. They were part of the miracle of the walls of Jericho coming down, which allowed them the ability to take that city. They attempted to take over the people of Ai, but failed because the Lord was not with them at that time. They gained the support of the Lord again, by destroying the cause of the loss, which was a man and the forbidden items he took while in Jericho. At this point, they were once again ready to take the city of Ai.

1 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:
2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

Joshua was told by the Lord to take the army of Israel to fight against Ai. This time, the Lord told them they could take the spoil and cattle of the city for themselves. They were to ambush the city.

I notice that in the previous chapter, it does not say that the Lord told them to fight against Ai. As far as we can tell, there was no commandment given to the Israelites at that time. I think that if Joshua, as their leader, sought direction from the Lord before going straight into battle, the Lord may have instructed him to sanctify his people first. Perhaps the loss of several men, would have been avoided. In this chapter, it seems that Joshua waited upon the Lord for the instructions to go up to battle again. Because he waited, the army of Israel was prepared and instructed as to what strategy to use in order to be victorious. In Doctrine and Covenants 98:33, modern revelation teaches us, “And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.” It is important for the people of God, to have the Lord on their side in times of battle.

3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.
4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,
6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.
7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand.
8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.

30,000 men of the Israelite army, were chosen to go lie in wait, behind the city, in the night. They were instructed to be ready, while the rest of Israel would go towards the other side of the city. When the people of Ai would come to fight against them and the Israelites flee from them, but would be followed from the city. Then the 30,000 would ambush the city of Ai and it would be delivered to them by the Lord. They were commanded to burn the city.

9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.
10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.
12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of the city.
13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

The men went in the night and prepared to ambush the city. Joshua and his people approached the city to fight.

14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.
15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
16 And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.
17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Beth-el, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
18 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.
19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.
21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.
22 And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.
25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.
28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

Not knowing of the ambush that awaited him, the king of Ai took his men out to fight against the Israelites. The men with Joshua, began to flee and were followed by the people of Ai. The city was left open for the taking. The Lord told Joshua to point his spear towards Ai. At that, the men ambushed the city and burned it. The men of Ai had nowhere to go, so the Israelites were able to go against them and destroy all of them. They brought the king to Joshua. The people and city were completely destroyed and they only took the spoil and cattle, as they had been instructed. The king was hung and his body left at the gate of the city on a pile of stones.

30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,
31 As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Joshua gave thanks to God, by building an altar of whole stones in mount Ebal. The Israelites gave burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord.

32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.
34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

The blessings and cursings were given at mount Gerizim and Ebal, as they had been commanded by the Lord through the prophet Moses. In Deuteronomy 11:29, we read, “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.” (See also Deuteronomy 27).

Here, the Israelites are blessed for repenting of the wrong previously done, and being strictly obedient to the directions of the Lord. Joshua made a copy of the law of Moses, which was read to the people of Israel. We can see here the importance of keeping a record of the word of the Lord. They had been given the commandment to make and keep this record, while Moses was the prophet. Joshua understood the importance of this commandment, and followed through just as they had been instructed to do. The people of Israel would fall without the commandments in the teachings by the leaders. We also need the scriptures to teach us what is right and how to keep our lives focused on the true and living God. When we stop looking to the word of God, we stop living it and that leads to destruction physically and spiritually. I am so glad to have the scriptures in my life and the blessings keeping the commandments brings.

Deuteronomy Chapter 20

The Israelites knew that they had a future of fighting other nations. The Lord had promised them that he would be on their side, as long as they righteously followed His commandments. Even after they would be established in the land of Canaan, I am sure they expected that other nations would try to come against them. In this chapter, the Lord set up some laws for the army of Israel.

1 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
2 And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4 For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

They were told again, that they were not to fear armies that were bigger or more armed then they were. This was because the Lord would be with them. Others may have had much strength, but the Lord was stronger. The Lord wanted the Israelites to have courage. Their priest (the high priest, I am guessing, or a priest given this duty), was to rally the spirits of their soldiers in preparation for battles, with this promise that the Lord was on their side and would fight and preserve them. The Lord has promised protection to those who are faithful to His commandments. If we truly believe, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, than we should be able to trust in this part of the nature of our Father in Heaven. We fight battles each day, against temptation, the natural man within us, and against the ways of the world. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:88, the Lord gave a message to the prophet, Joseph Smith, and other elders of the church. In this verse we read, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” If we live righteously, following the words of our church leaders, and serve and depend upon God, our Father in Heaven will fight our battles for us as well. We need to do our part, and then He will be there to give us the strength that we need in order to succeed. His work and glory is for our success in this life.

5 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
6 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.
9 And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

In selecting the soldiers, they were to relieve any who had not dedicated the home he had built, had not eaten of his crops, or was betrothed and not married yet, and they were allowed to return to their homes. Any men who were too afraid to fight, were to leave so that they would not cause others to loose faith. Then, the officers of the army, could appoint captains to lead the remaining men. I think this law shows the love of God for those who are trying to live good lives and do what was right. The Lord did not want men to lose out on seeing benefits of their hard work in their fields, or the amazing blessings of marriage. In fact, for the entire first year of marriage, a man was to remain with his new wife and not go out to fight. This shows us some of the things of greater importance to the Lord and to our personal progression in this life. I am reminded, that we can learn time and time again through the old testament, that the Lord does not need numbers to win a battle. He can succeed with only a handful of faithful, courageous men. As with the story of David and Goliath, he can succeed with just one man, if that man has courage and faith in the Lord.

10 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
13 And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
14 But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
16 But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:
18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.

If they planned for war against a city, which was not in the land of inheritance, they were to approach that city in peace. If the other city was willing to remain peaceful towards the Israelites, and did not want to fight, they were to have them do a service of paying tribute to Israel. If that city wanted to fight, the Israelite army was to besiege, and take control of it by the power of the Lord. Once they took that city, they were to kill every man and then take everything else as spoil from their victory. They were to enjoy these as blessings from the Lord. I am glad that even in preparing for war against others, the Lord wanted them to try to be peacemakers first. This leaves the choice of fighting to the other side. In this case, I think the Israelites would not become a blood-thirsty nation, or one who was seeking purely to get gain from other people. They would only fight those who had a real desire to fight against them.

The cities within the land of promise, were to be destroyed completely, including the cities of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and the Jebusites. This they needed to do because it was a commandment which would help them avoid the temptations of those people and therefore avoid falling away from the Lord. In this case, it was better to preserve and protect the souls of the Israelite nation, than to allow anything wicked to remain, living or not.

19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege:
20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

When they took the city, they were to leave any fruit trees, but they could use any other trees to gain control of the city.

The Lord commands His people in all things. Having and following military commandments and counsel, would have helped the Israelites to remain a mighty nation, because the Lord would have continued to help them. I believe that throughout the remainder of the old testament, we can see what results from the choice whether or not to following these commandments. The blessings of following commandments, can only be expected when we do what the Lord asks of us. We can learn this principle in Doctrine and Covenants 130:

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Likewise, we read the following in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10, which reads, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” I am grateful for this promise from the Lord. I know it applies to all his commandments and the blessings that would come from following them. I hold fast to the hope that this gives me, and that hope gives me the courage to strive to follow the commandments each day.

Deuteronomy Chapter 12

At this point, Moses continued his sermons to the Israelites, as they prepare to gain the promised land. I am imagining this sermon as being given at a large conference of the elders of the Israelites. And then, its being recorded and taken to the different tribes to be heard by all the people. I think it helps to imagine this kind of setting because it helps me to think of it, like a general conference for our day. We have a conference, where the prophet and apostles give us the word of the Lord for our day. If I was an Israelite at this time, how would I have responded to the instruction and commandments that were being given to me? Likewise, how do I respond to the counsel given to me at conferences I attend or watch? What can we learn from this example? This chapter begins:

1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

The first thing established in this chapter, is that the children of Israel were commanded to destroy all the places of worship that existed in the land. Nothing was to remain of the idols, altars, pillars, or groves where the other nations served the false gods they followed. Anything that remained would have been a temptation for those who may have been quick to return to the old ways of worship, and therefore cause them to lose the promises of their fathers.

4 Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God.
5 But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
7 And there ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.

There was only one location where it was authorized by the Lord, to bring their offerings and make their sacrifices. Just as they only had one tabernacle in that time, they would eventually only have one temple designed and sanctified for the purposes of the Lord. I like the call to be grateful or to rejoice in the things that the Lord had blessed them. Our gratitude to the Lord for the blessings He continues to give, is one of the things that keeps our hearts turned to Him continually. When we forget to be grateful to Him, we begin to forget the Lord and turn to other things for our worship.

8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you.
10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
11 Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord:
12 And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.
13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
14 But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
15 Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.

The commandment was that their lives would require commitment to the will of the Lord and they were not to follow after their own ideas of righteousness. Eventually, they would all be established in the land of promise, and have peace from their enemies. At that time, the Lord would establish the place for their worship. They were not to make a habit of making offerings along the way, in places that had not been established by God for their sacrifices to God. There would have been many places built up by the other nations, for the purpose of making offering to gods. Even they themselves were not to build up places of sacrifice to the Lord. They had already received very strict laws regarding the proper place and order to the ordinance of sacrifice. They were however, allowed to eat whatever meat they wished, where they wished, which the Lord had blessed them with, so long as it was not to be an offering to the Lord. They were commanded specifically that they were not to eat blood.

17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18 But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.

They were commanded that they were not to eat the tithes or offerings in their own homes. These things were only to be eaten where the Lord established a place of worship. They were also reminded that they were not to forsake the Levites, who were provided for entirely by the offerings given by the people.

20 When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
21 If the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the Lord hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.
23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.
24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.
25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord.
26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the Lord shall choose:
27 And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the Lord thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the Lord thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh.
28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God.

These commandments applied to all those who would live close to the established place of worship, as well as those who lived far from it. They were allowed to eat what they chose, as long as they did not eat of blood. If they obeyed this commandment to refrain from eating blood, the Lord promised that things would go well for them and their families. Even if they were far away, they were to take the tithes and offerings to the place that the Lord designated for them.

Today, there are places of worship dedicated for the purpose of performing sacred ordinances, specifically His temples. The Lord will only recognize the work done, in the places that He has established, in the proper order and by the proper authority of the priesthood. We will be held accountable if we choose to perform any ordinances in a manner that is not according to the will of the Lord.

29 When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
31 Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

The Israelites needed to be careful not to follow after the ways of the people who inhabited the land before them. All that the other nations had done to worship their gods, was seen as an abomination to the Lord. They had even gone so far as to sacrifice their children by fire. The Israelites were not to adapt anything that the Lord had commanded them, to fit their own desires. They needed to follow the Lord’s commandments with strict obedience, in order to receive the blessings of the Lord. These were the standards that the Lord had set for them.

We have a need to follow this counsel today. Too often, people who have heard the commandments and the word of the Lord, as spoken by his modern prophets, decide that something does not apply to them. Too often, we think that we can adapt the will of the Lord to be more convenient or to fit into our lifestyles better. This is a great tool of the adversary, which pulls people away into sin. The commandments do not have gray areas. They are black and white, even if we do not want to see them as such. We are expected to follow with strict obedience, to those things that we are told to do. If we are unsure of how to understand those things that the are expected of us, we have the right to turn to the Lord and ask. In fact, this is what the Lord wants of us. When we ask sincerely, the Lord can give us personal guidance through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will not have us do anything that goes against the word of the Lord that has been received by the prophets. The Holy Ghost will teach us how our lives can be changed to follow the commandments, and bring the blessings we seek. In most cases, I think this is not something that is easy or convenient. Choosing to follow the Lord and His commandments will require sacrifices. For some of us, they may be easier to make because of our distance from the Lord. I believe, however, that the further we have to go, to make the required sacrifices that the Lord asks of us, the greater our blessings will be for being obedient. I am grateful for the courage that I have been blessed with in my life, to make some large sacrifices in order to draw closer to the Lord. I am a better person for it and my life has been greatly blessed because of it.

Deuteronomy Chapter 10

This portion of Deuteronomy, is the second to last sermon from Moses recorded in the books of Moses. In this sermon, the Israelites were reminded of the ten commandments, blessings that would come from God for the righteous, the importance of teaching the younger generations of the laws and blessings, the consequences of disobedience, the role of Moses as their mediator when they have rebelled, and more. This teaching continues as follows:

1 At that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood.
2 And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.
3 And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand.
4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me.
5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me.

Moses reminds the Israelites, that the Lord commanded him to prepare two new tablets after he had broken the first. After the Lord wrote on the tablets for the second time, though the second set were the lesser law (the ten commandments), they were to be placed in the ark, which contained the most sacred things of the Lord. The Joseph Smith translation of verse 2, reads, “And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest, save the words of the everlasting covenant of the holy priesthood, and thou shalt put them in the ark.”. (see also JST, Exodus 34) The everlasting covenant, was then reserved for a later time of restoration of the priesthood.

There is great value in keeping a physical record of sacred things. Only so many things recorded, will remain through great amounts of time, but I believe that as these sacred things are recorded on earth, the angels can record them in heaven, where they will be eternally. It is important for us to record sacred feelings and learning that we gain in this life, for our remembrance, and to be able to pass that learning on to our posterity.

6 And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead.
7 From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.

They are reminded of Aaron’s death and how his son Eleazar became the priest who served them in the tabernacle, in his place. Perhaps part of the reason that this needed remembering, was that the people needed to know that the Lord would not cause the priesthood go from among them as long as they were a righteous and God-fearing people. I think that they needed the rituals of worship in their lives, and seeing that God had caused that the ordinances could continue without interruption, meant they did not need to turn to another form of worship to fill that need.

8 At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.
9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, according as the Lord thy God promised him.
10 And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty nights; and the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also, and the Lord would not destroy thee.
11 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them.

The tribe of Levi were set apart to carry the ark of the covenant, and to serve with regard to the attending to the tabernacle. I love the reminder here, that they were also called to bless in the name of the Lord. Part of the duties of the Levitical Priesthood today, is to share the blessings of God with the people. I think that this is done by sharing the gospel and more so by physically laying their hands on individuals and blessing them. In this thing, men of the priesthood, are serving as the hands of the Lord on the earth today. This is such a beautiful honor and worthy of sacrificing to live a righteous life.

12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
15 Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
20 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
21 He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
22 Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

Moses taught the Israelites, that all the Lord required of them, was to love and serve Him. As a people, they had been chosen from all the nations, because their ancestors had been chosen. To show their love, the Israelites needed to be committed to the Lord by keeping the commandments and ordinances. They needed to keep them physically as well as in their hearts, purifying themselves and showing that they followed God. Moses taught them that God was not a respecter of persons, but had a love of all men. God had done many great things for them, including causing that they should multiply and become a great nation of people.

This is all the Lord asks of us as well. We are still commanded to love the Lord, with all our hearts, and to serve him all our days. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:5 we read, “Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.” The Savior taught us that we show our love, by following His laws, when he said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). We have been taught that we need to write these things in our hearts, or make them part of our very beings and character. In all this, we are not above any other when it comes to the love of God, and we are also commanded to love others as God loves them. The Savior taught us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” God will love those who follow him and is still no respecter of persons. He does not withhold his love, but He will not look upon sin with the least bit of allowance whether committed by those in His church, or the stranger. In Mosiah 2:24 we read, “…he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you…”. He has blessed us, and will continue to bless the righteous people today.

Deuteronomy Chapter 6

Moses taught the Israelites all that the Lord commanded him, as they prepared to enter the land of promise. As with most prophets throughout time, he explained God’s law and then told them the consequences of whether they chose to be followers of the law, or chose to turn away from it. His teachings and exhortations continue in this chapter.

1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

The reason for his teaching these things (commandments, statutes, and ordinances), was so that they would remember and reverence the Lord, the only true and living God. If they kept the commandments, they would have longer lives. I think also that this was a promise that their posterity would remain in the promised land for more generations.

3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
10 And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
12 Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
13 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
15 (For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Moses exhorts them to hearken to his words and be obedient to them, so that they would live blessed lives as they had already been promised by the Lord. He teaches them that there is only one Lord and they should love Him with their whole heart, soul and might. This is the first and greatest commandment, taught by the Lord in his ministry as well. In Mark 12:29-30 we read, “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” When we truly love the Lord with every part of us, being fully committed and dedicated to Him, we desire to follow his commandments and do right by Him. We cannot come to know and love the Lord in this way, unless we treasure His word and obey them.

Moses told the Israelites to teach his words, the commandments, to their children. This was not to be just an occasional sermon from parents and grandparents, but they were to continually teach them through their days. They were to teach their children at home and as they traveled, from morning until night. The teachings of Moses were to be present throughout their homes, and on their clothing as a continual reminder to them. If we truly want to remember the commandments and covenants we have made, we should place things in our lives that will help us to remember them. I once had a lesson where I was taught that everything in our homes (that we place on our shelves and walls) should be a reminder of something we know we should be thinking of. If our walls are covered with pictures of worldly things, that is what we will think about and that is where our hearts will turn. If instead, we can look at beautiful things that remind us of the temple, our families, our covenants and most of all, the Lord, we will be thinking of these things and our hearts will turn to them. I have put this into practice and I have noticed a great shift in my thoughts and actions every day.

The Israelites were to remember the Lord as they went into the promised land and received all the great blessings that others had worked for, which they were going to receive by the power of the Lord. Moses told them to watch themselves, and make sure they didn’t forget how they got there and receive those blessings. He teaches the Israelites again, to fear the Lord and to serve God and no other, so that they would not incur the wrath of the Lord which would lead to their destruction. The idea of forgetting is repeated a lot in the scriptures. Sometimes it seems to be a bit much, but I can recognize so much more something I did not see when I was younger, which is, just how easy it is to let ourselves get caught up in every day living. Sometimes the things we choose to fill our time each day, or the things which we need to do to provide for and nurture others, leads to our forgetting. One simple choice, possibly not a bad one, but not the best either, can draw our attention away. This is why it is so important to have the greater picture in mind. This is why I love Sundays so much. When life has gotten in the way, Sunday always brings me back to the focus I need to have. Taking the time to ponder, meditate, renew covenants, and have my spiritual tank refilled, helps me to remember. Also, a habit of daily study and prayer is a continual reminder of the Lord. I am so grateful to have this habit in my life, but I know that I must still be continually watchful that I do not forget and fall away to my own personal destruction.

16 Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.
18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers,
19 To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the Lord hath spoken.
20 And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord our God hath commanded you?
21 Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:
22 And the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:
23 And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.
24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

Moses commanded the children of Israel, to be diligent in keeping the commandments, testimonies, and statutes of the Lord. They were not to test and try the Lord. I think that part of this, was Moses teaching them that they had had miracles enough, to rely on the Lord. They were to ask God for those things that were according to His will and not their own. If they chose the right, they would be blessed to enter the promised land and with the Lord on their side, they would disperse all those who lived there before them. He told them to teach their children of these things, when they came to them and asked what the law was. The Israelites were to recognize and teach, that through the miracles and wonders the Lord provided they were delivered and preserved. And they were to teach that if they did these things, it would be for their righteousness.

We have been given promises in our day as well. I love the verses in Doctrine and Covenants 58, which say the following:

26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

When we choose to do good and those things that are right by God, we are promised great rewards in heaven. It all depends on the level of faith we have in the God, which we cannot see. Are we willing to follow the commandments based on the testimony of the prophets? Are we willing to believe in these stories of the bible and other scriptures, so much that we will give up pleasures and easier things? Do we believe that God knows what is best for us? Are we willing to trust His word, follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ, and live a righteous life? I have a strong hope in these things. I believe the words of the prophets, both of ancient and modern days. I believe that God is a living God, who desires for each of us to have the greatest happiness, both in this life and the life to come. Because I believe these things, I will strive to live the laws and keep the covenants that I have made with Him. I pray that those who read and hear the words of the Lord, can feel the truth in them, and will also strive to live a righteous and happy life.


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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