Posts Tagged 'Curses'



Deuteronomy Chapter 29

A covenant is a two-way promise we make with God, in which we promise to do something, such as be obedient, and He promises to bless us in return. God has made covenants with His people throughout the history of the world. We learn about the covenants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob early in the old testament, as well as those of the Israelites in the days when Moses initially led the people out of Egypt. When Moses was preparing the Israelites for entering the promised land, they were also expected to make a covenant with the Lord.

1 These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

In addition to the expectations along with the covenants of their fathers, this was their covenant with God.

2 And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land;
3 The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles:
4 Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.
6 Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the Lord your God.
7 And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them:
8 And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh.
9 Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.

The Israelites were reminded of the blessings of deliverance and care which the Lord had already blessed them with since living in and leaving Egypt. This reminder was to help them, so that they might desire continued blessings of prosperity. This promise of prosperity, is given to all people today who turn to the Lord, just as it has been given to the Lord’s people throughout time. When we make our own covenants of baptism and additionally when we make temple covenants afterwards, we have the same promise of prosperity in our lives. The Lord wants to bless those who want to follow Him and be obedient.

10 Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,
11 Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:
12 That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day:
13 That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

All of the people of Israel, including men of all positions, women, children and strangers among them, were gathered to make covenants with the Lord. In making covenants with the Lord, the Israelites would be established as the people of god, just as their fathers were.

14 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
15 But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:
16 (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by;
17 And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)
18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;
19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:
20 The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.

The covenants made on that day, were not only with those present, but with all those who would ever join with the children of Israel. It would have been easy for someone new there, to excuse away their sins by claiming they had never made the covenants with the Lord. The Lord would hold them to the same covenant and promise as those there that day, because otherwise the people would quickly fall away. Any man among them, who did not honor their covenants, would receive the same curses and consequences promised for disobedience.

21 And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:
22 So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid upon it;
23 And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:
24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
25 Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:
26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:
27 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:
28 And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.
29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

If the Israelites were disobedient, their land would be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed before. A land of brimstone is a land of burning, or destroyed by fire. A land of salt, is one where the land cannot bring forth plants to sustain the life. Their land would become a place of desolation. Then, the land and people of Israel, would stand as an example to others, who would question why the destruction had come. Others would know that the people had worshiped other Gods, and the Lord had been angry with them for forsaking the covenants they had made.

As a side note, I was thinking of the phrase “from the hewer of they wood unto the drawer of thy water”, found in verse 11, which I think is to say that men of every profession and lifestyle, were to be there and make this covenant with the Lord. The choice of words is interesting though, because it reminds me of the Savior himself.

Jesus-Portrait

A hewer of wood, is one who cuts wood, and I can’t help but think of the carpenter that the Lord was raised as in a physical sense. Then the drawer of water, was one who draws water, and again I can’t help but think of the many references to Christ and the spiritual living water he was raised to be. It causes me to think of how the covenants we make, require that we bring our whole soul to Christ, both the physical and the spiritual. We cannot make covenants wholly, without recognizing that they require very physical actions along with very spiritual thoughts. We cannot keep our covenants in a strictly physical sense, without doing anything spiritually. Likewise, we cannot keep our covenants by just being focused on the spiritual nature of them either. This is part of what it means to love the Lord with all our might, mind, and strength. In order to keep our covenants, we must live the letter of the law physically, as well as have a spiritual change of heart within us.

A covenant is not to be taken lightly. Part of their covenant was to teach the younger generations all of these things that Moses had taught them. The covenant was meant to continue through the generations, just as the covenants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Israelites would not continue to keep the covenants throughout their generations, and it would eventually bring about the destruction that the Lord promised to them. When we make our own covenants with the Lord, we would do well to remember the consequences and promises that accompany them. The Lord has said that we can hold on to the promises when we keep our covenants, but when we do not keep them, the promises are no longer ours. We read this in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10, which says, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” I have faith in the promised blessings of the Lord and find that it is becoming necessary to hold fast to the word of the Lord and strive continually to keep His commandments. I know that if we keep the commandments and remember the importance of our covenants, we will be blessed to prosper, just as the Israelites were blessed in their day.

Deuteronomy Chapter 28

Moses gave some sermons to the children of Israel, as they prepared to finally enter the promised land. After reminding them of the commandments, statutes, and ordinances contained in what we know to be the law of Moses, they made a covenant with the Lord, to keep this law. The message to the Israelites continues as follows:

1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
8 The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.
10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.
11 And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

If the Israelites were obedient to the commandments, the Lord would bless them above all the nations. God would bless them in abundance in their cities and in their fields. People, animals, and crops within their land would multiply in abundance. The blessing of the Lord, such as blessings of safety, would be upon them as they journeyed and as they remained in their own land. Their enemies would be destroyed or scattered by the Lord. They would be blessed with rain in its season, in such abundance, that they would be able to give to others and never need to borrow from them. In all things physical or temporal, the people would be blessed. Likewise, they would be blessed to be the people of the Lord if they remembered to keep His word. Others would fear them, as the people of the Lord, so long as they stayed on the straight and narrow path given to them by the Lord through the prophet Moses.

Just as there are blessings promised for being obedient, there are curses promised for being disobedient.

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.
21 The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.
22 The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
24 The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

The promise was that disobedience would bring a curse upon their land and fields. Their harvest would be cursed, they would have a cursing in the increase of people, animals, and crops. They would not have God’s blessing when they went to other lands, and they would not have it in their own land either. All things they worked to do, would be cursed until they perished due to their own wicked choices. They would be cursed with pestilence, sicknesses, wars and fighting, and mildew until their death. Also, the Lord would curse them to not receive rain from heaven, but power and dust. I am imagining that instead of rain, their would be dust and sand storms.

25 The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.
27 The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.
28 The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:
29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

The curses continue, with their enemies being able to destroy and scatter them throughout the earth. They would be cursed with incurable diseases, madness and blindness. They would be cursed with oppression without deliverance.

30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.
31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.
32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.
33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:
34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

If they were disobedient, they would be cursed to loose their wives, homes and vineyards to other men and nations. Their flocks and other animals, would be removed from them and they would not be able to retrieve them. Their children would be taken from them and they would mourn all the time for them, being helpless in preventing it from happening. All that they had been blessed with, would be taken and destroyed, which would bring them great heartache and madness.

35 The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.
36 The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.
37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.
38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.
39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.
41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.
42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.
43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.
44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

Another curse the disobedient would receive, was an incurable botch (like leprosy or boils) would inflict them over their entire body. Other nations would rule over them and force them to serve other gods, just as they had done in the land of Egypt. Other nations would know the Israelites for the curses that had come upon them. Their punishments would then stand as an example to all the world, of what happens when the covenant people disobey the Lord. Additionally, they would work much harder, and not see the fruits of their labor because of locusts, worms, bad fruit and so on. Their children would be taken into captivity and others would take from them without allowing them to borrow in their need.

45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:
46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

The Israelites would only have these curses if they would not hearken to the Lord and keep the law they had received by covenant. The results of this, would be carried with their people forever. They would be cursed for failing to serve the Lord and appreciate the many blessings that they would receive. Instead of great things, they would be forced to serve their enemies and remain in some type of bondage until they were destroyed.

49 The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;
50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

A nation would be brought against them, or the Lord would allow a fierce nation, to come against them. This nation would not show any favor to the old or young, but would take all their animals and crops until the Israelites had no more for themselves. The Israelites and their kingdom, would be destroyed by this fierce nation.

53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:
54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:
55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.
56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,
57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

The curse continues with a promise that they would eat their own children, because of the enemies that would come against them. Therefore, they would have cause to hate and fear one another, even those they had loved. Likewise, their wives would hate and fear their husbands and children.

58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;
59 Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.
61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.
63 And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.
64 And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.
65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:
67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
68 And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

The Israelites would have reason to truly fear God, if they chose a life of disobedience to the law. The promised curses of plagues and sicknesses would last a long time, for them and the generations which followed. Things that they had worried about in the land of Egypt, would afflict them sorely until their destruction came. Instead of being numbered as the stars, they would dwindle to just a few souls. If they were disobedient, they would be scattered across the earth, where they would serve all the false gods of the world. They would never find peace or rest where they were, but would feel awful things, such as sorrow and fear for their lives. The Lord would allow them to return to the physical bondage they were in before while in Egypt.

I find it interesting that the portion that teaches the simple, yet amazing blessings for being obedient, is so much shorter then the description of the awful things that awaited their disobedience. I think that it requires a greater faith and hope in the possibility of the promised blessings, and so less description requires that individuals seek harder and more diligently to recognize these righteous blessings in their lives. It would have been hard to miss noticing the results of their disobedience. Sadly, the Israelites struggled to remain faithful to their covenants, and these curses eventually came upon them to their own destruction.

We are not immune to these things in our own day. The promises of great blessings that are given to those who make covenants with the Lord today, only hold for those who are obedient. When we choose to be disobedient, negative and destructive consequences will follow. Sometimes, we fail to see the consequences of our own choice to be disobedient to the laws of God. It may be easier, to place the blame of our problems on others, instead of seeing the results of our own choices. I think this is part of why a strong foundation in the gospel is so important, because there is a chance we might then recognize how we bring things upon ourselves. Hopefully, then we can make the necessary changes by turning back to God, repenting of our sins, and trying harder to live his law each day. I am so grateful for the countless blessings that the Lord has given me and my family. I know that in trying to do what is right, and in following the promptings of the spirit, we have been blessed beyond what we thought possible. I watch loved ones suffer from the consequences of poor choices, and my heart aches for them to understand what they could be blessed with if they turned back to the Lord. I know that it is possible for all people to be a happier, more blessed and peaceful people, if the Lord’s commandments would be followed more fully.

Deuteronomy Chapter 27

The children of Israel had heard the laws of God from the prophet Moses, and had made covenants with the Lord, that they would keep this law and God would in turn bless them and their families in the land of promise. At this time, they were still camped on the Eastern side of the Jordan, preparing to enter the land that had been promised to them through the blessings of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This chapter begins with the following:

1 And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.
2 And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster:
3 And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee.
4 Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster.
5 And there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.
6 Thou shalt build the altar of the Lord thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord thy God:
7 And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the Lord thy God.
8 And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.

The Israelites were given the commandment to follow the law of Moses. As a memorial, they were commanded to establish a monument of stones just after they would cross the Jordan. These stones were to have the law written upon them. Then they would go into the land of inheritance and build and altar there. They were commanded that the altar was to be of stones that had not required the use of iron tools, but were whole. They were to use this unpolluted altar, to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. This ritual of giving of their offerings was a way of showing their gratitude to the Lord for allowing them to finally enter the land of promise. Likewise, when we give of our own offerings to the Lord, especially when prayers are answered and blessings received, we show gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done for us.

It is so important to build up our own monuments in our lives, in order to remember the Lord’s promises and blessings. This is another lesson for me, of the importance of putting things in my home that remind me of what is really important to the Lord, and what should be important to me. If we fill our homes with things that remind of us worldly things, or those things that are not really of any lasting value, those will be the things that we remember on a daily basis. It’s the difference between putting up a poster of our favorite sports celebrity or entertainer, and a picture of the temple where we want to make, or have made, sacred covenants with God. Not that a picture of temporal things is bad, but how much more are we focused on those things in comparison to the things of eternal importance. What will our mind think about throughout the day, if we choose to place reminders around us of our families, covenants, and the Lord? I am grateful for the reminders in my own life, which keep me in remembrance of those things that I know are of the greatest importance.

9 And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God.
10 Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the Lord thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.

As covenant people of the Lord, the Israelites were the Lord’s people. As such, the Israelites were held to the higher standard and expected to keep all the commandments of the law. When we make covenants with the Lord, we become His people as well, and therefore are also held to the standard of keeping His commandments.

11 And Moses charged the people the same day, saying,
12 These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:
13 And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

Those who were representatives of all of the tribes of Israel, I am guessing the Elders of the tribes, were charged with what I think was consecrating the land and the people of the land. They were to proclaim a blessing from mount Gerizim and a curse from mount Ebal.

14 And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
16 Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
18 Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.
19 Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
20 Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.
22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
23 Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.
24 Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.
25 Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.
26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

After the blessing and the curse were proclaimed upon the people and the land, the Levites were to proclaim a cursing upon all those who did wickedly in the land. With each declaration of wickedness, the people were to answer the priests with Amen, I believe as they made covenants to abstain from these evil things. Among the acts of wickedness, were making secret idols, disgracing or dishonoring parents, changing their neighbors inherited property borders, being a stumbling block to the blind, perverting the just acts with regard to strangers, fatherless and widows, committing adultery with their mothers or sisters, performing sexual acts with animals, murdering their neighbors, or being paid to kill another. In other words, these were the people of God, and any who ever did wickedly and went against the law, were to be cursed by this proclamation given by the priests.

It is a good thing to dedicate lands to the Lord and His holiness and purposes. Likewise, it is good for places of worship to also be dedicated. Our homes should also be places dedicated to the Lord and His work. Dedication of these places, is our promise to use them in the way the Lord intended, and it invites and allows the spirit of the Lord to dwell among us, so long as we are faithful to the commandments of the Lord. Moreover, we can make covenants in order to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and His work. When we do this, we too are able to have the spirit of the Lord dwell with us all the time, if we remain faithful to the commandments of God.

Deuteronomy Chapter 21

In this portion of the sermons given by Moses, to the Israelites, he was teaching some of the specific commandments from what we call the law of Moses. There were hundreds of rules to the law of Moses, and He needed to review them before leaving the people to settle the land without him there. In the last couple of chapters, he already explained the difference between murder and manslaughter, how each should be punished differently, the law of witnesses, treatment for false witnesses, and some laws for the Israelite army. He continued in this chapter, with more regarding laws having to do with murder.

1 If one be found slain in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him:
2 Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain:
3 And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke;
4 And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley:
5 And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the Lord thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the Lord; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried:
6 And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley:
7 And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it.
8 Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them.
9 So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord.

In the case of a murder where there are no witnesses to say who had killed the person, the judges and elders were to determine which city was closest in proximity, to the death. An unused or unworked heifer (young female calf) from that nearest city, was to be taken to a rough valley without fields, and break it’s neck. The Levite priests were to solve the controversy, and make an atonement for the people, by having the elders near the heifer, wash their hands over it as a witness that they had not committed the murder or witnessed it. The elders were also to ask that Israel not be held accountable for the murder. When they did this, the elders would make the necessary amends for the murder, and having done their part, the Lord would forgive Israel of it. This was important, because it had already been established in the law, that those who knew of a murderer and did not hold that person accountable, would be held accountable by the Lord.

10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

Men who wanted to marry a woman taken captive from an enemy nation, were to have her go through a month-long ritual first. After he took her to his home, she was to shave her head, cut her nails and change her clothes. Then, after waiting a month while she mourned for the separation from her family, he could marry her. If he decided then, that this was not what he wanted, he could not sell or treat her badly, but was to let her go free.

15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:
16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:
17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

The laws regarding the inheritance of the firstborn, were to remain in place, even if that child was not from the beloved wife of a man. This meant that no matter what, the literal first-born son of a man, was to receive a double-portion of the inheritance. Children were not to be treated unfairly, just because the were from an unloved or less liked wife.

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

A stubborn or rebellious child was to be taken to the elders of the city for disobedience to the parents. The charge of disobedience from a child, was to be punished by being put to death by stoning. We live in a time, when this would not be an acceptable way to deal with a child, but as I get older, I can see the great importance of obedience to parents. I believe that one of the signs of the times, meaning one of the things that shows us we are drawing nearer to the second coming of Christ, is that children will stop listening to their elders and turn to their own wisdom. I cannot remember where I learned this, so I have no scripture reference for it. It does make sense as to a great falling away of the youth of the last generation. As I watch my friends and family, who have children just entering adulthood, I am seeing the fulfillment of this. It is heartbreaking to see them begin to ignore the rules and counsel of their parents while still in their youth. It is as if, many of the youth these days, think that having agency means that they do not owe respect and reverence to anyone, especially not to their parents and grandparents. This is part of the breaking down of the family, which does not end when one becomes an adult, but is designed to continue forever. When children turn from their parents, they become easier prey for the adversary. Since, they are the leaders of the future here in mortality, their falling away from obedience, and therefore, righteousness, will lead to apostasy of great numbers of the children of God.

22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

When a guilty person was punished by hanging on a tree, they were to remove his body that same day so that the land would not be defiled. This is an interesting thing to learn. In my study of the ancient lands in that area, I have learned that it was a common thing for the guilty to be left hanging for a long time, so that others would know and fear the consequences for their wrong choices. In the footnote to verse 23, it reads, “According to Rabbinical commentaries, to leave a body hanging was a degradation of the human body and therefore an affront to God, in whose image man’s body was made.” The Israelites were not to do anything that would defile the holiness of the land of promise and they were not to disrespect the body of the dead in this way. This standard was applied, when the Savior was crucified. His body was not to be left on the tree, or on the cross, and so the soldiers checked to see if He was dead. Those that were hung on a tree, were considered cursed by God. In Galatians 3:13 it reads, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” The curse must have been a part of the law of Moses, which was then fulfilled by the sacrifice of the Savior. Just another thing that was there to continually draw the Israelites to Christ. I am glad that I can live in a day to be able to look back and see how much of the scriptures testify of Christ and witness of Him. I hope that I am able to find those things in my life, that are meant to draw my attention and desires to the Lord as well.

Deuteronomy Chapter 11

Moses continued to instruct the Israelites on the laws, statutes, and ordinances of the Lord, in preparation for their gaining the promised land. These things were so important for them in that day, just as they are important for us to learn of now. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
2 And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;
4 And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day;
5 And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place;
6 And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel:
7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.
8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

This message was directed towards those adults, who had experienced the miracles and wonders of the Lord during the long journey in the wilderness. Because they had witnessed so much and been greatly blessed by the Lord, He could have greater expectations of them. It is such a blessing and a huge responsibility to have made covenants with the Lord. When we do this, and learn truth through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, we are held to a higher standard than those who have not. One of the things that gives me great peace of mind, is knowing that we will each be judged for what the Lord knows we have a knowledge of. I will not be judged for the same understanding as the prophets who have witnessed greater things, but I will be judged for an understanding that is greater than those who have gone without the gospel in their lives. The Lord was not going to hold the children of the Israelites to the same standard as those who had seen the waters of the Red Sea part, and had witnessed the ground open up when men had openly rebelled against Moses and the word of the Lord.

The Lord wanted the people to follow His commandments, so that they could be blessed with strength. The strength they needed was both physical and spiritual strength (strong of heart, strong in the faith, and strong in spirit). If they did this, the Lord could answer his promise to their ancestors and allow them to inherit the promised land. This was a promise of a loving God, who desired to give blessings. I believe this promise of the fathers, is still a promise today that will be fulfilled completely, when all the people will come to know that Jesus is the Christ, and will turn to Him in faith. Our Father in Heaven loves us also and desires to give us all the blessings He has. Likewise, we are expected to keep His commandments. Modern revelation teaches us of this same commandment to love the Lord. 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.” Our own promised land will be the blessing for those who remember to keep these things.

10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
12 A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

The promised land was beautiful and had plenty of rain water to provide for the land and people. As the land of promise, the Lord watched over it and cared for it. I am sure that He continues to watch over that land today. I believe that there is a “promised land” awaiting us after this life. We are promised that the blessings of the celestial kingdom will be the greatest that God gives. He has prepared it for us, and is caring for it now, so that it will be a beautiful place of plenty for all those who earn that reward.

13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17 And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.

The children of Israel received a promise of the Lord, that if they would obey the commandments, particularly to love the Lord and serve Him completely, they would have rain in its season. The land would bring forth good harvest, and the fields would be good for their cattle. The people were warned to watch for being deceived in their hearts, to turn to other gods. Serving other gods would bring the wrath of God upon them and remove these promised blessings, leaving them to perish. I think that the fulfillment of either of these promises would show that the earth is the Lord’s and He has power over it and the elements which provide for it. He still has this power today, and I know that we can be blessed with rain and good harvest for our righteousness today.

18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

These great promises required that they remember and cherish the words of the Lord, teaching them to their children at all times of the day, and keeping memorials on their person and around themselves as reminders. In doing this, they would be blessed with a multiplying of their days in the land, as well as the days of their children. This is another power and gift from God that he offered to the Israelites and can provide for His people today. I think that we will receive great blessings if we treasure the words of the Lord, both from the ancient and modern prophets. I believe that we are also greatly blessed by teaching our children and keeping reminders of these things around us as often as possible.

22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
23 Then will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

If they were obedient to the commandments, they were promised that nations would be driven out of the land. The Israelites would gain the land of great and mighty nations, wherever they would go. With the help of the Lord, nations would fear them even before they got there to drive them out of the land.

26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
29 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.
30 Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?
31 For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein.
32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.

Obedience would bring a blessing from the Lord and disobedience would bring a curse. The Israelites were to place a blessing on mount Gerizim, and a curse on mount Ebal. They would do this later, by reading the law of Moses and in a sense, dedicating the land to the Lord and to righteousness. They would be able to cross the Jordan River, posses the land and live there, as long as they were obedient.

Their is an eternal law of blessings, which teaches that when the Lord promises a blessing for a commandment, He is bound to give that blessing. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 130, where we can read:

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.

I think also, that when he promises a curse for failure to keep the commandments, He is bound to that curse, because the promises of God are perfect and complete. This is especially poignant for those who have made covenants with the Lord. Modern revelation found in verses such as Doctrine and Covenants 41:1, teach us this principle. “Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings.”

The mercy of the Lord, however, can be extended when we turn back to Him and keep His commandments. That mercy does not mean that we will not suffer something for our initial disobedience, but it does allow for us to receive forgiveness and eventual relief from the suffering we bring upon ourselves. I am grateful for the hope that promised blessings brings to my life. Moroni 10:32 reads, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” This gives me a great source of strength, when choosing to live righteously can seem so challenging.

Numbers Chapter 24

At this point in the book of Numbers, the Israelites were encamped in the area of Moab. They were seen as a huge threat to those who were already established in the land around them. The leader of the land was Balak and he had sought the help of Balaam in cursing and destroying the strangers. Balaam had already told Balak that the people of Israel were blessed of God and would not be cursed, but that did not stop them from making sacrifices to God a second and third time in hopes that God would change his mind. You can read more about the first part of the story of Balaam and Balak, in Numbers 22 and 23. This chapter begins:

1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.
3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!
6 As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.
7 He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.

God had given Balaam the words to bless Israel twice already. He knew that God would not change his mind with this third attempt to curse the Israelites, so he stood towards the wilderness and saw the tents of the Israelites. God opened a vision to Balaam, where he saw the goodness of Israel. I can’t imagine just how grand the site of the hundreds of thousands of these migrating people organized into family tribes, with flags near their tents, surrounding the tabernacle. I think that for the time, it must have been a beautiful site. Balaam saw the greatness of the kingdom of Israel. The footnote for verse seven shows the Hebrew phrase, “Water shall flow from his branches.” This is such beautiful imagery for the growth of Israel and the idea that eventually, the Israelites would spread across the many waters. The king of Israel, would be greater then king Agag of the Amalekites. He saw them destroy their enemy nations. He said that those who blessed Israel, would be blessed, and those that cursed them, would be cursed.

10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.
11 Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honour.
12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,
13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak?
14 And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

Balak was really angry at this prophesy of the blessing of Israel. He claps his hands together. I think I can kind of imagine the unspoken cry, “Enough!” He told Balaam to flee back to his home. Balak would not honor him, but told Balaam to blame his God for keeping the honor from him. Balaam reminded Balak that he had already told the messengers of Balak that he could not go against the word of the Lord, even if he was offered a house full of silver and gold. Balaam would go to his own people, but first, he would tell them their destiny as it related to the people of Balak.

15 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
16 He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.
19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.

Balaam told Balak that he had a vision, that there would come a star of Jacob, and a sceptre would rise out of Israel. He was telling of Jesus Christ.

Jesus-Portrait

He told them that Christ would come in a time after his own time. I think the star of Jacob would be considered one of the prophesies of Christ’s birth, when there would be a new star in the heavens. As well as, a prophesy that Christ would come of the line of Jacob. And the scepter, is a prophesy that Christ would be the ruler of the people and would come from the tribes of Israel. Christ would possess or have power over his enemies. He would come and destroy Moab and the people of Sheth, taking possession of the land, having dominion, and destroying any who still lived in the land.

20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.
21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.
22 Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.
23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!
24 And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.
25 And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.

Balaam told them that the people of Amalek were the first nation, and it had been the first of the nations that Israel fought against and defeated. In the end the Amalekites would perish. The people of the Kenites, even with their strength, would be wasted and carried away captive to Asshur. Then, those living who stood against the Lord’s covenant, would be afflicted and perish. I think this applies to even those of the Israelites who would turn away from the covenant and their Lord, seeking after things like false gods. After Balaam told Balak these things, they both went their own ways.

Balaam had finished speaking the words the Lord gave him to speak. I am sure that this was a difficult thing for him to do. In 2 Peter 2, we read the following:

15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

Balaam had a love of the wealth of the world, and had it not been for divine intervention, he would have gone and probably cursed them as Balak wanted him to do. However, in the book of Revelation we read of something further on this. In Revelation 2:14, we read, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” I am guessing that in order to leave with some of the honors that had been promised to him, Balaam added words of advice on how the Moabites could still bring down their enemy Israel. I’m not sure why this isn’t part of what is shared in this chapter of Numbers, but we will see in the upcoming chapter, that some of the Israelites were led away into these evil ways of fornication of sacrificing to idols. These people of Israel, will not be spared from the wrath of God upon them. This addition to what Balaam spoke, is an example of how Satan sometimes convinces us to twist or distort what is right, with a way for us to justify our actions. Balaam had done as the angel commanded, but for his own selfish purposes, had followed it up with his own counsel to Balak.

We should recognize the effects of what Balaam did, both the good and bad. He did give counsel to help enemies of Israel bring some of them down. However, Balaam also was the instrument in the Lord’s hands, to give great prophecies of the coming of Christ. Many would look to these words for generations, and find hope in their fulfillment. I believe that the prophecies of the coming of Christ, were indeed fulfilled. I think that part of this prophesy regarding the reign of Christ as a king over the people, is still to be completed. I look forward to his second coming and the day when he will reign over all the earth in righteousness and glory.

Numbers Chapter 23

At this time, the Israelites were in the land of Moab, encamped across the Jordan River from Jericho. In the previous chapter, we learned of two men, Balak and Balaam. Balak was the ruler of the land which the Israelites were encamped in, and he was afraid that they were going to destroy his people and take the land. Balaam, was a servant of the Lord, who was known in the land to be favored of God. He had been asked to curse the people of Israel, and God had told him no because they were a blessed people. Balaam was told not to go to Balak, but he went against the word of the Lord and was chastised by an angel along the way. He was told then, to go to Balak and speak the words the Lord commanded him to speak.

1 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams.
2 And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram.
3 And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the Lord will come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high place.
4 And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram.
5 And the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.
6 And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.
7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.
8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!
11 And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.
12 And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth?
13 And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence.

Balak had taken Balaam to look out over the people. Balaam ordered Balak to prepare seven altars for sacrifice. They offered seven sacrifices, one upon each altar. Balaam instructed Balak to stay with the burnt offerings, and he was going to go to a higher place, to see if the Lord would speak to Him with instructions for Balak. The Lord gave Balaam the words he should speak to Balak. Balak was with the leaders of Moab, and Balaam spoke to all of them. He told them that Balak had brought him there to curse or speak against Israel, but God did not curse the Israelites and he could not curse those that God did not. He also told them that the Israelites would not live among the people, but would be separated from the nations, and would be a great people. Balak was not happy about the answer he had been given, because instead of cursing, Balaam had blessed Israel. Balaam told him he had to say what the Lord told him to say. Balak, still determined to have him curse the people, told him to go with to a place where they could see the Israelites and curse them.

14 And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.
15 And he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meet the Lord yonder.
16 And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.
17 And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the Lord spoken?
18 And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
23 Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
24 Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.

Balaam was taken to the lookout point or field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, where again they built seven altars and offered sacrifice. Balaam told him again to stay with the offerings while he went to speak with the Lord. Again, Balaam was given the words to speak to Balak and the other leaders of Moab. Balaam said that Balak should listen to his words and that God was not a liar and He has no need to repent, or take back what he had said before. He said that God had always held to His word. Balaam told them that he had been commanded to bless Israel and could not take it back. The people of Jacob were not bad people, and the Lord was with them. He told them that God had been the one to bring them out of Egypt and He was their strength. Nothing could be done against the Israelites, because of the things that God had done and would do for them. He promised Balak and the leaders of Moab, that Israel would be a great people, who would rise up and destroy their prey.

25 And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.
26 But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the Lord speaketh, that I must do?

Balak was upset and told Balaam not to curse them or bless them. Balaam told him that he must say what the Lord told him to say.

27 And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence.
28 And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon.
29 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams.
30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.

Balak took Balaam to another place, at the top of Peor, looking toward Jeshimon, or overlooking the desert, in hopes of again asking for Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam had him go through the same ritual of building seven altars and making sacrifice on each one. This is where this chapter ends.

Balak was a persistent man, who on one hand, believed strongly in the power of Balaam to curse people to destruction, and on the other hand, must not have believed that the God of Balaam was the all-powerful, unchanging God, who Balaam had said He was. I can’t imagine that this approach was going to go well for Balak or for Balaam. However, I cannot help but think that the eternal reward for Balak could be greater than that given to those who have a knowledge or understanding of the nature of God, and still behave like this. Do we sometimes think that God has not given us the answer that was meant for us? Sometimes, even when we know what we should do, we question it and push the Lord to change, like Balaam. I know that most of us have done this to our earthly parents at one time or another, we have probably done it a time or two to God as well. Balaam had learned that questioning the answer given to him from the Lord was not the right thing to do. He had to do the harder thing of speaking in front of those whom he could have avoided altogether, if he had hearkened to the word of the Lord in the first place. It seems that even at that point, he still tried to change the Lord’s answer by offering several sacrifices. Balaam had been told already that Israel was a blessed people and he would not curse them, when he was at him home. He could have gone to Balak and the other leaders of Moab, and told them outright that he would not curse those whom God did not curse. Still, he kept trying to persuade God.

God knows what is best for us. When He answers our prayers, He gives us the right answer. When we push for something else, He might just as well allow us to learn from it, and I am sure things will not go as well as we expect. I know that we are blessed in being obedient to the things that God tells us, even if we do not understand why we should do it. This is not blind obedience, because at least we can know that the outcome is great blessings, where the outcome of going against His word will bring some type of sorrow or pain, eventually. God is our eternal parent, all-knowling and loving beyond anything we can now imagine. I am sure He would like to spare us from the pain of our wrong choices, but if we want them badly enough, he will take a step back and allow us the opportunity to learn from those choices.

Leviticus Chapter 26

The commandments of God were given to the Israelite because they were His covenant people of ancient days. They are repeated time and time again throughout the scriptures so that we can know them and live them. We benefit greatly from the repetition of these things, just as a child benefits from hearing their ABC’s many times in order to learn how to read. The Lord continued his instructions and commandments in this chapter of Leviticus. It begins:

1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God.

The commandment to refrain from idolatry was given to the Israelites, in order that they might worship God, the only true and living God. Pagan worshipping of many gods was the way of the world. They had come from it in Egypt and they would see it in the world around them even as they lived in the promised land. Idolatry is the easy way out. It is easy to look to a statue, bow to it, make sacrifices to it and even to owe blessings to it, because it is some physical thing one can see and touch. It requires a greater faith, to never see God and to look to Him, bow and worship Him, make sacrifices to Him, and give thanks to Him for all the blessings given.

2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

The Lord had established the sabbaths for man, and the Israelites were commanded to keep them holy and treat the Lord’s holy house with reverence.

3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
13 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.

Physical, or temporal, blessings would result from keeping the statutes and commandments of the Lord. It is an amazing blessing to know that one’s crops will give in abundance, that there will be rain when needed, that growing of crops will lead to the fullest harvest, and that there will be plenty of food. Moreover, it is a blessing to know that there will be safety in the land, that there will peace and not fear of others, that there will be no evil beasts, that there will be no fighting with the sword, and that enemies will be stopped and flee. Anyone would want these things, because without these blessings there is a real threat to happiness and peace. All the Israelites would need to do, was to follow His laws. God would do this for them, because they had made covenants with Him. He would bless them with the tabernacle, and His spirit would be there with them. He would bless them to become a great nation, just as had been promised to their covenant fathers of old.

14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.

Quite the opposite would result, if they chose to disobey the laws of the Lord. If they broke the covenants they had made with him, God would allow the terrors of life and great sickness to come among them. The would be cursed to plant crops and not be able to harvest them because of enemies. He would take His spirit from among them, and they would no longer have His protection from their enemies. There would be fear in their hearts. God would punish and chastise them, causing them to be broken as to their pride and to use their strength to do work in vain.

21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

If the Israelites willingly disobeyed God, He would allow plagues to come among them in great number. Beasts would take their children and cattle, taking away the blessings of a great number in their nation. Few would walk along their high ways. God would allow war and pestilence to come to them. They would be brought into the bondage of their enemies.

26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

They would no longer be blessed with all the food they needed. Their would be famines. The food made for them would not satisfy their hunger. They would be chastised by God and take advantage of their families to survive. I’m not sure if this promise was that literally they would eat their loved ones, but I am pretty sure that at least it meant that they would be a blood-thirsty and selfish people. They would no longer care for the well-being of their loved ones, but would seek to save themselves, even if it meant killing or destroying others.

30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.
32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.

All the things that they would have come to worship and adore, would be destroyed. Their great cities would be destroyed and their temples and sacrifices will be gone. The Lord would no longer accept of things they sacrificed to Him. The land would become a land of desolation. The Israelites would be scattered among other nations and killed. Their beloved promised land would be wasted and without them, while they would be forced to live in lands of their enemies.

36 And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.
37 And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.

Those who were once a strong and mighty people, would then be faint of heart. They would fear for their lives even when no one would come after them. They would be weak in the face of their enemies and die among them. All of these promises of destruction, remind me a lot of the prophecies of Isaiah. He described in great detail the destruction that would come to the unrighteous and rebellious children of Israel. His voice of warning was repeated many times and yet, they still rebelled and were scattered throughout the world. Those warnings are important for our time as well.

39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.
45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.
46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

Any that remained living, would live with their enemies and waste away their lives in the consequences of their sins. However, if they would then confess what they and their fathers had done to God, recognizing that their sins were the cause of their destruction and loss of the spirit of God, becoming humble of heart and accepting of the punishment they deserve, then God would remember them. God would remember the covenants He made with their fathers, even Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would remember the promised land of their inheritance. Then, God would be merciful to them while they lived in the land of their enemies. God would recognize the covenants that these Israelites made while encamped around mount Sinai.

The gifts of God are still ours today, if we will hearken to this counsel and keep the commandments and statutes of God. When we make covenants and live them every day, the Lord will give us more gifts than we can recognize with our mortal eyes. In Doctrine and Covenants 130 we read:

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.

Blessings must follow righteous living, because the Lord is bound to his part of the covenants we make (see Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). Likewise, the Lord will withhold his blessings if we choose to disobey His law, or fall away into apostasy. We cannot think ourselves above that in our time. The Lord is no respecter of persons. When the early saints of this dispensation were made to suffer greatly at the hands of their enemies, the Lord answered the prayer of the prophet, Joseph Smith, with the following found in Doctrine and Covenants 101:

1 Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance—
2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.
4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.
5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
6 Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
7 They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.

The saints had disobeyed the commandments given to them along with their covenants, and the Lord allowed them to be afflicted and chastened because of it. The Lord also said the following found in Doctrine and Covenants 43:25 which reads, “How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” We cannot live as though these things do not apply to our day. The Lord has promised us, in Doctrine and Covenants 103:8, “But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them.”

I hope and pray that the saints will remain faithful and strong in these latter-days. I know that times are going to get worse before they get better with the coming of the Savior. I am grateful that the Lord promises us safety and blessings through faithfully keeping his commandments, because I know that He is greater than anything that may threaten our lives. I know that if we put our trust in God, He will be there for us.

Leviticus Chapter 20

The book of Leviticus teaches the laws and rites of the law of Moses, and a lot of it is repeated several times. This chapter is no exception. These laws were revealed to the children of Israel as they were in the wilderness, so that they would be His holy people, thus the need for repetition. The book continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
3 And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
4 And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
5 Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.

The Lord commands that the death penalty be the punishment for any who sacrificed their children to Molech. I think that Molech was a devil-god of Biblical times. Some of the canaanites and other people were superstitious of Molech and so they made child sacrifices to him by fire. Those who did this, were to be put to death by stoning for their sacrilegious sacrifice against God and his holy name. Anyone who knew of this and looked the other way were to be cut off from the people of God. His sin would be carried not only by himself, but by his family and any who followed after him. Any who followed after the ideas of Molech, were also cut off from the people. This was probably going to be a real temptation for the Israelites as they were returning to the promised land.

6 And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

The Lord would turn from any who sought after wizards and speaking with the dead or evil spirits. They would be excommunicated from His people.

7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God.
8 And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you.

Those who live according to the commandments of God, seeking to be holy by turning to Him each day, would be sanctified by the Lord. This remains true for us today as well. Every day that we try our best to do those things that the Lord has commanded, we become a little more sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

Those who cursed their father and mother were to suffer the death penalty and would would eventually be held accountable for it. I learned that in biblical times, the word curse often meant that one would withdraw. When the Lord cursed the people, He would withdraw his blessings and protection. I think that this same principle applies with our parents. We curse them, when we refuse to be there for them and separate ourselves purposely from them. There were those who would refuse to take care of their parents when they needed it, as I am sure there are many who do the same today. We have a duty as members of our family to take care of one another. God placed us here as families for a reason. If our parents need us, we need to be there for them, as they have been there for us as we have grown.

10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
12 And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.
13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.
18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
19 And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.
20 And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
21 And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

Those who committed adultery of any kind, were to be put to death, and they would be held accountable for this sin. Any homosexual behavior was worthy of the death punishment. All involved were to be put to death if a man had intimate relations with a woman and her mother. Any who participated in bestiality were also to be put to death. A brother and sister who became intimate were to be publicly cut off or excommunicated from the people. Those who were intimate when a woman was considered unclean, were also cut off from the people. Intimate relationships between a man and his aunts were committing sin and it she was married, they were to be put to death. Also, those sinful relations between a man and his sister-in-law, were unclean, impure and unholy, and would leave them childless.

22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.
25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

The promised land was being prepared for the holy people of God. Anyone who wished to remain there, needed to live in holiness to the Lord. The Lord admonished them to keep His commandments, so that they might live in the land. They were not to follow after the ways of the world, as the nations who he would cast out of the land for them. They were a people separate from the world, because they were the chosen people of God. They were commanded to make a distinction between those things that were clean and unclean, like animals, and they were not to partake of those things that were considered unclean by the Lord. If they would keep the commandments, they would be the holy people of the Lord, who were set apart from the world. We should all desire to be set apart from the world as the holy people of God.

27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

Again, those who sought to seek after the spirits of the dead, or what I think was called spiritualism, or had some kind of wicked spirit in them, were to be put to death by stoning. The individual would also be held accountable for this.

It may seem a bit much to repeat these commandments so frequently, but it is no different today. The prophets repeatedly tell us to keep the commandments of God. We hear lessons and talks given time and time again on the same topics. This is a basic pattern of learning for people. We need to hear something repeated many times for us to begin to gain an understanding of it. Some things will need to be taught to us many times over the course of our lives, before we will even start to grasp it in the way that our Father in Heaven does. If we get to a point where we say we have heard it enough and have learned it already, that is probably when we need to hear it most. I’ve heard it said that when the Lord stops inspiring our church leaders to teach us his commandments on a topic, is probably when we need to be concerned. It’s in those times that the trial of our faith will be tested by the Lord and we will either live to receive the rewards or we will reap destruction. I’m grateful for the frequent reminders of the commandments of God, which keep me in remembrance of how He would have me live. I know that if I can draw nearer to Him in holiness, I will be better prepared to live with Him again someday.

Exodus Chapter 7

Moses and Aaron have been called by the Lord, to deliver the children of Israel out of bondage. Pharaoh has already refused the request once and increased the workload for his slaves. The Lord told Moses that he would show his power and Pharaoh would eventually let them go. The story of the deliverance of the Israelites continues as follows:

1 And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.
3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
6 And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they.
7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

The Lord told Moses (according to the Joseph Smith Translation) that he had made Moses as God, or a prophet to Pharaoh, and Aaron was his spokesman. I think that the Lord was reminding Moses that this was His work, and He had done what He said He would do. He reminded them that they would be given the words by God and therefore given God’s authority to do this work. The words here say that the Lord would harden the heart of Pharaoh, but the Joseph Smith Translation corrects this to say that Pharaoh would harden his heart, just as the Lord has said he would. The Lord continued to promise that He would show his mighty works and wonders in the land of Egypt, if Pharaoh would not allow them to go free by their request alone. The Egyptians would come to see that the God of Moses and Aaron, or of the Israelites, was indeed the Lord who had made all things. The Egyptians worshipped many false Gods and gave them credit for the things that the Lord had made and done for them. They would have a witness of who God really was, and I am sure that witness would stand against them if they denied it. Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord. I love that they continue to go forward in faith that the Lord will provide they way for them.

8 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.

The Lord knew that Pharaoh would want a sign, and so he would give them a sign to show they acted with the power and authority of God. He told Moses to have Aaron throw his rod and that it would become a serpent in front of Pharaoh.

10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.
13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

Aaron’s rod was thrown before Pharaoh and his servants, just as the Lord had commanded, and it became a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do the same thing with the rods of every other man. These men were false priests who did many things by the powers of men and I am sure with the help of Satan. There tricks kept Pharaoh from recognizing the power of God where it truly was, but they were no match to the miracles of God. Aaron’s rod swallowed the serpents created from the other rods. Pharaoh remained unchanged and did not listen to them, just as the Lord had said he would.

14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.
15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.
16 And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.
17 Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.

Moses was commanded to go again to meet Pharaoh as he went down to the water, and Moses would again tell Pharaoh to let the people go so they could worship God. Knowing he would not listen, the Lord commanded that Moses take the rod and smite the Nile river with a curse. It would turn to blood and all the fish would die and make the river smell. This was one of the plagues that would be brought upon the people of Egypt. I think it’s interesting that Pharaoh said Moses and Aaron had brought the burdens on their people by asking for them to be let go, and then Pharaoh is treated likewise. It was the pride and stubborn attitude of Pharaoh, which brought the plagues upon the people of Egypt.

19 And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said.
23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.
24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.
25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the Lord had smitten the river.

I find it interesting that the Lord shows his power through the rod in the hand of Moses. His rod became a tool for great miracles of the priesthood. Today, the priesthood power is used through the laying on of hands, which is the way God has established it for man’s use. I am sure the power was in Moses and not in the rod itself, but the use of the rod was a tool of faith in action for Moses. Moses and Aaron obeyed and the water was cursed throughout the land, and was turned to blood. Pharaoh’s magicians did something like it as well, so Pharaoh again was not willing to listen to them. This curse of the water continued for seven days and the Egyptians had to find other ways to have something to drink.

In the time of Moses, the life of every individual relied heavily on the waters where they lived. Today, at least where I live, we have so many conveniences with water coming from other places, which they would not have dreamed of in ancient times. To put a plague on the water must have been a great curse to the people. The manual I am using along with this study, mentions that each plague was an attack on the false gods of Egypt. This first, being an attack on the god of the Nile. God will not take lightly the worship of others before Him. Anyone who knows the ten commandments, knows that this is one of the things that God values most. We have a duty to worship Him and none else. The higher law for us today, is that we must not worship any thing before God. Our lives must center around the Lord first and all other things will have their proper place. The world would have us put God last, or at least become so busy and active with things of this world (entertainment, media, recreation, addictions and so on) that we give less attention to Him who is most important. We could easily make the things of the world, the gods we worship. This is something that we must fight against each and every day of our lives. I think the most important thing to combat this, would be to remember Him. We need to say our prayers and keep the Lord in the front of our mind continually. This is not easy and takes a lot of work and effort on our part, but I am sure that in the bigger picture, we will receive the greatest blessings of all, if we do this.


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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