Posts Tagged 'Death'

2 Samuel Chapter 1

This is the beginning of a new book in the Old Testament, which is otherwise known as the Second Book of the Kings. According the the Bible Dictionary, this was part of the same book in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, but has been split in the version which is used in the King James version. I believe the split has to do with it being the record of two kings in Israel. In the narrative of the first book of Samuel or the First Book of the Kings, the people of Israel chose to have an earthly king rather than follow the prophets under the direction of the Lord. The first king, anointed by the Lord, was Saul. Saul allowed the influences of the world and the temptations of the adversary, to creep into his heart. He became a wicked man and the Lord withdrew from Him. David was chosen and anointed to be the next king, though he did not become the king right away. King Saul feared David and after several attempts at killing him, David showed his good character, and spared Saul’s life more than once. David trusted in the timing of the Lord. Eventually, Saul met his end in a battle against the Philistines. This second book will tell of the reign of David and it begins as follows:

1 Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
3 And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.
4 And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
5 And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?
6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:
12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.

David had been in his home in Ziklag, for just two days, when a man from Saul’s army, came mourning and he bowed down to David. The man told him that he was from the camp of Israel, and that he had escaped. He told David that the Israelites had fled and that many had died, including Saul and his son, Jonathan. When asked how he knew these things, the man said that he had seen Saul leaning upon his spear, as the Philistines came upon him. Saul saw the man and asked who he was. The man told him he was an Amalekite. He said that Saul told him to kill him, and so he did. The man took his crown and bracelet and brought them to David. David rent his clothes and fasted, in mourning for their king and for Jonathan, as well as all those who they had lost in that battle.

It seems that the Amalekite was making a claim to something happening in a way that the previous chapter told differently. It is my guess that the Amalekite hoped that in claiming to kill Saul, he would find favor in the sight of David, because it was known that Saul had made himself an enemy to David.

13 And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.
14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?
15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.
16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord’s anointed.

David asked the man where he was from, and the man told him he was an Amalekite stranger. Then David asked how he was able to kill the anointed of the Lord without any fear. I think in saying these things to the man, he was telling him that he was wrong to think that David would have been pleased to hear these tidings. Instead, David was prepared to punish the man for it. David commanded one of his men to kill this man who claimed to have killed Saul and he told him that he had brought this upon himself by his own testimony.

17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

David lamented over the death of Saul and Jonathan with a song to go with an instrument. This would have been fitting, since David had first served Saul in playing for him. I find it interesting that it says it was written in the book of Jasher, which is not one that we currently have in our Bible. This must be among the lost scriptures. It is always a wonder to me, all the things that we possibly do not know, because they are in the lost scriptures of the prophets of old.

The song of David tells the Israelites to not give the Philistines more opportunities to boast of how they had killed the mighty men of Israel. He sang of the mountains receiving no moisture where Saul, the anointed, had fallen. He praised both Jonathan and Saul and told Israel to weep for Saul who had brought them good fortune. He hints to the loyalty of Jonathan to his father, in spite of the things that we know Saul did to him, by saying that they were not divided in death. Jonathan was there to fight under the command of his king and his father. David mourned for the loss of Jonathan, whom he loved more dearly than he loved any woman. The Israelites had lost much in this fight.

It is good to know that, even though Saul had brought a lot of trials and tribulations into David’s life, he did not rejoice in his death. He knew that Saul had done many good things in his life, and that he had done a lot of good for Israel. He honored Saul, because Saul was his king, anointed by the Lord to be such, and he deserved great respect for it. David was not seeking after the throne or power. He was a man of honor and integrity, and at least at this point in his life, he was a great example to Israel.

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Deuteronomy Chapter 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy Chapter 14

Moses continues his final sermons to the Israelites, with a repeat of the law established when they were around Mount Sinai. There were many customs and rituals in their lives then, and a lot of things were not according to the design of the Lord for His people. This chapter begins with a review of the forbidden customs of mourning.

1 Ye are the children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
2 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

The Israelites, as the chosen people and children of God, had the promises of salvation for the righteous, promises which are eternal and do not end with mortal death. People of God should not make a show of mourning when loved ones die, by hurting themselves or removing part of their hair. I think that there should be hope found in death, along with the normal feelings of loss we experience. Death has never been a good reason for a person to purposely hurt the God-given gift of their body. Death is just a part of our eternal lives and should be seen as the opportunity to progress further. Those who are left behind by a loved one who dies, should allow themselves to naturally go through the mourning process without drawing this kind of unnecessary attention to their own personal suffering or sorrow.

3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
4 These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,
5 The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.
6 And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.
8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.

The Israelites were still to refrain from eating those meats which the Lord considered to be unclean or abominable, which had also been established before their wanderings in the wilderness. This commandment was the ancient version of word of wisdom, which is found in modern revelation today (see Doctrine and Covenants section 89). It was a law of health, I believe meant to keep their bodies healthy and their minds clear and able to be influenced by the spirit. It continues:

9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

They were not to eat anything that was not a fish with fins and scales.

11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
13 And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
14 And every raven after his kind,
15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
19 And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.
20 But of all clean fowls ye may eat.

Specific birds and other animals that could fly, like insects, were listed as unclean and not to be eaten.

21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
23 And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.
24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:
25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose:
26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

Those things that were already dead, even among their own herds, was not to be eaten by those who had made covenants with the Lord. Verse 21 reads that they were told that they could give or sell them to others, but according to the Joseph Smith translation of this verse, it should read that they were not to give it to the stranger and not to sell it to the alien. This would seem to make more sense to me, because they have already been told that they were to treat the stranger (“clean” or “unclean”, part of the covenant people or not – see Deuteronomy 12:15) as part of their people, when abiding in their home. To offer something to another, which they considered abominable in the eyes of the Lord, seems wrong to me.

In addition to the laws of what they could and could not eat, they were given the laws of tithing. They were to give tithing on all the increase of their crops or seed. All their tithing was to be taken to the holy place of the Lord, the tabernacle or eventually the temple. When they did this, it was to help them remember all that the Lord provided for them. If they could take it as the food, wine, oil or animals, they were to do so, but if they could not take it that far, they were to take the money from those things to the holy place, and buy what they could to make the offerings to the Lord. In all these things they were reminded again that they were not to forget the Levites, who lived off of the tithes that the people brought to the temple.

28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

Every third year, their tithing was to be given to the levites and the poor among them. If they remembered these things, the Lord promised to bless them with the work they did in the future.

Tithes and offerings are still a part of our discipleship. We follow the Lord, when we give a willing heart in service, and also when we give of our own substance to the poor and needy. We are to learn how to put others needs before our appetites and desires, just as the Lord has done for us. I know that we are blessed greatly when we give of the things that the Lord has given us. If nothing else were to come from the act of paying tithes and offerings, I am still blessed to be reminded that all that I have is a gift from God and I should be willing to share it.

The Postmortal Spirit World

Read the entire lesson here: The Postmortal Spirit World.

There are three big questions of life, where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? One of the best things about the gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that the answers are there. I’ve never had to wonder about these things, because the scriptures tell me exactly what I need to know. This lesson discusses that which happens after our mortal life.

What happens to us after we die?

When we die, our bodies and spirit separate from one another. The body is left in the mortal sphere, or the grave, while our spirits move on to the spirit world. We will each have the opportunity to work and learn in the spirit world. Those who did not have the chance to learn of the gospel in this life, will have that chance. Those who were covenant people of Christ in this life, will have the opportunity to serve and to teach others. At some point, we will all have the opportunity to be reunited with our bodies through the power and gift of the resurrection, which has been provided to all men by the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we are resurrected, we will never experience a physical death or a separation of our body and spirit again. In addition to experiencing resurrection, we will also be judged for our works in this life. Each of us will be brought before the judgement seat, to determine what glory we have earned for our choices in life. Then we will receive the reward that we have gained. We learn of life after death throughout the scriptures. In Alma 11 we read the following:

42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

There will be nothing unknown by God or ourselves and I believe that we will be completely reconciled with the reward we receive and will find our greatest joy no matter what that reward may be.

What comfort do you receive from your knowledge that there is life after death? How can we use our understanding of the postmortal spirit world to comfort others?

I think that the passing of our loved ones would be unbearable if we did not have a hope in life after death. Having the knowledge that there will be work to do, lessons to learn, blessings received, and mostly forever families, gives me the hope to live life the best I can. I know how to live here because I know what is in store for me there. There can be great comfort in the trials, hardships and losses of this life, when we know these things. Those of us who have an understanding of these things, can help bring comfort to others by teaching them. We can honestly support and love others through their difficult times even if they do not understand. Our hope and happiness can help to lift the most burdened souls if we are willing to share it. It is the duty of all people who have made the covenant of baptism with the Lord, to comfort those who are in need. In Mosiah 18 we read the following about this:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

We have the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should share that with others.

Where Is the Postmortal Spirit World?

It may be difficult for some to understand, but I believe that the spirit world is very near to us. There are countless experiences of people feeling the presence of their loved ones, and I believe that these experiences are real. I think that at times the veil which covers our minds and separates us from the truths of an eternal nature, can be very thin. I think that our loved ones are truly near us, and that even though they are probably hard at work, they are watching over us and even guiding us at times.

What Is the Nature of Our Spirits?

One of the understandings that I have gained about the nature of our spirits, is that we will continue to have the same appetites and desires after this life, as we have during this life. In Alma 34:34 we read, “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” For example, if we seek to gain power in this life and that is the desire which drives our actions, we will continue to seek that after this life. The difference is that everyone will have a full knowledge and those desires will not be able to be acted upon. I think that our own desires will bring our own torment and so we must attain to have righteous desires, which will be completely realized after this life.

Why is it important to know that our spirits will have the same attitudes in the spirit world that they have now?

This knowledge should lead us to live a righteous life. Our state in eternity, depends upon the attitudes that we gain here. If we have a knowledge given to us in this life, about what types of attitudes we should have, then we need to seek to gain those attitudes now.

What Are the Conditions in the Postmortal Spirit World?

Before we receive our reward, we will either go to spirit prison or spirit paradise. In Alma 40 we read:

11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

Paradise is a state of happiness. I think it comes from having an understanding of the plan of salvation which all will have at that point. The righteous will know that they have been seeking for those things that were right and good. In paradise, they will have happiness and find joy in working and serving God. This service will come through teaching others the gospel. Meanwhile, the unrighteous, will know that they have been living a life of little worth and will feel the torment of that in darkness. There is a difference between outer darkness and spirit prison. Spirit prison is for those who are damned because they did not accept Christ in this life, but who have the opportunity in the spirit world to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept him as their personal savior. In Moses 7:57 we read, “And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God; and the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.” The wisdom and mercy of God, is that we will continue to have the opportunity to progress after this life, as long as a physical being has performed the necessary ordinances in the flesh. Those who are not cast to outer darkness, may learn of the gospel and with the full truth in front of them, choose for themselves if they will accept it.

How are conditions in the spirit world similar to conditions in this life?

First of all, we will continue to have our agency. We will choose for ourselves, the reward which will bring us happiness knowing fully our own flaws and mistakes. Agency is an eternal principal and it will continue forever. Second, we will continue to learn and progress. In this life, we are constantly learning new things. These things are both religious and secular. Both are important in our overall knowledge. Our learning will continue after this life. The difference there is that truth will be plain. Something I read while studying said that our spirits will still have the ability to be persuaded towards good or evil, so that is also a condition that will continue which we know well today.

I am so grateful for the knowledge of what is to come after this life. I am glad that death of those I love, does not cripple me. I find joy in my loved ones moving on to work for the Lord on the other side of the veil. I know that death is a welcome part of our eternal life and the eternal plan of God. I look forward to meeting many who have gone before me and sharing my testimony and understanding of the gospel with them. I love knowing that God is so kind and merciful, and yet that he is consistent and stable in his plan. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I hope that I can live my life in a way that will make me a worthy spirit in the life to come, so that I can help further the work of the Lord.

D&C Section 42 (Part 3)

This post is a continuation of the previous post (Part 2).

Historical Background

This revelation of the “law” (verses 1-73) was given to the church, through the prophet, Joseph Smith, and was witnessed by twelve elders. Then two weeks later, the rest of this section was received. According to the section header, “The Prophet specifies this revelation as ’embracing the law of the Church'”.

Is There A Time When Each Person is to Die?

“And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed (v. 48).” If we are living faithfully, then we have the opportunity to be used as an instrument in the Lord’s hands and if we have not finished, we can be healed and die when it is the Lord’s will. However, if we choose to do things our own way, our agency allows us to experience the consequences of our actions. These consequences can even be death. We need to treat our bodies as the wonderful gifts that the Lord has given us.

Some Counsel to the Saints Regarding Their Stewardships

“He who hath faith to see shall see (v. 49). He who hath faith to hear shall hear (v. 50). The lame who hath faith to leap shall leap (v. 51). And they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons; and inasmuch as they break not my laws thou shalt bear their infirmities (v. 52). Thou shalt stand in the place of thy stewardship (v. 53).” If we are righteous members of the church, then the church will help us to get through our problems. The saints of the church are to do their part by magnifying their callings and taking a stewardship over members of the church, so that all of us can be helped by one another.

“Thou shalt not take thy brother’s garment; thou shalt pay for that which thou shalt receive of thy brother.” When the law of consecration was given to the saints, it wasn’t so that one who take things from another. That is not the Christ-like way of doing things. Rather, one would give of his own things and then another would receive them as needed. Then he who receives something would pay in whatever terms were agreed upon, so that he would not be placed in debt to the other. The Lord does not want us in debt because it is just another way that we remain in a type of bondage to another and we give up our agency.

“And if thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support, thou shalt give it into my storehouse, that all things may be done according to that which I have said (v. 55).” This is a lesson that I think we all need to learn. There is no reason to hold on to more than we need. If we have a surplus of something, we should give it to those who may need it. But, this is our own choice and because of the gift of agency, no one, not even the church, should force someone to do it.

“Thou shalt ask, and my scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety (v. 56);”. The Book of Mormon had already been completed and I believe that the Bible was in the middle of being translated according to the will of the Lord. This was a promise again that those things that were asked for in righteousness, would be given.

“And it is expedient that thou shouldst hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until ye have received them in full (v. 57).” The prophet and the elders of the church were not to teach from the new translation of the Bible, until all of it was received. This was probably to avoid anyone trying to find fault with them and discredit them.

“And I give unto you a commandment that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people (v. 58 ). Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church (v. 59); And he that doeth according to these things shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned if he so continue (v. 60).” All of the revelations that have been received by the prophets during this dispensation, are scripture and part of the laws of the Lord. We need to be obedient to the laws as they are revealed to us. When we are baptized into the church, we take upon us the responsibility of knowing the laws of the Lord and therefore we will be judged accordingly.

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal (v. 61). Thou shalt ask, and it shall be revealed unto you in mine own due time where the New Jerusalem shall be built (v. 62). And behold, it shall come to pass that my servants shall be sent forth to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south (v. 63). And even now, let him that goeth to the east teach them that shall be converted to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations (v. 64).”

All things that were promised to the saints, would be revealed, including the location of the New Jerusalem. The Lord did reveal this location in His time and according to His will. Also, elders were sent out to preach the gospel and gather the saints.

“Therefore, he that lacketh wisdom, let him ask of me, and I will give him liberally and upbraid him not (v. 68 ). Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church have been given. Even so. Amen (v. 69).” We are responsible for asking the Lord to give us greater knowledge. The Lord will not hold back from those who ask in faith. He wants us to know the truth and light of the gospel, but we need to want to know it and therefore ask, seek and prepare for ourselves.

“The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members (v. 70). And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned (v. 71); Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop (v. 72). And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church (v. 73).”

The manual I am using to study explains that “the law of remuneration is that those who administer in spiritual affairs must have their stewardships and labor for their living, even as the members”. In our church, our service in the church is voluntary and we do not typically recieve wages for work in our callings. There are a few responsibilities that require the full time and energy of a person, and those are expected according to this law, to have a “just remuneration” or compensation, so that they can give what is required where it is needed.

God Has Delegated the Responsibility to Take Action against Transgressors

“Behold, verily I say unto you, that whatever persons among you, having put away their companions for the cause of fornication, or in other words, if they shall testify before you in all lowliness of heart that this is the case, ye shall not cast them out from among you (v. 74); But if ye shall find that any persons have left their companions for the sake of adultery, and they themselves are the offenders, and their companions are living, they shall be cast out from among you (v. 75). And again, I say unto you, that ye shall be watchful and careful, with all inquiry, that ye receive none such among you if they are married (v. 76); And if they are not married, they shall repent of all their sins or ye shall not receive them (v. 77).” Adultery is not taken lightly in the church. It is a heavy sin and those who choose not to repent of it are consequently excommunicated from the church.

“And again, every person who belongeth to this church of Christ, shall observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church (v. 78 ). And it shall come to pass, that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land (v. 79).” Those who kill are not to be judged by the Elders of the church, because there is no forgiveness for them. Instead, they are left to be judged by the laws of the land.

“And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, or more, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; but if there are more than two witnesses it is better (v. 80). But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses; and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her, that they may be dealt with according to the law of God (v. 81). And if it can be, it is necessary that the bishop be present also (v. 82). And thus ye shall do in all cases which shall come before you (v. 83).” The church would not excommunicate someone on the words of another, without witnesses that proved it was so.

“And if a man or woman shall rob, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land (v. 84). And if he or she shall steal, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land (v. 85). And if he or she shall lie, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land (v. 86).” The church is not designed to convict those who break laws of the land. “And if he or she do any manner of iniquity, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law, even that of God (v. 87).” The Lord will judge for Himself, all of our individual transgressions. If this were not the case, then pride would cause members to judge one another and probably unjustly deal with one another. Because He is not with all of us today, the Lord has called bishops, stake presidents and branch presidents to act as judges in the church. They are the only ones with the stewardship that allows them to judge the saints.

“And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled (v. 88 ). And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a ameeting, and that not before the world (v. 89). And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many (v. 90). And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God (v. 91). If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the church may not speak reproachfully of him or her (v. 92). And thus shall ye conduct in all things (v. 93).” Any offenses should be taken to the proper priesthood authority. In my case, if I was to be offended by another in the gospel, than it would be appropriate to talk to my Bishop about it. The bishops, branch and stake presidents, and so on, have been called by God to have stewardship over the members of the church. With the guidance of the spirit, they can know what should be done in these situations.

There is order and wisdom in all things that God had created. He has designed a way to deal with all transgressions. It is important that these things be dealt with, because the Lord is no respecter of persons. His church must be kept clean and transgressions cannot be allowed to continue within it. If we want to be a part of the gospel and the church of the Lord, we need to be willing to obey the commandments and avoid sin and transgression. If we fail, we must accept the consequences of our actions and if we are cast out we cannot be accepted back into the fold of the Lord, without proper repentance for our sins. If those who have been called to be a judge of our transgressions, allow sin to continue after they are made known about them, they are not serving correctly. Then they will be judged themselves for allowing things to go unpunished. There is no benefit to causing a transgression to go without proper repentance, because the eternal significance is so great.

Ether, Chapter 14

What are the consequences of war?

War is a sad and destructive part of life.  It always has something to do with unrighteousness, whether on the part of both sides or just one side.  It forces people to defend precious things until death.  It should never be something glorified or taken lightly.

The Jaredites experienced many of the typical consequences of war.  The land was cursed because of the wickedness of the people (v. 1).  The brother of Shared, Gilead, began to fight against Coriantumr (v. 3, 8 ).  Thousands died at the battle in the wilderness of Akish (v. 4).  Coriantumr stayed in the wilderness and the Gilead killed part of the army at night and then went to the land of Moron and took the throne (v. 5-6).  Gilead’s high priest killed him to become king (v. 9).  Then, that king was killed by Lib, who was part of the secret combinations (v. 10).  Coriantumr came back to fight Lib (v. 11).  Lib was injured and fled to the seashore where Corinantumr fought him again (v. 12-13).  Lib won and Coriantumr fled back to Akish (v. 14).

Lib and Coriantumr fought again in the plains of Agosh and Coriantumr killed Lib.  Then the brother of Lib, Shiz, fought against Coriantumr.  Shiz won in Agosh and Coriantumr fled with his people (v. 15-17).  Shiz killed many people and destroyed their cities (v. 17).  The people were scared of Shiz and began to call each other to arms (v. 18 ).  All the people began to make armies and divide themselves between Shiz and Coriantumr (v. 19-20).    “And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead (v. 21).  And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh (v. 22).”  There was so much death, that the smell began to trouble the people (v. 23).

Shiz continued to go after Coriantumr out of revenge for the death of Lib (v. 24).  He battled Coriantumr at the seashore for three days (v. 26).  Some became frightened because of the destruction, and they ran away.  They ran to Corihor, and killed anyone who would not join them in fighting (v. 27).  They continued to fight and Coriantumr was deeply wounded by Shiz.  He lost so much blood that he fainted and “was carried away as though he were dead” (v. 29-30).  There was so much death, that Shiz stopped his armies from fighting (v. 31).

The Jaredites experienced the great carnage and death that comes from war.  They had fear in their hearts time and time again.  Women and children were killed for no reason other than a desire for power and revenge.  This was an awful and destructive war and is an example of the horrible consequences that come from wanting power over others and living in sin and wickedness.  This was part of the fulfillment of Ether’s prophecy to Coriantumr about the destruction of his people.  If there had been sorrow and repentance among the Jaredites, they could have been spared from this awful destruction.

“And thus we see”

“Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword (v. 24).  And thus we see that the Lord did visit them in the fulness of his wrath, and their wickedness and abominations had prepared a way for their everlasting destruction (v. 25).”  I am sure that Shiz had every intention of killing Coriantumr.  In his mind he was justified in doing this, because Coriantumr had killed his brother.  I am sure that Coriantumr would have felt justified in killing Shiz, if he had the chance, because he felt deserving of the kingdom.  They both felt wronged by the other side.  The real cause of this war, however, was fulfillment of prophecy.  There would be destruction, and Coriantumr would not die, because of the promise from the Lord for their lack of repentance.

In Ether 8 we read, “And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not (v. 22).”  Moroni knew this to be true, because he witnessed it with his own people as well.  In Mormon 4:5 we read, “But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.”

Time and time again, the Lord promises destruction for wickedness.  Time and time again, the people do not believe it will happen to them and they cast out or kill the prophets who tell them of the destruction.  Time and time again, the prophecies are fulfilled and the destruction comes upon them.  There are lessons to be learned here.  If we do not see that the prophecies that our modern-day prophets have given will come to pass, then there will be consequences that are not pleasing to us.  We can be blessed for following the counsel of the prophets.

Mormon, Chapter 6

Nephite destruction

“And now I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites (v. 1).”  Mormon knew that the end of his people was coming.  He knew that they would not survive because of their wickedness.  He knew that he would witness their destruction.  That would have been such a heavy load to take into this final battle.  Mormon wanted his people to be righteous and be saved, but he knew they could choose and that they would choose to be wicked and be destroyed.  I am sure that his feelings did not compare to the feelings that our Father in Heaven has when we choose this way.  I am sure that the Lord is saddened when we choose to suffer rather than repent.  The way has been given for men to have happiness, but instead of using the atonement, men choose to suffer.  This must have been a difficult thing for Mormon to experience.

Why would an enemy grant a wish?

I think an enemy would grant a wish to ultimately get something they want in return or if they felt the wish will not stop what they want from happening.  “And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle (v. 2).” Mormon asked the king to have their battle in Cumorah.

“And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired (v. 3).  And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (v. 4).”  I think that Mormon chose this land because he had the spirit as his guide and this was to be where great things would happen.

“And when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah (v. 5).”  And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni(v. 6).”  All of the Nephites gathered in Cumorah.  Mormon knew that he was getting old and that this would be the time when the Lamanites would kill his people.  In preparation for their loss and so that the records would remain safe, Mormon hid them in the hill Cumorah.

I think that the Lamanite king granted his wish, because he did not feel this move would be a threat to the Lamanites. In fact, he probably felt very confident that this move would increase their chances of killing more of the Nephites.  Mormon could have chosen to give up at this point, since he knew what the outcome would be, but he did not.  He knew that the Nephites would fall, but he gave them the choice until the last moment.  They were given every opportunity to repent of their wickedness.

“That awful fear of death”

The Nephites knew they were going to battle here with the Lamanites.  I am not sure why they chose to have their families with them, unless they knew that this would be the last battle and they knew it was likely that death was coming.

“And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them (v. 7).  And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers (v. 8 ).”  I think that it would have been nearly impossible for them not to be afraid at this time.  These were people who knew the gospel, but chose to live wickedly and rebel against it.  These were people who knew that in death they would not be blessed for how they had lived.  The “awful fear of death” is for those who either do not know what may come and feel it is the end of everything, or for those who know what is to come and regret what they have earned in this life.  Mormon was not fearful the way his people were.  He knew that he had done all that he could to follow the commandments and live a worthy life.

In Alma 27:28 we read, “And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.”  In this scripture, the Nephites who were living righteously did not fear death, but had hope in Christ.  The difference in their attitudes comes from a knowledge that they were doing what Christ had told them to do and had faith in Him.  When we are faced with death, we need to be able to be this strong and have faith in what is to come, because of our faith in Jesus Christ.  I hope that when the time comes for me, that I can have this great faith and not fear.

Nephite casualities

The Lamanites came upon the Nephites with many types of weapons (v. 9).  Mormon had ten thousand men who were killed, but he was wounded and was not killed (v. 10).  Twenty-four of Mormon’s army were left, including Moroni (v. 11).  Moroni had also had ten thousand that had died (v. 12).  Captain Gidgiddonah had another ten thousand and he died with them (v. 13).  Captains Lamah, Gilgal, Limhah, Jeneum, Cumenihah, Moronoihah, Antionum, Shiblom, Shem, and Josh had ten thousand each and they died with them (v. 14).  Ten more captains died with ten thousand people each (v. 15).  That totals at least two hundred and thirty thousand of their people who had died.  This may only count men, so there could have been thousands more women and children with them.  I am sure that a good number of Lamanites had been killed as well, so the number of dead would have been enormous.  Twenty-four were left with Mormon, some had escaped southward, and some had joined the Lamanites.  The rest lay in heaps on the earth (v. 15).  I cannot truly imagine how it must have been to see this.  I am sure that Mormon must have felt a great deal of sadness because these rebellious souls had been lost.  Mormon had led them, loved them, and served them all of his life and now almost all of these people had been killed because they would not be obedient and repent.

Mormon’s lamentation

“And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried (v. 16):  O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you (v. 17)!  Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss (v. 18 ).  O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen (v. 19)!  But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return (v. 20).  And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you (v. 21).  O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy (v. 22).”

Mormon called the people who had died, “fair ones”.  He asked how they could have gone astray and fallen, when they had the Savior there for them.  He writes that Christ will soon judge them.  Also that God is the one who will apply justice and mercy according to the judgement of their works.  We will also be judged by Christ for our works in this life.  We need to see the example of these Nephites and learn from it.  We can avoid the fear of death and sadness at the judgement-seat, by remembering the atonement and using it in our lives.  We need to repent when we do wrong and we need to keep the commandments and our covenants with the Lord.  What a sad ending this is for a people who had great-grandparents who had witnessed the coming of Jesus Christ.  How quickly we can forget things that are righteous and good.  That is why we need to be studying the words of the Lord often.  We need the constant reminder, so that we will not destroy our own spirituality.  I am grateful to have the scriptures and modern prophets to help guide my life today.  I am far from perfect, and I have strayed many times in my life.  I am grateful to have the atonement in my life, to make up for my faults and sins.  I am most grateful for my Savior and all that he has done for me.  I am so grateful that he loved me enough to suffer for all of my weaknesses, sins, sadnesses and more.

Alma, Chapter 28

Fasting can help us deal with tragedy and pain

“And now it came to pass that after the people of Ammon were established in the land of Jershon, and a church also established in the land of Jershon, and the armies of the Nephites were set round about the land of Jershon, yea, in all the borders round about the land of Zarahemla; behold the armies of the Lamanites had followed their brethren into the wilderness (v. 1).  And thus there was a tremendous battle; yea, even such an one as never had been known among all the people in the land from the time Lehi left Jerusalem; yea, and tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad (v. 2).  Yea, and also there was a tremendous slaughter among the people of Nephi; nevertheless, the Lamanites were driven and scattered, and the people of Nephi returned again to their land (v. 3).  And now this was a time that there was a great mourning and lamentation heard throughout all the land, among all the people of Nephi (v. 4)—Yea, the cry of widows mourning for their husbands, and also of fathers mourning for their sons, and the daughter for the brother, yea, the brother for the father; and thus the cry of mourning was heard among all of them, mourning for their kindred who had been slain (v. 5).”

I cannot imagine witnessing tens of thousands of people being killed in battle.  I have not had to experience losing a loved one in a battle, but I am sure that it is a painful thing to go through.  I’m sure if I had been living then, I would have been praying a lot, for myself and for those around me, to deal with the loss.  “And now surely this was a sorrowful day; yea, a time of solemnity, and a time of much fasting and prayer (v. 6).”  To ease their pain, the people turned to fasting and prayer.  This brings relief because it brings the spirit to our hearts and the spirit is the comforter.

Fasting is a wonderful tool that we can use to make the spirit stronger in our lives.  The spirit can do so much for us that we cannot do on our own.  It is a blessing that has been given to us as long as we our faithful.  I think that we can make fasting more meaningful, by always fasting with a purpose.  Praying earnestly, and keeping that prayer in our hearts throughout the entire time we fast, will bring strength, answers, and comfort.

Why do people view death differently?

I have not been to many funerals in my life.  Of the few I remember, all but one were funerals of members of the church.  That one funeral was so different because it seemed that people truly thought that this life was the end and so that person was truly gone to them forever.  The other funerals have all been joyous occasions that celebrated the wonderful qualities of life and the glorious work of the life after we die.  I have not had the experience of losing a loved one.  My family members who have died, did so before I was born.  I am not sure how I would feel because I have not experienced that, but I know the plan of salvation and I know there is so much more to our existence.

“And from the first year to the fifteenth has brought to pass the destruction of many thousand lives; yea, it has brought to pass an awful scene of bloodshed (v. 10).  And the bodies of many thousands are laid low in the earth, while the bodies of many thousands are moldering in heaps upon the face of the earth; yea, and many thousands are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo (v. 11).  While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness (v. 12).”

Some feared because those who had died, had not lived righteous lives.  Others rejoiced because they understood that since their loved ones lived righteously, they would be blessed for it.  How we live and keep our covenants with God, will determine if we end up in “a state of endless wo” or “a state of never-ending happiness”.  I pray that happiness is what I will continue know.

What lessons should we learn from the phrase “and thus we see”?

And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men (v. 13).  And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life (v. 14).”

Mormon wants us to learn that satan tempts men into inequality, that the Lord wants good people to do the service of missionary work, and that death and destruction bring sorrow, but the light of Christ brings joy and rejoicing.

And now it came to pass that after the people of Ammon were established in the land of aJershon, and a church also established in the land of Jershon, and the armies of the Nephites were set round about the land of Jershon, yea, in all the borders round about the land of Zarahemla; behold the armies of the Lamanites had followed their brethren into the wilderness.
2 And thus there was a tremendous battle; yea, even such an one as never had been known among all the people in the land from the time Lehi left Jerusalem; yea, and tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad.
3 Yea, and also there was a tremendous slaughter among the people of Nephi; nevertheless, the Lamanites were adriven and scattered, and the people of Nephi returned again to their land.
4 And now this was a time that there was a great amourning and lamentation heard throughout all the land, among all the people of Nephi—
5 Yea, the cry of awidows mourning for their husbands, and also of fathers mourning for their sons, and the daughter for the brother, yea, the brother for the father; and thus the cry of mourning was heard among all of them, mourning for their kindred who had been slain.

2 Nephi, Chapter 2

How can afflictions bless our lives?

In 2 Nephi 1:1, Nephi discusses the his many tribulations.  In these verses (1-4) Lehi discusses the many tribulations suffered by Jacob.  Nephi realized he and been greatly blessed and Lehi tells Jacob that he will be greatly blessed also if he follows the Lord.  We are made stronger through our trials just as Lehi said, “He (God) shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”  In D&C 121:7-8 we learn that the afflictions are for a small moment in time and we an be exalted if we endure them well.  I think I have to pay more attention to how I endure my trials.  I am not sure if I have been enduring them “well”.  Enduring them well is facing them with the faith that the Lord will be there to help us through them.  Those who endure a trial and complain as they go, are not enduring well.

How are Jesus Christ, Adam and Eve, and the devil a part of God’s plan?

Adam and Eve chose to partake of the forbidden fruit (v. 19).  Consequently they were driven out of the garden and had to work the land.  Then they were able to have children and they had the ability to repent (v. 20-21).  In Mormon 9:12 and 14, we read that Jesus Christ was needed and brought redemption of man and the judgement could now take place.  Also man could now have joy (v. 25)  If they had not eaten the fruit, they would have stayed in the garden, in the same state forever.  They would not have had children and would never have known joy or misery, good or sin.  In Moses 5:10-11 we learn that Adam was grateful to have his eyes opened and Eve said if they had not fallen they would not have had children, known good and evil, known joy from the redemption and eternal life.

The Savior Jesus Christ brought salvation to us, prepared the way to salvation, provided the redemption of man, offered himself a sacrifice for sin, gives us mercy and grace, laid down His life for us, was resurrected, makes intercession for us to be saved, created the world and all on it, allowed us to be enticed, gave us the chance to repent, did all things in wisdom, offered us joy, redeemed us from the fall making us free forever if we choose, and therefore gave us agency.  Also, in Mormon 9:13, we learn that He made it so that we can return to God’s presence and be resurrected.

Satan was a “fallen” angel from heaven and sought evil before God to become the devil (v. 17)  He is miserable because he fell from heaven and he wants us to be miserable as well (v. 18).  We can avoid the misery by choosing liberty and eternal life provided by the Savior (v. 27).  He told Eve she would not die, which was a lie (v. 18).  If we tell lies we are like Satan, because he is the “father of all lies” (v. 18).  I think living in the presence of Satan is called “eternal death” because you become captive to his will and cannot choose for yourself.  And in this captivity you can never dwell with God and you suffer a spiritual death, separating yourself from God.

The purpose and necessity of law is that through law we are cut off from God’s presence.  Law gives reason and need of the Savior to offer redemption.  The law gives us reason to prove ourselves worthy to live with God again.

The role of opposition is to bring righteousness to pass.  It balances the things in life and gives reason for life, otherwise the creation was for nothing and for no purpose (v. 11-12).  We need opposition to have a choice because without opposition there is no way to know one thing from another.  If nothing was hot and everything was cold, their would be no choice to have hot, we wouldn’t even know what it was.  Both have to exist to have a choice (v. 13, 16).  We have been given the awesome ability and responsibility to choose our own path in life.  It is so important to make the right choices and repent for those we know are wrong.  I pray that my brothers and sisters (and parents) will try to continue to make good choices so that we can all be together in the eternities.  I pray that my children can learn the importance of choices.  I hope that I can be a good example to them.

How do we know good from evil?

I think that every person is born with a conscience and knows right from wrong.  I think that how they are raised, trained and the choice they make, persuade their conscience.

What choice did Adam really have?

If I was asked to make a choice, but I only had one option to choose, I would realize that there is no real choice to make.  In order to make a choice, you have to have two things to choose between.  Adam’s choice was between the forbidden fruit and the tree of life.  God gave Adam the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, but forbid him to eat the fruit that would make it possible through mortality.  Adam had to choose the fruit to fulfill the plan of God.

What are our two great choices?

We may choose liberty and eternal life or captivity and death.  Liberty and eternal life are the things the Lord would have us choose, where captivity and death are the things that Satan would have us choose.  Lehi says he’s chosen the good part, liberty and eternal life, and he wants his sons to choose the same.  I should hope that everyone wants eternal life, especially those I love who I plan on living with through the eternities.


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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