Posts Tagged 'Destruction of Jerusalem'

1 Chronicles Chapter 21

David had been chosen by the Lord and then prepared to become the king of Israel. The Lord had given rules and instruction to the kings, so that they could receive his blessing and continued guidance in leading the children of Israel. One of the instructions given, was that Israel was only to be numbered according to the commandment of the Lord. Numbering the people, was much like performing a census for today and it did things such as counting the number of men who would go to war for Israel. The kings of other nations would number the people whenever they desired. This chapter begins:

1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
3 And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

Satan tempted David to number Israel, which he did in his weakness. Joab and the rulers over the people were instructed to do it and report back to him. Joab, who knew the Lord would make so much more of the people then the number they were, asked why David would go against the Lord in this thing. Nonetheless, David’s command won out and Joab went and numbered the people as he had been told to do. When he was done, he returned to Jerusalem. (see also 2 Samuel 24)

5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.
6 But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king’s word was abominable to Joab.
7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.
8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

Joab reported to David and the men who could bear arms totaled something like 1,100,000 men in Israel and 470,000 men in Judah. (This number is different then listed in 2 Samuel 24.) Joab found his duties were abominable, so he did not include the count for Levi or Benjamin. As a result of the numbering, God smote Israel. David recognized his sin against God and begged to be forgiven by the Lord.

9 And the Lord spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,
10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee
12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

David had a seer named Gad, whom the Lord spoke to with a message for David. David was given a choice between three consequences for his sin. First, three years of famine (seven years according to 2 Samuel), second, three months of their enemies being allowed to over take them, or third, three days of fighting with the sword through all the land of Israel. Gad told David to think about it and tell him what he should tell the Lord. David knew he was in a difficult situation and he knew that the Lord could be merciful to him, so he asked to be dealt with by the Lord and not by the hands of men.

14 So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

The Lord allowed pestilence to effect the land of Israel, and they lost 70,000 of their men. An angel was sent by the Lord, to destroy Jerusalem, and when he saw that their was sincere repentance in Jerusalem, the angel was stopped. (see also Joseph Smith Translation 1 Chronicles 21) David saw the angel near the land of Ornan the Jebusite, with his sword prepared to destroy Jerusalem. (Side note: Jebus was the ancient name of Jerusalem, so a Jebusite was likely one who natively lived in Jerusalem.) David and the elders of Israel, who were in mourning, fell down upon their faces. David recognized that the sin was upon him, for his commandment to number the people, and he prayed for the Lord to punish him and his family, not the people of Israel.

18 Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord.
20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.
21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.
22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.
23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.
24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.
25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
26 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.
27 And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

The angel gave instruction to Gad, to tell David that he was set up an altar to the Lord in the land belonging to Ornan. David went as instructed. Ornan and his four sons were working on his threshingfloor. The sons saw the angel and hid, while Ornan had his back turned and was working with his wheat. Ornan saw David approaching and left his work to meet him. Ornan bowed to the ground. David requested the use of Ornan’s threshingfloor to build an altar to the Lord. He would buy it at full price and hopefully the Lord would then have mercy on the people of Isreal. Ornan offered the place to David as well as oxen for a burnt offering, tools to prepared the wood and wheat to go along with the meat offereing, without asking for a price. Daivd told him he would pay him full price for it, because it was to belong to the Lord and not to David himself. He paid Ornan and did as he had been instructed in building an altar. David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings as he prayed to the Lord. The Lord responded with fire upon the altar. In accepting the offering, the Lord commanded that the angel put away his sword against Israel. (As a side note: This location would be the future site of the temple built by Solomon – see 2 Chronicles 3:2.)

28 At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.
29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.
30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

David made a sacrifice upon the altar when he saw that his prayer had been answered. He did it at the threshingfloor of Ornan because the tabernacle of the Lord was quite a distance away in Gibeon (about five miles north of Jerusalem). David was not willing to go there, in the presence of the Lord, for fear of the destruction of the angel of the Lord.

The events of this chapter occurred after David had committed great sins against the Lord. It is likely that David was not living in a way that would have allowed for the spirit to be as strong of an influence to him. In this state, David had allowed himself to be tempted by the adversary to do those things that he knew were against the statutes of the Lord. He may have justified his need to know the number of men who would go to battle for Israel, but the army of Israel was not to be handled this way according to the ways of the Lord. After the consequences came upon the people of Israel, David recognized the error of his ways. David saw this and desired to take the punishment upon himself. When we make bad choices, the consequences often times effect the lives of those around us. This can be hard to witness when we finally step away from our own selfish desires, especially with those we love. It is far better for us to think of what may result from our choices before we do something we would regret. David sought the Lord’s forgiveness through his own repentance and sacrifices to the Lord. He was forgiven and the plague of destruction was stopped from being upon others in Jerusalem. No matter how far we turn from the Lord, He will always be there to accept us when we repent and return to him.

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2 Kings Chapter 25

It was prophesied time and time again, that Jerusalem would be destroyed because of the wickedness of the king and people. The people of Judah had turned from the Lord towards false gods and wicked acts of worship. The destruction that was to come, was part of the prophecy which said that the tribes of Israel would eventually be scattered upon the earth. King Zedekiah was not a righteous king, but followed after the ways of the wicked kings before him. He had started his reign when many of the people of Jerusalem were captured and taken to Babylon. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, put Zedekiah into power with the expectation that the people of Jerusalem would pay tribute to him. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, which of course would make Nebuchadnezzar angry with the people.

1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
2 And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
3 And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.

Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem with his army. They camped in forts around the city and besieged it. This eventually brought a famine to the city, and the people had no food to eat.

4 And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
5 And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.
6 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.
7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.

The city began to fall, and the army of Jerusalem fled in the night through a gate in the wall by the king’s garden. They headed to the plains, where the army of the Chaldeans, a Babylonian army, were also surrounding the city. The Chaldeans went after Zedekiah and his army, catching them in the area of Jericho. The army scattered from Zedekiah, and the Chaldeans captured him and took him to king Nebuchadnezzar to judge him. The sons of Zedekiah were also captured and then killed in front of him. Then, he was made blind, bound, and taken captive into Babylon.

8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
9 And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
10 And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
11 Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away.
12 But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
13 And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
15 And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
16 The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.

About a month after famine had come to Jerusalem because of being besieged by the army of Babylon, Nebuzar-adan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, came into the city and burned the temple, king’s house, and all the houses in the city. The Chaldean army broke down the wall around the city. The remnant of the people were carried away, except the poor, who were left to farm and work in the vineyards. All the brass of the temple, found in things such as the pillars and baptismal font, were broken down and taken back to Babylon. Any tools made of brass, gold or silver, were taken away.

18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:
19 And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king’s presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:
20 And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:
21 And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.

The priests, Seraiah and Zephaniah, as well as those who served at the doors of the temple, an officer over the army of Jerusalem, five of the men who served the king personally, the scribe, and around 60 other men found in the city, were taken to the king. Nebuchadnezzar had them beaten and killed. This was the fulfillment of scattering of the tribe of Judah from the land of promise.

22 And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.
23 And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
24 And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.
25 But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah.
26 And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.

A man named Gedaliah, was left to be the ruler of the poor workers that were left in Judah. The captains of the armies, who had escaped the destruction, heard that he had been made ruler, and they took their men to him. Gedaliah told them not to fear being servants of the Chaldeans. He told them to give in and serve the king of Babylon, because then they would be allowed to live. One of the captains, Ishmael, who was of the royal line, killed Gedaliah and all of the Jews or Chaldeans that were with him in Mizpah. The remnant of the Jews, including the captains, fled to Egypt in fear of the Chaldeans.

27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
28 And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
29 And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
30 And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.

Jehoiachin, the previous king of Judah who had been carried captive into Babylon before Zedekiah was made king, was lifted up out of prison by the king of Babylon. He was treated kindly and raised above some of the other leaders in Babylon. He was shown favor in ways such as, being given food to eat continually, and given an allowance every day.

The time of the kings of Israel and Judah, reigning in the promised land, had come to an end. The Lord had allowed for the people to be scattered because they had turned from him. Prophecies were fulfilled regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of Israel being taken captive into Babylon. All of these things were according to the wisdom of God, because of the purposes of God. God’s purpose is to have as many of his sons and daughters return to him as is possible. The greatest opportunities for this were going to be made possible through the scattering of Israel, or rather, through the eventual gathering of Israel, because they were scattered. We live in the time of the gathering of Israel, and the time now is not far from when we will be able to rejoice in the promises of God to his covenant people. The fulfillment of these promises is made possible because of this gathering.

2 Kings Chapter 22

Hezekiah had been a righteous leader in Judah. On the other hand, his son Manasseh, was extremely wicked, and brought the people of Judah along with him into great sin. Manasseh’s son, Amos, followed in the wickedness of his father and continued to lead the people in idolatry. All of these had died and at this point, Josiah, the son of Amos, had become king. This chapter begins with:

1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

At the age of eight, Josiah became king of Judah. He ruled for 31 years, or until he was about 39 years old. He was not like his father Amos, but lived and ruled in righteousness like King David. (see also 2 Chronicles 34)

3 And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,
4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:
5 And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house,
6 Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house.
7 Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully.

After 18 years had passed, Josiah being about 26 at the time, he sent a servant, named Shaphan, to the temple priest, Hilkiah, to take total of the money gathered from the people for the work of repairing the temple. This money was the tithes and offerings of their day. The priests had been faithful and did not require a reckoning of the money they were given to have the work done, because they could be trusted.

Tithes and offerings are for the purposes of building up the kingdom of God on Earth. Today, this money goes to the building and maintaining of temples and other church buildings around the world. The churches and temples are sacred places, consecrated for the faithful to gather, teach and uplift one another, worship God, covenant and serve. In ancient times, the temple of the Lord served the same purposes. It is right, that a faithful and righteous leader would desire to use the offerings of the people to rededicate the house of the Lord. If you would like to see more about temples in the LDS faith, I just saw this great, simple video about them: Mormon Temples

Trust in the work of the Lord, is so important to the uplifting and edification of all those who serve. Trust in God, of course, is of greatest importance. Those who serve in His kingdom, need to trust that God will keep his promises and covenants, and that He will be there to help them when they ask for help. Trust in others is also needed. So much of the work of the Lord, is Priesthood leaders, such as the prophets and high priests, giving callings and assignments to others, such as these priests in the temple, and then trusting that they will do their part in the work. When the work is accomplished the one who delegates is able to continue His work, others are able to come and participate in worship and service to the Lord, and most of all, those who were trusted and followed through, have opportunities to learn; grow in testimony, wisdom and knowledge; and become more as individuals. Additionally, we each individually, need to have trust in ourselves, that we are strong enough to do the work of the Lord. In one of the greatest paradoxes of the gospel, we are strong enough, when we become completely humble and submissive to the will of the Lord, becoming, in a sense, our weakest, in order to grow the most. Trusting the Lord, others and ourselves, is the only way that we can truly further the work of the Lord and reach our greatest potential as individuals.

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord.
10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
13 Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

The book of the law was found in the temple and given to Shaphan, who read it and returned to Josiah to give a report of what had happened. He told Josiah that the money of the temple had been gathered and given to workers. He also showed the king that the book of the law had been found. He read it to Josiah. Josiah responded by renting his clothes. He told the Shaphan, his son Ahikam, a man named Achbor, and his servant Asahiah, to ask the Lord about the words of the book of the law, in behalf of Josiah and the people of Judah. Josiah was concerned for the people because their ancestors had so often willingly disobeyed the words of the book. The men went to Huldah the prophetess, to her home in the northwest part of Jerusalem, and communed with her.

What a huge blessing it must have been, to have found the record of the law. This was their scriptures, even the record of the law of Moses. Nations who loose the records of their laws, forget what that law is and create their own laws in order to make civilization work. The lessons from the past, especially those found in our own scriptures, show that the nations who are strongest, both physically and spiritually, are those who know the law because they keep the records and use them. People who are raised up without the laws, are so much more likely to fall away from the traditions of the past. (This is one of the themes we can read about this throughout The Book of Mormon.) The laws of God, such as the law of Moses for the ancient Israelites, had not changed. This law was still in complete effect at the time the book was given to Josiah. Because it had not been preserved by the kings, as they had been commanded when first given to Moses and passed on to Joshua, it had been forgotten. Josiah did not know the fulness of the law, until he was able to read it. Our scriptures our precious, but only if we read them and apply them to our lives.

15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18 But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;
19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.
20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

Huldah prophsied that evil would come to the people of Judah just as the book of the law had said it would, or rather all the evil and curses brought upon the wicked found in the record, because they had chosen to worship other gods of their own creation. The words of verse 17, sound as though the curses would come because the people deliberately turned to idolatry to upset the Lord. Their wickedness may have been more rebellion than being raised in ignorance of what was right. Their choice to practice wickedness would have strong consequences. However, to Josiah, the Lord had heard his humble weeping and she prophesied that he would die in peace and not be the one to see the destruction of his people. The men returned to Josiah and told him what she had spoken.

Josiah would be blessed for his choice to do what was right, once he had learned of it from the word of the Lord. Three things happened to him in order to receive these blessings. First, his heart was tender. This sounds like he had an open heart, softened to the word, sensitive to it and ready to receive it, because he was willing. Second, he humbled himself to the Lord. In Alma 32:14, Alma was teaching the Zoramites who were poor and brought to humility by their circumstances. He said, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” Greater blessings come to those who are humbled when they learn the gospel, just as Josiah had done. In his humility, Josiah was concerned for others who would be destroyed, and was mourning for their loss. This humility and care for others, was seen by the Lord and blessings were promised as a result. If we are compelled into a situation where we become humble and then turn to the Lord with greater commitment, we will be blessed, but the greatest blessings and the most growth to our souls, comes in actively studying the word of God, and choosing for ourselves to have faith in that word and live what is taught. And third, Josiah heard or read the words and heard the spirit’s influence and inspiration. The word of the Lord will do nothing for us, if we read them, but refuse to hear what they can teach us. The blessing that was his, and can be ours if we follow this example and pattern, is peace. Peace is something that men desire for their lives, and he was promised to have this, even knowing what would come of his people.

As I read this chapter, I think back on a time in my life, after having three of my six children, when the hard drive that held all my digital photos and videos, had stopped working. I had lost all of them and experienced a mourning for something non-living, that I had never known was possible. (It seems a given to mourn for the loss of something living.)
I was beside myself with grief for weeks, as we did all that we could to possibly get something back. I felt as though I would not be able to remember my children as babies, and memories are so important to me. After several weeks, we got word, that the majority of the files had been recovered. My joy was so full. I know now, just how much I could mourn for the loss of non-living things of great value to me. This taught me to have greater gratitude for these things. Likewise, I am so grateful for the scriptures. I love them more than other things of this world, much like family photos, because of the happiness I feel as I study them. I am so glad that there are so many ways to have the scriptures available to us, because if they were lost to me now, I would be heartbroken. I know I would mourn them, because my memory will not always hold on to the words I study. I would forget them and yearn for the peace they bring. Knowing that the scriptures have not always been as available to mankind, and reflecting on just how short a time anyone in the world has even known about the Book of Mormon, enlarges my gratitude for being able to live today and have them. Finding the scriptures in the temple, truly was a blessing for Josiah and the people of Israel.

Joseph Smith-Matthew (Part 1)

I learned in my study of the Doctrine and Covenants, that the prophet, Joseph Smith, was given the commandment to translate parts of the bible. This is because, there are parts of the modern-day Bible which were lost through the work of men. The King James version of the Bible is only partially translated correctly. If we are to learn the true gospel of Christ from these scriptures, than it was necessary for a translation to be done by the power of God, not the hands of men. In Doctrine and Covenants 45, the Lord revealed things about the second coming, but then Joseph Smith received the revelation to translate in order to learn more. Doctrine and Covenants 45:60-62 says the following:

60 And now, behold, I say unto you, it shall not be given unto you to know any further concerning this chapter, until the New Testament be translated, and in it all these things shall be made known;
61 Wherefore I give unto you that ye may now translate it, that ye may be prepared for the things to come.
62 For verily I say unto you, that great things await you;

Joseph Smith knew that he would be given the opportunity to translate more of the scriptures by the power of God, and this revelation told him he was now able to translate the New Testament. This portion of the Pearl of Great Price, is specifically the translation of Matthew 23:39 through 24:51. I have not started my study of the New Testament yet, but I look forward to it in the future.

At this point in Matthew, the Lord, Jesus Christ has been speaking to the multitude and his disciples, and chastising the scribes and pharisees for their hypocrisy. Then he goes into explaining what the future of Jerusalem will be. Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:1 reads:

1 For I say unto you, that ye shall not see me henceforth and know that I am he of whom it is written by the prophets, until ye shall say: Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord, in the clouds of heaven, and all the holy angels with him. Then understood his disciples that he should come again on the earth, after that he was glorified and crowned on the right hand of God. (emphasis on changes from the KJV – King James Version)

The Savior told the people that he was the Messiah, who the prophets had written about. He said that he would come again as a resurrected and glorified being, or in other words, he taught that there would be a second coming. When the Savior comes again, their will be angels with Him. I hope that if I am not on the earth when this amazing event occurs, that I will be among those righteous saints who have died and have the privilege of returning with the Lord. I believe that this is true and I look forward to this great time with so much hope and anticipation.

2 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and his disciples came to him, for to hear him, saying: Master, show us concerning the buildings of the temple, as thou hast said—They shall be thrown down, and left unto you desolate.
3 And Jesus said unto them: See ye not all these things, and do ye not understand them? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here, upon this temple, one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. (emphasis on changes from the KJV)

The Savior had previously told his disciples that the temple would be thrown down. He questions why they can not understand what he has said. I think that he says this because they have witnessed his great miracles, but they weren’t still weren’t believing all of his words. The Savior, as the master teacher, begins to teach them again. He told them that the temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed completely. I can understand why this may have seemed a difficult thing for them to understand, because the temple was built so strong that the Jews believed it would never fall. It is my understanding that when it did eventually fall, it took a long time and a great deal of effort for the Romans to destroy it. I am blessed to have the ability to believe on the testimony of others when I am living worthy of the spirit, so when the prophets and church leaders tell us something that will happen, I do not have a need to question it. I imagine, however, that there are a lot of other righteous people, who want to live the gospel fully, but may have a difficult time believing the things that we have been told will happen before the second coming. This is not an easy thing for everyone and I know that we will be tested with how prepared we are when the time comes. I think that those who are obedient even when they do not understand, will have great blessings for their faithfulness.

4 And Jesus left them, and went upon the Mount of Olives. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews; and what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world?
5 And Jesus answered, and said unto them: Take heed that no man deceive you;
6 For many shall come in my name, saying—I am Christ—and shall deceive many;
7 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations, for my name’s sake;
8 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another;
9 And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many;
10 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;
11 But he that remaineth steadfast and is not overcome, the same shall be saved.

Now his disciples want to know when the destruction of Jerusalem will occur. They also wanted to know what the signs of the second coming would be. The Lord taught them that there would be many people who would try to lead the righteous astray. There would be false prophets and those pretending to be Christ. He taught them that they would not have it easy, because of their choice to follow Christ. I believe that there were several false prophets and such, who helped to bring sorrow and death to the disciples of Christ.

Part of the signs of His coming, which is seems were the same signs of the destruction of Jerusalem, will be the continual growth of wickedness in the world. More people will take offenses easily, more of the righteous will be afflicted for their choices and beliefs, more people will betray, hate, and deceive others, and so on. Those who take offense are more likely those who know the truth, but use something as an excuse to fall away from the gospel and the church. The promise the Lord gives is that those who are faithful and strong in the gospel, will be saved.

12 When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, then you shall stand in the holy place; whoso readeth let him understand.
13 Then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains;
14 Let him who is on the housetop flee, and not return to take anything out of his house;
15 Neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes;
16 And wo unto them that are with child, and unto them that give suck in those days;
17 Therefore, pray ye the Lord that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day;
18 For then, in those days, shall be great tribulation on the Jews, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, such as was not before sent upon Israel, of God, since the beginning of their kingdom until this time; no, nor ever shall be sent again upon Israel.
19 All things which have befallen them are only the beginning of the sorrows which shall come upon them.
20 And except those days should be shortened, there should none of their flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake, according to the covenant, those days shall be shortened.
21 Behold, these things I have spoken unto you concerning the Jews; and again, after the tribulation of those days which shall come upon Jerusalem, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe him not;
22 For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.
23 Behold, I speak these things unto you for the elect’s sake; and you also shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled, for all I have told you must come to pass; but the end is not yet.

The Lord taught them that in the day of destruction, those who were righteous and believed His words, should flee to safety without looking back. If they waited too long, such as into the winter or on the Sabbath, which is the day of rest, they would suffer for their choice. According to my study, the faithful saints did flee and were saved from the destruction. It is true that this was only an early portion of the suffering of the Jews. Since then, many Jews have been persecuted, afflicted, and killed by others.

The Lord teaches that after the destruction of Jerusalem, more wicked people would come claiming to be Christ and the saints are not to believe them. There are people today who claim to be the Savior, and we must be worthy of the spirit and listen to the prophets, to have help in discerning that they are not true. The closer we get to the second coming, the harder it will be for the righteous to not be deceived if their guard is down. This teaching is for our sake. Those of us who have made sacred covenants with God, must be constantly on guard. The wickedness of Satan and his followers can be very tempting and alluring to even the best of us. I am grateful to have the teachings of the Savior in His gospel, which can help to keep us safe.

2 Nephi, Chapter 1

What would your last words be?

If I knew I only had a short time left to live, I believe I would tell my family my testimony and as much of my memories as I could.  I would want to teach my children the everyday things as well, like how to balance a checkbook (I’m practical that way).  In the first part of 2 Nephi, Lehi is giving his family counsel before he dies.

Fulfillment of prophecy

A true prophet has fulfilled prophecies.  A true prophet does not teach anything that contradicts the gospel.  (See Deut. 18:22)

Lehi prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed (v. 4) and it was.  In 2 Kings 25:1-10, we learn that King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, brought his men against Jerusalem.  Jerusalem suffered famine, the men and King Zedekiah fled and were persued by the Chaldees.  King Zedekiah’s men were scattered and he was captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar.  He was judged and they killed his sons while he watched.  They “put out” his eyes, bound him and took him to Babylon.  Captain Nebuzar-adan went to Jerusalem, burnt the homes and had his army tear down the walls of Jerusalem.

Had Laman and Lemuel still been in Jerusalem as they wanted (1 Nephi 17:21), I’m sure they would not have been very happy.  They would have been starving, their home and possessions would have been burned, and they would have been killed or taken captive. The walls of Jerusalem fell and this proves that Lehi was a true prophet.  It also means that the other promises he made were sure to come to pass.

Promises or warnings

In 2 Nephi 1:5-12, the Lord promises an obedient nation will be a land of liberty, never to be put in captivity.  The land will be blessed, the people will prosper and be kept from other nations.  None will molest them or take away their land and they will dwell safely.  The Lord promises a disobedient nation will be a cursed land, nations will come against them, they will have their land and possessions taken, they will be scattered and smitten, and there will be bloodshed.

“Chains of hell” or “arms of love”?

In verse 13, Lehi says, “O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.”  What kind of chains was he referring to?  Lehi is referring to the spiritual chains we put on ourselves as we sin.  These chains “bind” us and carry (weigh) us down.  In verse 15, he continues, “But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”  The arms of Christ hold us in place, fill us with peace and lift us up to a greater height.

We all make choices that start as thin threads, easy to break and remove, but we need to realize how quickly they can bind us as we choose to close our eyes to them.  As we sleep in the gospel (let the commandments and scriptures drift), we don’t realize the damage we are doing to ourselves.  We must wake up and notice those things in our lives that can bind us.  Then with the Savior’s help we can break the chains that seem impossible to break on our own through repentance, scripture study, prayer, and so on.

Hard hearts-soft hearts

Lehi describes his own heart as weighed down with sorrow and Laman and Lemuel’s hearts as hard (v. 17).  Lehi’s heart is weighed down because he feared that his sons would be cut off forever from the Lord, because of the hardness of their hearts.  We need to avoid a hard heart so that we too can avoid being cut off forever from God.  In 1 Nephi 2:16 we learn that to have our hearts softened, we need to have a desire for our heart to be softened and then we need to pray to our Heavenly Father and ask for it.

What does it take to be a “real man”?

Lehi told his sons to arise and be men (v. 21).  I think that Laman and Lemuel being worldly people, would have been upset by this.  It’s the equivalent of parents today saying “grow up”. 

Real men needed to be dertermined and united against captivity (v. 21).  They needed to put on an armor of righteousness and repent of sin (v. 22).  They should not rebel against the righteous like their brother Nephi and they should be obedient and listen to Nephi (v. 23-28).  I think Laman would have thought a “real man” was one who could take care of himself and provide for his family, and didn’t need his little brother telling him what to do (or his dad for that matter).  Lehi knew what a “real man” was in the eternal perspective.  A real man puts God before himself and all else falls into place from there.  Jesus posed the question, “what manner of men ought ye to be?” in 3 Nephi 27:27.  He answers, “even as I am.”  A “real man”, is Christ-like.  Someone who is trying their best to be Christ-like, will not do anything wrong.  What better position is there to be in?  None!

True friends

In verse 30, Lehi compliments Zoram by telling him that he is a “true friend” of Nephi forever.  A true friend is someone who supports you, loves you, cares for your well being, and treats you as they want to be treated.  A true friend would be there for you when needed, be honest with you, and share their feelings with you (bear their testimony).  A true friend would not let another hurt you, hurt you themselves, or lie to you.  I like what Elder Marvin J. Ashton said so I will quote it as well, for anyone who may not have the manual I am using.  “Someone has said, ‘A friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am.’ Accepting this as one definition of the word, may I quickly suggest that we are something less than a real friend if we leave a person the same way we find him. . . . Acts of a friend should result in self-improvement, better attitudes, self-reliance, comfort, consolation, self-respect, and better welfare.  Certainly the word friend is misused if it is identified with a person who contributes to our delinquency, misery, and heartaches. . . . It takes courage to be a real friend.”  My friends are very important to me.  It is so much easier to deal with life if I have friends by my side pushing me onward.  Am I a “true friend”?  I’m trying.  I think I could do a better job of sharing my testimony with friends.  I hope that I am encouraging them to be better, by my example in what I do and say.


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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