Posts Tagged 'False Prophets'

1 Kings Chapter 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy Chapter 18

Moses continues his sermons to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the promised land. In the last chapter he shared teachings on the need for righteous leaders in their judges, priests and kings. We can learn from it, that the people have a greater chance at continuing in righteousness, when their leaders follow the laws of God and are just and true. Moses continues by teaching more about the priests of Israel.

1 The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and his inheritance.
2 Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.
3 And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.
4 The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.
5 For the Lord thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for ever.

The Levites had a sacred calling, to be responsible for the tabernacle and sacrifices for the Lord. Because of their calling, they were not treated as the remaining tribes were, as far as inheritances were concerned. All that they had, was to be provided by the offerings of the remainder of the Israelites. In this way, those who were called to be the most holy in their duties, were also called to rely on the blessings of the Lord for all that they had. There is a lesson in this, and for me, that is that we draw nearer to the Lord, when we rely on Him in every part of our lives. We are not called to go without, but if we can recognize that we owe thanks to the Lord in all things, we will also be blessed to draw closer to Him. Moreover, the blessings we receive in return, will be the best portion of all that the Savior has to offer us, just as the Levites received the best portion of all that the Israelites had.

Also, the priests were then dependent upon a people who recognized the Lord in their lives. If the people began to go astray, and follow after other gods, the priests (and their families) would no longer be provided for by the sacrifices and offerings others would have given. It was important for the priests to have faith in the promises of the Lord, no matter how the people were, but it was also important that the people remained faithful in the commandments to give offerings. As disciples of Christ today, it is our duty to give all that we are able to provide for those who do not have their own “inheritance”. We give tithes and offerings in order to build up the kingdom of God on the earth, to live as Christ lived, and to help uplift other around us. When we give, we are recognizing that the hand of the Lord is in our lives and we can give of what he has provided to us.

6 And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the Lord shall choose;
7 Then he shall minister in the name of the Lord his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the Lord.
8 They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.

Any man of Levite heritage, who desired to go to the tabernacle and serve in the name of the Lord, was to do so. He could come from any of the cities provided for the Levites, and was to be treated as any of the Levites in the service of the Lord.

9 When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
13 Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.
14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

Moses goes on to teach the people that they were not to learn the ways of abomination, which other nations learned and practiced at that time. These things included the sacrificing of their children to false gods, divination, enchantments or sorcery, witchcraft, charms, spiritualism, wizardry, or necromancy. These things have existed through out the ages, and are a tool of the adversary to lead people after him, by giving them powers of wickedness. Because these were abominations to the Lord, he would cause the nations who practiced them, to be driven out before the Israelites were settled in the land. The Israelites were set apart to be a holy people to the Lord, and were not to practice these any of these things. There are still things such as this practiced today. There are some who live by superstitions and rely heavily on horoscopes and such. There are even some who do participate in the practices of what we would call today, dark magic. Satan uses these tools as he has through the ages, and brings many into bondage with them. Disciples of Christ should avoid these things as part of their lifestyles, and should find answers, comfort and peace through Jesus Christ instead.

The Israelites were given instruction, to be perfect with the Lord. This part of the law of the Lord is repeated by the Savior, during the sermon on the mount, when He said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” We grow in life, ‘line upon line and precept upon precept’. This applies to the perfection that is required of us as well. Eternal perfection will not be accomplished in this life, by any mortal man. It cannot. We cannot actually reach eternal perfection, until the atonement has been accomplished for us individually. We can however, keep the commandments that we have been given, to perfection. As we learn to be a little better each day, we become the kind of perfect that the Lord has asked us to be in this life. We do this, by relying on the Lord and having faith in Him. In 1 Nephi 3:7, we read, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” We can accomplish all things with His help. We can be perfect in what is asked of us here in mortality, and eventually, we will be made complete through Christ. In that eternal perfection, gained only by the atonement of Christ, we will be able to live forever in the presence of our Father in Heaven.

15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
16 According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.
17 And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?
22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Jesus-Portrait

A prophet would be raised from among the Israelites, who would be like Moses. This prophet, was the Lord, Jesus Christ. In 3 Nephi 20:23, the Savior confirmed these words to the Nephites. He said, “Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” The Israelites were taught to hearken to Christ. Christ would be the mouthpiece for God on the earth, so that the people would know the will of God for them. This was the role, which Moses had taken for the people, because they had feared that hearing the voice of the Lord directly would have brought death upon them. Anyone, who was not willing to hearken to the words of the Christ, would be held accountable for it. Likewise, we are taught to follow the words of Christ, which he taught while in his mortal ministry. If we learn of His teachings, and choose not to follow after them, we will also be held accountable for it.

Any false prophet, who claimed to speak the word of God, as directed by God, would die. One cannot lie to God, or claim to do his will without his authority, and continue in leading people astray. They could know that a man was a false prophet, if the things he claimed in the name of the Lord, did not come to pass. They were not to fear or reverence any false prophets among them. False prophets have existed since the days of Adam. People desire to follow after those who claim to be called and directed by the Lord. We can know if they are true prophets, by the works of their hands. God will not allow men to continue to lead others astray in the name of the Lord. One of the greatest blessings given to men, is the light of Christ, which we all have within us. If we trust and believe in God, the light of Christ will help us to discern or to recognize a false prophet from a man truly called of God.

I am so grateful for the restored gospel on earth today. I feel so blessed to live in a time, when the Lord calls righteous men to lead and direct us. I am grateful for the Lord’s prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and for the apostles and other leaders which He has called to assist the prophet in helping us to do what is right. They have helped to shape my life into what it is today. I know that we should listen to the words of the prophets and hearken to them, as if from the mouth of the Lord. I know that peace and happiness in life, come from following the prophet. I strive daily to follow their teachings because it feels right in my heart and mind. I have felt peace and happiness in my life as a result of this and I would not want to live any other way. I hope that others will recognize that the Lord loves us enough to guide us today, just as he did in the days of Moses.

Deuteronomy Chapter 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph Smith-Matthew (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-Matthew Part 1).

This is a translation of Matthew Chapter 24 from the King James version of the Bible. (Emphasis in quotes below is for changes to the Joseph Smith translation from the KJV.) The Savior has taught his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and is relating it to the things that will happen at His Second Coming. He continues his teachings:

24 Behold, I have told you before;
25 Wherefore, if they shall say unto you: Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not;
26 For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

The Savior taught his disciples, and now us, that we must not believe the false prophets who will tell us the Savior will come in their ways. When He comes again, as the son which brings light to the whole earth. Anything or anyone, who claims that our salvation can come by any other means than what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, is a false prophet or false Christ. We do not have to go to the desert or in secret to find Him. We find Him through his gospel, which is plain and available openly to all who are searching for Him. The plan of salvation will not change because the times have changed, because God and His gospel are constant. I believe that He will come again, just as the prophets of old have said. I believe that the gospel is true and available to each and every one of us, if we allow our hearts to be opened, softened and changed.

27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.
28 And they shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars.
29 Behold I speak for mine elect’s sake; for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
30 And again, because iniquity shall abound, the love of men shall wax cold; but he that shall not be overcome, the same shall be saved.
31 And again, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked;
32 And again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled.

33 And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
34 Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled.
35 Although, the days will come, that heaven and earth shall pass away; yet my words shall not pass away, but all shall be fulfilled.
36 And, as I said before, after the tribulation of those days, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken,
then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;
37 And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus taught his disciples that all the righteous will be gathered from all over the earth. There will be great trials and tribulations, wars, evil and wickedness which cover the earth. We are experiencing a great number of these things today. It says that the love of men will wax cold. I think that this is evident greatly in the breaking down of the family unit. People are becoming cold to one another, especially to those whom they should love and care for the most. But even in with all that, those who remain righteous and faithful are promised that they will be saved. They will have this ability to be saved, because the gospel will reach to all the world. As the gospel goes forth, people will be drawn to the truth and to Christ, just as the birds of the air are drawn together to one place. Once the gospel has been taken to all the world, then the wicked will be destroyed. At that time, the signs of the coming of the Lord again, will come to pass as they have been prophesied. Those who are there to witness the signs of His coming, will be there until all things will be fulfilled, including the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. When he comes, all those who are covenanted members of His gospel, will be gathered together. I believe that at that time, those covenanted people will be quickened to meet the Savior and the saints who have died before that time. I hope that I am on the right path to be considered one who treasures the word of the Lord. I hope that I will remain strong and not be deceived by the temptations and snares that Satan will surely place in my path. I look forward to this great and dreadful day of the coming of the Lord.

This post is to be continued.

D&C Section 43 (Part 1)

Historical Background

Some of the saints still did not understand that revelation for the church could only come through the Prophet, Joseph Smith. Some continued to falsely say that they were receiving revelations pertaining to the guiding the church or giving correction to the Prophet. The Prophet asked the Lord and received this revelation in response.

Only the Living Prophet Has the Right to Revelation for the Church

“O HEARKEN, ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you (v. 1). For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand (v. 2). And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me (v. 3).”

The gift of the Holy Ghost, gives all worthy saints the right to personal revelation. This personal revelation will only be regarding those things that an individual has a stewardship over. Meaning, that a member who is a father, and has been called to be over the Young Men in his ward, will be able to receive revelation regarding his family and the Young Men, but he is not given revelation for the ward, because that responsibility is given to the Bishop. The Prophet of the Lord, has a stewardship over all people on the earth today and he is the only one who can receive revelations for the good of all people.

How Can One Avoid Being Deceived by False Prophets?

“And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments (v. 5); And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me (v. 6). For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed (v. 7).”

Anything that is claimed as revelations for the church by anyone who has not been called by the Lord to be his prophet, is not of God. These revelations or claims of revelations are from Satan and must not be followed. One of the many blessings of having the Holy Ghost is the gift of discernment, which can protect us against false prophets and their deceit.

How Does “Binding” Oneself by Covenants Help One Become Holy?

“And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given (v. 8 ). And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me (v. 9)—That inasmuch as ye do this, glory shall be added to the kingdom which ye have received. Inasmuch as ye do it not, it shall be taken, even that which ye have received (v. 10).”

When we make covenants, we are bound to them and take the consequences that come from whether we do or do not keep them. We become sanctified, holy, and all-together better people when we remember our covenants and do our best to live them. When we commit with God to keep his commandments, the spirit will remind us when we have a choice that will help us to be obedient or not. As we listen to this gentle reminders and choose the right, we become closer to our Savior and more sanctified through Him. I think that typically people do not enter into any covenant with God or with another person, without the intention of keeping that covenant. The covenant itself, has the ability to encourage us to do our part because we have made a promise to someone else.

By Supporting Joseph Smith, the Saints Could Obtain the Glories and Mysteries of the Kingdom

“And if ye desire the glories of the kingdom, appoint ye my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and uphold him before me by the prayer of faith (v. 12). And again, I say unto you, that if ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, provide for him food and raiment, and whatsoever thing he needeth to accomplish the work wherewith I have commanded him (v. 13); And if ye do it not he shall remain unto them that have received him, that I may reserve unto myself a pure people before me (v. 14).”

The saints were told to support and sustain the Prophet, so that he could do his duty and bring them knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom. He was only to remain with those who did this. In the remainder of his life, this was not fully done and the translation he was working on was never published for the saints.

The Gospel Can Be Taught Effectively Only through Power from on High

“Again I say, hearken ye elders of my church, whom I have appointed: Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach the children of men the things which I have put into your hands by the power of my Spirit (v. 15); And ye are to be taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, that ye may give even as I have spoken (v. 16).” The saints were told here, that all things of the gospel should be taught by the power of the spirit and not by the knowledge of man. It was not long after this revelation that the saints would be able to receive he blessings of the endowment and the power that comes from it. When we are worthy and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost in our own lives, we can teach others by the spirit and they will have the opportunity to know the gospel truths and come unto Christ.

3 Nephi, Chapter 14

(Compare to Matthew 7)

What is the effect of a beam?

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged (v. 1).  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (v. 2).  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye (v. 3)?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye (v. 4)?  Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye (v. 5).”

In the Savior’s time a beam would have been a piece of wood like a 2×4 used in carpentry, and a mote would have been a small sliver of wood like sawdust.  All of us have faults.  In the state of the natural man, we would rather overlook our own faults and see the faults in others.  It is likely, however, that our own faults are much greater than the faults we see in others.  We have a beam in our own eye, while those we judge have small motes.  We will be judged by the Lord and the faults in ourself that we choose to overlook, will be those that condemn us.  We need to keep ourselves close to the spirit and be willing to look inward and see the things that we need to change in order to become more Christlike.  When we pray daily and invite the spirit into our lives, we will be able to recognize these things more easily and therefore be able to work on them if we are willing.  Daily prayer will also keep us humble as we recognize the Lord’s hand in everything in our life.  If we are more humble, we are also more forgiving of others faults and less likely to judge.

Side note:  Judging others and using the spirit to discern are two different things.  We should use the spirit to discern if the influence of another would be good or bad.  With discernment aided by the spirit, we will protect ourselves and those whom we love and have stewardship over.  I think judging is truly looking for those faults in others with the intent to find ourselves better then they are.

Why would someone cast pearls before swine?

I have been mocked for some decisions and opinions over the course of my life.  It never feels good.  Our opinions are important to us and when they are mocked it is a personal attack on us, which is never a fun thing to experience.  Like our opinions and decisions, our covenants should hold a special place in our hearts and minds.  They should be considered very valuable.  When we were dealing with the aftermath of passing Prop 8 in California, the temple that I attend was surrounded by people professing their hatred for the church and its members.  Some graffitied the fence walls and others posted hateful signs as well.  This was purely outside the fence of the temple, but because I hold the temple and the covenants made there so sacred, I literally felt like it was a personal attack.  I know that if everyone was allowed in the temple whether they believed what was taught and done there, or not, there would be a lot of mocking of things I hold very dear to me.

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (v. 6).”  In the Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:9-11 we read, “Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you (v. 9).  And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet (v. 10).  For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you (v. 11).”

Swine or pigs do not see any value in a pearl the way that we do.  To a pig a pearl would be just like a rock under their feet.  Our covenants and ordinances are included in the “mysteries of the kingdom” and should be valued greater than pearls.  The Savior is teaching the disciples and the multitude that these sacred things should not be taught to everyone, because many will mock and ridicule them for it.  Then they will likely use these things to further attack them.  This is why we do not openly share all that is done within the walls of the Temple of the Lord.

What is one way we can allow Christ in our lives?

In this picture, there is no handle on the door for the Savior to open it Himself.  We can imagine ourselves on the other side of this door.  Like this door, our hearts do not have a handle for others, including the Savior, to let themselves in.  We must open the door to our hearts and invite Him in.

“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (v. 7).  For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened (v. 8 ).  Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone (v. 9)?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent (v. 10)?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him (v. 11)?”

The Savior is teaching us that we need to pray to invite Him into our hearts.  When we do this, God will give us the good things that we desire.  He will do this because He is our the Father of our spirits and He loves us.

Why should we pray?  In this chapter we see that if we pray we will receive what we desire.  In D&C 10:5 we read, “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”  We pray to escape the temptations of Satan and conquer him.  In D&C 19:38 we read, “Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.”  We pray to have the Spirit of God and all the blessings it brings, in our lives.  In D&C 31:12 we read, “Pray always, lest you enter into temptation and lose your reward.”  We pray so that we will be able to withstand temptation and gain exaltation to live with God again.  In D&C 32:4 we read, “And they shall give heed to that which is written, and pretend to no other revelation; and they shall pray always that I may unfold the same to their understanding.”  We pray to have an understanding of the scriptures and the revelations of God.  In D&C 90:24 we read, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.”  We pray so that the things in our lives will “work together for [our] good”.  And finally, in D&C 93:49 we read, “What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place.”  We pray so that Satan does not have power over us, because he will if we allow it.

How do we get answers from our prayers?  In this chapter we learn that we ask, seek and knock.  When we ask a question, providing it is good, God will provide an answer.  In 3 Nephi 18:19-20 we read, “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name (v. 19); And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you (v. 20).”  We need to believe that we will receive an answer.  In D&C 9:7-9 we read, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me (v. 7).  But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right (v. 8 ).  But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me (v. 9).”  We must ponder over it first, and go to the Lord prepared and focused.  In D&C 88:64-65 we read, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you (v. 64); And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation (v. 65).”  We must ask in the name of the Lord and it must be “expedient” for us.  This means that is needs to be appropriate and practical for our purpose.  If our purpose is not in line with the will of God, he will still give us the answer and it may lead to our condemnation.  And lastly, in the Bible Dictionary under the word “Prayer” we read, “… The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings. … We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ – when his words abide in us (John 15: 7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.”  We will get answers when pray in the name of Christ with his wishes in mind, not our own.

How can we apply the Golden Rule today?

“Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets (v. 12).”  This is what we commonly know as the Golden Rule, which I have often heard said as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The way I think of applying it in my own life, is to try to think of myself in another’s position.  If I imagine myself in their shoes, I can often let offenses be forgiven and forgotten, I think twice before I say something that may be hurtful, I will think more of the ways that I can serve that person.  Choosing to serve others is probably the best way to put this rule into practice.

Baptism

What is the “strait gate”?

Imagine a long fence, with a gate across a path, and you are standing on that path.  The gate has a sign on it.  “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat (v. 13); Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (v. 14).”  The word strait means narrow.  The strait gate is the narrow gate that is the entrance into life eternal with our Father in Heaven.  In Second Nephi 31:17-18 we read, “Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost (v. 17).  And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive (v. 18 ).”  The sign that we see on the strait gate should say ‘Baptism’ because that is the ordinance we must do in order to enter through this gate. The path that continues on the other side of the gate, is the path to eternal life.

The gate makes a good symbol of baptism on the path of our lives, because without baptism, we cannot continue to progress.  The ordinance will either block us from continuing if we do not do it, or allow us the freedom to continue on if we do.  It is a strait gate because it is the only way that we can progress.  The gate to destruction is wide because there are so many ways that lead us down that path.  The Savior taught this principle to the Nephites and he lived by example when he was baptized during his ministry in Jerusalem.  The Savior was telling the Nephites just how important the principle of baptism is in the plan of our Father in Heaven.

How can we detect false prophets?

When we look at a piece of fruit, it may be difficult to know what type of tree it came from.  The thing we can know, is that if the fruit is good, it must come from a tree that is also good.  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (v. 15).  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles (v. 16)?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (v. 17).  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (v. 18 ).  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (v. 19).  Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them (v. 20).”

The Savior is teaching us that we need to be wary of those who say they are prophets, but are not.  We will be able to tell if they are true prophets by their acts.  If their actions are good and righteous, then we can tell they are prophets.  If their actions are evil, then we can tell that they are not prophets.  The good fruit will touch our spirits and we will know the truth of it.  Bad fruit cannot touch our spirits in this way, however, we must be living worthy of the spirit’s influence to be able to discern the truth of it.

Are you a “doer” or just a “hearer”?

In James 1:22 we read, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  Those who hear the gospel, but do not live it, deceive themselves into thinking they are righteous.  The gospel of Christ is an active thing.  One cannot be a follower of the gospel, if they do not live it.  “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven (v. 21).  Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works (v. 22)?  And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (v. 23).”  Being a “hearer” of the gospel is the first step, because we must learn it first before we can live it.  But if we do not live the gospel, we cannot truly know the gospel and therefore we cannot truly know our Savior, Jesus Christ.  The Savior taught the Nephites, that even if they are living a way they think is good, if they are not living His gospel, they are not righteous enough to know Him and will not be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven.

“Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock (v. 24)—And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock (v. 25).  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand (v. 26)—And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it (v. 27).”  Those who choose only to hear the gospel will not remain strong and sure-footed when the trials of life and the temptations of Satan beat against them.  They will fail and will fall greatly into the hold of Satan.  On the other hand, those who choose to live the gospel will have the strength of the Lord as their foundation and they will stand firm in the face of adversity.  I believe this promise to be true and I have witnessed it in my own life.  I am so grateful for the gospel and for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who taught the Nephites how to live, and who lived His own life as a example for me to follow.

Helaman, Chapter 13

What is Samuel’s message to the Nephites?

“Yea, heavy destruction waiteth this people, and it surely cometh unto this people, and nothing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people (v. 6). . . And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence (v. 9).  Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord; and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction (v. 10).  But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not (v. 11).”

Samuel the Lamanite had a important and great message to tell the Nephites in this chapter.  In the last two chapters Nephi was still trying to teach the people to repent and stop the wickedness.  They had suffered famine and began to remember God again.  But with prosperity, the Nephites would return to pride and wickedness.

At this point, the Lamanites were being more righteous, while the Nephites were living in great wickedness (v. 1).  “And it came to pass that in this year there was one Samuel, a Lamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people. And it came to pass that he did preach, many days, repentance unto the people, and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land (v. 2).  But behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart (v. 3).  And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart (v. 4).”  Samuel had to preach from a wall because the Nephites did not want him in the city of Zarahemla, preaching to the people.  Samuel first preached repentance to the people for many days, but he had been thrown out of the city.  When he returned and went upon the wall, he preached from his heart, which was what the Lord had told him to do.

“And he said unto them: Behold, I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people (v. 5).”  Samuel told them that before 400 years had passed from this time, the people would have the sword of justice upon them.  The only thing that would save them was “repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ (see v. 6 above)”.  This is also the only thing that can save us today.

“And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me (v. 7).  Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them (v. 8 ).”  If they did not repent and soften their hearts, the Lord would take the scriptures (His word) and His Spirit from them.  The same applies to us.  If we harden our hearts, bot the word of the Lord and His Spirit will be taken from us.

The enemies of the Nephites, the Lamanites, would live to see the destruction of the Nephites (see v. 10 above).  But the Lord promises that those who repent and turn to him, will have his anger turned away from them and they will be blessed (see v. 11 above).  When we repent, we must turn to him as we humble ourselves and accept the atonement in our lives.  There is no other way to repent and be saved.

When are a people “ripe for destruction”?

If I have a basket full of fruit and one is rotten, I would throw that piece away and check the others to make sure nothing else was going bad.  If most of the pieces are rotten, I throw them out and check the remaining to be sure they are okay still.  If all but one piece is rotten, I throw out the bad and keep the one good one still.  If all the the fruit is rotten, I would toss them all and start with new fresh fruit again.  When I think of a piece of fruit being ripe, I think of one that has to be used now, or it will go bad and be wasted.

“Yea, wo unto this great city of Zarahemla; for behold, it is because of those who are righteous that it is saved; yea, wo unto this great city, for I perceive, saith the Lord, that there are many, yea, even the more part of this great city, that will harden their hearts against me, saith the Lord (v. 12).  But blessed are they who will repent, for them will I spare. But behold, if it were not for the righteous who are in this great city, behold, I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it (v. 13).  But behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared. But behold, the time cometh, saith the Lord, that when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction; yea, wo be unto this great city, because of the wickedness and abominations which are in her (v. 14).  Yea, and wo be unto the city of Gideon, for the wickedness and abominations which are in her (v. 15).  Yea, and wo be unto all the cities which are in the land round about, which are possessed by the Nephites, because of the wickedness and abominations which are in them (v. 16).  And behold, a curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of Hosts, because of the peoples’ sake who are upon the land, yea, because of their wickedness and their abominations (v. 17).”

Those who are “ripe for destruction” are so wicked that if they do not repent immediately they will be destroyed.  The only reason the city of Zarahemla was being preserved, was because there were some who were still righteous.  Just like the fruit, the good would not be destroyed because their was some (even most) that was no longer good.  It wasn’t until all that was left was no longer good, that destruction would come upon them.

We too have some places that are becoming more and more wicked, but their are still some who are trying to live righteous lives, which keep these places from destruction today.  It only takes a few righteous to have the kind of influence that will bring many back to God.  It only takes a few righteous to keep a nation or a city safe from the wrath of God.  We have been promised that as long as the righteous continue to pray to God, this nation will be safe from many of the awful things that come to those who are wicked.  I take hope in that promise and have faith that as long as I am doing what I can, this will remain true.

Upon what is your heart set?

A priority is something of more importance.  In a list of goals the priorities are those that need to be done first or those that carry more weight in some way than the others.  Top priorities in my life include scripture study and prayer (both personal and as a family), going to church, education, and anything related to taking care of my family.  You can tell what a top priority is because it is something that you put above everything else and will try to do no matter what.

“And it shall come to pass, saith the Lord of Hosts, yea, our great and true God, that whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more, because of the great curse of the land, save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord (v. 18 ).  For I will, saith the Lord, that they shall hide up their treasures unto me; and cursed be they who hide not up their treasures unto me; for none hideth up their treasures unto me save it be the righteous; and he that hideth not up his treasures unto me, cursed is he, and also the treasure, and none shall redeem it because of the curse of the land (v. 19).  And the day shall come that they shall hide up their treasures, because they have set their hearts upon riches; and because they have set their hearts upon their riches, and will hide up their treasures when they shall flee before their enemies; because they will not hide them up unto me, cursed be they and also their treasures; and in that day shall they be smitten, saith the Lord (v. 20).  Behold ye, the people of this great city, and hearken unto my words; yea, hearken unto the words which the Lord saith; for behold, he saith that ye are cursed because of your riches, and also are your riches cursed because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you (v. 21).  Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you, but ye do always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your God for them; yea, your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities (v. 22).”

The Nephites had forgotten God and had given priority to their riches over Him.  There is no greater way to offend God, then to forget him and set our hearts upon things of the world.  In D&C 59:21 we read, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.”  It is not a bad thing to have riches.  We are blessed to be prosperous when we are being righteous.  However, we need to realize that all we are and all we have is because of God and not ourselves; He gives us our talents, He blesses us with strong minds and bodies, He influences us in ways that are right and true, and so much more.  We need to constantly show our gratitude to the Lord for all that He does for us.

We can show our gratitude in many ways.  We show it by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost and obeying the commandments.  We show it be humbly giving all that we have for the church and to help those in need.  We show it be saying it daily in our prayers.  When we pray to our Father in Heaven, we should take a moment to reflect on our blessings first, so that we can adequately thank Him for our blessings.  Our gratitude should outweigh our requests for more blessings.

Do we cast out true prophets in support of false ones?

“Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time (v. 24).”  The Nephites were throwing the prophets out of their cities, mocking them, hurting them, and even killing them.

“And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out (v. 25).”  These Nephites were hipocrits.  They claim that if they had been living in the times of their ancestors, that they would not have done these things to the prophets.

“Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil (v. 26).  But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet (v. 27).”  Samuel told them that they were worse than their ancestors because not only do they get rid of true prophets, but they accept and follow false prophets instead.

It can be easier to say what we would or would not have done if we have lived in some other time, because we can see what the outcome of it all has been.  It is easy for some to say that the ancient prophets were great, but deny current prophets, because they led the people of their time through amazing things, but do not see what is happening with themselves.

“Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him (v. 28 ).  O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light (v. 29)?”  The Nephites were being led by “foolish and blind guides”.  They followed men who were following the plans of Satan, rather than guide with the truth.  We can easily fall into this trap today.  I think if we keep the Lord and the gospel close to our hearts, we cannot be led astray.  The truth of our actions and choices may be hard to hear at times, but if we have the light of Christ in our lives, we will realize that we constantly need to be striving to be better and we are far from perfect.

Because of following false prophets, the Nephites were living in great wickedness.  ” Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity (v. 30).  And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them (v. 31).”

Samuel tells the Nephites how they will feel when they realize they should have done differently.  “And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts. And then shall ye lament, and say (v. 32):  O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us (v. 33).  Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle (v. 34).  Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land (v. 35).  O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them (v. 36).  Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days (v. 37).”

What brings happiness?

I find happiness in the joy of my family members and other loved ones.  When I see that someone I love is happy, it brings me happiness.  When I am a participant in the reason for that happiness, I find an even greater joy.

“But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head (v. 38 ).  O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words! And I pray that the anger of the Lord be turned away from you, and that ye would repent and be saved (v. 39).”

The Nephites had looked for happiness in sin, which is not possible.  Sin is of the devil and nothing that he can provide can bring happiness, only misery.  In Alma 41:10-11 we read, “Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness (v. 10).  And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness (v. 11).”  We all desire happiness.  The problem is that we are naturally weak and see what we think is happiness in the things of this world.  It is only through following God’s plan for us, that we can truly be happy.  Only when we experience this happiness ourselves, can we understand, even a little, how it will feel to have eternal happiness through the salvation of God.


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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