Posts Tagged 'Follow the Prophet'



1 Samuel Chapter 12

The Israelites had been led by prophets and judges for many years. Samuel had been called to be their prophet and leader, but the people had desired to have a king as well. Under the direction of the Lord, Saul became their king, and with the help of the Lord, he started to deliver the people from their enemies. Samuel continued to be their prophet and this chapter includes his words to the people. It begins with these words:

1 And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.
2 And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
3 Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
4 And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.
5 And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.

Samuel was called to be the prophet in Israel while in his youth. His entire life, had been a life of example and leadership to the people. He had lived a life of service to the Lord and to the people of Israel. He was now growing old, and his life was a witness of his goodness to them. He had never done anything against any of them, but he asked them if he had, so that he would be right with them. They told him he had not done anything against them. He declared that God witnessed these things, to which the people agreed.

6 And Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers.
8 When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
9 And when they forgat the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
10 And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king.
13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.
14 If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:
15 But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Samuel reminded the people that the Lord had given them Moses as their prophet and caused that Aaron should have been their high priest. It was the Lord who had delivered the people from Egypt. Samuel reviewed the blessings of the Lord which had led his people to be where they were that day, as was done many times by the prophets of old when they were nearing death. The Lord had delivered the Israelites from Egypt, but the people had become ungrateful and forgotten Him. Then the Lord allowed the people to be oppressed by other nations through their own choices. He heard their cries for deliverance and sent them judges to free them from oppression. After much peace, they desired to be like other nations and have an earthly king, even though the Lord was already their king. The Lord conceded and allowed them a king, which they now had in Saul. Samuel exhorted them to continue to fear the Lord and to serve Him and keep the commandments of God, so that they and their king would continue to follow after God. If they would not keep the commandments, the Lord would be against them, just as He had been against their ancestors in their wickedness.

16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes.
17 Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king.
18 So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
19 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

Samuel told the people to witness a sign of thunder and rain, because they had done wickedly in asking for an earthly king to rule over them. Samuel called upon God to give the sign. It was given and the people feared the Lord and the prophet. The people recognized their sin and pleaded with Samuel to pray for them because of this evil choice they had made.

20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart;
21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
22 For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.
23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

Samuel told them not to fear, but to follow the Lord and serve him completely. He told them not to seek after the things of the world, which would not be lasting, but would be vain. Our limited perspective can sometimes make it hard to see that we have are choosing between things that would give us pleasure that will only last for a time on this earth, or things that would give us joy and peace for eternity. Those things that are strictly of this earth, are the vain things we should not be seeking after, because they will fade away and have no value. Samuel promised them that they would not be forsaken by the Lord, because they were His people. He also promised that he would continue to pray for them, because that was his duty in being their prophet. It was also his duty to teach them what was right and good, which was to truly serve the Lord and follow after Him, because they had been blessed greatly by the Lord. Again he promised destruction would come to them, as well as the king they had desired, if they turned to wickedness.

The gospel of Jesus Christ can be found in many nations throughout the world. The people of the Lord are everywhere. The specific temptations and weaknesses of His people, are diverse and numerous. Even though this is the case, the common thread when any follower of Christ follows after temptation, is the tendency to forget the Lord. If we can likewise, follow the counsel given by Samuel, we can avoid turning away from God. The promise remains that those who turn away from God and turn to wickedness, will find destruction to their souls. This idea is recorded several times throughout the scriptures. In Mosiah 7:29 we read, “For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.” Therefore, we would do well to continue to follow after the Lord, stay committed and loyal to Him, serve Him with all our hearts, seek after things of God, and keep His commandments. We should do these things, because we owe Him everything for the countless blessings He has given and will continue to give to us.

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1 Samuel Chapter 10

The Lord gave a revelation to the prophet Samuel, that Saul was to be the king of Israel. Saul was told that he was the answer to the prayers of Israel, and was given honor at a meal with Samuel. As Samuel escorted Saul from the city the following day, he told Saul to remain so that Samuel could tell him the word of the Lord. This next chapter begins with the following:

1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
2 When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
3 Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
4 And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
5 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
6 And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
7 And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
8 And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.

Samuel anointed Saul as the captain over the Lord’s inheritance. Saul was called by the Lord, and was anointed according to the ancient custom. I think anointing was possibly a way of dedicating the service of the king, to the Lord. Today, those who receive calls from the Lord to serve in his church, are set-apart by the authority of the priesthood and by the laying on of hands, and they then receive a blessing to help them in their service. Being set-apart is a way of dedicating one to the service of the Lord.

Samuel, in his role as a seer, told Saul that as he would be traveling, two men would approach him and tell him that his father’s donkeys had been found and that his father had begun to be concerned for him. Then as Saul continued on his way, he would come upon three men taking offerings to the place of worship. They would salute him and give him two of their loaves of bread. Then, Saul would go to the hill of God, where there were Philistine guards, and he would meet a company of prophets with musicians in front of them. They would prophecy and then Saul would receive the spirit of prophesy and appear as someone new. Theses things would be a sign to Saul, and he would know that the Lord was with him. Then Saul was to go to Gilgal and Samuel would go there to make offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. Saul was to stay there for seven days, until Samuel met him there.

In the course of this revelation, we can see that the Lord was looking out for Saul. First, he would have confirmation that the donkeys he had been searching for, had been found and he did not need to continue looking or worrying about them. Likewise, there would be those who could return to his father and tell him that Saul was alright. With that, Saul could continue on his way without concern that his father was worried about where he was. Next, we learned in the previous chapter, that Saul and his servant had nothing left to give when they had went looking for Samuel. When they headed to the high place, which Samuel was now referring to, they would want again to bring an offering. Along their way, they would meet three men who would give them bread which they could them take with them to the high place. The experience of being among prophets and prophesying with them, would show people, who already knew Saul, that he was not the same boy they had seen grow up. It could help some to support him in his calling as their king. In addition, these things would be able to give Saul courage and greater confidence to approach his calling, because he could know that the Lord was on his side.

9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
11 And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
12 And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
13 And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

God blessed Saul with all the things that Samuel had prophesied for him. The Lord gave Saul a new heart. He was met by the prophets and he prophesied with them as he was given the spiritual gift to do so. The people who had known him, were surprised at what they witnessed. When he was done being among the prophets, he went to the high place, just as Samuel had instructed.

When the spirit touches men, it changes their hearts. The spirit has the power to help us become new people. The spirit is the power that brings conversion to the Lord. I’m not sure how much the heart of Saul was changed from the person he was before, but it had an effect on him, which I believe was intended to prepare him for becoming the king for the people. I believe also, that this change of heart came to Saul, because he acted in faith. He was given instruction by the prophet of the Lord, and he followed those instructions with faith. We can also experience a change of heart, that is powerful and will convert us into the person that God wants us to be. As with Saul, this will only come to us, if we listen to the words of the prophet, both ancient and modern, and follow with faith in the Lord.

14 And Saul’s uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
15 And Saul’s uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
16 And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.

Saul’s uncle came to him and asked where he and his servant had gone. Saul told him what had happened as they searched for the donkeys. His uncle asked what Samuel had told him. The only part of it that Saul told his uncle, was that Samuel had told them the donkeys had been found.

17 And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh;
18 And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands.
20 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
22 Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
23 And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
24 And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

In Mizpeh, which I am guessing is the high place referred to earlier in this chapter, Samuel called the people together. Samuel told them the word of the Lord, which was first a reminder of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and from all other oppressors. He told them that in that day, they had rejected God as their ruler and had desired a king to rule over them. He called the people to present themselves to the Lord by their tribes. Once they did this, Samuel called the tribe of Benjamin out from among them. Saul was called out from the tribe of Benjamin, but he was not found right away. They prayed to the Lord to know where he was, and they were told that Saul had hid himself. They found him and brought him in the midst of the people, where Samuel announced that Saul had been chosen by the Lord. The people recognized Saul as the king. Samuel gave the people instructions regarding the kingdom, which were recorded, as the scriptures were recorded. Then, the people were sent to their homes.

26 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
27 But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

Saul returned to his homeland, with a band of men who had been inspired to go with him. Some people among the Israelites, who followed after the false gods, questioned the ability for Saul to save them from the Philistines and other enemies. The doubted his calling and they refused to honor him as their king, but Saul kept peace, or ignored them. There will be times, and have been many times, when people do not support the callings extended to certain individuals by the Lord. This is their choice. All we can do ourselves, is to allow individuals to voice their opinions or concerns and move forward in the work of the Lord as He has inspired us to do so. I believe that we grow so much more, and in the ways that God would have us grow, when we sustain and support those who have been called to lead us. I am grateful for the blessing of the spirit, which as I have followed in faith, has confirmed in my heart that those who lead our church today, are indeed men and women called of God.

Here we see, that when the desires of the people of the Lord are united, the Lord will give them what they want. In this case, they desired for a king. I believe the wisdom of the Lord was that the people of Israel would learn from this experience, even if it was not what the Lord desired for them. God did not place people here on this earth, to force us to do His will. We were blessed with agency and God wants us to learn from choices that we make, both the good and bad. If we draw near to Him, we will know what He desires for us and He will be able to bless us greatly for being obedient and loving children. However, if we reject God, as the Israelites did, we may get the things that we want in this life, but God will not be able to give us the blessings later. Our loving Father in Heaven, will allow us to choose for ourselves, so that we can receive the consequences of our choices, good or bad, and learn for ourselves those things that we should learn from this mortal experience.

1 Samuel Chapter 8

Samuel was called to be the prophet of the Lord, when he was a young boy serving with Eli in the temple. He helped deliver the Israelites from the Philistines, through prayer and fasting to the Lord. He had judged Israel for many years of peace. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba.
3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

Samuel began to get old, and so he caused that his sons should be judges over Israel. They did not serve righteously in their callings, and took bribes for their judgments. Rather than be unrighteously judged, the elders wanted to have a king as other nations had.

6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

Samuel did not think it wise to have a king. He prayed to the Lord, who gave his consent to give the people a king. The Lord says here that Israel had rejected the Lord, not Samuel. I believe this is because the Lord had given them a pattern of judges, and they were now choosing to do things their own way. If the Israelites began to rely on an earthly king, they would no longer seek help from the Lord. They were, in effect, choosing an earthly king over their Heavenly King. The Lord was allowing the Israelites to freely choose their leadership, because He has given us agency and knows that we will only progress if we are given the opportunity to choose for ourselves. Samuel was to allow this choice, with a protest and with teachings of what type of king they would possibly have rule over them. If Samuel did all he could to persuade the elders to change their minds, he, as their prophet and leader, would not be held accountable for this decision.

10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.
11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

Samuel told the elders they could have a king, but he also warned them of what would happen when they were ruled by evil kings. He said that a king would make their sons and daughters do what he wanted for himself. A king could claim the fruits of their labors, and they would become servants to him. He also told them that when the day came when they were oppressed to the point of crying to the Lord, He would not hear them. They were choosing a king over the Lord.

There have been other times when men of God have warned their people of this same thing. In Mosiah 29 we read:

13 Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.
… 16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
17 For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!
… 21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.
22 For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.
… 30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.
31 For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.

Likewise, earlier in Mosiah, chapter 23, we read the following:

7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king.
8 Nevertheless, if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you to have a king.
… 13 …even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

For those who heard this in the book of Mosiah, they heeded these words of wisdom and did not continue to seek after the rule of a king. This was not the case with the elders of Israel. Chapter 8 continues:

19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
22 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

Even with his protest, the elders did not listen to Samuel. They desired strongly to have a king to rule over them and to lead them against other nations. Samuel returned to the Lord and told Him all that the elders had said.

The people of Israel were unhappy with the men who had become their judges, because they were choosing unrighteous dominion over the people. The elders of Israel probably felt that they would have a better life under a king, then what they were living under bribed and easily-persuaded judges. The elders looked at the seemingly great nations around them, and were desirous of that lifestyle. The nation had lost the faith in God to trust that He knew how to lead them. If more of the Israelites had been faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, they would have been the mighty nation they desired to be. But instead of being personally accountable for the state of their lives and their nation, they wanted a king to make all the decisions for them. They were choosing to very likely forfeit their agency and freedoms, in order to be like the other nations of the world. The Lord let them know, through the words of the prophet Samuel, that this decision would not bring them happiness and they would regret it some day.

We have the promises of God today as well. Throughout the scriptures, the lesson is that those who keep the commandments will prosper and have the protection of the Lord from all enemies. If we loose faith in God, or stop putting our trust in him, and turn to the rule and support of men, we will forfeit our own agency to others. Likewise, the result will not be that we are a happy people, but that one day we will remember what the scriptures teach us. We might then desire for those things that bring true happiness, and we could possibly find that the Lord will be slow to hear our own cries. To avoid these circumstances, we should follow the words of the prophets, ancient and modern, and most of all, we should trust that God knows what is best for us and live according to His plan. This is how we can choose to live after the manner of true happiness.

1 Samuel Chapter 7

After several months of plagues, death and destruction, the Philistine lords returned the ark of the covenant to the Israelites. It was returned to the land of Beth-shemesh. Many in the area were slain because they were disobedient to the instructions of the Lord, and looked into the ark. With great sorrow and mourning, the people of Beth-shemesh reached out to those in Kirjath-jearim, to take the ark out of their land. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the men of Kirjath-jearim came, and fetched up the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.
2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Men of Kirjath-jearim took the ark to the house of Abinadab. Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, was sanctified in order that he might be the one to take care of the ark. It remained there for twenty years, while it seems, Israel lamented. It is likely, that Israel was turned from the Lord in many ways, while I am sure He waited for them to remember Him. His presence was probably not with the land of Israel, to protect them and bless them, especially in the face of their enemies. They sorrowed in knowing the spirit of the Lord was not with them.

3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.
5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.
6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

Samuel, the prophet, called the Israelites to repentance. They were worshipping false gods, but he told them deliverance from the Philistines would come if they turned back to the Lord and served Him. The Israelites listened to Samuel and stopped their idolatry of worshipping Baalim and Ashtaroth. They returned to worshipping the Lord. Samuel called them to gather in Mizpeh, so that he could pray for them. They gathered in fasting and prayer, confessing that they had sinned against the Lord. The Philistines learned of the gathering of Israel and decided to go against them. The Israelites were afraid. They asked that Samuel continue to pray for their deliverance.

9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.
10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Samuel made an offering to the Lord, and prayed for Israel. The Lord heard and answered his prayer. The Philistines were getting closer to the Israelites, but the Lord thundered greatly on them, and they became uneasy or confused and were smitten. The men of Israel went after them and killed them. Samuel placed a memorial stone where the Lord had helped them.

13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
16 And he went from year to year in circuit to Beth-el, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
17 And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the Lord.

The Philistines did not come against the Israelites any longer, and the Israelites had peace with them for the rest of the time while Samuel was a judge. The Lord had delivered the Israelites again. Israel was able to restore all the cities that the Philistines had taken from them. Samuel traveled throughout Israel as he was their judge.

Again we see that the blessings of the Lord will be with those who turn to Him in faith. In Helaman 13:11 we read, “… thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.” This is an eternal principle with regards to the relationship of all men to God. We all sin, because we are human and none of us is perfect. When we repent and strive to keep His commandments, he is bound to bless us, but if we do not, it will not be good for us. The Israelites were blessed when they listened to the words of their prophet, and followed his council. We likewise, can be blessed to listen to and follow the words of our modern prophets.

Joshua Chapter 24

This is the final sermon of the prophet Joshua, to the Israelite people. Joshua had been one who had walked with Moses during the wanderings in the wilderness. He had remained to see and enter the promised land while the rest of his generation had passed away. He was a man of faith and courage, and was called to be the prophet to conquer and settle the promised land. He trusted the Lord, and the Lord was there to help him. His words to the Israelites follow:

1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
7 And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

Joshua gathered the people to hear his words, and then called the elders of Israel and other leaders, to present themselves. He begins to speak to them of their history. The family of Abraham had lived in a foreign land and worshipped the gods of that land. Abraham was led away from the idolatry, by the Lord, to the land of Canaan and was blessed with his son Isaac. The Lord blessed Isaac with two sons, even Jacob and Esau. He told them how Jacob’s family went to Egypt, and that the Lord sent Moses and Aaron and gave plagues there. Then the Israelites were led out of Egypt by the Lord. Then when they were chased by the Egyptians, the Lord protected them and destroyed their enemy in the sea. Then they wandered in the wilderness, and the Lord led them into the land of the Amorites and delivered their enemies into their hands. The Lord stopped Balaam from cursing the Israelites, and caused that he should bless them instead. Finally, the Israelites were led into the land of Canaan, to Jericho, and the Lord delivered their enemies into their hands again. The Lord helped them to gain the promised land, where they had plenty, but they had not prepared it for themselves.

14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
17 For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

Joshua called the people to honor and serve the Lord, and to put away the practice of worshipping false gods, or idolatry, as their ancestors had. He reminded the people that they were free to choose whom they would serve, but they needed to make their choice. Joshua, their prophet and leader, declared that he had chosen to serve the Lord. In response, the people spoke of the commandment God had given them to serve Him alone and to forsake other gods. The congregation of Israel recognized the hand of the Lord in bringing them out of bondage, and preserving them in their wanderings. They knew that the Lord had delivered their enemies into their hands and had driven them out of the land. The Israelites chose to serve the Lord as well. Joshua told them that if they would follow after other gods, they could not serve the Lord and would not be forgiven of their transgressions or sins. The Lord would destroy them if they turned against Him. The people wanted to choose the Lord still, and so Joshua said they were witnesses against themselves, which they agreed to. He called on them again, to put away other gods and turn to the Lord, to which they made a covenant to serve and obey the Lord.

We have the same obligation to choose if we will strive to serve the Lord, or if we will serve other gods. We cannot stand on both sides of the fence, but if we choose to serve the Lord, we will be held to His standard. It is our privilege, to be able to stand and firmly say we will serve the Lord. When we make covenants of baptism, we promise to serve the Lord all our days. If after making covenants, we go against the Lord, destruction will eventually come upon us as well. I hope to be able to remain steadfast and firm all the days of my life, and continually serve God.

26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.

A record was made of these things, and a stone was raised as a reminder to the people, of the covenant they had made with the Lord. Then all the people were sent back to their homes.

29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31 And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.

Joshua died at the age of 110. In the days of Joshua, the host of Israel had server the Lord, as well as in the days of all the elders that served with him.

32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.

The bones of Joseph were buried in the land that his father Jacob had purchased many years before. This was a fulfillment of the request of Joseph which he made while in Egypt, because he knew that God would one day deliver the people of Israel and led them to the land of promise. Then, Eleazar, the priest and son of Aaron, died and was buried in the land of his son, Phinehas.

Idolatry was a sin which plagued the children of Israel in their time. This is why there was a need to continually remind them to love and serve the Lord alone. In our time, we have idolatry of other forms, which plague our generation. We need to be continually reminded to live in the world, but not be of the world. I feel like the greatest reminder we have from our current prophets, is that our focus must be on the family or Satan will destroy us. The strength of the Lord’s people, as a whole, depends upon the strength of our family units. If we allow Satan to break down the family, we will each stand alone and we will fall. It was so important for the congregation of Israel to heed the words of the prophet Joshua, as they heeded the words of Moses before him. Is is just as important for us to heed the words of our own modern prophets, because they speak the word of the Lord for us today. I am so grateful for the prophets which the Lord has called in our day. I am grateful for times when I can hear their words and apply them to my life. I know that they are true and can help us to be strong and courageous in our day.

(If you are interested in listening to the modern prophets and apostles, you can watch or listen to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Click here for more information.)

Joshua Chapter 11

When the Israelite nation was delivered from Egypt, many years prior to Joshua becoming the prophet, they were promised that the Lord would help them to return to the land of their inheritance. They were told that they would destroy the nations in the land. Joshua had led them, under the direction of the Lord, to destroying many cities up to this point in the book of Joshua, and this chapter continues the conquest of the land of promise.

1 And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,
2 And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west,
3 And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.
4 And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.
5 And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

The kings of the neighboring lands continued to gather together to fight against Israel. They were so many in number, that it says they were as the sand upon the sea shore. I imagine that the faith of the Israelite armies had to be great at this time. They needed to have complete trust in Joshua as their leader and prophet. More importantly, they had to trust God that they would have his support going up against such a large number of men.

6 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.
7 So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.
8 And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.
9 And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

The Lord promised Joshua, that their enemies would be delivered up slain to the Israelites. Joshua was commanded to make the horses useless, by cutting their hamstring, and to burn all the chariots. Joshua led Israel to battle against them, and the Lord delivered them into their hands to victory. The Israelites did as commanded with the horses and chariots.

10 And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.
11 And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.
12 And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded.
13 But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.
14 And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.

Joshua killed king Hazor, who had led the band of armies that had come against them. Then, they destroyed all of their cities that had been among those enemies. The cities left unburnt were captured by the Israelites, who took their spoil and cattle, and destroyed all the people.

15 As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.
16 So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same;
17 Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.
18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.
19 There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.
20 For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.

These verses remind us that Joshua was strictly obedient to all the commandments that had been taught to him by the prophet Moses. Because of his obedience, and the faith of the Israelites to follow after Joshua, the Lord was able to bless the Israelites in all their battles. Joshua continued to fight against all the enemies in the land, killing their kings and destroying their cities. Previously the Gibeonites had made peace with the Israelites by deceiving them, but no other cities made peace with them. The Lord allowed the enemy nations to have hardened hearts that led them into to battle against the Israelites. This was part of the Lord’s design to lead the Israelites to complete victory in all of the land of promise.

21 And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.
22 There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.
23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.

The Anakim cities and people of the mountains, were also destroyed. Joshua led them to take the whole land of promise, or the land of Canaan, and prepared it for division among the Israelite people. It was only when all the nations had been destroyed, that they rested from war.

From this chapter, we can witness the trust in God that is necessary to conquer the seemingly impossible challenges in our own lives. God will fight the battles of his faithful people. The Israelites were not perfect, but they were chosen and had the opportunity to use their agency to either fight or give up. They continued onward, in many battles all over the land, and were blessed to have the Lord fight for them. When we feel like we are up against an army of challenges or enemies, even something so big as to be as the sands on the sea, we need to follow the prophets’ counsel and faithfully continue forward into the battle.

Joshua Chapter 1

The first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are called the books of Moses. They tell the history of the prophets and people of God, from Adam and his family, down through Moses and the Israelites. The ending of these books, records that Moses was taken by the Lord and Joshua, who was previously called and set apart by Moses, becomes the new prophet and leader of the children of Israel. The book of Joshua begins with the following:

1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The Lord speaks to his new prophet, Joshua. Joshua is commanded to take the people into the promised land. The Lord promised Joshua that no man would be able to stand before him, because the Lord would be with him for the rest of his life, just as he had been with Moses. The phrase “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” is quoted a lot, to show that the Lord does not desert those he has called to do his work. In modern revelation we read, “He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:83)” When we faithfully serve in our callings, the Lord sustains us and guides us.

The Lord tells Joshua to be strong and of good courage in his charge to give the people the land of their inheritance. He is told again to be strong and courageous in order to be strictly obedient to the law. It is not an easy thing, to keep the commandments of God in a world that seems to pull us every other direction. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to stand firm and remain faithful to the covenants made with the Lord. The faithful cannot be selective on the commandments they choose to obey, but must strive to keep all the commandments of the Lord. Joshua is also commanded to meditate on the law day and night. I think this is another way of saying that he needed to study it and then write it upon his heart, so that he would live the law with exactness. If he would do this, he would be successful and prosperous. When we, like Joshua, are strong in the faith and courageously do what is right, studying the scriptures and living the principles found in them, we will have no reason to fear either. The spirit of the Lord will strive with those who choose the right and do the will of the Lord.

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it.

Joshua began to prepare Israel to cross the Jordan into the land of their inheritance. He did this by giving commands to the tribe leaders, which they were then to give to all the people. They had three days to prepare themselves to travel again.

12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15 Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

Joshua reminded the two and a half tribes who had already claimed their inheritances, that they promised Moses they would go with the rest of the host of Israel, to gain all the lands promised. After they served in the army of Israel, they would be able to return to their homes.

16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

The men agreed to do follow the commands and leadership of Joshua, just as they had been willing to follow Moses, because they knew the Lord was with him. They also decided that those who were disobedient to Joshua, and therefore went against their earlier promise to Moses and the Lord, would be put to death.

“Be strong and of good courage”. There are many times in my life, when I have walked by faith alone and this is a motto that has been able to help me a great deal. Remembering that the Lord can be our strength during trials, is a huge help in these difficult times. I find great hope in the promised blessings of keeping the commandments, and cling to faith in Him and his help to overcome all that I face. We may not be going against men of great stature in battles or facing death, but our trials are our own for a reason and they are not easy. We can all grow from our trials when we face them with all the strength we can and with the courage to do what is right.

Deuteronomy Chapter 34

Moses was the prophet who delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, through the power and direction of the Lord. He then led the people by the power of the Lord, to Mount Sinai, where he received revelation and taught the people the laws of God. With the priesthood and continued revelation, he led them for the forty years they wandered in the wilderness, before arriving near the promised land. He led their armies into battles, where they were victorious because the Lord was on their side. He taught as the Lord commanded and the people made precious and sacred covenants with the Lord. Moses had not been entirely perfect through his life, and because of a choice he made during his leadership, he was to be taken from the earth before he could enter the promised land. The Lord called Moses to go up into the mountain to die, just as his brother Aaron had previously. This chapter finishes the story of Moses. It begins:

1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

Moses went into the mount and saw the land as he had been promised by the Lord.

5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.
6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

Moses was taken by the Lord. In Alma 45 we read the following:

18 And when Alma had done this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of.
19 Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial.

Here we learn that the description of Moses being buried (by the Lord), means that he was taken up by the spirit, which would explain why no one would know where he was buried. Being taken from this world by the spirit, means that Moses was translated and did not suffer through death as most men do (see 3 Nephi 28:1-9, 36-40 for information on translation). In the Bible Dictionary under “Moses”, it teaches that in order to do part of the mission he had on earth after his life, but before the resurrection began, it was necessary for him to be a translated being with a body and not a spirit awaiting the resurrection.

7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

Moses did not die of “old-age”, as many do today. He lived to be 120 years old, but is described in such a way to say that he was not a man who was going blind or becoming unable to perform his duties. It causes me to ponder on the scriptures that teach us that men will live to the fullness of their age during the millennium, and then they will be changed to their next state as translated beings are. I am sure it is a great blessing to experience that mighty change without going through the pains and struggles of physical death.

8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

The Israelites mourned over Moses for thirty days, while they remained in the land across the Jordan River from Jericho. I can only imagine the heartache felt when Moses left them, because he had done so much for his people.

9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.

Joshua, who had been called and set apart, to be the next prophet and leader of the people, was made full of the spirit of wisdom. I think this is another way of saying that the mantle of his calling, rested upon him now that Moses had gone. The Israelites knew he was to lead them, and because the Lord had commanded them through the words of Moses, they hearkened to Joshua and sustained him as their leader.

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,
11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

Moses was a prophet of the higher priesthood, who led with great authority and power from the Lord. When he was taken, this priesthood was also taken from the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:25 we read, “Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;”. The experiences that the Israelites had with him as their leader, would stand as examples for the rest of time. He was Israel’s greatest prophet. They would continue to focus on him and his teachings as long as they were a nation. This was necessary in order to establish the word of the Lord among the people. Even if they would not always follow the commandments and would be scattered later as had been promised, they had been established as the people of the Lord, who had the law of Moses, which was the law of the living God. All the earth would continue to be blessed by the Israelites because of the work that Moses did. Moses was one of few men, who ever lived and knew the Lord as personally as he did, even seeing Him face to face. He was more faithful and obedient than most men who have ever lived, which is why he was able to do so many great and marvelous things for the people of his time.

I am grateful for the prophet Moses and for the scriptures which teach me of his life and mission for the Lord. I know that his righteousness and leadership was necessary for us to have the gospel as we do today. His mission did not end with his being taken from the Israelites, but has continued with the need for restoration of keys of the priesthood throughout time. I have enjoyed the study of his life and law, which has strengthened my testimony and helped me gain a greater understanding of the gospel which I live today. I am also grateful for the love of God, to allow us to have living prophets today. I know that these prophets are called for our time and to help us find our way back Home.

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.

Numbers Chapter 13

The children of Israel were camped in the wilderness of Paran. The Lord continued to lead and guide them on their journey to the promised land. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
3 And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
4 And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.
5 Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.
6 Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
7 Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph.
8 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun.
9 Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu.
10 Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi.
11 Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi.
12 Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli.
13 Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael.
14 Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi.
15 Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
16 These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.

Moses was commanded to send spies to the land of Canaan, which was the promised land. He was to send one of the leaders from each of the tribes. Moses did as he was commanded, and sent Shammua, Shaphat, Caleb, Igal, Oshea (Jehoshua, or Joshua, the servant of Moses), Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi and Geuel.

17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
18 And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many;
19 And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.

Moses told them the route to take, and what to look for. They were to see who was living in their land, if they were a strong people or not, and if they were many in number or few. They were to see if the land was good, and what the people had done with the land as far as building cities or fortifications. He told them to take courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. At that time, the plants should have had the beginnings of fruit.

21 So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
22 And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.

The spies followed the direction of the prophet, did as they were commanded, and went to the place called Hebron, which was where the people of Anak, the Anakims, lived. The men took some of the fruit of the land in Eshcol. And after many days, they came back to Moses.

26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

The men brought the fruit back, and returned to Moses and Aaron, to report. They said the land was good and the fruit of the land was good. They also told them that the people living there, the Anak people, were strong and had strong fortifications. They reported that the Amalekites lived in the southern part of the land; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites lived in the mountains; and the Canaanites lived by the coast of Jordan. One of the men, named Caleb, suggested that they rush in then and take the land, believing that the Israelites would be able to take it. The others reported that they would not be able to take the land, because of the strength of those living there. They reported that the land was full of men of great stature, including giants.

I think that the commandment to go and see the land they were to eventually inherit, was a commandment to show their faith and to learn that they would need to trust wholly in God. They were now faced with the challenge of acquiring that land, against the strength and fortifications of others. It seemed to some, to be an impossible task. I know that sometimes in life, we are asked to do things that seem impossible, or at least impossible for us. These are the times when we need to do our very best, giving all that we can give, following the inspiration of the spirit, and then trust the Lord to do the rest. It is one of the greatest tests of our faith and willingness to do as God commands. When we can become the kind of people to put complete faith in God, we learn the kind of lessons that will shape us into the people God would have us be.


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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