Posts Tagged 'Jesus Christ'

Dandelions and Birds

Today, as I was sitting in the car with my babies, I was staring at a field of grass nearby. I sat, noticing all the dandelion stems. Not even the pretty tops, but just the stems. Stems that lead right to the roots. Those things that never seem to truly die, but just populate more and more, and take over the beautiful landscapes.

My daughter was also staring out into the same field. Not pulling her eyes from the field, she says, “Mommy, can I go play with the birds?” I realized that I hadn’t even seen them. Not one. As I thought about missing them completely, I realized that of course I would be focused on the dandelions. Why? My life is hard right now. The lives of loved ones is particularly difficult right now. I don’t understand why everything is happening the way it is, and I have a hard time dealing when so many things are out of my control. My focus is on the weeds that just won’t seem to go away.

It is true that we live with a limited perspective based upon our own life experiences, either those of our past, or, as is the case when life is hard, the experiences of our present situations. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 it says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I see through a glass, darkly. The more I thought of this I realized that collectively our life experiences would broaden our perspective infinitely. This is why the Lord can help us when we cannot see the way through difficulty. This is why things that we know, with every part of our minds, to be impossible, are possible through Him. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-7, we read, “He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. …”. He has gained the infinite perspective through the Atonement. This is the gift that He offers to us each and every day of our lives.

So, you who are having difficulties, you who are struggling, take your limited perspective to God. Ask Him to allow His son to help you to see the birds when all you can see are the dandelion stems. He will help you. He will take you out into the field of life and help you see more, to share some of His perfect perspective, and to be able play with the birds, you don’t even know are there.

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2 Samuel Chapter 7

David was established as the king over Israel. At some point after this, he had the ark of the covenant brought into the city of David, where he lived. David had desired to do the things that God had wanted him to do. With the Lord supporting him, David had helped Israel to defeat the Philistines and keep the land safe from their enemies. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies;
2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.
3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.

David told the prophet, Nathan, that he felt the home he lived in was better than the home of the ark, which was made of curtains and not some kind of permanent structure. The ark had been moved from place to place and placed inside the tabernacle, which was like a large tent, as the Lord had commanded during the time of Moses. Nathan told him that he could go and do what he felt he should, and that the Lord was with David.

4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying,
5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
8 Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
9 And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
10 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.

The Lord instructed Nathan, to tell David that the ark had gone all these many years without a house built for it. In all that time, the Lord had been able to give guidance and direction to Israel, but He never asked them to build a house for Him. Nathan was to tell David that He had blessed him to become the great king he had become, and that He had established Israel in this land and kept them safe from enemies. The Lord had built a house for David.

12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
17 According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.

Eventually, David would pass on and lie with his forefathers, and the Lord would set up a kingdom from the line of David. Then, the Lord would have a house built for him. He promised that a son in the lineage of David would have a kingdom established forever, and that he would have mercy with him. He would not be removed, as Saul had been. The kingdom of David would go on forever. Nathan went to David and told him all that the Lord spoke.

We can read later, of the literal son of David, Solomon, being established as the king, and then raising a temple of the Lord. The line of David would continue to rule in the kingdom of Israel. More importantly, through the lineage of David a Son full of mercy was born. He did not have a kingdom on earth in the time of His life, because of the circumstances of the land of Judah, but He has a kingdom that has been established forever. Jesus Christ was that son of David’s line.

Jesus-Portrait

18 Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
19 And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?
20 And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant.
21 For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.
22 Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
23 And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?
24 For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, Lord, art become their God.
25 And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.
26 And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.
27 For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.
28 And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:
29 Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.

David prayed to God. David recognized that he was blessed by God to have his house established in Israel. He recognized that God knew him and had done these things according to His will. He prayed about the greatness of God and the good things God had done for the nation of Israel, to make them greater than other nations and to bless them to be His people, especially bringing them out from Egypt and from the influences there. No other being could do those things that God had done for them. David accepted the promises of the Lord towards his house, and prayed that his house would be before the Lord forever. He asked for a blessing upon his house.

David gives a good example of what prayer should be. He begins by acknowledging God’s hand in his life and the life of those around him, especially those he loves. He shows gratitude for these things in praise to God. He accepts the will of God in his life, offering himself to the will of God. And then he asks for the blessings he and his family need. These are parts to good communication with God, our Father in Heaven.

David’s desire to build a house for the ark, was a sincere desire to do what he could to show reverence and honor to the Lord. He did not want to be treated better than the Lord. His motives were pure, but it was not the will of God for David to be the one to do this. God would have his house built by someone of the line of David. God has His reasons for doing things, even righteous things, at different times and in different places than we may want or understand. He has wisdom far greater than any man and in his infinite wisdom and love, He will do those things that are best for all His children, when it is the right timing for it to be done.

What a blessing it was for David, to have a prophet and spokesman for the Lord, to help him to know what he should or should not do as the king of Israel. The Lord was not upset with David for having a desire to do good for Him, but instead blessed him with the knowledge that his family would be blessed forever. I can only imagine what an awesome feeling David must have had to hear these words from the prophet of the Lord. Then David, continued to be a great example to the world, in the importance of expressing gratitude to the Lord for his blessings.

When we have good intentions and are striving to do what is right, the Lord will direct us to do the good that He would have us do. The Lord has a plan for each of us in this life and we, like David, will be blessed greatly if we strive to follow that plan. Likewise, our blessings will be great, if we recognize God’s hand in our own lives and show gratitude through prayer and praise.

Ponderizing – Week 8 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
2 Nephi 25:26.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Jesus-Portrait

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everything I do to live my faith and my religion, revolves around the understanding that Jesus is the Christ. That He is the Lord who, under the direction of His Father, created the world I live on today. That Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, who spoke to the prophets of old, and cared for His people. He came down to the earth, to live and die for all mankind. He has made it possible for all men to live forever as resurrected beings. He is the only way that we have the opportunity to return and live with our Father in Heaven for all eternity. This opportunity can only come through our acceptance of His infinite atonement. He has done his part, but we need to choose to accept Christ into our lives and live faithful to Him and His commandments. Through the atonement, we can repent and be forgiven of all our sins. The faith and hope I have in Jesus Christ, has blessed my life beyond anything I ever thought possible.

As a covenant member of the church of Christ, I have a duty to share that understanding with others around me. This scripture is one of my favorite verses in all of the scriptures, because I am a parent. I personally find so much joy in believing in Christ, and I have a great desire to share all that I can about this with my children. I believe that families on earth, can be families in heaven. The gospel teaches that each person much choose this for themselves, and so if I hope to have my family with me forever, I have a responsibility to teach them of Christ and the power of His atonement. How will my children know Him, if I do not speak of Him? How will they know that He can bring the greatest joy, if I do not rejoice in Him? How will my children know that He is still actively leading His people today, if I do not teach them about the prophesies of Him that have come to pass and are still to come? How will they know where to go to learn of Christ, if I do not show them the importance of reading the holy scriptures and modern revelations, where the prophets’ writings of Him can be found? How will they know, that Christ is the only way to becoming and remaining free of the bondage of sin, if I do not do all that I can to teach them this truth? This freedom is the only way to have true happiness in our lives. This is eternal happiness.

There are places that people can learn of these things without their parents, such as church, but the best place for children to learn is within their own homes. A parent, who has already gained a testimony of Christ and his mission, would be shirking their greatest responsibility by selfishly keeping this knowledge to themselves. I understand that whether I have my own children or not, my responsibility would still be to help others in my sphere of influence, to learn these eternal truths, because everyone should have the same opportunities to learn them if possible.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Jesus taught, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) My heart yearns to tell the world as Alma’s of old. “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.” (Alma 29:1-2) In no other place does this mean more to me, then in my home. Jesus Christ, who’s birth we celebrate at this special time of the year, is the way.

Ruth Chapter 4

Ruth was a Moabite woman, who had married the son of an Israelite woman named Naomi. After her husband and both her father-in-law and brother-in-law had died, Ruth moved to the land of Israel with Naomi, in order to care for her. Ruth had gleaned from the field of a man named Boaz, who was related to Naomi. In following a suggestion from Naomi, Ruth asked Boaz if he would offer her family redemption through marriage. Redemption was offered in Israel, so that a man’s inheritance could continue with his family even after he had passed away. (To redeem, was to deliver another from distress or bondage.) Boaz had agreed to ask the nearest relative to Naomi, if he wanted to offer redemption, and if he would not, Boaz would marry her and redeem their inheritance. This chapter begins:

1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:
4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.
5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

Boaz went to the kinsman and in the presence of elders and witnesses, told him that the land of Naomi’s husband had been offered for redemption. He was allowing the man the opportunity to buy from Naomi, through marriage to Ruth of Moab, so that her children would be able to have the inheritance.

6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

The man declined the offer to redeem the land, because it might have ruined his own inheritance, or because he would not have benefited personally from it. Instead, he told Boaz that he could redeem it, and as was the custom, he gave his shoe to Boaz as a testimony to his refusal. It was part of the law for a man to redeem the widow of his brother (or near kinsman), and when refused the reputation for his refusal would be witnessed and known to others (see Deuteronomy 25). It seemed a bit selfish for this man to refuse, but Ruth was blessed to have the second chance for redemption, through Boaz.

9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.
10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem:
12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.

Boaz told the witnesses that he would then purchase the land and belongings of Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, and all that had passed on to their sons, Chilion and Mahlon. He would also take Ruth to be his wife, and any children they had, would be heirs of the inheritance of Elimelech, so that their family line would continue in the land. Verse 11 and 12, sound much like a blessing upon their marriage and his posterity with Ruth.

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.
15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth and Boaz were married and had a son. She blessed Naomi that day, with her son and a posterity to carry on her name and place in Israel. Naomi took the son and raised him. He was called Obed and became the father of Jesse, who was the father of David the king. In kindness, Boaz fulfilled his promise to Ruth and offered redemption through marriage. In doing so, he gave a full life back to Naomi. I am sure there was joy and rejoicing for both Ruth and Naomi at this time.

18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

This is the family line from Pharez who was an ancestor to Boaz, to kind David. Pharez was the son of Judah, of the twelve sons of Israel, and Tamar, his daughter-in-law (see Genesis 38). This connection is interesting to me, because Pharez was the resulting child of a father, Judah, who refused to allow his younger son to redeem the widow of his first born, and was tricked into becoming the path for redemption to Tamar.

This idea of redemption can teach us of the redemption which we all should seek. We, like Naomi and Ruth, have an inheritance promised to us. This is an inheritance from our Father in Heaven, but we have been separated from this inheritance through the spiritual death of our first parents, and our own resulting spiritual death. We are separated from God, and cannot receive the inheritance in the state that we find ourselves in at this time. We live here on this earth, in the spiritual state much like of physical state of widows in Israel. When we realize that we have our spiritual brother, Jesus Christ, nearby, as they learned of Boaz, we can turn to Christ, and plead for His offering of redemption. He has the power to offer it to us, because he paid the great and infinite cost of the atonement. If we are virtuous, He will offer us this redemption, through our personal covenants with Him. When we make and keep the covenants we make with God, we make our inheritance sure, just as the marriage and bearing of a son to Ruth and Boaz made Naomi’s inheritance sure. And much like I believe there would have been joy and rejoicing in the family of Ruth, and believe there will be great joy and rejoicing after our own redemption by the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jesus-Portrait

I think that it is no coincidence, that we should have this record that teaches us of Tamar, who was to be redeemed through Judah and his son Pharez, which eventually gives us Boaz. Boaz then redeems Ruth and Naomi through his son Obed. Finally, through his line, there is a connection to Jesus Christ, who is the great redeemer of all mankind. The story of Ruth, is a story of redemption: redemption from famine, redemption from an unrighteous nation and redemption through marriage. Redemption is the key to plan of happiness, which allows all mankind the opportunity to return to our heavenly home and to then choose to receive all the blessings that God has in store for us.

Deuteronomy Chapter 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy Chapter 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 16

Moses was commanded to teach the people of Israel, all the things that God had commanded when they were encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. That had been at a time, when those who had lived in Egypt, were still alive. At this point in Deuteronomy, however, all of those adults were gone from among them (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb), and Moses was teaching these things to the new generations of the children of Israel. One of the things established in the law of Moses, was the observance of feasts. I’m not sure if they had been able to participate in these feasts fully as they wandered in the wilderness, but they were to be observed as they settled in the promised land. This chapter begins:

1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.
3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.
5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee:
6 But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.
7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.
8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.

The Lord had established the Passover, and the Israelites were to keep it in remembrance every year at the time when the Lord had delivered them from Egypt. Passover was to be observed by sacrifice in the holy place named by the Lord. For seven days they were not to eat leavened bread. After the Passover Feast, they were to return to their own tents. The seventh day of unleavened bread, following Passover, they were to gather for a solemn assembly and leave all their work alone for that day. I believe this was the time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

I was thinking today about the part of the Passover feast, which required that nothing of the sacrifice from that first night, be left until the morning. My thoughts went to the sacrifice of the Savior, and how after his death, when the women returned to the tomb with the burial preparations, His body was gone. Furthermore, it makes me think of how all of the sacrificial meat was to be partaken of that first night of the passover, fulfilling its purposes to the Israelites. Likewise, when the Savior was sacrificed for mankind, he gave all of himself, wholly and perfectly, so that we could all partake of the Atonement. Nothing of himself was used for any other purpose, than to save mankind, that being the work and glory of His Father.

9 Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.
10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:
11 And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there.
12 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.

Seven weeks after they began to reap from their fields, they were to observe the Feast of Weeks. It was about given a freewill offering to the Lord. I think they did this, in order to be reminded that all that they were blessed with, came from the Lord.

13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:
14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.
15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.

After the harvest was completed, the Israelites were to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. This was to be a time of rejoicing over the many blessings of the Lord.

16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:
17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.

All the men of Israel, were to go to the holy place of the Lord at least three times a year, during the feasts of unleavened bread, weeks and tabernacles. Each time, they were to bring an offering to the Lord, according to what they had been blessed with by the Lord.

18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

In each city or land of Israel, they were to establish judges and officers, or elders, to justly judge and govern the people. They were not to show any kind of favoritism for individuals, or take any kind of bribes for their work. The Lord teaches us here, that bribery or the giving of gifts for work done, leads to spiritual blindness, and a perverting of those things that are righteous. If they were to continue to keep the land of inheritance, their judges had to be just to all and true to the word of God.

21 Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God, which thou shalt make thee.
22 Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the Lord thy God hateth.

Again, they are reminded to refrain from worshiping in the manner of other nations. One of the things that was commonly done, was that “groves” were built up near altars to false gods. These were typically places where fertility gods were worshipped and unholy practices were carried out, in the name of their false gods. If they altogether avoided the creating of these places, they would be better protected from the temptation to follow after these other gods and pervert those things which were holy and sacred.

As I study these words, I am often reminded of the importance of keeping a remembrance of God. The Israelites were warned frequently of ways that would lead them after false gods and traditions of their day. They were also reminded often of just how important it was to stay close to the Lord. One of the ways that they were taught to stay close to the Lord, was to remember that their many blessings came from Him. He had delivered them from bondage, He had led them to the promised land, and He would continue to bless the righteous with great blessings as they lived there. We have been given warnings of things that lead us away from the Lord, mostly things in the form of worldly temptations that cause the spirit to withdraw from our lives. If we can strive to follow the commandments and keep a remembrance of the Lord often, we will be greatly blessed. When we are grateful for the hand of the Lord in our personal lives and the lives of our families, we draw nearer to God. I know that peace and happiness is found in a life of devotion and gratitude to the Lord.

A Beautiful New Day

Jesus-Portrait

Happy Easter! This is such a beautiful day. I love to celebrate what the Lord has done for me. He is risen and lives, so that each of us can rise and live again also.

Mark 16:

1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Luke 24:

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

John 20:

1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

What a marvelous witness of one of the greatest events in the history of the Earth! I am so grateful for the words of the scriptures and the hope and peace they bring to my soul.

Numbers Chapter 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus-Portrait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers Chapter 21

The Israelites had traveled from the desert of Zin, to Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom. Here, the high priest, Aaron, had died and the people morned his loss. His son Eleazar, was called to be the high priest. I am under the impression, that these things happened just a short time before the Israelites were able to go into the promised land, which would mean nearly forty years have passed since some of the rebellious had attempted to go into the land on their own.

The book of Numbers continues with the following:

1 And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners.
2 And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.
3 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.

The Canaanites were worried that the Israelites were coming up against them, so they went out against them. King Arad, took some Israelites prisoner. The children of Israel went to the Lord for help in conquering this people, and the Lord listened to their plea. The Canaanites were pretty much destroyed in the land they called Hormah.

4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

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They traveled from mount Hor, around the land of Edom, by way of the Red Sea. The spirit of the Israelites was weighed down because the way of traveling was hard for them. It is so easy to fall into murmuring in times like this, when life seems unnecessarily difficult to us. Once again, they complained against God and the prophet, Moses. They were so tired of eating manna, and they were not happy with not having water to drink. In response, the Lord sent a plague of fiery, or poisonous, serpents, and many of the people died.

7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

The people plead with Moses, when they realized they had sinned and were being punished by God. They begged for Moses to pray for them, that the Lord might remove the fiery serpents from them. Moses prayed for them, and the Lord told Moses to make a serpent on a pole. If those who had been bitten, would look at the serpent, they would live. Moses did as he was commanded, and when bitten people looked at it, they were healed and spared from death. We have a symbol used for the healing of the world today, which is based on this story. Here is a picture (from lds.org) of what the brass serpent may have looked like:

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The symbol in the medical profession looks like this (found on wikipedia):

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There is more to this bible story, which we can find in the book of 1 Nephi, chapter 17, which reads:

40 And he loveth those who will have him to be their God. Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made; wherefore, he did bring them out of the land of Egypt.
41 And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.
42 And they did harden their hearts from time to time, and they did revile against Moses, and also against God; nevertheless, ye know that they were led forth by his matchless power into the land of promise.

Also found in Alma 33:

18 But behold, this is not all; these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God.
19 Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live.
20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them.
21 O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?
22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.

The Israelites had been saved by great miracles beyond anything that most of us could imagine. Many of those who were remaining at this point in their wanderings, were either young children at the time they left Egypt, or had been born in the wilderness. The Lord had sent plagues in Egypt and had given a way for them to remain safe from the destroying angel. Really, the ability to be saved by sacrificing a lamb and putting it’s blood on the doorway of their homes, was not a difficult task for them. However, they had seen the great and terrible power of the Lord up to that point, in the many plagues that came before it. They were willing to put their trust in the Lord at that time. Here they were given a greater test of their faith, and many felt it was too easy a thing, and died instead. In Alma 33:19 (see above), the brass serpent is called a type. It was a type or a symbol of Christ who would come. John 3:14-15 reads, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: (v. 14) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (v. 15).” If the Israelites could look in faith, towards Christ, they could be saved. If they could not, they would perish. The scriptures teach us, that this was indeed a symbol of Christ.

Jesus-Portrait

The stories of the trials our parents and other ancestors have experienced, should help us to build our own trust and faith in the Lord. We have many opportunities in our lives, to choose if we will learn from those things and look to the Savior, or if we will think that it is too simple a thing He asks of us. There are simple things that the scriptures and modern prophets teach us, will save us. Some of these are reading our scriptures, prayer, attending church, having family home evening, and such. Many feel, however, that things like prayer and scripture study are not for them. They are just too simple to fix all the problems of life. They are too simple to bring them salvation. If we find ourselves feeling like this, we are also choosing not to look to the Lord for our healing and salvation.

10 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.
11 And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Ije-abarim, in the wilderness which is before Moab, toward the sunrising.

The Israelites moved from mount Hor, around the land of Edom, to Oboth, and then on to a place called Ije-abarim near Moab.

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12 From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared.
13 From thence they removed, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, which is in the wilderness that cometh out of the coasts of the Amorites: for Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.
14 Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,
15 And at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab.
16 And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.

They traveled into the valley of Zared and then moved passed Arnon between Moab and the Amorites. Next, they journeyed to Beer. I am sure that moving into areas where others lived, was a relief to many who were feeling the difficulties of life in the wilderness. They were now in areas with some water and I imagine that some probably recognized how far they had come towards their promised land.

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An interesting thing in these verses, is the part about the book of wars. I don’t really understand it, but the footnote to verse 14, says that it relates to lost scriptures. I think that this means that these are some of the things that have been taken away from the scriptures over time, and I think that some day these things will be revealed.

17 Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it:
18 The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah:
19 And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth:
20 And from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon.

The Israelites sang, I think in gratitude, for the water they had come upon. Their journey continued to Mattanah, Nahaliel, Bamoth of Moab, and then Pisgah towards Jeshimon.

21 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying,
22 Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king’s high way, until we be past thy borders.
23 And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel.
24 And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.
25 And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof.
26 For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto Arnon.
27 Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared:
28 For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon.
29 Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites.
30 We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.

Messengers were sent to the king of the Amorites, Sihon. They asked to peacefully pass through the land, just as they had done with Edom. Sihon also refused to allow them through, but instead came against the Israelites in Jahaz. The Israelites were blessed to defeat the Amorites and take the land of Arnon. They lived in the cities they had gained.

31 Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.
32 And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there.

A spy was sent to Jaazer by Moses, and the Israelites were able to take the land and drive even more of the Amorites out.

33 And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei.
34 And the Lord said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.
35 So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.

Next they moved toward Bashan, where the king, Og, tried to fight against them. Moses was promised by the Lord that this was the work of the Lord and the Israelites needed not fear the people of Bashan. I think they may have feared them, because these people may have been giants, or at least very large in stature. The Lord told him they would take the land here as well. The Israelites killed the people of this land and took possession of it.

One of the things we learn of the people who were destroyed, is that they were not a righteous people. In 1 Nephi 17 we read:

32 And after they had crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction.
33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.
35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

The Lord prepared the land for his righteous and chosen people. Likewise, the Lord has prepared a place for his righteous people today. If we will be healed by His power, accepting his atonement into our hearts, we will be able to endure to the end, and receive salvation and the promised land He has prepared for us.

Challenge: Is there healing you need in your life? Are you doing the simple things in life, that will draw you closer to the Lord? What can you do today, to look towards Christ and accept the healing power of the atonement in your life?


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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