Posts Tagged 'Judgement'

1 Kings Chapter 3

After the death of King David, the kingdom had been established greatly under Solomon. He had rid his kingdom of those who he knew would have destroyed it with rebellion. Solomon’s reign began with peace and strength. Chapter 3 begins as follows:

1 And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
2 Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord, until those days.
3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.

Solomon made a marriage relationship with the Pharaoh, by taking Pharaoh’s daughter to wife. They lived in the city of David. Solomon built up the city of David, including a house for himself, for the Lord, and a wall around Jerusalem. Up until this time, a house to the Lord had not been built. David had wanted to build a house to the Lord, but the Lord had instructed him not to do so, because he would allow his posterity to build His house in the place He wanted it built. The people had made sacrifices in other places up until the reign of Solomon. Solomon was a righteous man, and loved the Lord and kept the commandments as his father had instructed him to do. Solomon went to Gibeon to make sacrifice to the Lord, which had been the location of a tabernacle to the Lord.

The Lord’s wisdom is far greater than our own. I am not sure why David had not been allowed to build the temple of the Lord, but that is how the Lord wanted it. Instead, the right timing and place would fall in the reign of Solomon, and it would be great.

5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, asking what Solomon desired of him. Solomon acknowledged the great blessings that had been given to his father by the Lord, including the opportunity for him to sit upon the throne. Solomon felt he was not up to the task of being king, which is a typical feeling of those who are given these great callings of the Lord. He felt insignificant among a great and chosen people, so he asked for the ability to discern between good and bad and to judge the people with an understanding heart. The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request, and blessed him with a wise and understanding heart, which he would be known for throughout history. His blessing of wisdom, was a blessing of the spirit and he was not simply wise to the things of the world, but spiritually wise, so that he could discern good from evil. He also blessed him with those worldly things that he had not asked for, even riches and honor. The Lord told him that he would be blessed with a long life, if he would keep the commandments like his father David. When Solomon woke up from the dream, he went to Jerusalem, offered sacrifices to the Lord and had a feast.

16 Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

Two harlots came before Solomon, to have a dispute resolved that had risen between them. The women lived together, the first who spoke had given birth and then three days later the second also had a child. They were the only two in the house. The first claimed that the second’s woman’s child died in the night when she laid on it, and that she got up and traded the children while the first slept. When she awoke to feed her baby, she saw that it was not her baby that was next to her. The first said that she confronted the other woman, who said that the living child was her own. Solomon heard the complaint. He repeated their problem back to them and then in his wisdom, Solomon commanded his servants to bring him a sword, which they did. He told the servants to divide the child, giving a half to each woman. The mother of the baby told Solomon to give the baby to the other woman so that the baby would not be killed, while the other woman said for the baby to be divided. This was evidence of the true mother of the child, and so King Solomon pronounced judgement, that the child was to be given to the first, who had not wanted the baby killed, because she was the child’s mother. This was a bold way to judge this complaint that had been brought before him, and as the people of Israel heard of it, they saw that he truly was a wise judge.

Solomon was starting out as a good king for the people of Israel. Rather than seek after the things of the world, he desired to be wise. I think he felt the weight of his calling and truly wanted to magnify it and be the king that God wanted him to be. He did not want to judge others unfairly, but wanted to be able to tell what of the issues brought before him were good or bad. Because of this strong desire in him, he was blessed with more than he had expected. But, it was not his wealth that caused him to become known. It was the greatness of his wisdom, which was displayed as he judged between the two women. God was with him and helped him discern the good between them. Solomon was inspired to know that a mother would not allow her child to be destroyed.

The blessing of wisdom is not reserved only for great kings, but we all can seek after it just as Solomon did. It would be so good if more people turned to God and asked for the ability to discern and judge righteously, for wisdom before wealth. When we are given callings of the Lord, especially as a parent, we should desire the wisdom we need to fulfill that calling. I know, as a parent especially, I could use divine assistance in knowing how to do all that is expected and required of me. Moreover, every person would be greatly blessed to desire to do their best first, before having the best. Disciples of Christ should seek to be better servants of God, and like Solomon, they will be blessed with more than just help to be better, even with the blessings of the things of this world. This is because God loves us. He is a loving Father in Heaven, who desires to give blessings to all His children, both spiritual and physical blessings.

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1 Samuel Chapter 24

King Saul was jealous of David and the love that the people had for him. Saul wanted to kill David and had spent a lot of time, energy and effort, in hunting for him. Time and time again, David had managed to escape from Saul. In the last chapter, the invasion of their common enemy, the Philistines, had stopped Saul from pursuing a fight with David and his men. Their attentions turned to protecting Israel from the Philistines. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.
2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats.
3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.
4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily.
5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
6 And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.
7 So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.
8 David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.

After fighting the Philistines, Saul learned that David was in the wilderness of En-gedi. He returned to his personal mission to find and kill David. Saul and 3,000 of his men went searching for him. Saul found a sheepfold or a cave, where he could rest, which happened to be where David and his men were. Saul did not know that they were there. David’s men told him that the Lord had delivered Saul into his hands. David went and secretly cut the skirt-hem of Saul’s robe, which “smote” David’s own heart. I think he may have felt hurt in his heart for doing something against Saul. According to the footnote, this was the portion of his robe that represented his authority. So, in effect, David would have been symbolically removing his authority as king, which is what he would eventually do. I think it is possible, that for a man of pride, such as Saul, having his authority threatened would have been harder to face than David threatening his life.

While Saul continued to sleep, David returned to his men and told them that the Lord did not want him to kill Saul, because he had been anointed king and master by the Lord. David convinced his men to let Saul go, which they did. Saul was unaware of what had happened. David followed after him, and honored him as his king.

I think that David knew the Lord well enough to know that the Lord would remove Saul in His own time. Until the Lord did so, Saul was still the anointed leader of Israel. Sometimes we are given promises from the Lord, but we cannot rush His plan. We should not take it upon ourselves to force something to happen, just because it has been promised to us. Rather, we should be patient with the Lord’s timing and everything will work out for our good. David was wise and knew he could trust that the Lord would do things the right way. It is possible, that this was a test given to David, to see if he would follow the direction of the Lord, or follow the natural feelings of men, which would have been to take this seemingly perfect opportunity to kill Saul.

9 And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?
10 Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.
11 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
12 The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
13 As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
14 After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.
15 The Lord therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.

David told Saul, that the Lord had delivered him into his hands and some had told him to kill him, but he had spared his life because he was his anointed master. Then, he pointed out the cut of skirt, which David held in his hand, and which showed how he could have killed him while he was resting. David told him that he had no desire to hurt him, even though Saul wanted to kill him. David said that the Lord would judge between their choices and the Lord would avenge him, but David would not be the one to kill Saul. David trusted that the Lord would deliver him from Saul.

16 And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
18 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.
19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.
20 And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
21 Swear now therefore unto me by the Lord, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house.
22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.

Saul recognized the voice of David and cried. He admitted that David was more righteous then he was, because he had desired to do evil against him, when David would not do evil against him. David was showing forgiveness to Saul for his hatred towards him, and desire to hurt and kill him. There may be times in our lives, when others will hate or despise us. There may be no fault in us for something we are blamed for, just as it was for David. When someone chooses to become our enemy, we do not have to follow the ways of the natural man, which would be to go on the offensive. We can choose to have a forgiving heart and instead respect and love all people, friend or foe.

Saul knew that David had spared his life, when he had every reason and the ability to kill him. Saul knew that because of his goodness, David would one day be king. He asked David to swear that he would not cut off Saul’s seed or destroy his name, after Saul was no longer king. David agreed. Saul left and returned to his home, while David went into the strongholds of En-gedi.

We can learn from wise David, the great importance of trusting in God. The Lord loves us. He wants to bless us with many things. He will make promises with us, if we are willing to do what he has asked of us. If we can live our lives faithfully, even when we are tested and tried, he will fulfill the promises he makes to us. The Lord knows what is best for us and for all men. He will fulfill those promises when it is the right time.

Joshua Chapter 7

The people of Israel, had the city of Jericho delivered unto them by the Lord. By following the directions given to Joshua, they brought the walls of the city down. They had been instructed to destroy the city, take the worthy treasures for the Lord, and to leave the forbidden things alone. The Israelites were not a perfect people, however, and this chapter begins with their transgression.

1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.
2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.
3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.
4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.
5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

A man named Achan, from the tribe of Judah had not followed the commands with strictness, but had taken something forbidden. The manual I am studying teaches that “a possible meaning of “accursed thing” is something God tells us not to do but that we do anyway.” Achan had made a curse come upon Israel, by going against the commandments given to the people. The whole of Israel was held accountable for his actions. Without a knowledge of this thing, Joshua continued to lead the army of Israel. He sent spies to the land of Ai and they returned to tell Joshua that they did not need to send all of their army, because the number of men in Ai was few. Joshua sent 3,000 men, which were defeated and fled from the men of Ai. Some of the Israelites were killed in the fight, and they began to have fear.

Why had the Lord deserted his people at this time? When we make promises or covenants with the Lord, He is held by an eternal law to fulfill his part of that covenant. If however, we choose to break our covenants, as the man Achan did, the Lord does not have to keep his part any longer. This principle is taught to us in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10, which reads, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” The Israelites no longer had the promise that the Lord would be with them.

6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.
7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

Joshua mourned and took his questions or complaints to the Lord. He asked why the Lord had brought them there, if they were going to be delivered up for destruction. He said they would have been better off if they had remained on the eastern side of the Jordan. Joshua did not know how to continue to lead the people if they were afraid to face their enemies, and was worried about what the other nations would think of the Israelites and their God.

I find it interesting that the same kind of words are written here from the words of Joshua, which the Israelites had used to earn 40 years of wandering. Joshua had been one of two, who showed faith in God at that time, when the children of Israel felt they would have been better off back in Egypt. The Lord would not punish Joshua for the thought at this time, but would show him why the people had been forsaken during their fight. I think the Lord’s response was different, because he knew the heart of Joshua, just as he had known the heart of those unfaithful Israelites before him.

10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.
13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
14 In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the Lord taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the Lord shall take shall come by households; and the household which the Lord shall take shall come man by man.
15 And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.

The Lord told Joshua to rise, and said that their had been transgression in the law given to Israel. Joshua was told that something forbidden was taken from Jericho and given a place within their stuff. Because of this, they could not stand up against their enemies and God would not be with them unless they destroyed that which was forbidden. The Lord commanded Joshua to sanctify the people and they were to be led to find it among the tribes and families of Israel. When it was found, that person, and all that was his, was to be destroyed by fire.

16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:
17 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:
18 And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.
20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Joshua did as he was commanded, and was lead by inspiration to the man Achan, of the family of Zarhites, in the tribe of Judah. Joshua asked Achan to confess his wrong to God by telling Joshua what he had done. Achan confessed that he had taken an item of clothing, some silver and gold. He had hidden them in the ground of his tent, which shows that he knew it had been the wrong thing to do. I think we can be the judge of our own actions, by looking to see if we try to hide them from anyone. Justification is a form of hiding our actions as well, when we know within our hearts and minds that we have done something wrong. The only thing that hiding these things does, is to delay the consequences. There will always be consequences, either in this life or after it, when the opportunity to repent has passed.

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.
23 And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the Lord.
24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.
26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.

Messengers were sent to find the items and bring them to Joshua to be laid before the Lord. The forbidden items, Achan, and all his household and belongings, were taken to the valley of Achor and destroyed for his transgression. The Lord no longer held his anger towards the Israelites.

The natural man in us, assumes that when we sin or transgress the law, we are going to be the only ones affected by that choice. This is simply not true and this idea is one of the tactics that Satan uses to ensnare us, and is entirely selfish. If we had a clear idea the effects of our choices on others, I wonder how often we would choose the right rather than see others suffer for us. Achan’s choice caused some to suffer the consequence of death, some were left to mourn, and others to probably suffer doubt in their faith. These are only the immediate consequences, while there were more lasting ones we couldn’t possibly imagine. I think that it is important for us to try to keep a larger perspective in life, so that we will recognize how our choices could effect our personal eternal outcome, as well as the effects on the lives, mortal and eternal, of others around us.

Deuteronomy Chapter 25

The law of Moses, was given by the Lord to the Israelites, in order to give them the way to be the Lord’s chosen people. Through these many laws and statutes, they would be able to learn how to love God and love others. If they lived the law, and did not turn back to the ways of some of their ancestors, they would be greatly blessed by God. Moses continued to teach the newer generation, all that had been given to him, in preparation for their entrance into the promised land. His sermon continues with the following:

1 If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.
2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.
3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

A punishment for the wicked, was explained by Moses. Judges were to decide the cases brought before them, and then do right by the innocent and condemn the wicked. Next, they were to give a punishment worthy of their wrong-doing. If a condemned man was worthy of being beaten, they were to charge him with up to 40 stripes, and no more. Anything over that, was cruel and unnecessary for any man. Our works will determine our own reward as well. God is our ultimate judge and eventually we will face him. In the most perfect and just way, He will determine if we have done righteous works or wicked works. After the Savior has mediated for us, if have repented and turned to the Lord, we will receive the punishment or blessings we deserve, according to the demands of justice. No punishment will be greater than is necessary according to the law.

4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

My understanding, is that this means that in that day, they would place a muzzle on an ox, so that it would not eat as it worked the field of grain. The law here is, that they were not to place the muzzle on the ox. This is one of those laws that does not give its explanation and may seem strange to include in the law of Moses. I am sure there is a deeper meaning in its use, though I am not sure what it is. I don’t know that it really was about whether or not they stopped the animal from eating while working, but rather that they were to take care of those that worked for them and allow them their due.

5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
7 And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

In the law of marriage, a widow who was without children, was to be taken as a wife by any living brothers of her late husband. If she was to have a son by her second husband, that son was to represent her first husband by name. If the widow was refused by the brother, she could take her plea to the elders of her city. The elders were to talk to the man. If he confirmed her claim, and would not take her as his wife, then the widow was to remove his shoe, and spit in his face. Then he would be known throughout the nation as one who had denied this duty to his family.

11 When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets:
12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.

If a woman defended her husband during a fight he had with another man, she was not to grab him in any indecent way. If she did, she would be punished by loosing her hand.

13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.

All things were to be done justly, including how they handled measurements and weights. I think that this referred to how they handled the giving and receiving of money and payments.

17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

The Israelites were called to remember how the Amlekites had been wicked and attacked them in their journey to the land of inheritance. This was the time, when Moses held up the rod and with the power of God, the Israelites were successful against them. God had promised Moses then, that the nation of Amalek would be destroyed. In Exodus 17:14 we read, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” Therefore, because the Amlekites had done wrong to the Israelites, they were not going to be peace between their nations. When the Israelites had settled in the land, and were no longer fighting against those that had inhabited it before them, they were to destroy the remaining Amalekites and remember how and why they had been called to do it.

***

We are shown example after example, throughout the scriptures, of how important it is to take care of widows. The manual I am studying, Scripture Study for the Latter-Day Saint Families: The Old Testament, places a focus on this, based on the Lord’s law found in this chapter. This custom is not one that is heard of today in the society I live in, but there is evidence of just how important this is to the Lord. It is never an easy thing, for a woman to loose her husband. In ancient times, a widow would have been left without the means to provide for her own needs, and I believe it was much less likely for them to remarry, than it would be today. It has always been a god-given duty for men to provide for the women in their lives, especially those who loose their husbands. This applies also, to supporting their mothers, grandmothers, and even extended family members. When the responsibility exists, it should not be taken lightly by anyone. Our first priority, should be to take care of our families to the best of our ability. If we truly intend for families, even extended families, to be eternal in nature, we need to do all that is needed to nurture them in this life.

The church, as it was established after the Savior’s resurrection, included the idea of taking care of the widows of their human family. In James 1:27 it reads, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This teaches us that we cannot be true disciples of Christ, if we do not do what we can to help the widows we know. Likewise, in modern times, the Lord has commanded that all faithful members of His church, do what they can to provide for those who are widows or who have lost their fathers. In Doctrine and Covenants 136:8 we read, “Let each company bear an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people.”

It seems that the higher law, does not extend only to family members, or even strictly to those whose husbands or fathers have died. This law to care for these women and children, even applies to those who are without their husbands and fathers for a season of time, such as happens when men serve in the armed forces. Moreover, it is a law to provide for those who are in need, to the best of our ability. I know that this is a good reason, for all those who are able to give generous offerings. In the case of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have this opportunity through our fast offerings and donations. There are many opportunities for us to visit and provide the support of our company as well. I think of the great example of President Thomas S. Monson, who has taken care of so many widows in his life. He has blessed their lives, and I know they have blessed his as well. I am grateful for the opportunity to do what we can, to help others in need.

Deuteronomy Chapter 19

In chapter 17 of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites of the importance of having righteous leaders. Specifically, he taught them the importance of judges who would do their duty without prejudice and according to the laws of God. It was important that they remembered to carry out judgements of God’s established laws, in a manner that was pleasing to God. Only then, would they continue to be led by the spirit of the Lord. Moses continues the teachings of the Lord, with regard to how they were to handle some of those individuals judged as guilty by the law.

1 When the Lord thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the Lord thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;
2 Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
3 Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.

After becoming established in a land free of other nations, they were to create three cities of refuge within the land. These three cities were to be established with roads and borders. They were for those who had committed manslaughter.

4 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;
5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.
7 Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.
8 And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;
9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:
10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Those who had a place in the cities of refuge, were they who had ignorantly or accidentally killed another, without any premeditation or the intention to murder another. An example of manslaughter is given, where two men are chopping down a tree, and the axe slips from one man’s hand and kills the other accidentally. Those convicted of manslaughter could go to a city of refuge and live without fear of the death being avenged by an angry family member or friend. This because manslaughter was not a crime worthy of death according to God. If the Lord blessed them with more land, they were to add more cities of refuge. God did not want innocent blood shed in the land of promise, which would make them unworthy of the land.

11 But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
12 Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
13 Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.

If a person murdered in cold-blood and then escaped to the city of refuge, the leaders were to take him out of that city. All murderers were to be put to death and not shown pity when they were found guilty. If they did not follow through with this, the people would be held accountable for their choice.

14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.

The people were not to remove the landmarks left in the land from old times. I believe that the word landmarks is the marks of boundary on the land. The Israelites were not to decide for themselves how they should change the boundaries of their inheritances, but were to leave them as they were first divided in the land.

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

If only one witness spoke against another person, they could not be judged for that thing. All cases were to be judged bases on the words of two or three witnesses. The Lord has been consistent in the law of witnesses throughout time. In the time of the restoration of the church, the Lord said, “and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:28) Witnesses are so important to our being able to know truth from those things that are false. Most important, is the witness we can receive from the spirit of the Lord, which is undeniable by our own spirit, and if we listen, He will teach us what is true.

16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

False witnesses were to be judged along with those they testified against. The judges and elders of Israel, were to look hard at the details of the case and decide if the witness was being truthful. If the witness was found to be lying, then he would be judged guilty in the matter and receive the punishment that he had hoped for the one was innocent. As a result, those who were seeking that another be falsely accused and receive punishment, would receive that punishment equally. In doing so, the leaders of Israel would show to the rest of the people, that anyone who bore false witness against another would be held accountable.

The act of intentionally murdering another person, is never right. God established the law against murder, long before the Isrealites existed. Cain was cursed and cast away from the presence of the Lord, when he committed the first murder (Genesis 4:8, 11, 14; see also Moses 5:32, 36, 39). The law is specifically stated in Genesis 9:6, when we read the law as given to Noah’s generation, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Then it was established with the Israelites, when Moses first brought them the ten commandments. In Exodus 20:13 we read, “Thou shalt not kill.” Any man who was guilty of murder was rightfully to be put to death, by the standards of the Lord. The Lord has re-established His law in our day as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 42, we read the following:

18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.
19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

Any person who murders another of God’s children, will be held accountable by God for their sin. Whether or not they are not punished in this life for their crime, they will be judged appropriately at the judgement seat of the Lord and all will be made right by God.

Just as all kings and their rulings, and judges and their judgments, were to be just and righteous, all the punishments for those guilty, were to be just and righteous. When men are punished for accidents, or innocent men are convicted of crimes, there is little hope in the law for those who are trying to live good lives. This kind of government leads to chaos, rebellion, and falling away from those things that are good and true. It was so important for the Israelites to remember these things, so that they could remain faithful to the Lord. It is important for these things today as well. When good laws are established to maintain freedoms and allow people the ability to righteously follow their beliefs, it gives men the ability to openly follow after the Lord. When governments choose to altar these good things, for their own purposes, one things leads to another and apostasy is sure to follow. Those who are striving to live a life of righteousness, need to do all that they are able to ensure that those who are leading them are protecting the freedoms and the good laws of the land.

Deuteronomy Chapter 17

The Israelites were preparing to enter the promised land, where they would be able to settle and find some normalcy to their lives. They had been wandering for over 40 years, and continually had the possibly to being told to pick up and leave where ever they were to move on to the next place the Lord wanted them to be. That is a life of uncertainty and relying a lot on faith in the Lord, or faith in their leader, Moses. It had not been an easy life for them, even though they were being led by the Lord and blessed daily by Him. Moses needed to give them the teachings of the Lord, that would give them the best chance for remaining true and faithful. His teachings continued with the following:

1 Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God.

All their sacrifices to the Lord, were to be according to the standards He had established. This meant that they were not to sacrifice any animal that was not considered worthy for that purpose. All of their sacrifices were to be free of any blemish or defect.

2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant,
3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:
5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

If it was discovered that any person was worshipping false gods, they were to verify if it was true and certain. That person was to be put to death by stoning. This would require two to three witnesses of the sin. No one was to be put to death with only one witness against them. The witnesses were to be the first to cast a stone, followed by all others there. As I read this, I am reminded that this was just as much a commandment not to worship false idols, as a commandment to destroy any people who would lead them astray into idolatry. It was their duty to God, to make sure that they kept their land free from those who would have them follow after other gods. We have a duty today, to do all that we can to separate ourselves and our families from those people and things that would do this as well. We need to be aware of the influences that come into our lives, that would pull us away from putting the Lord first in our lives, and do what we are able to do, to get them out of our lives.

8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose;
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:
11 According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left.
12 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

Any greater issue, or harder case of judgement, were to go to the holy place where they could be heard by the priests and judges. The cases would be heard and judgment was then to be made by the priests and judges. Whatever sentence was determined by them, was to be followed and observed with exactness, by the people involved. Anyone who would not follow the sentencing of the case, would be put to death. This gave the priests and judges a lot of power among the people, and would only work well, if they were righteous men who knew and followed the laws of the Lord. There are priests and judges in Christ’s church today. We have men, who are called to be judges over the people in gospel matters, namely bishops, branch presidents, and other priesthood leaders. The same counsel from the Lord would apply today. If there is a matter, which needs to be solved that is more difficult than a family could deal with on their own, they may take it to their local priesthood leader. These men have the authority from the Lord, to decide what should be done. When they follow the inspiration from God, we should listen, hearken and respect the counsel and direction given. If we desire to draw nearer to the Lord, we should not assume that we know better and can solve it according to our own ways. I am so grateful that the Lord has established a line of the priesthood, to take care of these types of things. I believe in the power and authority given to my own bishop, as a man called by the Lord and set apart by others who have the authority to do so. The Lord is guiding our leaders today, and we will be blessed if we choose to follow their counsel and not our own wisdom, or the wisdom of the world.

14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

It was standard in those days, for nations to have kings to rule over them. For Israel, they would have prophets and kings to rule and guide them. They were to choose kings in wisdom, which meant to follow the word of the Lord, who would choose worthy men to rule. They were not to have a king from any other nation. The king was not to gain horses for himself by making them return to Egypt, where their horses could be multiplied. The king was also not to gain wives or treasure for himself, which was very common for the kings of that time. I think this was a way of saying that the kings were not to let the power given to them, cause them to focus on their own wealth and prestige, which leads to greed, selfishness, and falling away from the ways of the Lord. All the kings were to have a copy of the law of Moses, which was to be kept with him, so that he could read it every day of his life. They were to study the law and live them daily so that he would remain a righteous and worthy leader for the people of God.

I am so glad to live in a land that is not ruled by a king today. The likelihood of a truly righteous man of God, being made a king over the people, seems far-fetched. A righteous leader is more likely to lead a righteous people. If a crowned king is a man after the desires of his heart instead of being interested in following God first, his people are likely to follow in the same ways. This is part of the reason, why it is so important for us to do our part in choosing good leaders today. When our leaders care more about power and prestige, then they do about serving others, following after those things that are good and right, and doing those things that are best for the people, they will lead the majority of the people astray. This is what brings physical and spiritual destruction to good people, in the mightiest of nations. I have a hope that more people will desire the freedoms and blessings that come from good people leading a nation, than otherwise. I have a prayer in my heart that this will be true for my life, so that my family and other loved ones will have the desire to live lives devoted to the Lord and not follow after the ways of the world.

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.

Deuteronomy Chapter 11

Moses continued to instruct the Israelites on the laws, statutes, and ordinances of the Lord, in preparation for their gaining the promised land. These things were so important for them in that day, just as they are important for us to learn of now. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
2 And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;
4 And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day;
5 And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place;
6 And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel:
7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.
8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

This message was directed towards those adults, who had experienced the miracles and wonders of the Lord during the long journey in the wilderness. Because they had witnessed so much and been greatly blessed by the Lord, He could have greater expectations of them. It is such a blessing and a huge responsibility to have made covenants with the Lord. When we do this, and learn truth through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, we are held to a higher standard than those who have not. One of the things that gives me great peace of mind, is knowing that we will each be judged for what the Lord knows we have a knowledge of. I will not be judged for the same understanding as the prophets who have witnessed greater things, but I will be judged for an understanding that is greater than those who have gone without the gospel in their lives. The Lord was not going to hold the children of the Israelites to the same standard as those who had seen the waters of the Red Sea part, and had witnessed the ground open up when men had openly rebelled against Moses and the word of the Lord.

The Lord wanted the people to follow His commandments, so that they could be blessed with strength. The strength they needed was both physical and spiritual strength (strong of heart, strong in the faith, and strong in spirit). If they did this, the Lord could answer his promise to their ancestors and allow them to inherit the promised land. This was a promise of a loving God, who desired to give blessings. I believe this promise of the fathers, is still a promise today that will be fulfilled completely, when all the people will come to know that Jesus is the Christ, and will turn to Him in faith. Our Father in Heaven loves us also and desires to give us all the blessings He has. Likewise, we are expected to keep His commandments. Modern revelation teaches us of this same commandment to love the Lord. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:5 we read, “Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.” Our own promised land will be the blessing for those who remember to keep these things.

10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
12 A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

The promised land was beautiful and had plenty of rain water to provide for the land and people. As the land of promise, the Lord watched over it and cared for it. I am sure that He continues to watch over that land today. I believe that there is a “promised land” awaiting us after this life. We are promised that the blessings of the celestial kingdom will be the greatest that God gives. He has prepared it for us, and is caring for it now, so that it will be a beautiful place of plenty for all those who earn that reward.

13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17 And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.

The children of Israel received a promise of the Lord, that if they would obey the commandments, particularly to love the Lord and serve Him completely, they would have rain in its season. The land would bring forth good harvest, and the fields would be good for their cattle. The people were warned to watch for being deceived in their hearts, to turn to other gods. Serving other gods would bring the wrath of God upon them and remove these promised blessings, leaving them to perish. I think that the fulfillment of either of these promises would show that the earth is the Lord’s and He has power over it and the elements which provide for it. He still has this power today, and I know that we can be blessed with rain and good harvest for our righteousness today.

18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

These great promises required that they remember and cherish the words of the Lord, teaching them to their children at all times of the day, and keeping memorials on their person and around themselves as reminders. In doing this, they would be blessed with a multiplying of their days in the land, as well as the days of their children. This is another power and gift from God that he offered to the Israelites and can provide for His people today. I think that we will receive great blessings if we treasure the words of the Lord, both from the ancient and modern prophets. I believe that we are also greatly blessed by teaching our children and keeping reminders of these things around us as often as possible.

22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
23 Then will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

If they were obedient to the commandments, they were promised that nations would be driven out of the land. The Israelites would gain the land of great and mighty nations, wherever they would go. With the help of the Lord, nations would fear them even before they got there to drive them out of the land.

26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
30 Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?
31 For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein.
32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.

Obedience would bring a blessing from the Lord and disobedience would bring a curse. The Israelites were to place a blessing on mount Gerizim, and a curse on mount Ebal. They would do this later, by reading the law of Moses and in a sense, dedicating the land to the Lord and to righteousness. They would be able to cross the Jordan River, posses the land and live there, as long as they were obedient.

Their is an eternal law of blessings, which teaches that when the Lord promises a blessing for a commandment, He is bound to give that blessing. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 130, where we can read:

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

I think also, that when he promises a curse for failure to keep the commandments, He is bound to that curse, because the promises of God are perfect and complete. This is especially poignant for those who have made covenants with the Lord. Modern revelation found in verses such as Doctrine and Covenants 41:1, teach us this principle. “Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings.”

The mercy of the Lord, however, can be extended when we turn back to Him and keep His commandments. That mercy does not mean that we will not suffer something for our initial disobedience, but it does allow for us to receive forgiveness and eventual relief from the suffering we bring upon ourselves. I am grateful for the hope that promised blessings brings to my life. Moroni 10:32 reads, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” This gives me a great source of strength, when choosing to live righteously can seem so challenging.

Leviticus Chapter 19

The book of Leviticus has been a book of instruction and commandment for the covenant people of the Lord. Since living among a nation, such as Egypt, many false traditions and customs would have been deeply set in the lifestyle of these people. It was necessary for the Lord to establish His law, which required commandments in all areas of life. These things make up the law of Moses, which the people were expected to live in order to receive the promised blessings of Abraham. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

God is holy. In the Bible Dictionary, under Holiness we read, “a holy person meant one who held a sacred office. The Israelites were a holy people because they stood in a special relationship to Jehovah. Under the guidance of the Prophets it was seen that what distinguished Jehovah from the gods of the heathen was His personal character. The word holy therefore came to refer to moral character.” The Israelites were commanded to be holy, because they were to stand apart from the world and live high moral standards, as God lives. Latter-day revelation commands us to do the same. Doctrine and Covenants 82:14 we read, “For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” Holiness is not perfection. This is a specific call to become more holy. Perfection would be holiness in wholeness. We are commanded to become a people of greater moral character. We are to be continually working on that special relationship we have with the Lord. That means we start each day with the desire and drive to return to the Lord and live as he would have us live. This is how we keep this commandment.

3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Often times the word fear means to reverence. In this case, a man was to treat his parents with reverence and respect at all times. The Israelites were to keep the sabbath and to remember that He was their God. The Lord was the reason they were who they were, and living how they were living. He is the reason we are as well. Many don’t realize this, but He the Lord of all. Those of us who have been taught this, are expected to keep it in our hearts and minds. The sabbath is His hallowed day and we should remember that as well.

4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.

There was to be no idolatry or worshipping of other gods. In 2 Nephi 9:37 we read, “Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” It makes Satan pleased, when he can draw our attention away from the true source of joy and happiness, which is Jesus Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 1:16 it says, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” There are many things which we make into idols in our lives and all of them will fail us and lead us to the destruction of our souls, if we allow them the opportunity. This is why the scriptures teach us to watch and pray always. The Lord was the one and only God of the Israelites, as he is the one true God today and the one whom we should worship.

5 And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will.
6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.
7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted.
8 Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

The Israelites were commanded to only give of peace offerings by their own will. Sacrifices that were unwillingly giving, were in vain. Moroni 7:6 says, “. . . for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.” If we willingly give our own sacrifices today, such as a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we show the Lord that we want to be obedient are devoted to Him. The Israelites were to partake of the peace offering on the same day or the following, but not on the third day. Anything that was left, was to be burnt. It was a sin to eat it after the second day and was no longer a sacred offering with the Lord. Any who went against this commandment was to be cut off, or excommunicated from the church.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to leave the outskirts and gleaning of their fields to those who were poor or a stranger. I am sure that if they followed this commandment, they would have enough for their own needs through the blessings of the Lord. This was a commandment, that teaches us it is not good to be selfish, but that it is good to help those in need. If we follow this same principle with our own belongings, the Lord will provide for our needs as well. We should be willing to give of those things that are on the outer portion of our own field, so that others in need may have more.

11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

They were commanded that they should not steal, cheat or lie to each other.

12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

No one was to take the name of the Lord in vain, either to swear by it or to profane or defile it in any way.

13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

They were not to commit any kind of fraud to one another, or to rob each other. When something was due to another, it was to be paid right away. It is not acceptable for any person to take advantage of another or to deny them of what they are owed.

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded kindness to those who were handicapped with deafness or blindness. They were to respect God. Respect to God, would cause one to extend that kindness and not to block the way of others. This goes for all those who are struggling when we are not, either physically or spiritually. When we know someone is in darkness or cannot hear what they need to hear, it is our responsibility to help them find their way and not to do things which would cause them to stumble or fall. This is a commandment for us to be a people of compassion.

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Judgment was to be righteous and just. I like that it points out both the poor and the mighty, because it can go both ways. There is no place for favoritism in judgment, but all are to be treated the same in this.

16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord.

They were commanded not to be the bearer of tales, or gossip. I think that when it says not to stand against the blood of their neighbor, that it means to do anything against, or in opposition to, them or their family.

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

A commandment was given, that they should not hate their brother. They were commanded to give wise rebuke, so that another would not suffer sin. I think this might be like constructive criticism, to help another to avoid mistakes of iniquity. The footnote at the beginning of this verse reads, “Though you may reprove a neighbor and not tolerate his sin, do not hate him.” If we look at it this way, it says that we should not hate those around us for their sins, but we do not need to tolerate their sin. We live in a world today, where people think that if we abhor a sin, we must hate the individual. This is not the case. I hate when my children lie to me. I think it is awful and I will not hesitate to reprove them when they do it. All the while, I love my children unconditionally. The commandment is for us to behave this way with all people. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 we read, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”. We cannot stand by and allow sin to destroy those around us without doing what we can to help when prompted to do so, but we must do these things with a heart full of love towards them.

18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded not to avenge wrongs or hold a grudge against another. They were commanded instead, to love their neighbor as themselves. The people of God have always been commanded to be a loving and charitable people. In 2 Nephi 26:30 we read, “. . . wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. . .” We too have been given this commandment, which we can find in Doctrine and Covenants 59:6 where it says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” and likewise in Doctrine and Covenants 88:125 which reads, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” If we love others as we love ourselves, I believe we will find it much easier to keep the other commandments of God.

19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

In all things, the Israelites were to keep the commandments, which were many by this point. The things of their lives were to be kept pure. Cattle and seeds were not to be mixed breeds. The clothes they wore were to be a single material, such as entirely cotton or entirely wool. This would insure that all things were in harmony with one another.

20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.
21 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering.
22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.

I think this means that a bonded woman who had relations with a man other than her betrothed, such as the man to whom she was bonded, was not to be put to death, rather because she was not a free woman, she was to be questioned. The footnote for being scourged says, “there shall be an investigation or inquisition.” The man of this act, was to bring a trespass offering to the tabernacle and have an atonement made for his sin. Then he was to be forgiven.

23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.
25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded, that when they first planted fruit trees, they were not to partake of its fruit for the first three years. In the forth year it was holy fruit, probably to be given to the purposes of the Lord. In the fifth year, it was to be that person’s fruit to have as an increase.

26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

There was to be no eating of blood. Enchantments and observing times, or any kind of sorcery, were forbidden. The footnote for rounding the corners reads, “by cutting the forelocks of the hair of the head.” They were not to make themselves bald or shave their beards. Scarring or marking their skin as a sign of mourning, was also forbidden. These things were probably common at that time. Some of these were rites of those who worshipped other gods or who wished to draw unnecessary attention to themselves, rather than worship the Lord.

29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

Prostitution of their daughters was forbidden. If they practice these acts, the land was sure to become full of it and other acts of sexual promiscuity and obscenities.

30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

The sabbath was to be kept holy and the sanctuary of the Lord was to be reverenced.

31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

They were forbidden to participate in wizardry, superstitions, or with those who claimed to speak with the dead. The footnote for this verse reads, “Do not turn to magic or necromancy.” It says to be defiled by them, which I think is a way of saying to be taken by their trickery. In my current study of history, it seems that many of the kings and other leaders had taken to having magicians and turning to those who said they could predict futures and speak with the dead, in order to make decisions for their people. This was sure to lead people to following after evil and eventual destruction.

32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The footnote for this verse says, They should “rise before the face of old age.” It was to be an honor, to have a head of gray hair. They were to honor their elders, especially their parents. Again, they were commanded to respect God.

33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to treat strangers with love as they would one of their own family, or a citizen of their land. They had been strangers once in Egypt, and when they were initially taken in, they were loved and treated kindly. The Israelites were not to oppress the stranger, the way that they were eventually oppressed in Egypt by the later rulers.

35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.

All judgment was to be righteous in all things, including measures. Because the Lord delivered them with righteous judgment, they were to obey Him and follow His laws.

It seems as though the Lord needed to give a reminder often that He was the one responsible for these commandments. The footnote in v. 14 for the phrase ‘I am the Lord’ says, “Note that this phrase occurs fifteen times like a seal of authority upon each of these statutes.” The things around us may have changed since these laws were given, but we are still expected to remember the Lord and remember the commandments he has given. I think that if we can remember the Lord and that the commandments are His and not from men, we will be able to follow them with exactness.

I think this phrase, in it’s repetition, also reminds us to turn to the Lord when we struggle with these things. When we have trouble honoring our parents, remember the Lord and He will help us. If we don’t know quite how to keep the sabbath, the Lord can help us. If we are having trouble putting other things before the Lord, he will forgive us and give us strength. If we find giving to the needy to be difficult, or don’t know where to begin, the Lord will guide us. If we find ourselves gossiping or using unkind words, we can turn to the Lord for courage to be better. If we struggle with anger, resentment, or thoughts of revenge, the Lord will be there to calm our troubled hearts and show us how to forgive. The Lord has not placed us here to fail. He knows that we will have hardships when it comes to keeping all His commandments. Can we imagine that God would ask us to do something, and then refuse to help us to accomplish that thing? If we do, we do not see God as the loving parent He is.

It is a blessing to have commandments and direction from the Lord, to help us stand apart from the worldliness around us. It is a blessing to know that He is there for us every step of the way. We can be a holy people because He promises that perfection is in our future if that is our desire.

Exodus Chapter 23

The Israelites are being led by the Lord, through the prophet Moses. They have been led to Mount Sinai, where they have had a witness of the Lord. At this point in the book of Exodus, the Lord is giving them laws and judgments to follow in order to be an obedient and happy people. These things continue as follows:

1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

As I mentioned in the previous two posts, this is purely my understanding of these things and as I did not live then, there may be some things I don’t understand fully. Anyway, the Lord tells them that they are not to lie about what they have witnessed. They are to be honest in their dealings with others. They are not to speak against one another in an evil way. The footnotes references the word slander from the Topical Guide, which says to see also backbiting, deceit, gossip and lying. Any of these things are unrighteous and should not be a part of the lives of those who follow the Lord.

2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

I think they were not to raise riots and uproars according to wickedness. In the footnote we read, “Thou shalt not follow the crowd to do evil, neither speak up in a lawsuit, being influenced by the majority, to subvert justice.” The people were not to influence the judgment in an unjust way, by allowing the crowd of people to make false statements. This is another verse reminding them that honesty is of great importance, no matter what the situation.

3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.

The Joseph Smith translation says that the word poor is actually wicked. That changes the meaning of this, which I was not understanding previously. They were not to favor a wicked man in his cause to do evil. I think that sometimes today, our courts will side with someone who has a lot of money or influence, instead of giving them just rewards for their crimes. I think that this is what the Lord was telling them not to do. Those who placed judgment on others, were to do so justly and not according to the ways of man. In addition, the Lord may have been telling them that they were not to take from others unjustly because they had something they wanted. I think this is a lot like placing an heavy burden of tax or judgment on someone who was undeserving of that, just to have more themselves.

4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.

They were to be honest when they came upon someone else’s livestock wandering. They were not to take it for themselves or let it continue to wander even, but were to return it to the owner, even if they were an enemy. They were to help their enemy with their burdens and not to harass the poor beggars. In short, they were to be charitable and serve those who needed help, no matter who they were. They were not to hurt the righteous or innocent, or their acts would not be justified by God. Those who judged, were to do it justly and with honesty.

8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.

The footnote for the word gift, references the word bribe. They were not to allow bribery, because it blinded those who were wise and would go against righteousness.

9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:
11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.
13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

It was said to not oppress any stranger, in the last chapter I believe, so this must have been an important rule to live by. The Israelites are reminded that they were not always in their own land and knew what it was like to be strangers in a land. They were to treat strangers as they had wanted to be treated themselves.

Also, they were given instruction on how to take care of their land. They were told to plant and harvest fruits and grains for six years, and then on the seventh year, they were to leave the land alone (sabbatical year) for the poor and the animals to eat. They were to do the same with their vineyards and such as well. They were to provide welfare to those in need. Likewise, they were to work only six days of the week and then have a day of rest on the seventh day, the Sabbath. This was wisdom, so that all would be rested and refreshed for another week of work. Again they are reminded to follow after these things of the Lord and nothing from any other god. There is a footnote in verse 13, which references Joshua 23:7. In this verse, it talks about not causing others to swear to their gods. If we believe that we are not to worship false Gods, then we should not push others to go to their gods, but instead we should help to bring them to the Lord.

14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.
15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)
16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.
18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.
19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

There were to be three feasts during the year, the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of the harvest, and the feast of ingathering. (Deuteronomy 16:16 calls the feasts, the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles.) The feast of unleavened bread was a reminder of their deliverance from Egypt, also called the passover feast. The feast of harvest happened when they had harvested from their fields. The feast of ingathering was when all those who worked in the fields were given their break from field labor because the harvest was done. They were to bring the first fruits as an offering to the Lord at three times in a year. Then all the men of the Israelites were to sanctify themselves and make sacrifice to the Lord.

20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.
23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.
25 And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.

The Lord would send an angel, or a guide, before them, so that they would be led in the way the Lord desired for them. He was to guide them to the promised land. He would be holy and on the errand of the Lord, to be obeyed and not trifled with. They would loose him as their guide, as we loose the gift of the Holy Ghost, if there is any transgression of the laws of God. If they would follow this angel, they would be protected and delivered from all their enemies, with the Lord on their side. This was a promise also given to Abraham if he would be faithful. All his kindred would be blessed to have the Lord on their side, to protect them from their enemies. We can also be blessed with safety from our enemies, if we remain faithful and worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Israelites would be protected from sickness, if they would hearken to all the direction of the Lord. They were told not to worship other gods, or do the works of those who worshipped false gods, but instead they were to destroy those images and overtake those people who worshipped them.

26 There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.
27 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.
28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.
30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.
32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.

The women would not be barren, or unable to have children. It seems also that the children would not die from miscarriage during this time. The people would live to their age of fulfillment. Others would fear the name of the Israelites, because of their strength in the Lord. I can just imagine hearing of the destruction the Israelites brought as they regained their land, and how other nations would fear and tremble over that. The other nations would be driven out of their land a little at a time, so that the land would still be good for them and their flocks. Then they would be able to inherit the land the Lord had promised to their ancestors. They were not to make any agreements or promises with those of other nations, and any others who remained in the promised land would be sinning against God. The Lord tells them that if others remained, their worship of false gods would be a temptation for the Israelites.

The laws of the Lord, given to the Israelites, may seem strange or different to us today. We live in a different time, but the reason for these things is the same. We are given laws of God, in order to help us stay worthy of His presence in our lives. We cannot worship other gods, we cannot be dishonest in our dealings with others, we cannot take advantage of others and so on. We may not be required to give feasts, but we do need to partake of the sacrament regularly so that we can be reminded of the Lord and His atonement. All of our men are expected to take on the mantel of the holy priesthood of God and then be diligent in the responsibilities that come with it. If we are faithful to these things, we will be worthy of our own angel of the Lord, or rather, the Holy Spirit of God. He will be our guide and lead us to the eternal promise land that we are striving towards. I am glad that we have laws to follow, so that we can know if we are on the right path back to our Father in Heaven. I look forward to returning to his presence again one day and I hope to be worthy of all He has promised to me.


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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