Posts Tagged 'Law of Moses'

2 Kings Chapter 23

Josiah was a righteous king of Judah. He had worked to repair the temple and in doing so, the book of the law had been found. He read the book and then mourned for the weakness of those who had come before and the future of his people because of their wickedness. He prayed about the book, and because of his faith, Josiah would be blessed with peace in his own life. This chapter continues to tell of how he led the people.

1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.

Josiah gathered the elders, the men of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem, including priests, prophets, and people of all walks of life. He read all the words of the book of the law, or the book of the covenant. This was the book that had been found in the temple, which had caused him to go to the Lord in mourning. The king could have read the words for himself and chosen to lead the people according to that, but he took it a step further when he invited the people of the land to share in coming to a knowledge of the word of the Lord. This was good, because it gave the people a chance to choose for themselves from their own understanding, whether they would want to follow the law or live as they had been living.

3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

Then, Josiah made covenants to the Lord, to be faithful, obedient to the commandments with all the heart and soul, and to perform all the rites and ordinances of the covenants in the book. The people agreed to the covenants.

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.
5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.

Josiah commanded for all the items in the temple and around it, that were devoted to the worship of Baal and any other gods, to be removed from the temple. They were taken outside of Jerusalem to fields where they were burned. The ashes were then carried away to Bethel. The king, destroyed (or put down) the wicked or false priests, who had been ordained to serve in the idolatrous temples around the land of Judah, including those who served Baal and other gods. He removed the idol found in the temple and had it burned and ground into powder outside of Jerusalem. The powder was cast on the graves of their children, possibly all those who were sacrificed to that very idol. He destroyed the places where the sodomites were doing wicked acts, removed all the wicked priests in the land of Judah, and defiled their places of worship.

9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.

Those priests that were removed, did not go to the temple in Jerusalem, but returned to their own people, as was part of the law of Moses. Josiah destroyed Topheth, which was the place of burning, or where the people sacrificed their own children to false gods. This sacrificing of children with fire, was strictly forbidden in the law of Moses. He took the chariots away, that were used to worship the sun, and he burned them. He destroyed the altars in the kings house, or on the roofs of the houses, as well as those in the temple. He ground them down and tossed the dust into a brook. Then, he destroyed the places of worship around Jerusalem and destroyed the wicked men there.

15 Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17 Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el.
18 And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el.
20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah continued to destroy all things related to idolatry in Bethel, which had been built by Jeroboam because Jerusalem had been too far for them to go to comfortably for their worship. He burned the place of worship and its grove. He burned the bones of the dead, found in the sepulchres, upon the altar. He saw a specific sepulchre and asked who was buried there. The men of Bethel told him it was the sepulcre of the man of God from Judah, who had prophesied of the things that Josiah had done to the altar (see 1 Kings 13). The prophecy had been fulfilled. Josiah commanded the men to leave the bones of the prophet, so none of the men touched them. The places of worship in Samaria were taken away, just as the place in Bethel. All the wicked priests were destroyed as well. Then, Josiah returned to Jerusalem.

21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22 Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23 But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the Lord in Jerusalem.

The king gave a commandment that the people were to observe the passover, as they were commanded in the law of Moses. There had not been one observed like this, in all the days since the first time of the judges in Israel. This passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (see 2 Chronicles 35 for more on this observance of the passover).

24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.
25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Josiah continued to follow all the laws in the book of the law, by getting rid of any involved in witchcraft and sorcery that were discovered in all the land of Judah (see Deuteronomy 18). No other king in the land of Israel, had completely given himself to following after the law of Moses.

It is amazing to be described like this in the history of the kings of Israel. Josiah was like no other king because he was loyal to the Lord, trusted Him, and stood up for those things which he knew to be true. His choices to cleanse all of Judah, were bold and courageous. He is an example of “standing up and being all in“, not wavering in his faith, and being a force for good in the lives of those under his influence.

26 Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.
27 And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

However, Manasseh had done such wickedness and the people with him, especially with sacrificing so many lives to his evil ways, that the Lord would still hold the people of Judah accountable for their actions. Judah would be scattered, just as Israel had been scattered, including all that were in the city of Jerusalem. The temple had been desecrated by wicked acts, and the Lord would no longer be among the people there.

29 In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.

Egypt came up against the Assyrains, and Josiah went against him. Josiah was killed in Megiddo and was taken back to Jerusalem and buried there (see also 2 Chronicles 35). Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, was anointed king by the people.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.

At the age of 23, Jehoahaz began his reign in Jerusalem. He only reigned in wickedness for three months, then Pharoah-nechoh took him captive and made the land of Judah subject to Egypt. Judah had to pay Egypt 100 silver talents and a talent of god. Pharoah made Eliakim the king instead and calld him Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken into Egypt and died there (see also 2 Chronicles 36). Jehoiakim paid tribute to Egypt by taxing the people.

36 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.

Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem, from the age of 25 to about 36. He led the people in wickedness. Sadly, all the work that Josiah had done, to help the people return to righteousness, was quickly undone by two unrighteous kings that followed after him. This is a testimony and a witness to me, of the importance of heeding the warnings and preparing ourselves to withstand temptations in our own lives. The Lord had warned the children of Israel, that any amount of idolatry, would bring their entire nation down to destruction. Over a short amount of time, some of the people chose to allow other nations to influence them and turned to the wickedness of idolatry. Once the temptation had been allowed to be a part of the land, it was nearly impossible to go back to following strictly after the Lord. Josiah worked hard to bring as many back to following the commandments as possible, but even his own sons were not willing to continue in righteousness. There are warnings that have been given in our own time. We need to heed the warnings of modern-day prophets, so that we may avoid temptations, remain safe spiritually, and have the kind of peace that Josiah was able to have in his life. (A good talk on warnings in our time, as it relates to our children is “Watching with All Perseverance“.)

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Joshua Chapter 8

The Israelites have begun to take over the promised land. They were part of the miracle of the walls of Jericho coming down, which allowed them the ability to take that city. They attempted to take over the people of Ai, but failed because the Lord was not with them at that time. They gained the support of the Lord again, by destroying the cause of the loss, which was a man and the forbidden items he took while in Jericho. At this point, they were once again ready to take the city of Ai.

1 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:
2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

Joshua was told by the Lord to take the army of Israel to fight against Ai. This time, the Lord told them they could take the spoil and cattle of the city for themselves. They were to ambush the city.

I notice that in the previous chapter, it does not say that the Lord told them to fight against Ai. As far as we can tell, there was no commandment given to the Israelites at that time. I think that if Joshua, as their leader, sought direction from the Lord before going straight into battle, the Lord may have instructed him to sanctify his people first. Perhaps the loss of several men, would have been avoided. In this chapter, it seems that Joshua waited upon the Lord for the instructions to go up to battle again. Because he waited, the army of Israel was prepared and instructed as to what strategy to use in order to be victorious. In Doctrine and Covenants 98:33, modern revelation teaches us, “And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.” It is important for the people of God, to have the Lord on their side in times of battle.

3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.
4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,
6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.
7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand.
8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.

30,000 men of the Israelite army, were chosen to go lie in wait, behind the city, in the night. They were instructed to be ready, while the rest of Israel would go towards the other side of the city. When the people of Ai would come to fight against them and the Israelites flee from them, but would be followed from the city. Then the 30,000 would ambush the city of Ai and it would be delivered to them by the Lord. They were commanded to burn the city.

9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.
10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.
12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of the city.
13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

The men went in the night and prepared to ambush the city. Joshua and his people approached the city to fight.

14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.
15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
16 And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.
17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Beth-el, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
18 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.
19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.
21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.
22 And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.
25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.
28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

Not knowing of the ambush that awaited him, the king of Ai took his men out to fight against the Israelites. The men with Joshua, began to flee and were followed by the people of Ai. The city was left open for the taking. The Lord told Joshua to point his spear towards Ai. At that, the men ambushed the city and burned it. The men of Ai had nowhere to go, so the Israelites were able to go against them and destroy all of them. They brought the king to Joshua. The people and city were completely destroyed and they only took the spoil and cattle, as they had been instructed. The king was hung and his body left at the gate of the city on a pile of stones.

30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,
31 As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Joshua gave thanks to God, by building an altar of whole stones in mount Ebal. The Israelites gave burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord.

32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.
34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

The blessings and cursings were given at mount Gerizim and Ebal, as they had been commanded by the Lord through the prophet Moses. In Deuteronomy 11:29, we read, “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.” (See also Deuteronomy 27).

Here, the Israelites are blessed for repenting of the wrong previously done, and being strictly obedient to the directions of the Lord. Joshua made a copy of the law of Moses, which was read to the people of Israel. We can see here the importance of keeping a record of the word of the Lord. They had been given the commandment to make and keep this record, while Moses was the prophet. Joshua understood the importance of this commandment, and followed through just as they had been instructed to do. The people of Israel would fall without the commandments in the teachings by the leaders. We also need the scriptures to teach us what is right and how to keep our lives focused on the true and living God. When we stop looking to the word of God, we stop living it and that leads to destruction physically and spiritually. I am so glad to have the scriptures in my life and the blessings keeping the commandments brings.

Deuteronomy Chapter 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy Chapter 20

The Israelites knew that they had a future of fighting other nations. The Lord had promised them that he would be on their side, as long as they righteously followed His commandments. Even after they would be established in the land of Canaan, I am sure they expected that other nations would try to come against them. In this chapter, the Lord set up some laws for the army of Israel.

1 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
2 And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3 And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4 For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

They were told again, that they were not to fear armies that were bigger or more armed then they were. This was because the Lord would be with them. Others may have had much strength, but the Lord was stronger. The Lord wanted the Israelites to have courage. Their priest (the high priest, I am guessing, or a priest given this duty), was to rally the spirits of their soldiers in preparation for battles, with this promise that the Lord was on their side and would fight and preserve them. The Lord has promised protection to those who are faithful to His commandments. If we truly believe, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, than we should be able to trust in this part of the nature of our Father in Heaven. We fight battles each day, against temptation, the natural man within us, and against the ways of the world. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:88, the Lord gave a message to the prophet, Joseph Smith, and other elders of the church. In this verse we read, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” If we live righteously, following the words of our church leaders, and serve and depend upon God, our Father in Heaven will fight our battles for us as well. We need to do our part, and then He will be there to give us the strength that we need in order to succeed. His work and glory is for our success in this life.

5 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
6 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.
9 And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

In selecting the soldiers, they were to relieve any who had not dedicated the home he had built, had not eaten of his crops, or was betrothed and not married yet, and they were allowed to return to their homes. Any men who were too afraid to fight, were to leave so that they would not cause others to loose faith. Then, the officers of the army, could appoint captains to lead the remaining men. I think this law shows the love of God for those who are trying to live good lives and do what was right. The Lord did not want men to lose out on seeing benefits of their hard work in their fields, or the amazing blessings of marriage. In fact, for the entire first year of marriage, a man was to remain with his new wife and not go out to fight. This shows us some of the things of greater importance to the Lord and to our personal progression in this life. I am reminded, that we can learn time and time again through the old testament, that the Lord does not need numbers to win a battle. He can succeed with only a handful of faithful, courageous men. As with the story of David and Goliath, he can succeed with just one man, if that man has courage and faith in the Lord.

10 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
13 And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
14 But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
16 But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:
18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.

If they planned for war against a city, which was not in the land of inheritance, they were to approach that city in peace. If the other city was willing to remain peaceful towards the Israelites, and did not want to fight, they were to have them do a service of paying tribute to Israel. If that city wanted to fight, the Israelite army was to besiege, and take control of it by the power of the Lord. Once they took that city, they were to kill every man and then take everything else as spoil from their victory. They were to enjoy these as blessings from the Lord. I am glad that even in preparing for war against others, the Lord wanted them to try to be peacemakers first. This leaves the choice of fighting to the other side. In this case, I think the Israelites would not become a blood-thirsty nation, or one who was seeking purely to get gain from other people. They would only fight those who had a real desire to fight against them.

The cities within the land of promise, were to be destroyed completely, including the cities of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and the Jebusites. This they needed to do because it was a commandment which would help them avoid the temptations of those people and therefore avoid falling away from the Lord. In this case, it was better to preserve and protect the souls of the Israelite nation, than to allow anything wicked to remain, living or not.

19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege:
20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

When they took the city, they were to leave any fruit trees, but they could use any other trees to gain control of the city.

The Lord commands His people in all things. Having and following military commandments and counsel, would have helped the Israelites to remain a mighty nation, because the Lord would have continued to help them. I believe that throughout the remainder of the old testament, we can see what results from the choice whether or not to following these commandments. The blessings of following commandments, can only be expected when we do what the Lord asks of us. We can learn this principle in Doctrine and Covenants 130:

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.

Likewise, we read the following 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.” I am grateful for this promise from the Lord. I know it applies to all his commandments and the blessings that would come from following them. I hold fast to the hope that this gives me, and that hope gives me the courage to strive to follow the commandments each day.

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 14

Moses continues his final sermons to the Israelites, with a repeat of the law established when they were around Mount Sinai. There were many customs and rituals in their lives then, and a lot of things were not according to the design of the Lord for His people. This chapter begins with a review of the forbidden customs of mourning.

1 Ye are the children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
2 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

The Israelites, as the chosen people and children of God, had the promises of salvation for the righteous, promises which are eternal and do not end with mortal death. People of God should not make a show of mourning when loved ones die, by hurting themselves or removing part of their hair. I think that there should be hope found in death, along with the normal feelings of loss we experience. Death has never been a good reason for a person to purposely hurt the God-given gift of their body. Death is just a part of our eternal lives and should be seen as the opportunity to progress further. Those who are left behind by a loved one who dies, should allow themselves to naturally go through the mourning process without drawing this kind of unnecessary attention to their own personal suffering or sorrow.

3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
4 These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,
5 The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.
6 And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.
8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.

The Israelites were still to refrain from eating those meats which the Lord considered to be unclean or abominable, which had also been established before their wanderings in the wilderness. This commandment was the ancient version of word of wisdom, which is found in modern revelation today (see Doctrine and Covenants section 89). It was a law of health, I believe meant to keep their bodies healthy and their minds clear and able to be influenced by the spirit. It continues:

9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

They were not to eat anything that was not a fish with fins and scales.

11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
13 And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
14 And every raven after his kind,
15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
19 And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.
20 But of all clean fowls ye may eat.

Specific birds and other animals that could fly, like insects, were listed as unclean and not to be eaten.

21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
23 And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.
24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:
25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose:
26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

Those things that were already dead, even among their own herds, was not to be eaten by those who had made covenants with the Lord. Verse 21 reads that they were told that they could give or sell them to others, but according to the Joseph Smith translation of this verse, it should read that they were not to give it to the stranger and not to sell it to the alien. This would seem to make more sense to me, because they have already been told that they were to treat the stranger (“clean” or “unclean”, part of the covenant people or not – see Deuteronomy 12:15) as part of their people, when abiding in their home. To offer something to another, which they considered abominable in the eyes of the Lord, seems wrong to me.

In addition to the laws of what they could and could not eat, they were given the laws of tithing. They were to give tithing on all the increase of their crops or seed. All their tithing was to be taken to the holy place of the Lord, the tabernacle or eventually the temple. When they did this, it was to help them remember all that the Lord provided for them. If they could take it as the food, wine, oil or animals, they were to do so, but if they could not take it that far, they were to take the money from those things to the holy place, and buy what they could to make the offerings to the Lord. In all these things they were reminded again that they were not to forget the Levites, who lived off of the tithes that the people brought to the temple.

28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

Every third year, their tithing was to be given to the levites and the poor among them. If they remembered these things, the Lord promised to bless them with the work they did in the future.

Tithes and offerings are still a part of our discipleship. We follow the Lord, when we give a willing heart in service, and also when we give of our own substance to the poor and needy. We are to learn how to put others needs before our appetites and desires, just as the Lord has done for us. I know that we are blessed greatly when we give of the things that the Lord has given us. If nothing else were to come from the act of paying tithes and offerings, I am still blessed to be reminded that all that I have is a gift from God and I should be willing to share it.

Deuteronomy Chapter 4

The Law of Moses was given to the children of Israel, through the prophet, Moses, while they were in the area of Mount Sinai. Within that law, there were commandments and statutes, which they were to keep in order to turn their hearts more fully to the Lord and to live with one another in peace and happiness. At this point in the narrative of the Israelites, Moses was preparing them to have a new leader and to finally gain the promised land and rest from their journeys. He continues to instruct them in this chapter.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
3 Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.
12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Moses instructed the people, that they were not to alter the laws and ordinances of the Lord, whether to add or take away from them. In the book of Revelation we read a similar verse, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18). No man has the right to alter the words of the Lord, found in any book of scripture. If they do, it is only done to mislead others into apathy and sin.

Moses reminded them that there were consequences if they turned to other gods, as some of the people had done previously. In the case of those who sinned by following Baal-peor, they were all killed by the Israelites, plus a plague was brought among the people. The law of Moses, was the law they were to live in the land of promise. When they lived this law, they would be seen by others, as a great nation, with wisdom, and understanding, because God would be with them. He told the Israelites to remember the things which they had witnessed, and to teach them to their children, especially those things they witnessed in Sinai, when the Lord spoke to the people from the mount. He told them to remember when the ten commandments had been given to them. In modern times, we have also been told to watch ourselves and remember those things we have in the scriptures and the words of our prophets. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read:

43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

When the word of the Lord is given to us, in scripture or by the prophets, we are going to be held accountable to our understanding of those things, and for how much we teach them to our children, just as the Israelites were held accountable in their day. We might think that we’ll never forget the feelings we have at one time, or the things that we have witnessed at another. But, it is easy to forget if we are not living and teaching those things that we have learned. In addition, our children will never know, if we do not teach them. When I think of how important this is, I am reminded that many in the world today do not know of the gospel of Christ. Many do not know that we have living prophets today, just as they had Moses of old. Many do not know that revelation continues today and that we can each receive personal revelation for ourselves. Many do not know that we can make sacred ordinances and covenants with God, which can bring us eternal blessings. There is great importance in the missionary work going forward in our day.

14 And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
20 But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
21 Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:
22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Moses had been commanded by the Lord, to teach the laws (the law of Moses), which would be the laws of the land of inheritance. These laws would bring them peace and happiness as a people, just as the laws of God can do for us today. Moses told them to notice that there was no idol being worshipped on the day when they witnessed the voice of the Lord speaking to them. Moses taught them that they were not to make any images, like man or animal, or they might fall prey to worshipping that idol. They were the people of the Lord, chosen and delivered from Egypt. Because of the choices to fall away to worshipping other things, the Lord had not allowed Moses to enter the promised land. Moses pleads with the Israelites, to remember their covenants not to make false idols, because the Lord would be able to consume them with His fire.

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.
28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
33 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Moses taught the children of Israel, that if they should turn to worshipping idols after the generations have passed, judgement would be upon them and they would shortly be removed from the promise land and the nation of Israel would be destroyed. He promised them that they would be scattered among gentile nations. Those nations would lead them throughout the lands, serving their gods and idols, which are not real, but are made of wood and stone. He teaches us here, that the living God sees, hears, eats and smells. Moses also taught them, that if they would, instead, continue to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul, they would be blessed. He promised them that they would find the Lord and if they repented and were obedient through difficult times. The Lord would be merciful and remember the covenants of their fathers. Moses reminded them, that in all the time of the world, there had been nothing quite like the miracles and manifestations that they had witnessed. Never before had a people witnessed the glory of the Lord among them, as they had in the fire, or heard His voice speaking to them. Never before had a people been delivered from another nation, by such miracles and wonders. These things were a part of their lives, so that they would know the Lord was their God. They had been blessed and protected, because the Lord loved their fathers and had made promises to them. The Lord had made them a mighty nation, giving them the strength to drive the nations from before them, and giving them the promised land to inherit. Moses told the people to recognize that this had been the work of the only true God. They needed to be obedient to the commandments, in order to continue to receive the blessings of God and live a long life.

41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

The cities of refuge were then created (Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan), for those who might kill another without intention to do so.

44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.

Moses had concluded his teaching of the commandments and statutes of God, by bearing his testimony of the consequences of disobedience and repentance. Moses taught them of the causes for the eventual scattering of the Israelites, specifically the worship of false gods. Then he taught them of the gathering of Israel in the last days, when they would turn again to the Lord. He witnessed to them, of the goodness and mercy of the Lord and promised they would be blessed if they would remember the Lord.

We have the blessing of being able to look at these words in hindsight. The scriptures teach us, that the people inherited the land of promise, and then over time, they fell away to the worship of other things. Then, just as Moses said, they were scattered throughout all the nations of the world. It seems to me that today, there has got to be a bit of Israelite blood in all the nations. As the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, reaches all the nations of the world, there are some who are being drawn back into the house of Israel. The gathering is happening now, just as Moses promised them so long ago. This is not so much a physical moving back to Israel, but a spiritual gathering of hearts to the Lord. This is only possible through the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He made repentance possible to all people and His power is what moves the gospel forward now. We can all turn and find Him, if we will seek with all our heart and soul. The commandments are provided for us today, so that we may have the opportunity to obey and be blessed. The same great blessings that were given to the fathers of the Israelites, can be ours now, if we will turn away from the false gods of our day, and turn to the Lord.

Leviticus Chapter 25

The book of Leviticus teaches us the law of Moses which was revealed by the Lord for the Israelite people. I’ve learned recently that it was typical in that day for a leader to give his people the laws covering all things from how to worship, celebrations and feasts they were to hold, to how to deal with one another on a daily basis. These laws have been sometimes the only things to have survived from the nations in that part of the world, because there was such value in them. This shows to me that it is a natural desire for people to have sets of laws to govern them. I don’t imagine that all the laws of other nations were the greatest laws, because I am sure there were many that were created by man and not inspired. It is awesome that we can have such simple access to the law of Moses. The blessing for us in having these recorded for us in the bible, is that we can know the laws of God to his righteous people. Life on the earth has changed over time, but the basic principals of the gospel remain the same. The laws in the book of Leviticus continue as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord.
3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.

As the Israelites still remained encamped at Mount Sinai, the Lord continued to give instruction to them through his chosen prophet, Moses. The Israelites were commanded to keep a year of sabbath each seventh year after they arrived in the promised land. For six years, they were to plant, reap and harvest their fields, orchards and vineyards. The seventh year was to be a year for the land to rest, and no planting or harvesting of the plants was to be performed. The animals of the land were to have all that came of the land. The sabbath is any seventh period which the Lord sets aside as a time of rest, either for the people or the land. Every week was to have a sabbath on the seventh day. There was to be a sabbath year every seven years, and we know that a great sabbath of a thousand years will come at the time of seventh thousand year, according to the Lord’s time. In Doctrine and Covenants 77:12 we read, “Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.” (emphasis added) I love the reminder here that it is needful for every hard work to be followed by a period of rest and reflection. Sabbaths are sacred and blessed for mankind, and if kept, will bring us closer to God.

8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.
14 And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another:
15 According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee:
16 According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.
17 Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God.

After the seventh sabbath year, the Israelites were to celebrate and sanctify the fiftieth year with a jubilee. They were to sound the trumpets or a ram’s horn. This celebration was to be in the day of atonement. Everyone was to be free and all things returned to their owners. Anyone removed from his family, was to be returned. The fiftieth year was to be a holy year of jubilation. They were not to work in the fields and vineyards, but eat of the surplus. With the food, and selling and buying of all goods, price was to be based on the years of the fruits. No one was to take advantage of others just because they were not producing more foods and the fruits were more valuable. There was to be no oppression. The Israelites were to love one another, showing the same kindness as the Lord extended to them.

18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
20 And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
21 Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
22 And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.

If they were to keep these commandments, they would have safety in the land. This is a promise that we see several times throughout the scriptures. It is, I believe, and eternal promise to those who are righteous, covenant people of God. The Israelites were told here, that they would be blessed in abundance on the sixth year, with as much food as three years would provide. Then when the time to harvest came in the eighth year, they would have food for the following year. This reminds me a lot of the blessing of manna from heaven, when they were told not to gather on the sabbath day. Instead, they would be able to gather twice as much on the sixth day, and it would miraculously keep until after the sabbath when they could gather again. I cannot help but think that part of the reason for this sabbath year, was to remind them of how they had been preserved, fed, and guided by the Lord all those years in the wilderness.

The footnote to command in verse 21, referenced 1 Nephi 3:7, which reads, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” This is an example of the Lord fulfilling this. He gave the Israelites a command to refrain from harvesting for a year. Then he told them he would given them a way to be able to keep this commandment. Likewise, we are commanded to keep the sabbath day holy. If we can be faithful, the Lord will give us a way to be able to keep this commandment.

23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
24 And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.

The Lord revealed, that all the land of promise would be his land. They were strangers, whom the Lord was taken into His land. Redemption was to be granted for the land. I understand that many cities in those days, would have land owned by the gods or as part of the temple and many people would live on the land with their farms and such. It sounds like the people of Israel were to buy land with the knowledge that it belonged to God and was to be used for God.

25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it;
27 Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.
28 But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.
29 And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.
30 And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubilee.
31 But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee.
32 Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.
33 And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
34 But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.

How they dealt with selling and returning of their belongings, was to follow the guidelines the Lord set forth. I don’t exactly understand how things were passed between one another, but I gather that this law was to be a reminder that their possessions were ultimately gifts from God. When the Lord expected them to be given to another, or returned in the year of jubilation, then that was to be done. It sounds like those things that had belonged to one and then were sold in order to get by, would be returned in the year of jubilee. I think there had to be some kind of payment made, but I am not sure. A home within the walls of a city could be returned in the first year of purchasing it, but after a year, it would belong to that person and would not be required to be returned in the jubilee. Homes that were not part of the city, would be returned in the year of jubilee. The Levites, who were the priests of the Lord, were able to redeem their possessions at any time, and their fields were not sold because they were to remain in their possession as their inheritance.

35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
38 I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

Those who were poor and needy, were to be given help without holding it over them as a debt they owe. The Lord reminds them of their dependence on him when he brought them out of Egypt.

39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
40 But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee:
41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
42 For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.
43 Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.
44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.
45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

Any man sold to the Israelites, was to be a hired servant for them until the year of Jubilee. An Israelite was not to be sold into bondage. At that time, his family could leave with him, and return to their own families and lands. They were not to treat their servants too strictly, but treat them as God would have them treated. Any of a heathen nation, or gentiles of strangers in the land, could be purchased as bondmen and women. Any bondmen or bondmaids were their possession and were not required to be made free in the year of jubilee. The Israelites were not to practice usury with one another, that is they were not cause one another to be indebted greatly.

47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family:
48 After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
49 Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.
50 And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.
51 If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.
52 And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubilee, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.
53 And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight.
54 And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubilee, both he, and his children with him.
55 For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Any Israelite could be redeemed by another of his kin, even if purchased by a stranger. If he is able, he may also pay off his own debts. He would pay according to the years he was a sold man. If he was not able to be redeemed beforehand, then during the year of jubilee, he was allowed to leave with his family. This is because all of the Israelites were indebted to the Lord, as His servants, since he had delivered them out of captivity.

Being a “servant” is often seen as a negative thing, but I think reading this chapter reminds me that we all should strive to be servants of the Lord. We are indebted to the Lord for all that we have, even our very lives. He has every right to expect us to be in His service always. In his mercy and kindness, he allows us to choose if we will be His servant or not. When we choose to serve Him, he promises us blessings greater than anything we can imagine. That is more than we probably deserve. He does this because he loves us. In turn, we should extend that same love and kindness to those who serve us. If we can live with hearts full of gratitude to the Lord, as well as those who strive to serve us, being a servant will not seem like a bad thing, but will become the pattern of our lives.

Leviticus Chapter 24

The book of Leviticus continues to cover the law of Moses, as received from the Lord. The children of Israel were given instruction for daily life, as well as specifics commandments regarding the holy tabernacle. The word of the Lord continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.
3 Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.
4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually.

The Israelites were to provide pure oil for lighting the lamps in the tabernacle of the congregation. The lamps were to be continually burning and the sons of Aaron were to make sure they were trimmed and lit at all times. I’d like to think about why it was necessary for the lamps to be lit at all times. If the lamps were lit, the spirit of the Lord would dwell with them. I wonder if this was evidence of the spirits of the Israelites. If there came a time, or rather when there was a time, when the lamps went out, it would have been due to disobedience or apathy of the people. When people get to that point, the spirit of the Lord cannot dwell among them. Likewise, our own spiritual lamps must be lit at all times. We cannot allow life to draw us away from this duty. If we do not keep the lamp of faith burning in our hearts, the spirit will withdraw from us.

5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord.
7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
9 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.

They were commanded to have twelves loaves of bread, or shewbread, with frankincense, in rows on the table within the tabernacle. This was a memorial and offering to the Lord. I am figuring that the number was twelve, to represent the tribes of Israel and the covenant between them and God. This was an offering, which the sons of Aaron were to eat. Reminding me, once again, of the sacrament we partake of each week to renew our own covenants with God.

10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;
11 And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)
12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shewed them.
13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

There was a man of the Israelite tribe of Dan, and of Egyptian blood. He was out among the people along with another Israelite man. The first committed blasphemy, and was then taken and brought to Moses. As a witness of what was done, those who heard him were to lay their hands upon him. Then he was to be put to death by stoning. Moses was to teach the people that any who cursed God, Israelite or stranger, was to be held accountable for that sin and would be put to death by stoning.

17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.
19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.

Moses was to teach them again, that anyone who killed another, would be put to death. Those who killed someone’s animal, was to give equally to that individual. Moses was told the law was eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Those who hurt or killed another, would receive punishment in kind. The law would be the same for the Israelites and any who came into their camp or land from without.

23 And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.

Moses went and commanded the people those things that God had said.

Most of these things have been mentioned already in the previous chapters of the Bible. Repeated instruction on the way things should be in the tabernacle, was necessary to keep it a holy place to the Lord. The people knew well enough to bring a sinner to the prophet for what they should do, but may have needed multiple reminders of the law before they knew just what to do when something happened. I wonder what life would be like now if the law of Moses was practiced all over the world. If people knew any kind of punishment would come with cursing the Lord, would they take his name in vain so frequently? I doubt it. If there was laws now that required the death penalty for all those who killed others, would it happen as often as it does? If it was standard for someone to make restitution for hurting another, by being hurt themselves, would people be gentler towards others? Moreover, I wonder what kind of punishments I would have received for the things I have done in my life or what kind of person I would be today if the law of Moses was still in place. It is not today, because the Savior fulfilled that law and gave the higher law to men. More is expected of us, but the punishments are more often spiritual and therefore of greater significance than something just physical. In Matthew 5 we read the following words of the Savior:

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Jesus teaches us that as the one offended or hurt by another, we should have mercy on them and forgive them. I’ve heard it said that usually when others are of a mind to hurt someone, it is because they are lacking in something, such as love or self-worth. Punishments according the law are fine, but the greater response from us personally, is to give them our forgiveness and kindness. We cannot say that anything done to us is an exception to this, because of the example from the Savior himself. He allowed others to hurt him, break him, and kill him, and in the end he pled for their forgiveness from God.

Being forgiving and showing mercy to others is a very difficult thing at times, but I know that our lives are better for it. I hope that I can live my life worthy of spiritual blessings and not of those things that would punish me spiritually. I also hope that others will find it in their hearts to forgiven me of the many things I may do to offend them. I know that in forgiving others we are forgiven, and in being merciful, we find mercy. Hopefully, more of us can find the strength and faith to live as the Lord commands.

Leviticus Chapter 18

The Law of Moses was given to the Israelites when they had recently been led from the land of Egypt. The children of Israel had been living amongst the Egyptians for somewhere around 400 years, which is plenty of time to get used to the customs there. While, they may not have lived lifestyles exactly as the Egyptians did, I am sure there was a need for them to know what things were not acceptable to the Lord that other people in the world were treating as more common. The Lord commanded them that they were not to worship other gods as the Egyptians did, or as was done when they lived among the Egyptians. They were also not to make idols among other things. This chapter of Leviticus goes into further details regarding those things that are forbidden by the Lord for His people. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God.
3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.

There was no other people on the earth, who were the covenant people of God. Their covenants required them to live to the higher standard and therefore, they could not live as they had when they were with the Egyptians or as the people of Canaan lived. The people of the world were walking in darkness, and the Israelites were called to walk in the light of the Lord. When we make covenants with the Lord today, we also have to learn how to live in the world, but not of the world. There is far too much wickedness and darkness around us, and we must not allow the ways of men to cloud our judgment. The Lord gives us the laws to follow today, just as he gave the laws to the Israelites. The wonderful part of it all is, even though we are human and err often, as long as we are willing to return to him and walk in His ways, we will be blessed with eternal life.

6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.
10 The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.
11 The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.
13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.
14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.
17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

The Israelites were commanded not to be intimate with their family members. These included their father, mother, step-mother, sister, step-sister, half-sister, granddaughter, aunt (by blood or marriage), uncle, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and so on. They were not to be intimate with two women who were mother and daughter. They were also not to marry their sister-in-law, to be intimate with her in order to frustrate their own wives during their lifetime. These things were forbidden and seen as wickedness to the Lord. As far as I am aware, there is nothing in this law that has been changed for the people of the Lord in our day.

19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.
21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

They were not to be intimate with a woman while she was unclean, probably referring to an issue of blood. Committing adultery with another’s spouse, was forbidden. To sacrifice children in the ways of men, was also forbidden. People in their time made sacrifices to God of their seed, and the Lord who is the God of Israel, commanded them that they were not to do this to Him. In addition, they were forbidden to take the Lord’s name in vain. I think that this also means, they were not to swear to God in vain. Men were not to be physically intimate with other men as they were with women. I think that likewise, the women were not to be intimate with other women as they were with men. Moreover, no man was to be physical with any animals. Homosexuality and bestiality are perversions of the way humankind was designed by God. As the Lord taught them here, it is confusion. The bodies and spirits of God’s children are confused and frustrated from their eternal purposes, when they adopt these kinds of behaviors.

24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God.

The Lord had promised that he would drive out the nations which were in the land of promise and prepare a place for His people there. These acts of abomination were being committed by these other nations, which the Lord would soon cast out. They were the traditions of their fathers for many generations. If these acts were committed within the Israelite camp, it would defile the people and the land there. They were to be an obedient, virtuous, and holy people. If they wanted to obtain and retain the promised land, they had to follow these commandments. Their holiness to the Lord, was the key to his spirit and presence among them, which he had promised. Any who did these unholy things would be cut off from the people and from the Lord.

Likewise, we have been given commandments to remain a virtuous and holy people as well. In order to do this, we must also live to the higher standard. There are laws regarding our intimate relationships, which are mocked and skewed at every turn today. The law that adultery is forbidden remains a law of God. Homosexuality is still a sin today, even though it has become acceptable behavior to the world. The same goes for bestiality of any kind. The laws of sacrifice are laid out for us by the Savior himself, who fulfilled the law by his own sacrifice for mankind. To sacrifice any child, at any age of growth, is still forbidden. Likewise, we are commanded not to take the name of the Lord in vain. We all have agency and the right to choose for ourselves, but the law of God remains the same and unchanged, even though the world changes. Anyone, who wishes to follow Christ, and be a covenant child of God today, must abide by his law. When wrongs are done, repentance is made possible through that great atoning sacrifice of the Savior. Our own promised land of the Celestial Kingdom, salvation and exaltation will be the blessing to those who live worthy of those promises.

For more information on what the Lord expects of His covenant people today, read The Family: A Proclamation to the World.


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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