Posts Tagged 'Mercy'

1 Kings Chapter 21

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, and queen of the northern kingdom of Israel. She was a follower of Baal and had led many away from the Lord. She hated the prophets, and had sought to kill Elijah after her priests had been destroyed. She was a wicked ruler and had brought a lot of trouble to the land and people of Israel. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

There was a vineyard near the palace of Ahab in Jezreel. It was owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab wanted to have the vineyard for a garden, so he asked that Naboth give it to him and offered to give him a better vineyard, or to pay him for the land. Naboth declined because this had been the inheritance of land given to his family. Ahab returned home upset, laid down and would not eat anything.

In biblical times, an inheritance meant a great deal. The Lord had inspired the division of land, and each family had been given a portion. Despite all the personal apostasy and wickedness that had taken over among the people, they still held fast to the idea of a promised land of inheritance. It is unknown to us, what kind of a man Naboth had been, but it seems like he was trying to be a good man. A man who recognized that the land he had was a gift from God, which he should not give up for any man, even the king of Israel.

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.
7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Jezebel asked Ahab what was wrong because she noticed he was sad and not eating. Ahab told her what had happen. Jezebel asked him if he was not the king of Israel. She told him to get up, eat and be happy, because she would give him the vineyard he wanted. Jezebel sent letters to the elders and nobels of Jezreel, as if they were from Ahab. She wrote that the men were to fast and put Naboth in front of the people, with false witnesses to say that Naboth had blasphemed God and the king. She wrote that they were to stone him to death. The men followed the orders and stoned Naboth. Then they sent word to Jezebel, that Naboth was dead.

15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Jezebel told Ahab that Naboth was dead and that Ahab could claim the vineyard in Jezreel. So, Ahab went down to the vineyard and took it for his own.

17 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.
21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
23 And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

Elijah received revelation from the Lord, and was commanded to go to Ahab in the vineyard of Naboth, and prophesy to him. The Lord commanded him to ask if he had killed and taken possession of the land, and then he was to prophesy to Ahab that he would die where Naboth had been killed. When Elijah had done this, Ahab asked how he had found him there, and Elijah told him he found him because he had sold his soul to do evil. Elijah prophesied that Ahab and his posterity would be destroyed and cut off from Israel. He would be destroyed just as those who had done evil before him. He prophesied that Jezebel would die by the wall of Jezreel, and that all who died from their house, would be eaten by wild animals.

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

Ahab had been more wicked then any other king in Israel because his wife had led him away, but when he heard the prophecy against his family, he mourned and fasted. The Lord told Elijah that Ahab humbled himself, and because of this he would not destroy him, but that his posterity would be destroyed in the days of his son.

Ahab was a selfish man, who had a fit over not getting his way. He refused to eat when he was denied what he wanted. His enabling and wicked wife, was willing to do all that she could to give him what he wanted, even if it meant killing someone. This was done for ownership of a piece of land, which was most likely not truly needed by the king. I find it interesting to read of Ahab’s reaction after the prophecy from Elijah. Even though he had become a grossly wicked man, he sincerely humbled himself, when he realized what he would be done to himself and his family. Because of his humility, he was not going to be destroyed, but there were still consequences because a man was killed for him. It says nothing specifically of the prophesy against Jezebel here, but she had not humbled herself. She had planned the death of a man, and even though she did not carry it out herself, she had killed him. Her wickedness would bring her eventual destruction and the prophesy of her death would be fulfilled.

A lesson from this chapter, is that God knows if we are truly humbled. He is merciful, and will extend that mercy to those who are humble. None of us is perfect. We may not live as wickedly as Ahab did, but we do make choices that separate us from God. We need the mercy of the Lord. All men need to be humble and repent of those things that they know they have done against God, if they do not want to realize the promise of their own personal destruction. I am so grateful for God’s love and mercy. I am grateful that He knows me perfectly and will help me to become a better person.

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.

Why Not Us?

As I have studied the story of the ancient Israelites, I have wondered a lot about the differences between now and then. Specifically, I have asked myself the question, why doesn’t the Lord destroy the rebellious as He did in the days of Moses? Through study and pondering, I have come to the conclusion that God does not treat us with the same severity because we are living a different part of the plan. We experience some of the consequences from the unrighteous Israelites, such as that of being scattered all over the world. In Genesis 28:14 we read, “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: . . .”. We also have the positive consequence of the blessings of Israel, which included that “all the families of the earth be blessed” by His seed. (see Genesis 28:14) Our lives include things that were instituted by God in ancient times, such as having the ten commandments as part of society. God needed to institute these things with firmness so that they would be a standard of living for us today. The Israelites were made to experience complete changes in their society to bring them to God. We have their foundation laid out for us, and now are required to live a life of faith to bring Israel back to the Lord. When we are not faithful, we still experience the consequence of destruction, but more often then not, it comes in a spiritual separation from the Lord and the Sprit of God. This spiritual consequence is of serious importance to our eternal reward and more destructive than a physical destruction in this life. Alma 13:30 reads, “And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.”

What are we to learn from allowing men today to become ripe in iniquity? God will give us every opportunity to return to Him in this life. There are eternal blessings that can only be received through faithful living on this earth. God wants us to have all that He has to offer us, and so He allows for us to choose either to repent and return to Him, or become so wicked that we rightly deserve the eternal consequences of sin. Ultimately, we should not be surprised that a great destruction is headed our way with the second coming of the Lord. The righteous will be greatly blessed at that day, and those who are deserving of the great destruction, will receive it. We cannot begin to know who will be a part of which reward at that day, but we can choose for ourselves, to live the best we know how, repent of our mistakes and transgressions, and be blessed through the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord. I like David of old, “trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” (Psalms 52:8)

Numbers Chapter 17

The Israelites struggled with understanding the order of the priesthood and the pattern for being ordained to the priesthood. The Lord had chosen Moses as His prophet. Aaron and his sons were chosen by the Lord, to hold the Melchizedek priesthood and serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. In addition, the Levites were set apart and ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, to assist the sons of Aaron and to bear the tabernacle when they traveled. These men did not choose this of themselves, but followed the plan that the Lord instructed them to follow. There were many thousands more in the host of Israel and some did not have a testimony of this pattern for themselves. Some who had rebelled against God, were destroyed for it. The book of Numbers continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod.
3 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.
4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
5 And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

The patriarch of each family was commanded to take a rod of their father, or of their tribe and to write their name upon the rod. There would be twelve rods for the twelve houses of Israel. Aaron, who was Moses’ elder brother, was to have his name on the rod of the Levites. The rods were then to be placed in the tabernacle of the congregation, where the presence of the Lord would meet them. The chosen rod would blossom as a sign to the Israelites of who was the chosen family to serve with the Lord’s authority and priesthood. This test and sign were to be given to put a stop to the murmurings of the Israelites.

6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
7 And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness.
8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.

Moses told the people what God asked of them, and each prince of the twelve tribes, or patriarch, gave their rod to Moses to be put in the tabernacle of congregation. Here it is called the tabernacle of witness, I think because this was going to be a witness to the people of the will of the Lord. The rod of Aaron budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds. Moses brought the rods out to the people, who took their rods and witnessed the rod of Aaron had been chosen.

10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
11 And Moses did so: as the Lord commanded him, so did he.
12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.
13 Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?

Moses was told to keep the rod of Aaron as a token against those rebels among them. This proof to those rebels would stop the murmuring and stay the hand of the Lord against them. Moses placed the rod in front of the testimony, as he was commanded. Those who were not authorized to hold the priesthood of the Lord, would die if they attempted to claim the priesthood and it duties for themselves by trying to enter the tabernacle of the congregation. I think that these questions of the children of Israel, were their way of recognizing the will of the Lord.

This witness to the people, was a blessing of mercy. The wrath of God was upon the rebellious host of Israel, but in His mercy, God gave them a sign to understand His will. They had not had the faith to believe upon the words of the prophet, and for this God had every right to destroy them, but He did not. Instead, the Lord helped them to know His will and gave them a warning and a token as a reminder of it. We are required now to be a people of faith. We are asked to believe upon the words of the scriptures and the prophets, both ancient and modern. These stories from the scriptures are a reminder for us, of the will of God. We each need to take it upon ourselves to seek for a testimony of these things and allow the spirit to be our own personal witness. I am grateful for the desire I have to gain a testimony of these things. The scriptures are a real treasure in my life. The spirit has taught me truth as I have been studying and trying to understand what God wants for me.

Challenge: Is there a principle of the gospel that you do not understand, as the Israelites did not understand the order of the priesthood? Have you studied it out? Take the time now, to study, pray and ponder about these things. If you truly desire for understanding and truth, the spirit can teach you. God blesses those who faithfully seek for these things.

Notes on Patience – Justice of the Lord

Patience is something that is tested in my life every day, as I am sure it is for most of us. I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to begin a study that was a bit more in depth so that I could know how to gain a self-mastery that I do not have right now. I hope that my readers will enjoy following this series of posts on patience and that it may help someone else out there, as much as it has helped me. To see more posts, check out Notes on Patience

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:10)

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day. (Alma 14:11)

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:30)

  • Part of being patient in the Lord, is allowing His justice and mercy to work in His time. I am not one for seeking retribution for the things that others may do to me, but I have close friends and family who are. I can see how spending so much time and energy coming up with ways to get justice for wrongs done leads to so much waste in a perfectly good life. The faith I have, leads to me believe that others will receive the consequences for their actions eventually. Most of them will probably not be something that I will ever see, and that should be okay with me. Hopefully, others recognize the error of their ways and repent, so that they can be better. I know that my life is better spent forgiving and moving on, so that I don’t carry that weight around and destroy my own soul in the process. Forgiving others leads to having a greater love for them, even as I love myself. I need to recognize that sometimes I need to patient in the trials that come from the actions of others, because God is giving them every opportunity to repent so that his judgement will be completely just.
  • Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 8

    (To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

    God is a law and standards maker. As mentioned before, God our father gives us commandments and boundaries to keep us safe and happy. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:21 we read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.” God has established the law and He must be just in upholding it. He sets consequences for following the laws, as well as disobeying them. Because He is perfectly just, He must follow through with the consequences, whether they be blessings for the good or punishments for the bad. The pattern of laws and consequences, is an eternal pattern. In Doctrine and Covenants 88, we learn this about the kingdoms that will be rewarded to people after this life. Verse 38 teaches us, “And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.” God is bound by laws Himself because they are eternal. To become like God, we must learn how to obey and create laws and standards in our own lives. We become more like Him, when we live His laws with exactness. We also work towards our potential when we set goals and then give ourselves standards to live by in order to attain them. When appropriate, we should set standards for others as well, as with the case of our children as mentioned previously.

    Along the same line as being a just judge and a law maker, God is merciful. In Deuteronomy 4:31 we read, “(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.” God is merciful because he loves us. He does not forget the things that he promises to us and He gives us every opportunity to return to Him. This is always the case, for all people in all times and seasons. However, His mercy can only be applied to us, if we allow Him into our lives. In Psalms 103:17 it says, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;”. God must fulfill the laws, as said before, but in His mercy, created a plan where we could be forgiven and have the choice to return to be with Him. In Alma 42:15 we learn, “And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” Jesus Christ went through the atonement so that we all could have the mercy of God shown to us. In order to gain this god-like quality in this life, and ultimately to become perfect at it in the eternities, we need to become more merciful towards others. The Savior taught this to us in Luke 6:36 which reads, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. When others do wrong to us, intended or not, we need to have greater compassion towards them. Learning how to be more forgiving even with the worst offenses against us. This can be extremely difficult at times, but there is such a great blessing of peace and happiness that comes from being a forgiving person. I often reflect on the way that others treated the Savior during his ministry. He was ridiculed, persecuted to the fullest, and many times others desired to kill him to the point of his actual death. What amazing forgiveness he extended, when He, knowing the thoughts and desires of all men, asked God to forgive us all. Knowing the hatred and intentions of those men who condemned Him, He bled and died for the salvation of their souls. That was a perfect act of mercy and if I can only become a small portion of that, I know I will be blessed beyond measure for it.

    (Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 9)

    To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

    D&C Section 109 (Part 2)

    This is a continuation of the previous post (D&C Section 109 Part 1).

    In the previous post on this section, we read the beginning of the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple. The saints had sacrificed much and the prophet asked for great blessings from the spirit to be given to the saints. We are promised power and protection from Satan and temptations of the world, if we are faithful and obedient in temple work and sharing the gospel.

    This section continues:

    43 O Lord, we delight not in the destruction of our fellow men; their souls are precious before thee;
    44 But thy word must be fulfilled. Help thy servants to say, with thy grace assisting them: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.
    45 We know that thou hast spoken by the mouth of thy prophets terrible things concerning the wicked, in the last days—that thou wilt pour out thy judgments, without measure;
    46 Therefore, O Lord, deliver thy people from the calamity of the wicked; enable thy servants to seal up the law, and bind up the testimony, that they may be prepared against the day of burning.
    47 We ask thee, Holy Father, to remember those who have been driven by the inhabitants of Jackson county, Missouri, from the lands of their inheritance, and break off, O Lord, this yoke of affliction that has been put upon them.
    48 Thou knowest, O Lord, that they have been greatly oppressed and afflicted by wicked men; and our hearts flow out with sorrow because of their grievous burdens.
    49 O Lord, how long wilt thou suffer this people to bear this affliction, and the cries of their innocent ones to ascend up in thine ears, and their blood come up in testimony before thee, and not make a display of thy testimony in their behalf?
    50 Have mercy, O Lord, upon the wicked mob, who have driven thy people, that they may cease to spoil, that they may repent of their sins if repentance is to be found;
    51 But if they will not, make bare thine arm, O Lord, and redeem that which thou didst appoint a Zion unto thy people.
    52 And if it cannot be otherwise, that the cause of thy people may not fail before thee may thine anger be kindled, and thine indignation fall upon them, that they may be wasted away, both root and branch, from under heaven;
    53 But inasmuch as they will repent, thou art gracious and merciful, and wilt turn away thy wrath when thou lookest upon the face of thine Anointed.

    The saints had suffered a lot of hardship at the hands of angry people. They were promised that the wicked would suffer if they would not repent of their ways. This part of the dedicatory prayer, reiterates these promises. It is a reminder that we must have faith and hope in the Lords promises, being obedient to his laws and repent for our sins, so that we can be saved when the day of judgment comes upon the wicked. It is also a reminder that even though people may do awful things and hurt others, there is always a chance for repentance. The Lord will allow for every opportunity and knows the hearts of men and because He is merciful. God not bring down His wrath until there is no room for repentance any longer.

    In the case with Missouri, the saints had previously been told to ask for help from the government in restoring what was rightfully theirs. The saints did, but the help was not to be found. This prophetic prayer was fulfilled during the civil war, because Missouri saw fighting in most of the state. In fact, I read that in Jackson County and the surrounding areas, the residents were all evicted and their property was burned. This was so much like what they had done to the saints.

    54 Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.
    55 Remember the kings, the princes, the nobles, and the great ones of the earth, and all people, and the churches, all the poor, the needy, and afflicted ones of the earth;
    56 That their hearts may be softened when thy servants shall go out from thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of thy name; that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all;
    57 That all the ends of the earth may know that we, thy servants, have heard thy voice, and that thou hast sent us;
    58 That from among all these, thy servants, the sons of Jacob, may gather out the righteous to build a holy city to thy name, as thou hast commanded them.

    It is a testimony to me of the greatness of this land that I live in, that the prophet, Joseph Smith, would say these things in this prayer. I believe these things to be true – that the establishment of the United States was done by inspiration, that the creation of our constitution was also by inspiration, and that we continue to need our rulers to be blessed by the Lord so that they can lead us in good ways. We have so much contention and fighting in the world, which is not the right environment for the gospel to enter the hearts of men. I hope that more peace can be found all over the world, and that leaders of all nations have the same opportunities to be influenced by the spirit, if they are trying to do what is right. I hope for hearts all over the world to be softened because that is they only way that the spirit can convert them to come unto Christ. I know that the gospel can bring peace to all men.

    59 We ask thee to appoint unto Zion other stakes besides this one which thou hast appointed, that the gathering of thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that thy work may be cut short in righteousness.
    60 Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.
    61 But thou knowest that thou hast a great love for the children of Jacob, who have been scattered upon the mountains for a long time, in a cloudy and dark day.
    62 We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed;
    63 And the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David;
    64 And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father.
    65 And cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten because of their transgression, be converted from their wild and savage condition to the fulness of the everlasting gospel;
    66 That they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed, and cease their rebellions.
    67 And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee.

    The prophet asked that the church may grow in stakes so that the gospel could gather the saints from all over. The church has over 28,000 congregations all over the world, and the stakes of Zion are being strengthened in many lands. I don’t know a lot of the world history and current events, so I don’t know the progress of Israel being redeemed, but I understand that it is slowly happening. The gentiles have brought the gospel back through the restoration and the prophet, Joseph Smith. The gentiles will have the privilege to bring the gospel to the house of Israel, and the tribes of Israel will gather again once more. The gathering is happening now and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

    68 O Lord, remember thy servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., and all his afflictions and persecutions—how he has covenanted with Jehovah, and vowed to thee, O Mighty God of Jacob—and the commandments which thou hast given unto him, and that he hath sincerely striven to do thy will.
    69 Have mercy, O Lord, upon his wife and children, that they may be exalted in thy presence, and preserved by thy fostering hand.
    70 Have mercy upon all their immediate connections, that their prejudices may be broken up and swept away as with a flood; that they may be converted and redeemed with Israel, and know that thou art God.
    71 Remember, O Lord, the presidents, even all the presidents of thy church, that thy right hand may exalt them, with all their families, and their immediate connections, that their names may be perpetuated and had in everlasting remembrance from generation to generation.
    72 Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth;
    73 That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;
    74 And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth;
    75 That when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord;
    76 That our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings.
    77 O Lord God Almighty, hear us in these our petitions, and answer us from heaven, thy holy habitation, where thou sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgment, mercy, and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting.
    78 O hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord! And answer these petitions, and accept the dedication of this house unto thee, the work of our hands, which we have built unto thy name;
    79 And also this church, to put upon it thy name. And help us by the power of thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne, with acclamations of praise, singing Hosanna to God and the Lamb!
    80 And let these, thine anointed ones, be clothed with salvation, and thy saints shout aloud for joy. Amen, and Amen.

    The closing of this dedication is an example to us. We should pray for the prophets and other church leaders, so that they will have the strength and support of the church. We should pray for their protection from persecution and prejudices. We should pray for their families, which keep them strong. We should pray for the church and its growth around the world. We should pray for the poor, that their needs will be met. We should pray that the gospel will touch the hearts of many, so that more of the children of God will be prepared for the second coming. We should pray that the faithful saints will receive glory, honor and eternal life according to their obedience to the covenants they make.

    I am so grateful for the temples that are on the earth today. I am grateful for the covenants that I have made to God. I know that we are living in the latter-days, when we need to be doing all that we can to prepare for the second coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We must do our part in sharing the gospel and in preparing ourselves, so that we can be worthy to meet the Lord. I have hope in the blessings that we can be promised through our covenants. I want to serve the Lord and to be found worthy, so that I can share in these blessings.

    D&C Section 101 (Part 1)

    Late in 1833, the Saints in Missouri were being persecuted greatly no matter where they went. Many were driven to a place called Clay County and had lost most or all that they had to angry mobs. This revelation was received at that time by the prophet, Joseph Smith, who was in Kirtland, Ohio.

    1 Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance—
    2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
    3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.
    4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.
    5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
    6 Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
    7 They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.
    8 In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.

    The saints were gathering in Missouri, to gain their inheritances in the land of Zion. These inheritances were from the Lord, as promised to descendants of Joseph. However, they were chased out by the mobs. The Lord had allowed this persecution to come upon his people, because they needed to be chastened for their sins. When we are doing what is right, the Lord protects us from our enemies according to His will, but when we are not doing what is right, He has no promise to protect us. Instead He allows for all things to happen as they will, so that we can learn to return to Him and to obey His commandments. There will be times in our lives when even when we may be living righteously, the Lord will allow trials to come upon us so that we can remember to turn to Him. The Savior himself suffered greater trials and sorrows than any person who has ever lived, so we cannot think ourselves worthy of living without any trials, no matter how righteously we live.

    9 Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.
    10 I have sworn, and the decree hath gone forth by a former commandment which I have given unto you, that I would let fall the sword of mine indignation in behalf of my people; and even as I have said, it shall come to pass.
    11 Mine indignation is soon to be poured out without measure upon all nations; and this will I do when the cup of their iniquity is full.
    12 And in that day all who are found upon the watch-tower, or in other words, all mine Israel, shall be saved.
    13 And they that have been scattered shall be gathered.
    14 And all they who have mourned shall be comforted.
    15 And all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.

    When the children of Israel were wandering and were made to suffer through hardships for their sins, the Lord reminded them that he would continue to show mercy on them. I think a lot of the saints struggled with sins because of the circumstances they were in. They had made covenants and were trying to establish a Zion, but the persecutions tried their faith and many erred in one way or another. The Lord knew of all of their circumstances and reminded them that mercy would be theirs if they would be obedient. The Lord also made them aware that those who persecuted them would receive the wrath of God. When the time comes for the wrath of God to fall upon the nations, the saints will be shown great mercy and will find the promised peace through the Savior. Those who are watchful of the temptations of Satan and who have made sacred covenants with God, are His Israel. These are those who have been adopted through baptism into the Lord’s church, and who have the responsibility to warn others and call them to repentance. We must be watchers and warners, if we hope to be among those who are saved when the wrath of God falls upon the earth.

    16 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.
    17 Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered.
    18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion—
    19 And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.
    20 And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saints—
    21 Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion.

    Even though the early saints were being removed from Zion, it would still be there and it would be built in the Lord’s time. The saints were scattered and now the church has grown and spread across the earth. No matter how hard we try, all of the saints will not be able to go to Jackson County, Missouri to build up Zion. Because of this, stakes of Zion have been established by God through the general authorities of the church. These stakes will build up Zion and give strength to the church. When the day comes when the saints can return to the Land of Zion, there will be great rejoicing. It has also been said that Zion is the pure in heart. While we cannot all return to the physical land of Zion, we can all be sanctified and become pure in heart. If we are pure in heart, we will receive the same blessings that come to those who physically will dwell in Zion.

    22 Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;
    23 And prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.
    24 And every corruptible thing, both of man, or of the beasts of the field, or of the fowls of the heavens, or of the fish of the sea, that dwells upon all the face of the earth, shall be consumed;
    25 And also that of element shall melt with fervent heat; and all things shall become new, that my knowledge and glory may dwell upon all the earth.
    26 And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face.
    27 And in that day whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him.
    28 And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man.
    29 And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death.
    30 In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;
    31 And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious.

    When Zion has been fully established, with her stakes throughout the world to support her, the time of the Millennium will be at hand. In that time, all that is wicked will be destroyed and all things will be renewed in the state necessary for the Savior to rule and reign upon the earth. Every person who has ever lived or who is living then, will see the Savior and will know who He is. Satan will not have power to tempt man.

    I don’t know if I will be alive when the time of the Millennium comes, but I look forward to it now, with hope and great excitement. I believe these things to be true. I know that I will rejoice when the Savior reveals himself to all people. I am excited for the great work that will be accomplished during the Millennium, and for the fact that Satan will not be tempting men and trying to frustrate that work. I have a hope for the blessings that will come following that wonderful time of work and I want to live my life worthy of those great blessings.

    (This section will be continued.)

    The Atonement

    View the lesson here.

    The Atonement Is Necessary for Our Salvation

    Why is the Atonement necessary for our salvation?

    The atonement makes it possible for us to repent of our sins. We all sin regularly, because we are human and we make mistakes. Heavenly Father is perfect and our goal is to return to live with him again some day. In Moses 6:57 we read, “Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence . . .”.

    Being able to repent of our mistakes, is part of the plan of salvation that was laid out for us before we came here. The key to the plan of salvation was that the Savior, Jesus Christ, would suffer for these sins, so that he could show us mercy having paid the price for us. If the atonement had not occurred, there would be no hope for anyone. We would all have been lost after this life.

    Jesus Christ Was the Only One Who Could Atone for Our Sins

    Why was Jesus Christ the only one who could atone for our sins?

    Jesus Christ was the son of Mary, a mortal woman, and God, who is immortal. He was a God, while he lived on this earth, because he was born of the Father. He inherited many things from His Father. The thing he inherited from his mother, was mortality. The Savior was the only person who had to choose for himself to die. During the Atonement, He took upon himself every sin, as well as every pain, affliction, sorrow, and more. There is no mortal being who could have suffered all this and remained living.

    He was also the only person who was without sin and in paying the price for all of us, it was a perfect sacrifice. All sacrifices that have ever been accepted by God, have been without blemish, or perfect. No other person has ever been without blemish. He is the only one that could have been an acceptable sacrifice to God. This is why the Savior was chosen to do this for before we came to this earth.

    In Alma 34:10 we read, “For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.” Jesus Christ is the son of God and that is why he was able to make the infinite and eternal sacrifice that was required to satisfy the law.

    Christ Suffered and Died to Atone for Our Sins

    When Jesus Christ suffered through the atonement for each of us, he experienced pain and sorrow that no other person could truly imagine. The scriptures tell us how he suffered, but in modern-day revelations it is clearly stated. In D&C 19:17-19 we read, “But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I (v. 17); Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink (v. 18 )—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (v. 19).” He literally bled from every pore of His body.

    Part of the atonement was His death. The Savior had to experience physical death in order for the atonement of all things to be completed. His death was one of the cruelest and most painful ways a person could die. His death finished His mortal work that was necessary to save us all.

    The Atonement and Resurrection Bring Resurrection to All

    Just as His death was necessary, His resurrection was as well. Jesus Christ was the first being to be resurrected. He was the only one, being immortal, who could start the resurrection. Because He did this, all people, no matter how they lived in this life, will be resurrected.

    In 2 Nephi 9:12 we read, “And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.” The resurrection of the Savior has literally saved us all from remaining captive to satan after this life, because our bodies and spirits will be brought back together through the resurrection.

    How has [my] knowledge of the Resurrection helped [me]?

    Having a knowledge of the resurrection, gives me a hope for what is to come after this life. If we had no promise of immortality, I am not sure what there would be to look forward to. I think that I would fear death greatly, because it would seem as though the end of this life would be the end of everything. I know that there is more to come after we die, and this is only possible because of the Savior.

    The Atonement Makes It Possible for Those Who Have Faith in Christ to Be Saved from Their Sins

    The Atonement only works for those who accept it and use it. We will all be resurrected, but we choose for ourselves if we want to allow the atonement to work for us through repentance. The price has already been paid, but if we do not repent, then we suffer for ourselves.

    In Helaman 14:17-18 we read, “But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord (v. 17). Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness (v. 18 ).” All men have the opportunity to repent that know of repentance. We make the choice and the consequence will either be returning to live with God, or experiencing spiritual death and separating ourselves from everything that is good and righteous.

    Whom do the people in the parable represent in our lives?

    The lesson tells a parable that President Boyd K. Packer once told. It is about a man who went into great debt to get something he really wanted. Even with warnings about debt and who he would be borrowing from, the desire was too great and he signed the contract anyway. He avoided paying the debt off because the due date was still far away. When the debt was due, the man could not pay in full as was expected. The consequence was that the man would have everything taken away and he would go to prison. Justice had to be fulfilled, even though the man begged for mercy. The man had a friend, who loved him and wanted to help him. He paid the debt for the man and the man was shown mercy and set free. They worked out how the man would repay his friend.

    This parable is an example of our relationship to the Savior. We are the man who was in debt. Every time we sin, we go after something we want, even though we know we will be in debt to God for disobeying his laws. We keep living our lives the way we want, thinking that we don’t need to worry about those sins just yet, we are still enjoying life the way we like it. Then the end of our lives come and we are judged and justly we cannot enter into the kingdom of God because of the sin. God is always just and cannot bend the rules for any of us. We are held in spirit prison because of the debt that we cannot pay. The Savior, who is our friend and loves us, has offered to and paid for our sins. He will repay our debt if we choose to repent of our sins. If we choose repentance and use of the atonement, we will be made perfect and clean so that we can return to live with God again.

    I am so very grateful to my Savior for showing me mercy and suffering for me. The only way that I can show Him this gratitude is to actively use the atonement in my life. I do this by true repentance and doing my best to avoid sin and to obey the commandments. I want to better understand how the atonement and repentance work in my life, so that I will be able to return to live with my Father in Heaven some day.

    D&C Section 20 (Part 2)

    (Continued from previous post: Part 1)

    This section was given as the “Articles and Covenants of the Church”, at the time the church was first organized.

    The Lord is speaking about the Book of Mormon. He says that it is inspired and has been witnessed by others so that they could stand as witnesses of its truth (v. 10-13). “And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life (v. 14); But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation (v. 15)—For the Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church, have heard and bear witness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (v. 16).” The elders of the Church gave their witness to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the truth of these words.

    The Natural or Fallen Man

    “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them (v. 17); And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them (v. 18 ); And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship (v. 19). But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man (v. 20).”

    We are created in God’s image, therefore we inherit his attributes. However, because we are in a fallen state and are mortal, our transgressions cause us to become the natural man. We do not inherit wickedness from God. And we can perfect ourselves through the atonement and repentance for those things we do wrong. In Mosiah 3:19 we read, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” Repentance is the key to putting off the natural man that we all become because we all sin.

    The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost Are One God

    This section is laying out the basic principles of this gospel. “Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him (v. 21). He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them (v. 22). He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day (v. 23); And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father (v. 24); That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved (v. 25)—Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life (v. 26), As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son (v. 27);”

    “Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen (v. 28 ).” We know that there are three separate beings; God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which make up the one Godhead. One God meaning one Godhead. In Alma 11:44 we read, “Now, this restoration shall come to all . . . and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.” This is the only true and Eternal God. There are however, other Gods that exist, that we may be tempted to worship, but they are not the true and living God.

    How Does One Receive “Justification”?

    “And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God (v. 29). And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true (v. 30);” One basic principle of this gospel, is that God is just. We have commandments and covenants that we must follow and make, which have consequences and rewards (both good and bad). All the laws of the gospel must be fulfilled. However, the Savior has fulfilled all the laws through his atonement, so if we repent and believe in the Savior, we can have His grace. His grace will make us whole and we will receive justification for our transgressions.

    What Is “Sanctification”?

    “And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength (v. 31).” Sanctification is purification. It is being rid of all sin and having the change of heart that moves us to be entirely in tune with the will of the Lord. We will never be completely sanctified in this life, but we can take the steps toward sanctification and when the time comes, the Lord will complete the process for us.

    What Does Is Mean to “Fall from Grace”?

    “But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God (v. 32);” None of us is free from temptations and sin. Even the most righteous will be tempted and sin from time to time. If we do this without later repenting, we fall from grace. To fall from grace is to choose not to partake in the amazing power of the atonement, but live and possibly die in sin.


    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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