Posts Tagged 'Miracle'

2 Kings Chapter 2

Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the reign of Ahab. He had performed miracles, showing that the Lord was God of Israel. Israel was in a state of wickedness, and they worshiped false gods, in particular Baal. Many of the prophets of the Lord had been destroyed by the hands of the leaders in Israel. Elijah had done a great amount of work for the Lord, and had been told through the spirit, that Elisha was to be called to follow after him. When Elijah found him, he cast his mantle on him, and Elisha joined Elijah and walked with him for a time.

1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el.
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

The time came for Elijah to be taken up by the Lord, and Elijah and Elisha were traveling together. Elijah told him to stay where they were, but Elisha was committed to stay with him, so they both travelled to Beth-el. The prophets in Beth-el went to Elisha and asked if he knew that the Lord was about to take Elijah from him, and Elisha told them not to worry because he already knew that. Elijah prepared to continue on to Jericho and told Elisha to stay in Beth-el, but Elisha would not leave him. They went to Jericho and the prophets there asked if Elisha knew that the Lord would take Elijah. Again, he told them not to worry because he knew it. Elijah told Elisha to stay in Jericho, because he had been told to go to the Jordan, but Elisha would not leave him. They went together to the Jordan. Fifty prophets watched from afar, as Elijah and Elisha went to the water of the Jordan. Elijah smote the waters with him mantle, and they divided. Then, Elijah and Elisha traveled on the dry ground.

Elisha is a good example of devotion and dedication. He had given up his own wants when he had willingly followed after Elijah. Then, here in this chapter, he was given every opportunity to let Elijah go on his own, but he would not leave him. He had committed to be his companion in the work of the Lord, and remained faithful to Elijah as he journeyed. The Lord prepared Elisha for his own calling as a prophet, by inspiring the prophets of Beth-el and Jericho to tell Elisha that Elijah was about to leave him. Elisha knew the time was coming, and decided that he would continue with Elijah, further preparing himself for his own call. He never turned from following after the prophet. We are currently living in a time much like Elisha. Not that anyone would want to say it, but it is clear that our living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is growing weary and may not be with us for much longer. We can follow the example of Elisha, by remaining faithfully devoted and dedicated to our prophet, dear. Now is not the time to turn away from him. It is important for disciples of Christ, to continue to listen and heed his words, for he will be the mouth-piece for the Lord, for as long as he lives.

What would be the purpose of repeating the miracle of dividing the waters, as Moses had done, and as Joshua had done with the Jordan as well? It might have been done as a witness to those who watched from afar. That they would know that Elijah was indeed prophet of the Lord.
Furthermore, it stood as a witness to Elijah and Elisha, that they were doing what God desired for them, because the power to do this miracle was in fact given by God. Additionally, it was a reminder that these men were true men of God, to be heeded and followed just as the people of Israel had followed Moses and Joshua. Another possible reason, is that they were doing was God was commanding Elijah to do, and as mortal men they needed a way to get to the other side of the Jordan. As Nephi teaches in 1 Nephi 3:7, “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.” The Lord prepared a way for Elijah to go where he had been told to go. The Lord will always prepare a way for us to go and do those things He commands.

9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Once they were on the other side of the Jordan, Elijah told Elisha if there was anything he wanted to ask of him before he was taken away from him. Elisha asked that he have a double portion of the spirit that was with Elijah to be with him. A double portion was how the people of ancient times referred to the inheritance of the firstborn son. It is like Elisha was asking him to bless him as a firstborn son, in the things of the spirit rather than with physical things. Elijah told him, that it would happen, if Elisha witnessed him being taken away by the Lord. If he did not see him, it would not happen for him. They walked and talked together, when a chariot of fire went between them and Elijah was taken by a whirlwind into heaven.

It may have been possible for Elijah to tell Elisha that his desire was fulfilled, but doing things this way, gave an added witness to Elisha that the Lord was there for him in his service. Also, Elijah was not going to do anything contrary to the will of the Lord, and so he left this miracle to the Lord. This way of performing miracles, was why the Lord could trust Elijah with the sealing power he held. Only those who would not do anything contrary to the will of God, would be authorized to have the sealing power and use it among men on earth.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

Elisha did witness it and tore his own clothes as he mourned for Elijah. Elijah’s mantle had fallen, so Elisha picked up the mantle and went back to the waters of the Jordan. Then, Elisha used the mantle to part the waters of the Jordan as Elijah had. He crossed on the dry land and the prophets witnessed it. They recognized that the same spirit that had rested on Elijah, was with Elisha. The went to him and honored him as they had Elijah. The miracle of parting the waters could not have been done by a man alone. This is why it is such a spectacular event in the histories of the Israelites. Only a man, who has the power of the Lord with him, could do this thing. Both Elijah and Elisha were able to perform this miracle though the power of God.

When I think of the power to control the waters, I am reminded of a story in the life of the Savior. The story of being caught up in a horrible storm with his disciples. As he slept, they worried they were going to perish. When they woke him, He spoke and used His power to calm the waters and the wind. The men with him were amazed at this miracle, and wondered about the man Jesus (See Luke 8:22-25). Only with the power of God can things of nature be controlled in this way. A great lesson in this, is that with the power of God, things that seem impossible are possible. We can and should seek to have this spirit and power with us, just as Elisha did in his day.

16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.
17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.
18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

The prophets told Elisha to send strong men to look for Elijah in case he had been moved to a mountain or valley some where, but Elisha refused. They continued to tell him to do this, until he gave in and told them to send men. The men looked for three days, but did not find him. They returned to Elisha in Jericho and he told them that this is why he had said not to send them.

19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.
20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

The men of Jericho went to Elisha and told him that the city there was great, except that the waters were not good and the land was not producing. He told them to bring a jar or a bowl, with salt in it. They did and he went to the waters of Jericho and threw the salt into it. He told them that he had healed the water by the word of the Lord, and that the land would no longer be barren and the people would not die because of the waters. The waters were healed according to his words.

23 And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Elisha left Jericho and went back to Beth-el. On the way, some youth came out of the city and mocked him because he was bald, meaning possibly that they saw him as old. It seems like this was much like a gang of youth, who would do this same type of thing today. These are the type of people who would try to instill shame or fear in others just for the sport of it. Elisha cursed them for mocking him, and two bears came and killed 42 of them. Elisha returned to Samaria, by way of Mount Carmel.

One of the things that this chapter causes me to reflect on, is the idea of a mantel in a calling. When a person is called and set apart by the Lord (through his servants), they have a spiritual mantel placed upon their shoulders. It is that thing, which gives them gifts of the spirit particular to the needs of that assignment. It is not something you can physically see, but I believe it can be seen with spiritual eyes. For example, just prior to the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley, I watched Thomas S. Monson speak without sensing the mantel of his calling. Then, the first time he spoke after he became the new President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had been praying for confirmation that he was called of God to be the prophet and president. When I saw him speak, my prayer was answered and I could see and feel, with my spiritual eyes, the mantel that was now upon his shoulders. It was a huge blessing to me, to know that he was called of God to lead the church. I am certain that President Monson feels the weight of the mantel upon his shoulders spiritually, just as Elisha would have physically felt the mantel of Elijha upon his own.

I think it is good to note also, that the Lord did not leave his people without a prophet to lead and guide them. There have been times when people did not have prophets because of their own transgressions and how they used their agency to kill the prophets, but at this time, the mantel was passed to another. We live in a time of continuing revelation. In order for revelation to continually come from God, we must continue to have prophets called to lead and guide his people. I feel that it is important to have a testimony of a newly called prophet in our modern times, and so I have taken to the habit of fasting and praying to know that a man has been called to lead and guide us as I mentioned above, before they are sustained by the vote of the church in conference. Since doing this, I have been blessed time and time again, by a witness of the spirit, that the new prophet or apostles are indeed called of God to do this work. This is the kind of experience that the men who watched had, as Elijah left and Elisha returned and parted the waters.

1 Kings Chapter 18

The prophet Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. Ahab had married Jezebel, and he and his wife led the people of Israel in the worship of Baal. The worship of Baal was a wicked practice and led to great evil among the Israelites. Elijah had the sealing power and had closed the heavens in the land, meaning the people were suffering in a time of drought and famine. During this time, he had been blessed and preserved at the hand of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Elijah was commanded to return to Ahab, and then the Lord would allow rain to fall upon the earth again. So, Elijah went to Ahab in Samaria, where the famine had become very sore. Ahab called for his governor Obadiah. Obadiah had secretly saved a hundred prophets who were going to be killed by Jezebel, hiding them in caves and giving them food and water. Ahab sent Obadiah to find a place with water in the land, where they could save the animals they had left. Obadiah and Ahab parted ways.

7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
15 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah met Elijah on the way, and recognizing him, fell down and honored him, asking if he was, in fact, Elijah. Elijah confirmed this and told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was there. Obadiah was afraid that he would be harmed by Ahab if he returned to him saying that he knew where Elijah was. This was because Ahab had been hunting for Elijah the whole time he was in hiding, causing his people to make oaths promising that they did not know where Elijah was. If he returned saying he knew, Obadiah was worried that Elijah would not remain there, and then Ahab would kill him for it. Obadiah told Elijah that he had saved the prophets and that he feared the Lord, and he begged that Obadiah would not send him to do this. Elijah made a promise to him, assuring Obadiah that he would reveal himself to Ahab that very day, so Obadiah returned to Ahab and told him. Then, Ahab went to find Elijah.

Obadiah honored Elijah by falling on his face in a manner that showed great respect in their day. I wonder what it must have been like to be Obadiah in that moment. Clearly he had a love from the prophets of the Lord. He recognized Elijah and must have felt some awesome feelings at their meeting. In my own experience, I have had the opportunity to meet one who I believe to be a man of God. At the time, he was a member of the Seventy, and he came to our stake to call a new president. I attended a few meetings where he was present and the spirit he brought with him, was amazing. As the first meeting came to a close, I found myself having the desire to stay there and hold onto that spirit as long as I possibly could. Later, I had the opportunity to meet him personally and have a short conversation with him. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of respect and honor I had towards this man. I am sure that Obadiah felt some of these same feelings towards Elijah.

Obadiah’s role in this chapter, is a good example of trust in the Lord’s servants. Obadiah was able to put aside his fears of what the king might do to him, and trust in the promise from Elijah that he would remain to meet Ahab. He followed in faith, and although we don’t learn of anything more about him in this chapter, I am sure that he was blessed for his faithfulness.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Ahab saw Elijah, but did not honor him. Instead he blamed him for the troubles of Israel. Those who do not live as God would have them live, cannot recognize the blessings of God around them. Elijah’s presence there, was a blessing to Ahab, though he did not see it yet. Elijah said that the troubles they had were because of Ahab and his family, who had turned from the Lord and His commandments, and worshipped Baal instead. When people have come to know the Lord, and then reject Him and follow after their own heart, they bring troubles upon themselves. Elijah called for a gathering of Israel at mount Carmel, along with all the priests of Baal. Ahab obliged and a gathering was called. Elijah asked the people how they could continue to try to follow after both God and Baal, saying if they believed God was their God, they should follow after Him, but if they believed Baal to be their god, they should follow him. There was no response from the people. This is an eternal principle. There is no way to be devoted to God completely, and then do likewise towards anything else, because God expects all who serve Him, to put Him first in their worship, trust and faith. The people must have known that choosing to worship anything else, was pinning themselves against God. Over time, it would grow harder to try to split allegiance between the two and one would have to give out.

Elijah called their attention to the fact that he was the lone prophet of God there, while there were hundreds of their prophets of Baal. So with that he challenged them, to choose two bulls for sacrifice. They could choose one for themselves and he would take the other. They would both prepare their sacrifice upon the altars, with the exception of any fire. Then both would call upon their respective gods, Elijah to the Lord and the priests to their gods, to answer with fire from heaven for the sacrifice. The people agreed to this challenge. The priests prepared their sacrifice and proceeded to call out to their gods for hours with no response. It says here that as a result, they leaped upon the altars themselves. Elijah mocked them saying things like, their god must have sleeping or on a journey somewhere. The priests cried and cut themselves, which was a custom forbidden by the Lord. They continued to do this and their prophesying all day, until the time of the evening sacrifice, and their was still no answer.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

So, Elijah gathered the people to him, repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been broken, by adding twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He made a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice with wood, and then called for it to be covered in water. He had them pour water on the sacrifice and wood three times, and then cover the surrounding ground and fill the trench with water as well. Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, he prayed to the Lord that he would be heard, so that the people would know that He was the God of this people. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, that there would be an opportunity for the hearts of the people to return to God. The Lord answered his prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and all that was at the altar, including the water. The people witnessed this and fell down to worship the Lord. Elijah commanded that all the prophets of Baal be killed.

41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah told Ahab to go eat and drink, perhaps this was much like telling him to go about his day, and then the rain would come. As Ahab did just that, Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and threw himself on the ground, much like a manner of worship. He told his servant to go look towards the sea, but the servant saw nothing. Elijah told him to return to look seven times. On the seventh time, the servant said that a little cloud of the sea arose. The servant was commanded to go to Ahab and tell him to prepare his chariot, go down and not to stop even because of the rain. While this was done, a great storm came. Ahab rode to Jezreel. Elijah started to run, and by the hand of Lord, reached the entrance of Jezreel before Ahab.

Ahab was in a position, where he would do anything possible to bring water to the land. He had hunted for Elijah to take the drought away. I think that the Lord’s timing was perfect and not only allowed for Ahab to be in a state of humility because of their troubles, but meant that Elijah’s life would be spared. I think that if the time had been any sooner, Elijah may have been killed as the prophets before him. However, just as Ahab was trying to save the last animals from starvation and thirst, he was able to find the man he felt had brought this upon him and his people. Then, Elijah was able to prove to Ahab and the people of Israel, that there is no other God save the Lord.

This was quite a miracle to witness. The priests of Baal were given every opportunity in a full day’s time to pray, but their answer did not come. Their worship of objects, could not provide relief to their suffering, because their gods were not real. Elijah on the other hand, did all that he could to show that the Lord was true. This was a much needed witness to the people of Israel. They had been in a spiritual drought and famine without seeing it for what it was. In recognizing that they were trusting in false gods, the people had the opportunity to have their spirits fed and renewed.

Likewise, opening the heavens was a miracle. It showed that the Lord was in fact able to take away and give to men, and that He would do great things through the voice of His prophets. This was a miracle that more of Israel would have recognized as a blessing, because their very lives depended on having water to drink and food to eat. The people of Israel were greatly blessed at this time, to have both their physical and spiritual beings saved by the Lord. Now would have been the time for them to repent and return to the Lord.

The miracles performed in this chapter, cause me to reflect on my own life experiences. I have not witnessed the fire of the Lord, or the heavens open quite so literally, but I know that I have experienced many small miracles from God. These small miracles should stand as a witness to me, that the Lord is the only true and living God. There is nothing in this life that should be placed before Him in my worship. The Lord is the source of all that I need to succeed and survive. I know that in my life, I have been sustained as Elijah was, and the heavens have opened to give me all that I have truly needed, when I have been willing to recognize God, listen to his chosen servants, and strive to keep His commandments.

1 Kings Chapter 17

Ahab was the wicked king of the northern kingdom of Israel. He married Jezebel who worshiped Baal, and together they led Israel in great wickedness. The Lord had caused prophets, such as Jehu, to curse the kings of Israel for practicing unrighteous dominion over the people of Israel. The Lord was prepared to humble the people. Chapter 17 begins with the following:

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
2 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah was a prophet, who went to Ahab and cursed the land with a drought and famine, which would only be ended by his word. I believe he was able to do this, because he held the sealing power from God, which allowed men the ability to close up the heavens by their word. Then, the Lord told Elijah to go into hiding, where the Lord would provide water from the brook Cherith and food from the ravens. Elijah, like so many other prophets, went into hiding and the ravens brought him bread and meat each day and he drank from the brook. However, because of the drought in the land, the brook eventually dried up.

The work of a prophet is to bring people unto the Lord, mainly by calling them to repentance. This is not meant to be words that are pleasing for the people to hear. People engrossed in sin, especially the great sins that were everywhere in the days of Elijah, are not going to take these words well. It is no surprise that Elijah would have a threat come upon him. The Lord had a work for Elijah to do, and because Elijah was faithful to His command to hide, Elijah was sustained with the necessities of life. Elijah had to be a man full of faith and hope. He had been willing to go to the king who was not living righteously and had the power to kill him, and speak of a curse. I am sure that he knew the people would feel that he, Elijah, had brought this curse upon them, rather than look to themselves and repent of their wicked ways. And then, in faith, trusting in the sustaining power of the Lord, he went into hiding.

8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

The Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where he would be sustained by a widow. Elijah followed the direction of the Lord, and found a widow gathering sticks at the entrance of the city. He asked her to get him some water to drink. As she went, he also asked her for some bread as well. She told Elijah that she did not have any bread, but that she had a small portion of meal (flour) and oil, that she was going to prepare for herself and her son to eat as their last meal. Elijah told her to faithfully do as she had said, but bring him a little first before making for herself and her son. He promised her that the Lord would provide meal and oil until the drought had ended with rain. She did what Elijah had commanded her to do, and the promise was fulfilled. Her flour and oil did not fail her by becoming empty. This was a huge blessing from acting with faith in a prophet and the promises of the Lord that he spoke.

Again, Elijah showed faith and trust in God, and the power to sustain him. He must have known that he was on the Lord’s errand because he had been helped to this point. As a man of God, I am sure Elijah was a man of compassion. I cannot imagine what it would have felt like, knowing his own hunger, to ask the widow to part with what she felt was her last meal and give it to him instead. I know he could not have asked it of her, unless he felt sure that the Lord would provide all that she needed to survive.

Greater faith would have been required by the widow in this story. She had not been sustained by the Lord during this season of famine. She was sure her death was soon at hand and she had such a simple desire to share a last meal with her son. To have a man come to her and command that she bring him food with that precious last meal, must have been a hard choice for her. This choice to sacrifice would have meant the difference between a few more days of living with her son. She trusted in the word of Elijah and had faith in his promises.

17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

After this miracle of provisions had taken place, the widows son was taken ill and died. She pleaded with Elijah, as the prophet, asking if he came to them to remind her of her own sins and then to take her son from her by death. Elijah commanded the widow to bring her son to him, which she did. He took her son to the place where Elijah slept, and laid him on the bed. Then, he prayed to God, stretching himself on the boy three times, asking that he would have his soul again. God answered the prayer of Elijah and allowed his soul to return to him. The boy was raised from the dead. Elijah took the boy to his mother.

24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

The woman testified that she knew then, that Elijah was a man of God or a prophet, and that his words were the true word of the Lord. This testimony must have given her hope in her own future, and greater faith in the Lord. When we experience the hand of God in our own lives, we should also recognize what that means to us, and be willing to testify of those things to others. When we do this, we are uplifted and others around us can be edified and strengthened by our words.

What a sweet miracle this woman received through her faith and diligence in following the words of the prophet. This was a time of suffering for the people in the land, and she was provided for because she put the Lord’s servant before herself when asked. Then, God blessed her with the continued companionship of her son, even after death had separated them. This should be an example to us, that as we diligently follow the commands of the prophets, which are the word of God, we can have miracles in our own lives. Moreover, we can have our own faith strengthened and be able to bear a mighty testimony of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Numbers Chapter 33

The children of Israel were led by the hand of the Lord from Egypt towards Canaan, which was the promised land of their fathers. It took them the better part of 50 years to make this journey, mostly due to their rebellious and disobedient nature. This chapter begins with a review of the journey they took.

Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and Entry into Canaan (Bible Map 2)

1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.
2 And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.
3 And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.
4 For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them: upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments.
5 And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth.
6 And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness.
7 And they removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pi-hahiroth, which is before Baal-zephon: and they pitched before Migdol.
8 And they departed from before Pi-hahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and went three days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.
9 And they removed from Marah, and came unto Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.
10 And they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red sea.
11 And they removed from the Red sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin.
12 And they took their journey out of the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah.
13 And they departed from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush.
14 And they removed from Alush, and encamped at Rephidim, where was no water for the people to drink.
15 And they departed from Rephidim, and pitched in the wilderness of Sinai.
16 And they removed from the desert of Sinai, and pitched at Kibroth-hattaavah.
17 And they departed from Kibroth-hattaavah, and encamped at Hazeroth.
18 And they departed from Hazeroth, and pitched in Rithmah.
19 And they departed from Rithmah, and pitched at Rimmon-parez.
20 And they departed from Rimmon-parez, and pitched in Libnah.
21 And they removed from Libnah, and pitched at Rissah.
22 And they journeyed from Rissah, and pitched in Kehelathah.
23 And they went from Kehelathah, and pitched in mount Shapher.
24 And they removed from mount Shapher, and encamped in Haradah.
25 And they removed from Haradah, and pitched in Makheloth.
26 And they removed from Makheloth, and encamped at Tahath.
27 And they departed from Tahath, and pitched at Tarah.
28 And they removed from Tarah, and pitched in Mithcah.
29 And they went from Mithcah, and pitched in Hashmonah.
30 And they departed from Hashmonah, and encamped at Moseroth.
31 And they departed from Moseroth, and pitched in Bene-jaakan.
32 And they removed from Bene-jaakan, and encamped at Hor-hagidgad.
33 And they went from Hor-hagidgad, and pitched in Jotbathah.
34 And they removed from Jotbathah, and encamped at Ebronah.
35 And they departed from Ebronah, and encamped at Ezion-gaber.
36 And they removed from Ezion-gaber, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.
37 And they removed from Kadesh, and pitched in mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom.
38 And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the Lord, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.
39 And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.
40 And king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.
41 And they departed from mount Hor, and pitched in Zalmonah.
42 And they departed from Zalmonah, and pitched in Punon.
43 And they departed from Punon, and pitched in Oboth.
44 And they departed from Oboth, and pitched in Ije-abarim, in the border of Moab.
45 And they departed from Iim, and pitched in Dibon-gad.
46 And they removed from Dibon-gad, and encamped in Almon-diblathaim.
47 And they removed from Almon-diblathaim, and pitched in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo.
48 And they departed from the mountains of Abarim, and pitched in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.
49 And they pitched by Jordan, from Beth-jesimoth even unto Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.

I can’t help but add some additional things to this review. The Israelites left Egypt, more specifically the land of Rameses, the day following the first passover, and camped in a place called Succoth. They followed the cloud of the Lord, which led them each day, and camped in Etham, Migdol, and then escaped Pharoah’s army by crossing over the dry land of the Red Sea. They traveled to Marah, where the waters were bitter and they could not drink anything. There Moses showed them the power of the Lord when he turned the water sweet and they were able to drink. They traveled next to Elim, and then they left the area of the Red Sea and went on to the wilderness of Sin. Here they complained about the lack of food and the Lord began to give them manna from heaven. From there, they traveled to Dophkah, Alush, and Rephidim, where there was no water, so the Lord opened the rock in Horeb and provided water for the people. They also fought and won against Amalek, because the Lord provided His strength through Moses holding his arms up to heaven. From there, they took their journey into the wilderness of Sinai. This is where the Lord revealed the commandments and many other great and wonderful things to Moses, such as the instructions for the building of the tabernacle. The people made covenants with the Lord, but then returned to idolatry in the Moses’ absence.

When the children of Israel left Sinai, they headed into the wilderness of Paran, camping in Kibroth-hattaavah. This is where they complained for want of something else to eat and they were given quail and a plague, which brought death to those who lusted after the meat. Next, they encamped in Hazeroth, where Miriam and Aaron desired to have the same power that Moses had been given. Miriam was cursed with leprosy for seven days and afterward, the Israelites journeyed to Rithmah. At Rithmah, Moses sent spies into Hebron in Canaan, and of those who went, only Caleb brought back a report and desire to go in and take the land. All the people murmured, except for Caleb and Joshua, and for this, the rest of the adults were promised that they would not enter the land of promise. The rebels among them were destroyed and this is where the forty years of wandering begins.

The Israelites headed back into the wilderness and camped in Rimmon-parez, Libnah, Rissah, Kehelathah, mount Shapher, Haradah, Makheloth, Tahath, Tarah, Mithcah, Hashmonah, Moseroth, Bene-jaakan, Hor-hagidgad, Jotbathah, Ebronah, Ezion-gaber, and then Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. As they wandered, there was more rebellion against Moses and the Lord, the rebels were destroyed, and many miracles were performed by the power of God. Kadesh (Meribah) was where Miriam died and where Moses and Aaron sinned against the Lord in taking claim to bringing forth water from the rock. The Israelites tried to go through the land of Edom, but were refused by it’s leader. Instead, they left Kadesh and traveled around the land, headed for mount Hor, where Aaron died, a little more than forty years after they left Egypt. Eleazar, his son, became the high priest in his stead. At this point, Arad, the Canaanite king, became aware of the Israelites heading their way. When the Israelites left mount Hor, they passed through Arad’s land and after he fought them and took some of the Israelites captive, they were blessed with the Lord’s hand in battle against the people of Arad in Hormah. As they traveled from mount Hor, they had the experience with the plague of fiery serpents, because they complained about the manna of the Lord again. They continued on camping in Zalmonah, Punon, Oboth, Ije-abarim (Iim), Dibon-gad, and Almon-diblathaim. Amid these places, the Israelites had to fight some of the inhabitants of the land. With the Lord on their side, they were able to destroy their enemies and take the lands. Next, they camped in the Abarim mountains near mount Nebo.

The final stop on the Israelite journey so far, was in the plains of Moab on the eastern side of the Jordan, across the river from the city of Jericho. Here some returned to idolatry, were tempted by the Midianite women, and experienced a plaque among them. By this time, those who had been promised not to see the promised land, had died. Only Moses, who would see the promised land, but not enter it, was remaining. Moses was called into mount Nebo, where the Lord told him, he was to be taken from the people, and Joshua was called to be his successor in leading the Israelites. Before he was to leave them, the people were commanded to destroy the Midianites. Then, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and part of Manasseh, took their inheritance in the land where they were camped.

50 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
51 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
52 Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
53 And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
54 And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.
56 Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.

Moses was told to command the people that when they crossed the Jordan, they were to drive the inhabitants out of the land. They were to destroy all of their idols, temples or shrines, and other things the people in the land worshipped. This was to be the land of their possession, the promised land which was given to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were to divide the land as their inheritances with larger portions going to the larger tribes or families. The Lord told them that, if they were to leave any of the inhabitants, they would vex the Israelites and the Lord would treat the children of Israel as the other people would be treated. This is something the Lord does with the willingly rebellious. He removes His hand of protection and guidance and allows the world to do what it will, which usually means some kind of affliction or torment. Then, if they return and repent, he draws them into his protecting arms and blesses them for righteousness.

I think of how much the children of Israel had to experience in order to escape bondage and inherit the promised land. They were tested by the Lord and tempted sorely by the adversary and his angels. Even greater still, they experienced mighty miracles beyond what I can even imagine. Many witnessed the glory of the Lord in some way or another. They watched as the power of God was used to do marvelous wonders, such as dividing the waters of the Red Sea. More than of few of them died from their choices to turn from the Lord, to choose rebellion and wickedness, to murmur against their leaders and against the Lord, and from their lack of faith in God. Still, hundreds of thousands lived to this point of the book of Numbers, when they were just about to gain the home they hoped for. I can’t quite fathom this amount of trial and hardship in life. I know that enduring each day with faith and hope in the blessings, would have been very difficult for even those with the strongest testimonies in the Lord. They must have spent a lot of time pleading for strength from the Lord. I know that if I had lived through that, as I am now, I would have been on my knees a lot.

One of the things that this chapter teaches me, is the importance of reviewing the trials of life that I’ve experienced, in order to see the hand of the Lord in my life. I wonder just how often these people thought about the daily blessing that the Lord was to them. I can say that life can draw my attention away from that very thing, and I know that it is so important. This is possibly part of the reason we should pray at the end of our days. So that we can look back, remember what we have experienced, and be grateful for the things that the Lord has done for us. I know that through this, we can gain greater strength to endure the next day. I am so grateful for the path that I am traveling on, to my own hoped for Home. I know that the Lord will be our guide each day, if we allow Him to be. He will bless us for our faithfulness and also allow us to learn from our choices of disobedience and rebellion. I know that He loves us and truly desires for us to return Home to His presence.

Numbers Chapter 20

The Israelites wandered through the wilderness for forty years. When last mentioned, they were in the wilderness of Paran. Many had rebelled and were destroyed for that. They were promised then, that all the adults would not live to see the promised land, but would die as they wandered. The book of Numbers continues as follows:

1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!
4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?
5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.
6 And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.

They were led into the desert of Zin. While living there, Miriam died. The people began to suffer for water, so they took their complaints and arguments to Moses and Aaron. They murmured and said they would have been better to have died with the others before them, then to suffer death where they were. This sounds so familiar. It seems to have been a pattern, that they would go for a little while and then begin to complain about their situation. They were not happy with the desert being a place where they could not grow food either. Moses and Aaron went to the Lord and He appeared to them.

7 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
9 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

Moses was told to take his rod in front of the assembly, and he and Aaron were to speak to the rock and it would give them water. Moses went with his rod, as he was commanded. He drew the attention, it almost sounds as if stirred up in anger towards the murmuring people, and hit the rock twice with his rod. Water came out of the rock in abundance.

12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.

Moses and Aaron had not showed the people that this was the power of God, but it seems like they claimed this miracle as their own doing. The Lord chastised them. In the time of thirst before, Moses was told to strike the rock to bring forth water. This time they were told to speak to the rock, but they had not faithfully followed through. Knowing that hitting the rock had worked before, they trusted in their own wisdom. Moses and Aaron would not bring the people to the promised land. The place of the rock was called Meribah. The Lord was with the children of Israel there.

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14 And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us:
15 How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers:
16 And when we cried unto the Lord, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border:
17 Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.
18 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword.
19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet.
20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand.
21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

The Israelites, who were in Kadesh, on the border of Edom, planned to pass through the land of the Edomites. Moses sent out some men to go to the king and explain the situation. They were to ask if they might go through the land, not touching anything of the people’s, but passing straight through. The king refused, saying he would fight them if they did. The Israelites offered to pay for anything used on the way, such as water. The king refused again, but instead brought his people against the messengers. I believe that the Lord promised he would raise his hand against those who opposed the children of Israel, so I am guessing that either, this was not going to be good for the land of Edom, or it was in fact part of the necessary path for the Israelites, as they wandered.

22 And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor.
23 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
24 Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.
25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor:
26 And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there.
27 And Moses did as the Lord commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.
28 And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.
29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.

Instead, the Israelites moved to the area of mount Hor, still bordering Edom.

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The Lord told Aaron that he would die and not continue with the people, because he had not listened to the counsel of the Lord in Meribah. Aaron and Eleazar were to go up into the mount. Eleazar was to become the new high priest in his stead. Moses, Aaron and Eleazar went into the mount, and the host of Israel witnessed it. Moses removed the garments from Aaron and passed them to his son Eleazar. Aaron died, leaving Moses and Eleazar to return to the people. All the Israelites mourned for this loss for thirty days. (See also Numbers 23:37-39) I believe this was near the end of their wanderings.

A lot happened to the Israelites in this chapter. Miriam, the sister to Moses, died. I imagine that she was a great example to the people of Israel, as many of the family members of the modern prophets are today. The people were blessed, again, with a miracle from the Lord. They needed water and even though they were complaining, the Lord gave them water. Also, we learn of a relationship between the Israelites and the outside world. They were not to be allowed to simply go through the land of Edom, but were forced to go around it at this time. We also learn here of how the Lord will not allow his called servants to be disobedient to direct commandments. Moses and Aaron did not follow what had been commanded, and probably could have been able to lead the people astray. As a result they were promised that they would not see the promised land. This promise was fulfilled in Aaron, as he passed the office of the high priesthood to his son and then he died. I am not sure what may have happened to have caused Moses and Aaron to do what they did, but I know that we can only be blessed by the Lord when we follow his commandments. When we choose to disobey, He is no longer bound to give us promised protection and other blessings. Prophets are mortal, and capable of making mistakes just like the rest of us. They are not immune from temptations, trials, and their own faults and fears. They are also not immune from consequences for those mistakes. I think that a lot of times, God must take a step back from those who disobey, and allow the world to effect us without His interference. I think on the other hand, when we are obedient, the biggest blessing is that we can be guarded from much of the negative influence around us, or at least given a greater strength to endure, because His presence is there.

I can’t say that I have ever known the reason that Moses was not allowed to see the promised land, so reading this was new for me. I have known, however, that Moses must have been forgiven of this, because the scriptures teach us that he was taken to live with God. In Alma 45:19, we learn of the great prophet Alma as we read, “Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial.” (emphasis added) I also believe that Moses was given the privilege of restoring priesthood keys in modern times. In Doctrine and Covenants 110:11 we read, “After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.” I know that the Lord would only allow a worthy bearer of the priesthood, to restore it once again, and in order to be worthy, he must have been forgiven of this trespass. As a prophet of God, the standard was higher for Moses. As disciples of Christ today, the standard is high for us as well. I get great comfort in knowing that through repentance, I can be forgiven of the mistakes and sins in my life. I have a strong feeling that we would be surprised if we could see the amount of mercy that will be shown for our mistakes. I hope that knowing this, can give me greater resolve to draw nearer to the Lord and strive daily to keep His commandments.

Exodus Chapter 16

The Israelites have been delivered by the hand of the Lord. They have rejoiced over the tender mercies of God and have begun their journey in the wilderness. They have been told that they would be led to the promised land, but they do not know what lies ahead of them. In the last chapter, they murmured over the lack of water to drink, and the Lord provided it for them according to their faith. The book of Exodus continues as follows:

1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

They continued their travels to the land of Sin. The children of Israel began to murmur again against their leaders, Moses and Aaron, because they felt they were going to die in the wilderness when they could have been fed and full in Egypt. The Israelites longed for the days when they did not have want for food.

4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.

The Lord told Moses that he would rain bread, or food, from heaven. Each day, the people would gather a certain amount. On the sixth day, they would gather twice as much as usual, so that they would not need to gather on the Sabbath. I think the Lord would do this, to show them that they need to depend on Him for their sustenance. It was also an opportunity for the children of Israel to show God if they would follow His commandments in regards to this food. Moses and Aaron told the people what to expect, that they would see and remember that it was the Lord who brought them out of Egypt. When they murmured against the prophets, they murmured against the Lord, because the prophets did and said as the Lord commanded them.

9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

Moses told Aaron to tell the people to come together before the Lord, because the Lord had heard their complaints. When they gathered and looked to the wilderness, they saw a the glory of the Lord in the cloud, as they had seen before.

11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.
13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

Moses was told to tell the people that they would have meat in the evening and bread in the morning, provided by the Lord. This would be, so that they would recognize the blessings from God. That night, the Lord send quail for them and then after the dew was gone in the morning, there was bread, or manna, on the ground. I had previously imagined something the size of a pita on the ground, but here it says that the manna was as small as the frost on the ground. I am thinking it was much closer to small crackers laying about on the ground. I think that the devotion to gathering enough for a family most mornings was probably greater due to it being much smaller than I had thought it was. The size was much like the pieces of bread which we eat when we partake of the sacrament each week. The interesting thing is that no matter the size, the Lord has the ability to make it filling to us if we faithfully partake of it. This is much like the miracle of Christ with the loaves and fishes. All were fed to full from very little, and no one was lacking.

Jesus-Portrait

I think that this manna was another way for the Lord to help them to look towards Christ, just as the bread of the sacrament is a way that He helps us to look back in remembrance of Him. (NOTE: After writing this thought, I looked at the footnote, which references types of Christ in anticipation of Him.)

16 This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

They were instructed to gather according to the need of their household, or family. They were not to leave anything to the next day. Of course some did not listen, which I guess would be expected with somewhere around 600,000 people. The manna that was left went bad. Every morning, they gathered as they were instructed, and by the heat of they day, it was gone from the ground.

22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

They gathered extra on the sixth day, as they had been told to do. They seventh day was established as the day of rest, or the sabbath day. They were told to bake, or cook, on the sixth day and not on the sabbath. The manna remained for the sabbath day and did not go bad as it had on other days.

27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
28 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
29 See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

On the sabbath, there was no manna to be found for gathering. Again, some of the people chose to go looking, even though they had been commanded not to do it on the sabbath. The Lord chastised them for their disobedience. Moses was instructed that all the people were to remain with their households on the sabbath, to have a day of rest unto the Lord.

32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations.
34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

An omer of the manna was kept to show the future generations what the Lord fed them in the wilderness. We read in Hebrews 9, that the manna was kept with the ark of the covenant and other items of a sacred nature. We learn here in this chapter, that this process with the manna was done for forty years, which was over, when they would finally come to the promised land.

I can’t quite imagine the faith it would take to eat the same thing for 40 years without murmuring. I have foods that are my favorite, but I have eaten them many days in a row on some occasions, and I quickly tire of them. 40 years is an awful long time. On the other hand, what an amazing blessing it was to be sustained by the Lord in this way. They never had to want for food or to feel the pains of hunger. I’m sure it was not always the easiest thing, but it was a daily miracle provided for them and I am sure many of them were grateful for that.

The manna was in fact a type of Christ, and stood as a representation of Him. Just as it came from heaven to the Israelites, Christ was sent from heaven to their descendants. It was a miracle and not something that man could produce for themselves, just as Christ was a miracle and did things that men could not do for themselves. The people were dependent on the manna for daily life, just as we must depend on Christ for our daily lives. Jesus Christ is our saving grace. Just as I said earlier in this post, the sacrament helps us to be reminded of him today. He is our daily bread and the bread of life. He sustains us through all times, good or bad. He is there for us even when we may tire of Him or choose to live without Him. We need to show strict obedience to His commands, or He cannot give us all that we desire and need of Him. I am not sure how many of the Israelites could have known that the manna stood for something so sacred and meaningful, but I am grateful to know that now. I find joy in partaking of the sacrament and the sacred ordinance it is for us today. I hope that I can live faithful and worthy of the blessings it can bring to my daily life, especially the constant companionship of the spirit of God.

Exodus Chapter 15

The Israelites were led by God from Egypt where they had been in bondage for over 400 years. In the previous chapter, Moses had used his priesthood power to part the Red Sea. The children of Israel had crossed the dry land and when the Egyptians had tried to pursue them, they were destroyed by the Lord. The story of the Israelite journey to the promised land continues as follows:

1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
6 Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.
10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
11 Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.
13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.
18 The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.
19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

The Israelites praised the Lord for their deliverance and protection from the Egyptians. The heading for this chapter refers to their praises as the song of Moses. Their song spoke of the enemy that had sought to take them and the Lord who was their deliverer. At this time, the Israelites recognized God as their strength and salvation. The footnote for the word strength references the priesthood, which is the power of God. The Lord allows men to use the priesthood and truly is the source of great power and strength for man. He is also the Savior of the world. He redeems all of us and makes our salvation possible. The children of Israel also recognized that God is powerful, great in excellence, holy, and merciful. They said the people of the world would hear and fear God. Others would learn what God had done for His people, and they would fear their coming. They sang also, of how they would retake the promised land, with the hand of God on their side.

I am drawn to the word exalt in these song of Moses. I have always felt the word exalted was dependent on the one being exalted, and I did not see the relationship it had to others. Now as I read these words, I realize that the Savior’s exaltation comes from his followers lifting Him up to a place that is higher then they. We exalt the Savior, by following Him and doing as He asks of us. We exalt him with our praises to Him. A king without any subjects cannot be exalted, because there is no one for him to rule over. We are the subjects of the King of Kings, and as such, we add to His perfect exaltation. Our own exaltation will depend on the power which He holds to lift us up to a higher state then we can reach on our own. We work together with the Savior, our spiritual elder brother, to both reach our deserved exaltation in the kingdom of God.

I also have pondered over the phrase “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power”. We often talk about being on the right hand of God and the power of His right hand. I think I have not put much thought into the significance of the right hand before. I usually relate it to the phrase “Choose the Right” with the understanding that we want to do what is right versus what is wrong. Today, this has taken on a different meaning for myself. The ordinances of the priesthood, use the right hand. If we think about the ordinances of baptism, partaking of the sacrament, and all other ordinances of even greater significance, they are correctly done with the use of the right hand. In other words, we use the right hand to properly use the priesthood. The right hand is truly the power of God with exactness. The right hand of the Lord, is the priesthood power of God and it does become glorious when used properly to bring blessings. Moreover, we want to be on the right hand of God, because that is where the promises of eternal life and exaltation are made sure through His eternal and holy priesthood.

I love music and especially love to sing good songs. There is something spiritual about the sounds of music that seems to reach into the hearts of people with greater power than much of what is said. I love that there is so much that refers to singing in the scriptures. The Israelites sang praise to the Lord I think, because it can bring such joy and happy feelings. I wonder what my song of praise would be to the Lord. In 2 Nephi chapter 22 we read the following:

1 And in that day thou shalt say: O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedest me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.
3 Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
4 And in that day shall ye say: Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
5 Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth.
6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. (see also Isaiah 12)

This is the song of praise that will be heard at the time of the millennium, when the Lord will come to rule and reign on this earth. I want to be among the saints who sing in that day, to praise my Lord and Savior, so that I may show my love and devotion to Him in song.

20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

The women are mentioned here, as they rejoiced with dancing. Men are not the only ones to lead in righteousness in the scriptures. Miriam is called a prophetess, which seems to mean that she was also inspired of God and I imagine that she acted as maybe a Relief Society president (a leader of our modern-day women’s organization in the LDS church) would today. The Israelites began their journey on the other side of the Red Sea, in Shur. They traveled for three days without any water to drink.

23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.
27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

They came to a place called Marah, where the waters were bitter and they could not drink them. (Side note: I wonder if this word has the same origin as the name Mary, my name, which also means bitter.) The Israelites asked Moses, their leader, what they should drink. He prayed and received the answer to his prayer. He was to cut down a specific tree and throw it into the waters of Marah. When he did this, the water was made sweet and they could drink. The Lord made a promise to the children of Israel, that he would not allow the diseases to come upon them, which the Egyptians had had, if they would hearken to His voice and follow His commandments. Their next stop was in a place called Elim, which had twelve wells of water that could provide for the people of Israel.

Their are many examples of murmuring in the scriptures. It seems that this is a natural response to difficulty, even for those who have recently be greatly blessed by the hand of God. This is one of Satan’s most used tactics. He would have us be ungrateful and forgetful of our God. I wonder how often I murmur in my own life, instead of recognizing the blessings I have received, or having faith that greater blessings will come through my trials.

I wonder what the difference was in the hearts of the Israelites from this time and later when they had to deal with the many serpents. Here they were told to cast a tree in the water to make it drinkable and then they were told to look at a brass serpent to be saved from death. Here they followed the instruction and were blessed for it, but later they would not hearken to Moses and many would die for it. I believe it has to do with their hearts being more willing and open, in spite of their murmuring, which provided them with an enormous amount of faith. I think that later, we see that they lacked the faith because their hearts had become hardened to the miracles of God.

I know that we must keep the things of God close to our hearts. We need to always remember the Lord and his blessings for us. I am so grateful for the weekly reminder that I have each week as I partake of the Sacrament. If I have let life keep me distracted and busy during the week, the Sacrament calls me back to a remembrance of Him and I can realign myself to the person He wants me to be. I am glad that I can repent of my errors and sins. I know that if I am faced with challenges and find myself murmuring over the hard path that the Lord expects me to follow, I need to repent and return in faith and hope for things to come. I know that if we keep a song of gratitude in our hearts and are mindful of the tender mercies of the Lord, then we will find life more rewarding and will feel the love of God in greater abundance.

D&C Section 24

Historical Background

The early church members suffered great persecutions. There were many who did not want the church to grow. They did all they could to stop the work. The section heading says that the prophet, Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery received this revelation in July of 1830, to “strengthen, encourage, and instruct them”.

“Thou Hast Been Delivered”

“BEHOLD, thou wast called and chosen to write the Book of Mormon, and to my ministry; and I have lifted thee up out of thine afflictions, and have counseled thee, that thou hast been delivered from all thine enemies, and thou hast been delivered from the powers of Satan and from darkness (v. 1)!” There are times when those of us with simple callings, find ourselves overwhelmed and ill-suited to do what is asked of us. I am sure that the prophet, Joseph, felt this at times as well. We can all use a reminder that the Lord has called us because He knows that with His help we are capable of marvelous things. This verse seems like that type of a reminder to the prophet and to Oliver Cowdery as well. It is a reminder that the Lord has already helped them through a lot and that He has not forgotten them in their trials.

“And They Shall Support Thee”

“Nevertheless, thou art not excusable in thy transgressions; nevertheless, go thy way and sin no more (v. 2). Magnify thine office; and after thou hast sowed thy fields and secured them, go speedily unto the church which is in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester, and they shall support thee; and I will bless them both spiritually and temporally (v. 3); But if they receive thee not, I will send upon them a cursing instead of a blessing (v. 4). And thou shalt continue in calling upon God in my name, and writing the things which shall be given thee by the Comforter, and expounding all scriptures unto the church (v. 5). And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write, and they shall hear it, or I will send unto them a cursing instead of a blessing (v. 6). For thou shalt devote all thy service in Zion; and in this thou shalt have strength (v. 7). Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days (v. 8 ). And in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling. Attend to thy calling and thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office, and to expound all scriptures, and continue in laying on of the hands and confirming the churches (v. 9).”

Sometimes we are called to do things that take us away from our physical responsibilities. The prophet could not fully take care of his family, while he was handling his calling. This is part of the reason for the gathering of saints into a church family. Those of us who are willing and able, should be willing to help each other do the work. This may mean to help within the work of one another’s callings, but it may also mean supporting them in temporal things, so that the work can be done. The prophet and Oliver Cowdery needed the support and help of the church members. They were promised here, that if they did what they had been called to do, they would have the support they needed by the members of the church.

“In Temporal Labors Thou Shalt Not Have Strength”

The Lord promised the prophet that if he magnified his calling he would be blessed not only spiritually and with his spiritual gifts, but temporally also. He was told that adversity would surely come his way, and that he would not have strength in temporal labors. He would, however, be able to do all things in his callings. We are all called to different things in this life. Some callings we receive by the hands of the priesthood, and others we receive through our personal gifts and talents that the Lord has given us. We may never be able to do those things outside of what we have been called to do, but we will be able to do anything with the callings we have received.

“Continue in Bearing My Name before the World”

“And thy brother Oliver shall continue in bearing my name before the world, and also to the church. And he shall not suppose that he can say enough in my cause; and lo, I am with him to the end (v. 10).” When we become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we take upon ourselves His name. By doing this, we become an example for others to follow. We need to use this example to honestly bear witness of Christ and share our testimony of Him with others.

“Require Not Miracles”

“In me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in bonds or free (v. 11); And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men (v. 12). Require not miracles, except I shall command you, except casting out devils, healing the sick, and against poisonous serpents, and against deadly poisons (v. 13); And these things ye shall not do, except it be required of you by them who desire it, that the scriptures might be bfulfilled; for ye shall do according to that which is written (v. 14).”

Oliver Cowdery was told by the Lord, that he should not require miracles unless commanded by the Lord to do so. In Matthew 10:8 we read, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” These were the words of the Savior to his disciples. It is a responsibility and privilege of those who hold the priesthood of God, to do these things. If they are guided only by the spirit of God, they will do these things when it is the will of Him. These miracles can only be received through faith of those who have already accepted the gospel.

“Ye Shall Leave a Cursing”

“And in whatsoever place ye shall enter, and they receive you not in my name, ye shall leave a cursing instead of a blessing, by casting off the dust of your feet against them as a testimony, and cleansing your feet by the wayside (v. 15).” One of the powers of God’s holy priesthood on Earth, is to curse as well as bless others. In D&C 124:93 we read, “That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Hyrum Smith, as patriarch of the church, was given the authority by God to bless and curse with the sealing powers of the priesthood.

The washing of their feet is a lot like saying “I wash my hands of this”. Those who rejected the testimony of the prophet and Oliver, would be left with that rejection, but Joseph and Oliver could wash their feet of it and no longer be responsible for those who rejected them. The prophet and Oliver were given the allowance to do this thing, but it is not something that was to be done without the guidance of the spirit, because it is an ordinance of a sacred nature and is binding eternally.

Pruning the Vineyard

“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall lay their hands upon you by violence, ye shall command to be smitten in my name; and, behold, I will smite them according to your words, in mine own due time (v. 16). And whosoever shall go to law with thee shall be cursed by the law (v. 17). And thou shalt take no purse nor scrip, neither staves, neither two coats, for the church shall give unto thee in the very hour what thou needest for food and for raiment, and for shoes and for money, and for scrip (v. 18 ). For thou art called to prune my vineyard with a mighty pruning, yea, even for the last time; yea, and also all those whom thou hast ordained, and they shall do even according to this pattern. Amen (v. 19).”

The reference to pruning the vineyard is a lot like the allegory of the olive tree (see Jacob 5). The prophet and apostles were called to go to the people of the world and gather the righteous from the wicked. Those who were wicked and unrepentant were the bad parts of the vineyard that needed to be pruned and done away with, so that the good trees could live and thrive. In this last dispensation of time, since the beginning of the restoration, it has been the last pruning of the Lord’s vineyard. The witness of the prophet and apostles today, separate those who want to live righteously from the wicked. Their witness will be an eternal witness against us in the end and we need to be faithful and accepting of it, or we will be part of those that are pruned from the Lord’s vineyard.

3 Nephi, Chapter 19

Who would you invite to meet the Savior?

If I knew that Jesus was coming tomorrow, what would I do today?  This chapter is about the second day of the Savior’s visit.  The Nephites who had been there during the first day, knew he was coming on the second day.  “And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ascended into heaven, the multitude did disperse, and every man did take his wife and his children and did return to his own home (v. 1).  And it was noised abroad among the people immediately, before it was yet dark, that the multitude had seen Jesus, and that he had ministered unto them, and that he would also show himself on the morrow unto the multitude (v. 2).  Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude (v. 3).”  The Nephites went home telling all that they could that they had seen the Savior and that he would return the next day.  Many worked hard to prepare themselves to be there the next day.  I am sure that if I had been there, I would have done my best to let others know what I had seen and that they could see the Savior also.  There are many things that I do daily, that I would not bother to do.  I think most of all, I would want to prepare my family for His visit, so that we could experience it together.

Who were the Nephite apostles?

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles lead the church today.  They share their amazing testimonies, teach gospel principles, and give us the word of God as it pertains to us today.  They are awesome men with strong and firm testimonies in the Gospel, who love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as well as all of the members of the church.  They have stewardship over all of us and truly act as the mouth-piece for God on the earth today.

“And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen, and Kumenonhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah, and Isaiah—now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen—and it came to pass that they went forth and stood in the midst of the multitude (v. 4).”  These were the apostles for the Nephites.  They were called directly by the Savior, and they did many things to bless the Nephite people.  They separated the people into twelve groups that they would teach (v. 5). They taught the people how they should pray and ministered to the people (v. 6-7). They taught the people exactly what the Savior had taught them and prayed again, this time praying for the Holy Ghost to be given to them (v. 8-9).   They led the people to the water’s edge (v. 10).  Nephi was baptized, followed by the rest of the twelve apostles and they each received the gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 11-13).  Then the Nephites witnessed angels come and ministered to the apostles (v. 14).

What did Jesus teach the Nephites about prayer?

When the Savior appeared to the Nephites on the second day, the first thing he did was command them that they should pray (v. 15-16).  “And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray (v. 17).”  The Savior taught the Nephites how to have more effective prayers.

“And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God (v. 18 ).  And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said (v. 19):  Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world (v. 20).  Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words (v. 21).  Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them (v. 22).”  Jesus went away from the multitude to pray to Heavenly Father.  When appropriate to pray in a group, we should pray in a group.  However, the Savior teaches us by His example, the importance of praying in secret.  Jesus asked Heavenly Father to give the gift of the Holy Ghost to all those who believed the words of the Apostles and believed in Him.  Without a belief in the Savior and faith in the spirit, we cannot truly receive the Holy Ghost.  If we want to feel the love and support of God and Jesus Christ, then we need to be constantly asking for the spirit to be with us.

“And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one (v. 23).  And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire (v. 24).  And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof (v. 25).  And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray (v. 26).”  Jesus prayed that in addition to having the Holy Ghost, that He, Christ, would be in them and be one with them.  As the multitude were praying, Jesus smiled at them and the light of his countenance shone upon them.  I can imagine Heavenly Father smiling as I pray to Him.  I often picture Him smiling when my daughter says prayers to Him, because of the words she chooses and the things that a child is grateful for and asks for.  I know that He is happy when we do what He has asked, because I can feel it as I pray.

“And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying (v. 27):  Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me (v. 28 ).  Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them (v. 29).  And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus (v. 30).”  The Savior asked for those who believe on the words of the apostles, that they would be purified through there faith.  Then when He returned to the disciples and saw that they were still praying just as He had told them to do, He smiled again.

“And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father (v. 31); And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed (v. 32).  And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed (v. 33).  Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man (v. 34).”  The spirit opened the hearts of the multitude so that they would be able to understand the words of the Savior’s prayer.  This prayer was so sacred, that no one would be able to record what was said.

What blessings can come to us as a result of sincere, faithful prayer?

Faith is a Sunrise

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying he came again to the disciples, and said unto them: So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief (v. 35).  Verily I say unto you, there are none of them that have seen so great things as ye have seen; neither have they heard so great things as ye have heard (v. 36).”

Because these Nephites prayed with such sincerity and faith, they were able to witness miracles even greater than those that the Jews could witness.  We can experience miracles in our lives as well, if we will be truly sincere in our own prayers.  We need to reflect on our communications with our Father in Heaven and if they are not prayers of faith and sincerity, then we need to see what we should change.  I hope to witness miracles in my own life because of the amount of faith that I can have and show towards my Father in Heaven.

3 Nephi, Chapter 7

What led to the downfall of the government?

The government has the ability to control our lives on all levels.  A benefit of government is protection and safety that we cannot always provide for ourselves.  There are other benefits as well, but there is a lot of things about government that complicate our lives, especially right now, when it seems they want to control all aspects of how we live and what we do.

“Now behold, I will show unto you that they did not establish a king over the land; but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land (v. 1).  And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land (v. 2).”  The Nephite government was destroyed when the chief judge was killed and everyone separated into tribes of family and friends.

“And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes (v. 3).  Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great (v. 4).  Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan (v. 5).  And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets (v. 6).”  The break-down of the government was caused by the iniquity of the people that led to the secret combinations and the prophets being killed.

“And they did cause a great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous men among them (v. 7).”  There were very few left that were still righteous.

I don’t know what would happen if our government collapsed.  I imagine that there would be a lot of fighting that would be uncontrolled.  It would make life rather difficult in many ways. I think I would turn to those whom I trust (family and friends) as well, for safety and security.  If our country divided into tribes, the makeup of this country would look very different.  It’s hard to even imagine considering how large this country is, but I could imagine separating into smaller countries the size of our states now.  We have very strong divisions beginning in our country today, because of political issues.  It’s not difficult to see that we could be headed towards a fall of the government the way the Nephites had.  If we had more righteousness in our leaders, we would be able to find a common purpose and have less contention and more peace.

As members of this gospel, we know that government is a good thing.  We know that it is good to be an active member in our community and all levels of the government.  The 12th Article of Faith states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”  We know that having laws to obey is part of the plan that God has for us.  However, these things can fail us if righteousness is not part of government as well.  We need to be anxiously engaged in standing for what is right and in keeping those that rule over us in government, accountable for their actions.

How did secret combinations once again become a dangerous power?

Flattery is a tool used to get what we want, either in a reaction or action, from someone else.  Flattery is a way of praising someone and making them feel good about themselves in a more excessive way than strictly complimenting them.  It appeals to the pride in the “natural man”.  Flattery may seem innocent but it is in opposition to humility.  Flattery can lead to a greater pride and eventually the ability to convince others to do iniquity.  It is a tool that is often used by Satan to lead us away from righteousness.

“And thus six years had not passed away since the more part of the people had turned from their righteousness, like the dog to his vomit, or like the sow to her wallowing in the mire (v. 8 ).  Now this secret combination, which had brought so great iniquity upon the people, did gather themselves together, and did place at their head a man whom they did call Jacob (v. 9); And they did call him their king; therefore he became a king over this wicked band; and he was one of the chiefest who had given his voice against the prophets who testified of Jesus (v. 10).”  Jacob was made king over the wicked band of robbers.

“And it came to pass that they were not so strong in number as the tribes of the people, who were united together save it were their leaders did establish their laws, every one according to his tribe; nevertheless they were enemies; notwithstanding they were not a righteous people, yet they were united in the hatred of those who had entered into a covenant to destroy the government.”  The band of robbers were enemies to the tribes of people.  They hated those who had wanted to destroy the government.

“Therefore, Jacob seeing that their enemies were more numerous than they, he being the king of the band, therefore he commanded his people that they should take their flight into the northernmost part of the land, and there build up unto themselves a kingdom, until they were joined by dissenters, (for he flattered them that there would be many dissenters) and they become sufficiently strong to contend with the tribes of the people; and they did so (v. 12).  And so speedy was their march that it could not be impeded until they had gone forth out of the reach of the people. And thus ended the thirtieth year; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi (v. 13).”  He took his band to the land northward and gathered dissenters of the Nephite tribes with his flattery, so that his band was large enough to fight with the tribes.

Complimenting each other is not a bad thing, when we genuinely feel that someone has done well.  When we excessively compliment as a way of getting what we want, it is flattery and is designed to persuade another to do what we want, which is not okay.  We need to be cautious of others who compliment us to the point of flattery and we can discern motives with the help of the spirit, if we are living righteously.

Have you ever “stoned” a prophet?

If I ever saw someone throwing anything at our prophet, I would feel personally offended by it.  If someone ridiculed or tried to hurt this man of God that I hold dear to my heart, I would feel sad and like a personal attack had been made on me.

“And it came to pass in the thirty and first year that they were divided into tribes, every man according to his family, kindred and friends; nevertheless they had come to an agreement that they would not go to war one with another; but they were not united as to their laws, and their manner of government, for they were established according to the minds of those who were their chiefs and their leaders. But they did establish very strict laws that one tribe should not trespass against another, insomuch that in some degree they had peace in the land; nevertheless, their hearts were turned from the Lord their God, and they did stone the prophets and did cast them out from among them (v. 14).”  Because the people had turned from God, they were still a wicked people and they stoned the prophets and threw them out of their lands.

When people today, attack the validity or righteousness of the prophets and other church leaders, they are symbolically stoning them.  There are many, even within the church, who do not sustain the prophet and other church leaders, because they are quick to say that things they have said are not of God.  The prophet is only a man, but he is the mouthpiece of God on the earth today, and his words are the Lord’s words for us.  To attack what he says, is in a sense stoning him and throwing him out of our personal lives.  The same applies to other church leaders, even locally.  When we attack them in any way, we are turning our backs on them.  If we understand the gospel and the nature of the priesthood, than we must understand that each and every one of these people have been called by God to lead in that calling.  When we turn our backs on them instead of sustaining them and supporting them, we are saying that we do not believe they are called of God, or that God was wrong in placing them in that position.  This is an awful sin.  If we find that we disagree with something they have done or said, we should pray for personal guidance in dealing with it.  The Lord will never allow our church leaders to lead us astray.  If we have a problem with them, than we need to find the thing in our life that needs to change.

Nephi–an instrument in God’s Hands

It is an awesome feeling to know that you are acting as an instrument in the Lord’s hands.  I have noticed a few times in my life and have been so grateful for it.  I know that great blessings come from allowing our lives to be used for His work.

Nephi had the ability to be an instrument in God’s Hands because he “had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ”, had seen angels and been visited by angels and heard the voice of the Lord, and could recognize the change of heart in the people (v. 15).  He truly cared for the people and wanted them to change (v. 16).  He had the ability to testify of repentance and to minister and say many wonderful things to the people “with power and with great authority” (v. 16-17).  He was a man of great faith; “for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily (v. 18 ).”  He had the power to perform miracles.  “And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people (v. 19).”  He had the priesthood power, and performed this miracles in the name of Jesus.  He continued to preach unto them and because of his miracles and preaching, many of the Nephites converted and were baptized (v. 23-26).  Nephi was truly an instrument in the Lord’s hands.

The people who had been caught up in pride and wickedness, had the ability to have a change of heart (v. 15).  They knew that Nephi had a great power in him and knew that his words were true, which made them angry (v. 18, 20).  Even knowing that many of the people were angry with his words and his works, Nephi continued to preach unto them.  He is a good example of enduring in the face of adversity.  When others are angry at us, we need to live with the spirit as our guide and influence.  The spirit will not allow us to do the wrong thing if we are trying to live righteously.  Nephi was led by the spirit because he was a man of great faith.  And because of his great faith, the people could not deny that his words were truth and his miracles were done with power from on high.

The few converts who were converted unto the Lord, were strong in their change of heart.  They “did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and Spirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed (v. 21)” and “did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed; and they did show forth signs also and did do some miracles among the people (v. 22).”  They accepted Christ and received the power of God, to also be instruments in the Lord’s hands.    They showed “a witness and a testimony before God” by repenting of their wickedness and being baptized and went out telling others they needed to baptized also (v. 24-25).  And with the testimony of many in addition to Nephi’s, and the ministry of these few converts, many more of the Nephites were converted and baptized (v. 26).

My conversion has taken place over a number of years in my life.  One of the most wonderful gifts of the spirit that I have recognized in my own life, is the ability to believe whole-heartedly on the testimony of others.  I do not feel the need to questions principles of the gospel being true.  Everything about the gospel just seems to fit and make absolute sense to me.  I do not doubt it.  This gift of the spirit gives me a strength that I can share with others in my own testimony of these wonderful things.  In just the last two years, I have realized this as one of the ways that I can be an instrument in the Lord’s hands and it brings me great joy to share with others.


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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