Posts Tagged 'Power of God'

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 Samuel Chapter 6

The ark of the covenant was lost to the Philistines during a battle in Eben-ezer. The Philistines had taken it as a spoil of the battle, but when then returned to Ashdod, and placed it next to the idol of their god, Dagon, the idol was destroyed and their people began to be afflicted with a plague and destruction. After this destruction was brought upon three different cities in which they had tried to place the ark, it was decided that they needed to get rid of it to save their people. This account continues with the following:

1 And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
8 And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.

The Philistines moved the ark away from their cities and into the country, where it stayed for seven months. They sought guidance from their priests and diviners to know where they should put the ark. They decided that they should return the ark, but if they were to send it to the Israelites, they needed to do it along with an offering to the Israelite god, so that the Philistine land could be saved of the curse placed upon them. They asked their priests what they should give as an offering, and they were told to give golden images of the plagues that had been placed upon them. This was in hopes that it would be a tribute to God, who would then lighten the curse.

The diviners told them not to be like pharaoh of Egypt, who did not do what was necessary once he saw relief from a curse from the Israelite God. I think that sometimes we can unwisely fall into this trap ourselves. When times are hard, it is easier to remember the Lord and turn to Him. Some of us may even make promises to God that we will make some kind of change to be free of our trials and adversity. Then, when we are blessed with relief from that difficulty, we do not feel the need to follow through on the promises we make, or continue as changed people. The Lord will hold us accountable for those choices and promises we make. We should not be like the pharaoh of Egypt, because once he went against his promise to Moses and the Israelites, God sent another, more difficult plague to afflict his people. Our consequences for breaking promises, or covenants, will be much greater than the trials we may have experienced in the first place.

The diviners and priests told the Philistines to place the ark on a new cart carried by two unburdened milking cows, along with the golden images they were to make. Then they were to let it go and see if it would return into the borders of Israel through Beth-shemesh. If if did not, they would take it as a sign that the plagues had been brought upon them by chance, not by the god of Israel. If it did go directly into the Israelite land, they would know that the god of Israel had brought these things upon them.

10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
11 And they laid the ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh.
13 And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the Lord.
15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord.
16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the Lord; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the Lord: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite.

The men did as they were told. The cows walked a straight path through the border of the city Beth-shemesh in Israel. A leader of the Philistines followed it as it went. Farmers in Beth-shemesh rejoiced to see the ark as it passed. The cows stopped in the field of a man named Joshua, and the Israelites took the cart and cows, and gave a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites placed the ark and the gold offerings on a great stone in the field (the stone of Abel), and the people of the city gave offerings and sacrifices to the Lord that day. Once the Philistine lords witnessed this, they returned to Ekron.

19 And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

The Lord killed 50,070 men of the land of Beth-shemesh, because some had chosen to look into the ark of the Lord. The Israelites should have known better than to do this, because the Lord had established long before, that only those who were Levites, were to have anything to do with the sacred items used in the tabernacle. They had been given the priesthood authority to care for these things, especially the ark of the covenant. Had they been Levites, who knew how to perform their duties and were strict in their obedience, they would have known that no man was to look upon these things, because they represented the glory of the Lord. No man could stand in the presence of the glory of the Lord, and survive it, without becoming changed by the Lord. Without the expressed permission of the Lord, they brought death upon themselves. The people mourned and lamented their loss. They did not know who could stand before the Lord, meaning I think, who could move the ark, and they did not know where the ark was to go.

21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

They sent messengers to Kirjath-Jearim, to ask that they come and take the ark from Beth-shemesh.

I feel as though the Lord was reestablishing the sacred nature of the ark of the covenant, to the Israelites and those among other nations who were aware of it. It had been a long time since the Israelites had fled Egypt into the wilderness, and since he had caused that they should make the ark along with all the other sacred parts of the tabernacle of the Lord. They learned early on, that no one was to touch the ark, for fear of death. They learned that the power of the Lord was upon it. But over time, it seems they had forgotten some of these things. It is clear that they felt the Lord would be with them if they had the ark among them, but they had forgotten who they were in relation to the Lord. Moses had learned that man is powerless in comparison to the Lord. In Moses 1:10 we read, “And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” We are the reason for the plan of God, and yet, compared to God, we are nothing. This is a humbling lesson to learn, and I think that it is one of the lessons that this story of the ark is able to teach us if we are willing to recognize it.

1 Samuel Chapter 5

In the previous chapter, the Philistines and the Israelites were engaged in battle. The Israelites were loosing and decided to bring the ark of the covenant out of Shiloh to help them win the battle. This was apparently not according to the wisdom of the Lord, and the Israelites were defeated. Along with the loss of many lives, the Israelites lost the ark, which was stolen by the Philistine army. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod.
2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

The Philistines brought the ark into the house of their god, Dagon, which was in Ashdod.

3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
6 But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.

The image of the Dagon, had fallen down during the first night with the ark near it. The Philistines raised Dagon up again. The next night, the image fell again, but this time the head and hands were cut off of the statue. The Philistine priests decided they would not go passed the threshold in the house of Dagon. Ashdod, through to its borders, was plagued with emerods, or boils. This was a curse from the Lord. The Philistines recognized that the Israelite god was cursing them and their god, and so they decided that the ark would not remain with them. The leaders of the Philistines decided to move the ark to Gath. The Lord cursed the city of Gath, and all the people fell under the plague of emerods and were destroyed.

10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

They moved the ark again, to Ekron. The Ekronites feared because they knew what had happened in the places where the ark had been. The leaders of the Philistines were gathered together, and they decided they would send the ark away from them, because the city was again destroyed and the people were plagued with emerods.

The hand of the Lord is powerful unto the destruction of any people of the land. This is shown many times throughout the scriptures. We learn from this, that no one who stands in opposition to the Lord, can withstand his wrath. The ark of the covenant was sacred and the Philistines dared to place it beside a false idol. The Lord made it clear that He would not stand for this sacrilegious act on their part, and proved that by destroying all who were in the cities where the ark was placed. Things that are sacred, should not be treated lightly. If we knowingly disrespect those things that are sacred in our own lives, we might not experience plagues of boils, and we might not even receive consequences in this life, but their will come consequences at the time when we meet our maker and are judged for the works we did in this life.

Further still, this story is a witness of the living God of Israel. Their idol to Dagon, had no power to stop the power of the Lord from destroying it. The false idols the Philistines worshipped throughout their land, had no power against the plagues and destruction that came upon the people. The God of Israel, is the only true and living God on the face of the earth. He created all things on the earth. He created man. He gave us the gift of agency. He blesses the lives of those who are faithful and righteous and he withholds his blessings from those who choose wickedness. All people will one day come to know that He is the only living God, and in that day we all will be judged and receive our eternal rewards from Him.

Joshua Chapter 6

As the story of the Bible continues, the Israelites were encamped in the land near Jericho. Jericho was a walled city, just West of the Jordan River. The prophet Joshua had previously sent spies into the city, which had learned that the people were greatly afraid of the Israelites and the power of God that was with them. The Lord continued to lead the Israelites in this chapter, which begins:

1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

The gates of the city Jericho, were closed because of the Israelites. The Lord had delivered the city into the hands of the children of Israel. Jericho was told to have the men circle the city once a day for six days, with the ark among them. Seven priests were to carry trumpets and go before the ark. On the seventh day, the people were to go around the city seven times. When the trumpets sounded, the people were to shout loudly. At this, the walls of Jericho would fall down and the city could then be taken.

6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.
7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the Lord.

So Joshua called the priests to bear the ark and seven priests to carry trumpets before the ark. He commanded the people to encompass the city, and the army of Israel were to go before the ark.

8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the Lord, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.

The priests did as they were instructed, and blew the trumpets before them.

9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rearward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
11 So the ark of the Lord compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

The army of Israel went in front and the people were commanded to remain quiet until they were told to shout by Joshua. They went around one day and them camped for the night.

12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.
13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rearward came after the ark of the Lord, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.

They went through this process on each of six days. Then on the seventh day, they encompassed the city seven times, then Joshua commanded the people to shout.

17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord.
25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

The people were told that the city was theirs to take, except for the place of Rahab, the harlot, who had hidden the spies previously (see Joshua 2). They were not to touch anything that was accursed, which were those things that were forbidden and to be sacrificed to the Lord. They were allowed, however, to take all the treasures to the Lord’s treasury. The people shouted as they had been commanded, and the walls of the city came down. The Israelites took possession of the city. Every person and animal in the city was destroyed except for Rahab’s family, who were taken out of the city and away from the camp of Israel. The city was then burned.

The fulfillment of the promise made to Rahab, made her faith in their word complete. She risked her own safety by hiding the spies, but it was not in vain. Her family was spared and her posterity continued to live in Israel. In Hebrews 11:31 we read, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Her faith not only helped the Israelites, but led to her life being changed for the better. I am a firm believer in the importance of keeping our word both with God and with men. The promises we make are binding and we will be held accountable for them when we are someday judged for our works among men. When we make promises with the Lord, we are always blessed. In Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 we read, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” The blessings of God are so much greater than anything we could gain from breaking a promise or covenant with Him.

26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
27 So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.

The people were told that they were not to rebuild the city of Jericho. The nations around them, heard of Joshua and what he had done.

I am sure that the Lord could have easily caused the walls to come down. However, the Israelites acted in faith and obediently encircled the city each day as they were commanded. They showed that they believed in the word of the Lord and that he was leading them to victory. Their faith proceeded the miracle and the power of the Lord was with them. Their actions alone, without faith and the power of the Lord, would not have brought the walls of the city down. This should be a lesson to us, that all things are possible with faithful obedience to the Lord. There will be times in life, when reason would tell us that something would not work. If, however, we have been given a commandment or the inspiration from God to do it, we should follow it. When we are faithfully obedient to the Lord, miracles can happen and we can overcome the challenges we face.

Joshua Chapter 4

The Israelites had followed the instructions of the prophet, Joshua, and went behind the Ark of the Covenant to the shores of the Jordan River. They camped near the river. Twelve men, one from each tribe, were chosen from among the people. They followed the priests who bore the Ark, and when they entered the water, it was stopped in a heap, much like the parting of the Red Sea. The people began to walk across on the dry land. This chapter continues this story as follows:

1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

After the people had crossed the river, the twelve men who had been chosen from the tribes, were to gather twelve stones from the ground where the priests stood, who had carried the ark. They were to take the stones with them to the place they camped for the night. Joshua teaches us that the reason for these stones, was to have a monument to be held in remembrance of this event. When their children, or their posterity, would ask what these stones meant, they would teach them that they were to remember when the Lord stopped the waters of the Jordan for the children of Israel. Twelve stones were placed in the middle of the Jordan River, where the ark of the covenant was carried by the priests.

10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.
11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.
12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:
13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

When all of this was accomplished, the priests who bore the ark carried it onto the other side of the river where the Israelites were. The men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, led the people, armed to fight, just as they had promised. There were 40,000 men prepared to battle in the Israelite army.

14 On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.
15 And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.
17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.
18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

The children of Israel, were able to witness for themselves, that Joshua had been magnified by the Lord, and was indeed the Lord’s prophet. Once the priests were commanded to come out of the Jordan River onto the shores of the other side, the river returned to it’s normal course.

19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.
21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:
24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.

The Israelites camped in Gilgal, just outside of the land of Jericho. The twelve tribes set up the twelve stones as a memorial of what the Lord had done for the Israelites at this place.

I was pondering on the use of stones and the river in this story. Stones are a part of the land, which is what they were able to walk on without difficulty. These stones would have been large enough to remain there for generations, and they cause me to think about the rock of our salvation, who is always there for us. These stones were to stay unmovable and always be a reminder of the strength of the Lord for His people. The Lord is our rock, just as he was the rock of salvation for the Israelites. If we place our trust in Him, he will help us to cross the rivers of trials we deal with in our own lives, as if we are on dry land. The waters will not be able to drag us down, as the river would have done for this people.

Additionally, the Ark of the Covenant was not only a physical representation of the Lord among the people, but a container which held the words of the covenant the people of Israel had made with the Lord. It is a reminder to me, that we need to allow our covenants to lead our lives. If we are willing to put our covenants with the Lord first, to give us guidance and direction, we will be kept safe and find our way to our promised land. I am so grateful for my covenants and have felt the blessings of allowing the Lord to guide me through them.

Joshua Chapter 3

The Israelites were commanded to prepare their things, because in three days time, they would be starting their movement into the promised land. The first city they were going to arrive at, would be Jericho. Joshua, as their leader, sent spies into the land, who returned to say that the people there had heard of the great and terrible things the Israelites had done, and feared them. God had told Moses and Joshua that this is how the nations would feel, and so with faith, the Israelites continued to prepare.

1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

Joshua and the people left the camp in Shittim and arrived at the shore of the Jordan River. They stayed there for three days. The instruction was given to the people, that when they saw the ark of the covenant and Levite priests go before them, they were to follow it. They were specifically instructed to have a distance between themselves and the ark, so that the Lord could lead them into this unknown land. The Lord was not going to send them into this land, without his guidance as to where they should go. He would lead them, much like he had led them before with the cloud that went before them in the wilderness. This reminds me of the story of the Book of Mormon, when the family of the prophet Lehi were guided to their promised land by the Liahona, which was a gift from God.

Joshua instructed the people to sanctify themselves because the Lord would do wonders for them. Finally, Joshua gave the command to the priests, to take the ark and go before the people, which they did. This command to be sanctified for the wonders of the Lord, was much like the commandment given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when they would witness the glory of the Lord on the mount. They had physically prepared themselves for the journey to come, and now they were being called to be spiritually prepared to receive the blessings of God. I imagine it is a lot like the call for us today, to become worthy to enter temples. The latter-day saint temples are dedicated houses of the Lord, in which the righteous can receive great blessings from the Lord. People must be sanctified to enter, because the spirit of the Lord dwells there.

7 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

Joshua is given a promise that the Lord would show the Israelites that he was indeed the prophet of God, just as Moses had been. It is so important for us to have a testimony of the Lord’s prophet, so that we will not doubt that we are being guided by the words of God. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had in my life, which have strengthened my own testimony in the modern prophets, and help me to know that we have a living prophet on the earth today.

God told Joshua to tell the priests that bore the ark, to go into the first part of the water and stand still in it. This was to be an act of faith on the part of the priests. Moses, when he parted the Red Sea, had to first stretch out his hand as an act of faith in God. We can follow these examples in our own lives, by taking a step in the direction of the council we are given by the Lord and his servants. When we go forward in faith, rather than waiting for something to happen first, we can do great things, just as these worthy men of the priesthood would do.

9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God.
10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

Joshua called the people forward and told them that the Lord would show them that he was there with them and would lead them to victory over the nations of the land. Then, he gave the instructions to the people that twelve men, one from each tribe, were to be chosen. He also told them that as the priests took the ark into the water, the Lord would cut the waters off and cause them to stand up in a heap. This would have been much like the waters of the Red Sea, when Moses parted them by the power of God.

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

The Jordan River, which is described here as being high water at the time of harvest, was stopped when the feet of the priests went into the brink. I think the additional description of the Jordan, was given so that we could know that the water was not some simple stream, but an overflowing river. Once the water stopped, the people of Israel crossed over on dry land. It is interesting to me to see that the waters mark the journey of the Israelites. The beginning of their journey through the wilderness, involved the parting of the Red Sea and the Israelites crossing the dry land. Then, their journey ends with the waters stopped in the Jordan, and the Israelites crossing the dry land again. Both times, the Lord, who is the living water, made the waters of the earth do His bidding. Both times proved to the people that the prophet was indeed a man of God, chosen to lead them forward. The water was the symbol of the next phase of their lives.

Baptism

Water is a very symbolic thing in the gospel. I can’t help but reflect on the most significant moment in my life that is relating to water, which was my baptism. In my own life, entering into the waters of baptism, marked the next phase of my existence. It is a time I can often reflect on, and remember the decision that was laid before me. Taking that faithful step into the water, has led me on a path of discipleship and great blessings. Additionally, the Lord caused that water to do His bidding, which was to cleanse me and give me new life. I am very grateful for that choice and the opportunities, lessons, and growth it has given to me.

Deuteronomy Chapter 9

In this chapter, Moses continues his final sermons to the Israelites. They are being prepared and strengthened for the final part of the journey into the promised land. We read:

1 Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
2 A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
3 Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee.
4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
6 Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.

In order to go into the promised land, the Israelites would need to cross the Jordan River. They were on the verge of this task, as well as going up against the inhabitants who are stronger and larger than they were, with cities that were fortified with great walls. Some of these people were the giants of their day, and most men feared them. They were reminded here, that the Lord would go before them. He would be their strength and deliver them to the Israelites, who would then be able to destroy them and drive them out of the land. These things were not done because of the great righteousness of the Israelites, but rather, because of the great wickedness of the other nations and to keep the promises that had been made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The children of Israel were a hard nation, who had not turned fully to the Lord and were quick to forget Him.

I think that they needed this reminder, so that they would not turn too quickly to boast of themselves in their accomplishments. We can learn from this, that sometimes we are blessed in life because of others, and not for our ourselves. In some cases, others loose their own blessings and they fall upon us. Sometimes others are righteous and we are blessed because they have been faithful. It would be great to recognize either of these causes in our own lives, because it can help to keep us more grateful and humble.

7 Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.
8 Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you.
9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
10 And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
13 Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.
15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the Lord your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the Lord had commanded you.
17 And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.
18 And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also.
20 And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.
21 And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.

Moses reminded the people that as a nation, they had been entirely too rebellious towards the God that blessed them at this time. He spoke of Horeb, or the area of Sinai, when Moses left them for a time to receive the law from the Lord. While he fasted and spoke with the Lord, they had turned back to their evil ways of idolatry. The Lord was angry for this rebellion and told Moses that he would destroy them and raise a mighty nation from Moses. Moses saw for himself, that the people had returned to worshipping a false god, and broke the stone tablets that contained the law of the Lord. Moses fasted and prayed to the Lord, that the anger of the Lord would be turned away from the people and Aaron, for their sin. Moses took the sin of the Israelites, the wicked idol which they had worshipped, and destroyed it.

22 And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah, ye provoked the Lord to wrath.
23 Likewise when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
24 Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
25 Thus I fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the Lord had said he would destroy you.
26 I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
27 Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:
28 Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.
29 Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.

Moses also reminded them of other times of rebellion, when they had murmured for water and food, and when they had feared the strength of the nations in the land. At these times they had brought the wrath of the Lord upon themselves again. They had had great moments of weakness, doubt, and the fear of men – moments when they had not believed in God, and had been led them away from Him. Moses had fasted and prayed again for the people of Israel. Moses knew the promises of their fathers, and that this people were the Lord’s chosen people. Other nations were aware of them as well, and Moses had prayed that the Lord would spare them destruction, so that others would not think that God was not a God of great power, or that God hated His own people so he destroyed them. Moses had done so much for the people, through pleading for their lives, when they deserved the punishments of God. In effect, Moses, took the sin of Israel upon himself and paid the price along with those who had lost faith. We can look at this choice for Moses, and see an example of Christ. Christ has taken the sin of all the people upon himself, and paid the greater price so that we can live eternally with God. Just as we owe our lives and gratitude to the Savior, the Israelites owed much to their own mediator, Moses. This is the burden of the prophets. I wonder how much pleading is done by the modern prophets in behalf of the saints today. I hope that I can live my life with greater faith and trust in the Lord, and with a more grateful heart for the blessings I receive from Him, through the Atonement.

Deuteronomy Chapter 7

The children of Israel were to be entering the promised land soon, at this point in the bible. Moses was commanded to teach them in preparation for their living in this land. This is because they were to be a holy people, who stood out among the nations. The instruction continues:

1 When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
2 And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
6 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
7 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.
11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

The Israelites starts off with a little reminder again, that they will gain this land, only by the strength of the Lord, and not on their own strength. The seven nations who lived there at this point, were much greater than the Israelites. But, the Lord would provide the way for them, and those other nations would be destroyed. As part of this act to gain the promised land, Moses teaches them that they must not make any deals, agreements, promises or likewise, with those people among the other nations they would conquer. They were not to give mercy to the people, because mercy was only the Lord’s to give at this point. The nations who inhabited the promised land at this time, were not righteous people, but were wicked and far from the Lord. If they allowed the wicked to live in the land, the temptation to turn from the Lord, would be too great for them to resist. There is no commandment for us today, to separate ourselves from those who have different faiths. We are mostly caused to live in the world, and yet, find the strength to not live of the world. This can be really difficult. We cannot stand to invite temptation into our lives, so we ourselves, must live worthy of the guidance of the spirit in order to avoid allowing things to creep in.

The people were commanded that they should not marry anyone from the other nations, because their children would be drawn away from the Lord and serve the false gods of those other nations. If they went against this law and their children were to fall away, sudden destruction was promised to them. Instead, when they took over the land, they were commanded to destroy all the altars, idols, and anything else designed to worship other gods. They were only to worship the Lord, and leave nothing remaining that would draw them away. This strict law was necessary in order to preserve the righteousness of the people as a whole. The Lord knew the hearts of the Israelites and how quickly they would forget Him, if they allowed apostasy to creep into their land. Today it is very common to marry another of a different faith. I know from my own personal experience, that there is great strength to be found in dating and marrying someone who believes in the same God. I don’t think less of those who marry outside their faith, but personally, I know now that I could not live happily without the amazing blessings that have come from choosing someone who has the same beliefs as I do.

The Lord would set the nation of Israel above all other nations, because the Lord loves those who follow Him. The Israelites would be the blessed nation, because of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These promises would be theirs, if they chose to keep the laws of the Lord as Moses commanded. The Israelites were a blessed and chosen nation, separated from others and shown great miracles and wonders, but they eventually fell away into apostasy. However, these promises are available to all of God’s children, even though we are not physically separated from others. We can be a blessed people today, if we love the Lord and keep his commandments.

12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:
13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
14 Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.

I cannot imagine what this blessing would be like. They were promised that they would multiply, their children would be blessed, and that their crops of grain, food, drink, and flocks would all be blessed. They were also promised, that if they would be obedient to the law, none would be barren. This would mean that their smaller and weaker nation, would become incredibly strong and great as a result.

15 And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
16 And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.
17 If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?
18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;
19 The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: so shall the Lord thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid.
20 Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.

The Lord promised to remove sickness from the Israelites and give it to them who stood against them. Knowing that the other nations would only bring temptation and sin among them, they were to show no pity when the Lord delivered them into their hands. They needed to remember continually, that the Lord would be their strength, and provide miracles for them as He had in Egypt. If the were obedient, the Lord would bring about the destruction of all of their enemies in the land.

21 Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.
22 And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.
23 But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.
24 And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.
25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.
26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

The nations would be delivered by the Lord, a little at a time, and not all at once. This was the wisdom of the Lord. Otherwise, the task would be too great for them. The Israelites needed to practice patience and see that the Lord would provide the way. When they destroyed the people, they were reminded again to destroy those things that would bring their own destruction if allowed to remain among them. These words to the people of Israel were not knew. These are the promises and conditions, which the Lord gave the people before they began their wandering 40 years earlier, when the elders of the Israelites were young. I think these words are being repeated, so that they might remember them with greater strength.

The Israelites had not always shown that they were willing to put their trust in the Lord. In fact, that is what earned them the many years of wandering and the loss of their parents. They were about to enter lands where greater people lived and would be willing to put up a great fight. The people needed their faith to be fortified before they entered, so that they would not falter and turn away from the true source of their strength. If they trusted in the Lord, He would provide the way, and in some cases the Israelites would not even have to put up a fight. The scriptures are filled with passages which teach us that the Lord will give strength and blessings to those who love Him, trust Him, and follow His commandments. These promises are not dead, but remain true for us today. Our own personal enemies, temptations, trials, and sorrows, will not have the power to destroy us, if we will remain faithful and obedient to the Lord. I know this is true, because I have felt his strength in my life. I am so grateful for this promise and for the knowledge that the Lord is the one, true God, with power to overcome all things.

Numbers Chapter 22

The journeyings of the Israelites took them to to the lands of Arnon and Bashan, in the area of Moab, where the Lord helped them to kill and drive out the people. They were getting closer to obtaining the land of promise. I am sure the people of the lands near there, were getting worried about the coming of Israel towards them. Chapter 22 of the book of Numbers, begins as follows:

1 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.

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The Israelites were in the land of Moab near to the Jordan River, across the river from Jericho.

2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
4 And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
7 And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
8 And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
9 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
10 And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
11 Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
12 And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
13 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.
14 And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.

Balak, the king of the Moabites, was one of those in the lands nearby, and after learning what they had done to the Amorites, he was worried. The Israelites were a great army host in their midst. The people of Moab, went to the rulers of Midian, with their concerns. Balak sent messengers of the rulers to Balaam, along with things of value and tools for divination. They were to tell Balaam of the Israelites, the threat they posed, and to enlist his help in stopping them. It seems that Balaam was one who they saw as favored, because whomever he cursed, was cursed. They felt that if they could get help from him, the Israelites would be removed from their land. The messengers of Balak stayed with Balaam, while he sought to know what to do. God visited Balaam, asked who the men were that were with him. Balaam answered and asked God if he would curse the Israelites, so they could be driven out of the land. God then told Balaam that he was not to go with these men. He told Balaam that the Israelites were a blessed people. When Balaam told the elders of Balak to leave without his help, they returned to their land and reported back to Balak.

15 And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.
16 And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:
17 For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
19 Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more.
20 And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

Balak sent more men again, but this time there were men of greater honor. They pleaded with Balaam to join them against the Israelites, offering to do all that Balaam wanted of them in return, even giving him greater honor. Balaam said that even if he was given a house full of treasure, he could not go against the words of the Lord. He offered to have them stay, so that he could ask God again. I’m not sure why he wanted to ask again, except that possibly the offering of greater honor was tempting to Balaam. The Lord told Balaam to do what he wanted to do, which was to go with the men, but to speak what the Lord told him. He had already received the answer not to go with the men, but the Lord gave him the answer he was wanting the second time. Balaam woke and went with the princes the next day.

22 And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
23 And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24 But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
25 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
32 And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
35 And the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Balaam was rebelling against the first answer from the Lord. So, an angel of the Lord stood in the way of Balaam and his servants as they journeyed. His donkey saw the angel and turned off the path. I am guessing that Balaam and the servants could not see the angel, because their eyes were not open to seeing such a spiritual manifestation in that moment. Balaam forced the animal back onto the path by hitting her, but the angel of the Lord stood in the way again. The donkey, seeing the angel, threw herself into the nearby wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Balaam hit her again, getting her back on the path. The angel blocked a part of the path that was even more narrow. When the donkey saw the angel, she stopped and fell down, so that Balaam could not go further on her. Balaam got very angry and beat the animal. The Lord caused the donkey to speak to him, asking why he hit her three times for doing nothing. Balaam, in his anger, said he would kill her if only he had a sword in his hand. The donkey reminded Balaam that she was the donkey he had ridden for a long time and had always been there for him, never doing anything like this before. Then, probably because Balaam recognized the truth in these words, the Lord caused that Balaam could see the angel, and he fell on his face. The angel told him that he had beaten the animal, when she had seen him as he blocked the way. The angel had blocked the path because it was the wrong path for Balaam to take, and Balaam was being stubborn or stiff-necked. The angel said that if the donkey had not turned, Balaam would have been slain, but the animal spared. Balaam realized his sin in not recognizing the presence of the angel, and he said he would return if that is what the angel wanted him to do. The angel told Balaam to continue on, but only speak the words the angel told him to say. Balaam continued to go with the men of Balak.

It seems strange to me to hear a story in the bible, of an animal that speaks. It seems an impossible thing and does not make much sense to me. In the manual I am using along with this study, it points out a few verses of scripture. First, Luke 1:37 reads, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” If God wanted the animal to speak, He would have the power to make her speak. Second, Revelation 5:13-14 which says the following:

13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

This teaches us that all creatures of heaven spoke praise of the Lord and four animals specifically said Amen. This may seem like one of those symbolic parts of scripture, which are not to be taken literally. However, Joseph Fielding Smith, a prophet of this current dispensation, clarified when he said, “[animals in the hereafter] will not then be the dumb creatures that we suppose them to be while in this mortal life” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2:69). I cannot quite imagine how that will be, but I believe the words of the prophets are true, and so I trust that this story of Balaam and his donkey, happened just as it says.

It is also interesting to note that the animal spoke without much work on the part of the Lord. Balaam, on the other hand, took convincing and coaxing before he was willing to open his eyes to see the angel. The natural man inside us, is stubborn and not willing to listen or be taught. We need to work to overcome that, and to be more willing to listen to the promptings and answers given to us.

36 And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast.
37 And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?
38 And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
39 And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjath-huzoth.
40 And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
41 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people.

Balak went to meet Balaam, asking him why he had not hurried to come to him, when he was willing to give him great honors. Balaam told him that he was there, ready to speak the words that were given him from the Lord. They went to a place called Kirjath-huzoth, where an offering of oxen and sheep was given. Balak took Balaam to a high place where he could look out over the greater part of the people.

Sometimes we can be blinded by the honors of men in our own lives. It seems as though Balaam was generally a good man, who, as a servant of the Lord, was willing to go to the Lord and follow the instruction he was given. However, he was bribed with things of the world and in that moment, he trusted men more then God. Because of this, he was not able to see the angel who stood right in front of him. It is not bad to have things such as riches and honors, but if they take priority over following the commandments and instruction from the Lord, they become corrupted. We can sometimes fall prey to the temptation to beg with God for answer we want, instead of the answer God gives to us. God will not force us to do His will. I think of Joseph Smith asking the Lord if he could give pages of translation to Martin Harris, and being told no. He asked multiple times and finally, God said yes. Joseph wanted to please his friend, and in doing so, the pages were lost and Joseph had to repent before he was able to translate again. I don’t think that tempting the Lord to do things our way, instead of according to His will, ever works out the way we think it will. This is one of the reasons we need to remain worthy of the spirit always. We cannot afford to let our guard down, and like with Balaam, let things of the world influence us to turn away from the Lord. Our know that our lives will be blessed if we learn to trust in the Lord, and not in the world and wisdom of men.

Numbers Chapter 14

In the previous chapter, the Lord commanded that Israelite spies be sent out to assess the land of promise and the people there. It was learned that there were mighty men with strong fortifications. Considering they were told by the Lord, that they would take the land, some concerns arose over the possibility to do it. This chapter continues the story as follows:

1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.

The people cried and murmured against the prophet, Moses, and his brother Aaron, the high priest. Some began to feel that they would have had better chances or a better life, if they had remained in Egypt rather then in the wilderness. Some wanted to leave and go back. Moses and Aaron fell down before the assembly. I wonder, if the Israelites had believed that God would deliver them, would they have entered the promised land then with the Lord going before them to open the land? They did not have that faith. Instead, they looked back to Egypt, forgetting all that the Lord had done to free them from bondage. How often are we freed from our own bondage of sin, and then when we realize that life is hard when we try to do what is right, we look back longingly at what life was before? Satan is so good at convincing us that being in bondage to him is the kind of life we want.

6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.
10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

Joshua, the servant of Moses, and Caleb, the man who had suggested they go forward and take the land, rent their clothes. I think this was usually done when someone spoke against God, or were going through times of mourning. These two men knew that the people had turned against the Lord. They spoke to the people, telling them that the land of Canaan was a good land. They reminded the Israelites that God would help them, if He was pleased with them. They also reminded them that they should not rebel against the Lord. They did not need to fear those that were inhabiting the land of promise, because the Lord would protect the Israelites. The people did not want to listen to this chastisement, and decided to stone Joshua and Caleb. At that moment, the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle and all were able to witness it.

11 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.

The Lord asked Moses how long it would be before the people would finally believe and have faith in Him, when He had given them so many signs already. He threatened a plague of pestilence upon them, and to take away their promised blessings of inheritance. The Lord said he would make Moses a greater and mightier nation than them.

13 And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

Moses responded, that the Egyptians would come to know of this, and they would spread the word across the land of what had happened, probably using it against the Lord. The Israelites were not unknown to other nations in the area. The Egyptians would not hesitate to bring them down in any way they could, even if it meant that they spread rumors of the God of Israel to stop others from believing.

15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

Moses said that if the Lord destroyed the Israelites, the other nations would say that the Lord did not have power to do as He promised His people. Moses pleaded in behalf of the Israelites. He asked the Lord to show his mercy, longsuffering, and forgiveness to his people. Not to clear those who were guilty of rebellion, but be forgiving as He had been up to this point. The Lord responds to Moses, that he had forgiven as Moses had asked of Him. The Lord turned away his wrath, in which He was prepared to destroy the host of Israel.

The Lord also said that the His glory would fill the earth because of the miracles He had done for the Israelites. This is happening today. The stories of the bible are read by people all over the world. They are believed by many, and the glory of the Lord is spread, because of the things that happened to the Israelites in ancient times. The Lord said they still would not hearken to Him, and that those who would not, the older generation and any others who rebelled, would not see the land of promise. Caleb was promised, that since he followed the Lord and was committed to His purposes, he would possess the land. Moses was told by the Lord, to take the people into the wilderness by the Red Sea.

26 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
35 I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
39 And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.

The Lord was angered over the rebellious portion of the Israelites. Moses and Aaron were told to tell the people that the Lord would do as He says. And what he said was that all who were over the age of twenty, which were the adults who had murmured against him, would die in the wilderness. The only exceptions would be Caleb and Joshua, and they would receive the land of promise along with the children of the Israelite families. Their children would come to know the land that they, the adults, did not have the faith to earn. The adults were promised that their families would wander and suffer in the wilderness for forty years because of the sins and faithlessness of their generations. Then they would know the promise of the Lord. I know it is true that we are more teachable when we are children. The children of the Israelites would witness the fulfillment of this promise to their fathers, and they would learn to have greater faith in the Lord.

Those who started the rebellion against the Lord, were then killed by a plague. The Lord does not allow men to destroy his work. I think that in order to preserve the younger generations, the rebellious leaders were removed from them. Joshua and Caleb were the only ones who were left of those who went to spy in the land of Canaan. The Israelites mourned over these promised words of the Lord. I think of the sadness that came to the early saints of the latter-days, when they were removed from the inheritance they had been promised in Missouri. The prophet Joseph Smith was told that this happened because of their disobedience to His word. In Doctrine and Covenants 101 we read of what the Lord said to them.

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

The saints did not continue to live in the land of Zion, and suffered through a lot of hardships because they did not keep the faith. This causes me to reflect on the promises of the Lord in my own life, and how they will be taken from me if I am not faithful to Him. Being faithful is to place greater trust in Him and in His promises.

40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned.
41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper.
42 Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you.
44 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

Some tried to go against this promise. They woke and prepared to go into the land of promise. Moses told them that they would not prosper in doing this against the Lord. The Lord would not be with them, and they would be killed by the Amalekites and Canaanites. I am imagining these rebels saying, “what else have we got to lose?” They went ahead anyway, without Moses or those who went with the ark of the covenant (which I am assuming began to go the way the Lord had instructed), and they were killed just as Moses had said. In choosing to continue in rebellion against the Lord, they gave up the opportunity to repent and receive the greater reward in heaven. Sometimes we are made to suffer the consequences of our bad choices. It is often painful and incredibly hard at times, but in suffering we can learn life lessons. One of the greatest lessons from suffering is repentance. When we repent we can be forgiven. It doesn’t take away the choices we made, but it can make us right in the sight of God. No blessings come from trying to avoid the consequences of our wrong choices. If there was no hope of anything greater for these generations of Israelites, the Lord would not have caused them to wander for forty years, but would have destroyed them all at that time. I am glad that we have stories like this, to teach us the patience and mercy of the Lord with His children.

Challenge: Thinking of your own life, how can you show greater faith and trust in the Lord today? Is there a fear you can put aside? Is there some sin that you can give up? Is there a duty you can fulfill? Trust in the Lord. If He has asked something of you, He will help you to accomplish it.


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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