Posts Tagged 'Punishment'

2 Kings Chapter 14

Joash had been raised to be the king of Judah, through the words of the high priest, Jehoiada. He had ruled in righteousness and had also made repairs the temple. When his servants killed him, his son, Amaziah became the king. This chapter begins with the rule of Amaziah.

1 In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.
2 He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did.
4 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.

While Joash was king in Israel, Amaziah began to rule in Judah. He reigned for twenty-nine years, or until he was almost fifty-five years old. Like his father, he did those things that were right by the Lord. However, he continued to allow the people of Judah to make sacrifices and offerings in the high places.

5 And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.
6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
7 He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.

When Amaziah became king, he immediately killed the servants who had killed his father. This was not against the law of Moses, which taught that those who murdered another, were to be sentenced to death by the family of the victim. And seeing as the law of Moses, does not call for the children of murderers to be killed for the crime of their fathers, Amaziah did nothing to their children. While we generally do not judge who is worthy of being sentenced to death, those of the LDS faith, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do believe in living by this second principle. In Article of Faith 1:2, it reads, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” No one should punish a child for the sins of their father. Likewise, no parent should be punished for the sin of their child. We all will be judged independent of one another.

Amaziah went to war with Edom and took Selah, the capital city, renaming it Joktheel. Edom was the land of the children of Esau, or the kindred of the Israelites. Since, there is no record here of a reason for the fight, this may not have been a victory for Judah, that looked good in the eyes of the people of Israel, even though their had been times of fighting with them in the past.

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.
9 And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
10 Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
11 But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
12 And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
13 And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
14 And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.

Amaziah sent messengers to the king of Israel, Jehoash, to tell him that they meet one another. This seems to have been a call to fight him. The reply of Jehoash, was that Amaziah had fought with Edom and gloried in hurting them. He felt that Amaziah was taking unnecessary pride in his victory. Furthermore, he said that he should stay in Judah, so that no harm would come to him and therefore bring the destruction of Judah. Amaziah did not want to listen to the words of Jehoash, so Jehoash went to Beth-shemesh in Judah. Jehoash made war against Judah, and the men of Judah fled. Jehoash took Amaziah to Jerusalem, broke down the walls, took the treasures found in the temple and the king’s house, took hostages, and then went back to Samaria.

15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.

After much fighting with Amaziah, Jehoash died and his son, Jeroboam ruled in Israel.

17 And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.
18 And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
19 Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.
20 And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

Amaziah outlived Jehoash, for another fifteen years, even with the loss that had come to Judah. A conspiracy was led against him in Jerusalem, so he feld. Men followed after him and killed him in Lachish.

21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
22 He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.

Azariah, the sixteen-year-old son of Amaziah, became the king of Judah. After the king had died, Azariah restored to Judah a town in Edom called Elath.

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.
26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.
27 And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Jeroboam was king for forty-one years in Israel. He was not a righteous king, but did evil and was idolatrous, as the kings before him had been. He regained the borders of Israel according to prophecies by Jonah, the prophet. Israel stood alone, but the Lord would not let them be completely destroyed. Rather, the Lord allowed them to be saved by Jeroboam.

28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.

Jeroboam did things like recovering Damascus and Hamath. He was mighty and fought wars. After forty-one years, he died and his son Zachariah became king of Israel.

This chapter does not include much in the way of positive experiences for the people of Israel or Judah. The continuous blessings of peace and prosperity were not found, because they were not consistently following after good men or righteous leaders. The Israelite people were becoming ripe for destruction. The Lord had promised that the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would continue and would bless the earth, so complete and utter destruction was not coming to them. There would be times of being saved, even when their hearts were not completely turned to Him. But much destruction would come. We will come to see that the promises to their fathers did not mean they would be blessed with lives that were free from war, destruction, and bondage. Likewise, we may have moments of being saved and preserved, even blessed by God, in our lives, but if we do not follow after those things that are good and lead us to Christ, we will be setting ourselves up for our own failure and destruction in ways both physical and spiritual.

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Deuteronomy Chapter 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Deuteronomy Chapter 13

The children of Israel had been a people living among a very idolatrous nation, Egypt. They had been delivered by the Lord, but continually showed a weakness for following after other gods. They were about to enter a land where the nations worshiped false gods as part of everyday living. Moses had taught the people the importance of worshiping the Lord, and doing all that they could to remove the temptations of idolatry. His teachings continued with the following:

1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

The Israelites were warned that there may come a time, when a prophet or dreamer would promise a sign or wonder. If the things they promised came true, and that person called upon them to seek after other gods to serve, they were not to follow after them. They had been shown time and time again, that the only true and living God was the Lord, and that anything else was false and wickedness. The Lord would test them to see if they truly loved God, by expecting them to follow Him, obey His word and keep His commandments. The Israelites were commanded to put any false prophet or dreamer to death for trying to lead them away from the Lord with false doctrine. In this way, they would remove the temptation from the people.

6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

Likewise, if any member of their families or friends, tried to draw them away to idolatry, by any means, they were not to follow after them. They were instead, to be put to death, just as the false prophets and dreamers, and shown no pity or mercy in their wickedness. Their were commanded to stone them for trying to lead them after false gods and away from the Lord.

12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
14 Then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.
17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;
18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God.

If a city among the Israelites, was heard to have gone astray into the sin of idolatry, they were to investigate the possibility. They are called here the children of Belial, which according to the bible dictionary is another way of saying wicked men, who were worthless. If they found that the city had indeed become an idolatrous city, they were to destroy the people of the city and everything in it. Anything left was to be burned, and the city was not to be built again. If they were to continue to receive the promised blessings of the Lord, they could not keep anything from the wicked place. They would be blessed for obedience to this and all the commandments of the Lord.

Part of obedience to the Lord, was having the courage to destroy those who were leading others into idolatry, even when it was loved ones. This is a perspective of these commandments, which I have only recently been considering. Following after the Lord and not being idolatrous, was only part of the commandment. I am sure that for some this would not have been a hard thing to do, and that they would have felt safe in knowing they would only follow the Lord. However, the love we have for family is strong, and I can imagine the great and heavy burden it would have been to learn that someone you loved was worthy of death at your hand. I know that there may have been many who were guilty of not following through with destroying those who had chosen a life of idolatry and were therefore also guilty of disobedience to the commandments of the Lord. This may have been the more difficult test that the Lord allowed the Israelites to experience, in order to show their complete devotion to the Lord.

In Matthew 10:28 we read, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Those family members of people who had turned to wicked idolatry, would have only been able to give a physical death to those who had chosen wickedness. It was the mercy of the Lord, that this punishment be given, because the temptations of Satan bring the greater spiritual death, which separate both body and spirit from returning to our God. If the individuals had been allowed to continue in their wickedness, they would have worst to come after this life. I think that this is the point of view the righteous would have needed to remember in order to show obedience to this commandment.

When I wonder about this commandment for the Israelites, I think as well about what is expected of me now, especially as a parent. It is my duty, to teach my children what is right and wrong. It is also my duty, to give loving correction, when they go astray. This is not an easy thing sometimes. I am sure it will become more difficult as they get older as well. Their are many people today, who value the friendship of their children more than consider the duty they have to the Lord. The better thing for parents to do, is to be a parent first, and call children to repentance when necessary, rather then allow them to follow after the other gods of our day. I am glad that this does not require the same consequence of capital punishment today, meaning death, but I also realize that there is a gravity to my choices that may help shape the eternal destiny of those I love. There will be great sorrow for those who are lost to wickedness. Moreover, I will be held accountable for their sins, if I do not do my part as a parent and teach and guide as I know is right.

Leviticus Chapter 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exodus Chapter 21

At this point in Exodus, the people of God are camped around Mount Sinai and have witnessed the appearance of the Lord in a heavy cloud. The Israelites have had judges established throughout the land and now have been given the Ten Commandments from the Lord. This chapter continues the establishment of laws as follows:

1 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.
2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.
5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

These are strictly my understanding of these verses. I don’t know if I am 100% accurate on these, but here it goes. It was established that a hebrew servant was only to be in his servitude for six years. Then he, and his wife if he had one when he began servitude, would be allowed their freedom. If, after the master gave the man a wife, and they had any children, the wife and children would remain with the master of the house and the man would have his freedom. They could also choose to stay as servants for the remainder of his days. I find it interesting servants would serve for an initial six years. I think it is a reminder of the six periods of labor which the Lord took to create the world, followed by rest from his labor.

7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

In the event that a man sells a daughter to be a partner to another man, or a maidservant to him, and she is not pleasing to him, there are three options. He can redeem her, give her to a son, or continue to care for her as a wife and marry another. I think to redeem her may mean to return her to her father, but I am not sure. If he sold her, he would be doing a deceitful thing and it would not be valid. If he did not do any of these things, she would go free, without his money or care. Marriage was not what it is today in those times. This was the way of the time and what was expected of women. I can honestly say that I am glad to be living where I am today.

12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

If someone hit another man to the point of death, or rather kill him in any way, he was to be put to death. Rather, if a man was killed by another who had the intent to kill, that man would be put to death. Those who did not intend to kill, could flee to another part of the land to avoid wrongful death from revenge of another.

15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Death was the penalty for hitting or cursing a parent and for stealing and keeping or selling another man. That sounds a lot like kidnapping to me.

18 And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed:
19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.

If two men worked together, and one hurt the other with stone or fist, leaving the injured unable to work, the other would have to pay for the wages lost and what it took to get well from the injury, but then be cleared of the offense.

20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

If a man killed his servant he was to be punished, but if the servant was alive for a few days, he would not be punished. According to the Joseph Smith Translation of the word”punished”, the Lord meant put to death. So if the servant died right then, the master would be put to death. If the servant lived even a couple of days, the master was not put to death.

22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Any unborn child that was lost because of injury from another man, would deserve the punishment required by the master and the judges over them. If “mischief” followed the loss of the child, or any other kind of harm to the woman, the offense would be met in kind. If she would die, the man would die. If she lost an eye, then he would loose and eye, and so on.

26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.
27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

Any man who injured his servant to the point of loosing his or her eye or tooth, would let the servant go free. They were not to cause permanent injury to their servants.

28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.
29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
30 If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.
31 Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.
32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

A man had to keep charge of his oxen, because if one were to kill a man or woman, the master would loose the ox to death and then he’d be cleared of the offense. If the ox had occasion to act up in the past and the master did not keep him away, and then he killed someone, both the ox and the master would be put to death. I don’t quite understand what is meant by verses 30 and 31, but it sounds like the death of a son or daughter of another could cost the loss of his own son or daughter. If an ox acted out and pushed a servant, then the servant’s master was owed 30 shekels and his ox would be killed.

The footnote to verse 32 reminds us that 30 shekels was the amount that was paid to Judas when he betrayed the Lord. Interesting to think that the Son of God and Savior of the world was worth the same as payment for a servant’s injury from an ox.

33 And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;
34 The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.

Any loss of cattle from carelessness of another, such as an uncovered pit, would result in the master being paid for the loss of the ox.

35 And if one man’s ox hurt another’s, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.
36 Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

If two people had oxen and one ox killed the ox of the other man, they were to sell the living and split the money and then split the dead ox. If, however, the ox was known to act up in the past and his owner did nothing to prevent this kind of thing from happening, then he would pay the other for the ox in full and take the dead ox for himself.

This chapter does not seem to have much in the way of gospel principles. It is an establishment of the judgments and results of different offenses, that must have occurred normally at the time. This was established by the Lord, I think, so that there were no discrepancies between different groups among the Israelites. According to the manual I am using for additional insight, it says that these were the maximum judgement one would receive for these offenses. It may seem strange to us that the Lord would establish these particular rules. In Mosiah 13, Abinadi taught wicked priests and King Noah the following:

29 And now I say unto you that it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea, even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God;
30 Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.

These rules had a wise purpose from God, even if the Israelites did not realize it. We have laws from God, that we can keep Him in remembrance and know of our duty to him. We cannot afford to be slow to remember Him and quick to do iniquity as the children of Israel were then. We have been given the higher law from Jesus Christ and we can know what that is by reading what he taught to the people during his life ministry and those things he taught the Nephites found in the Book of Mormon. I am glad that the Lord has given us rules (commandments) and judgments to live by, so that we have a standard to live up to.

D&C Section 134

In August of 1985, the saints held a general assembly of the church to discuss the Doctrine and Covenants and its contents. This section is described as a “declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” and it was accepted by a unanimous vote of the saints. It was given a preamble as well which said, “That our belief with regard to earthly governments and laws in general may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our opinion concerning the same” (History of the Church, 2:247). It is not direct revelation from the Lord, but as I understand it, there is nothing in this declaration that is against the gospel principles and it is fully in line with what we should believe as saints of God. As active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), saints have a duty to be aware and active in their communities as is possible. I have been fortunate to live in the United States, where we have many freedoms and liberties because of our government. I am very grateful for this.

The saints had been wrongly accused of many things in these first years of the restoration of the gospel. Among these false accusations, was one that said they were unsupportive of law and order. This declaration showed the world what the saints believed and how they expected government to work. This section begins:

1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

I whole-heartedly believe that government is part of the plan of God. I believe that when Christ comes again, our government will be His government, which is perfectly righteous. I don’t think that any government that is instituted today, is the perfect government, because they are all man-made, but I know that some are better than others because of influences of the spirit on good people. Government helps us to establish and maintain the laws, so that we all can live in safety and peace, therefore it is necessary that we have some type of government. These verses declare that no peaceful government can exist unless the people are free to choose for themselves, have a right to property, and are able to protect life. When these things are taken away, the people become placed in some kind of bondage to another, which is never according to the plan of God.

In my study I found a quote by David O. McKay when he who eventually became President of the church. He said, “That government is best which has as its aim the administration of justice, social well-being and the promotion of prosperity among its members” (in Conference Report, April. 1930, p. 80). I like this quote because it is not social well-being or the promotion of prosperity, but it is “and” or both. The best government will seek to help its people in need and encourage prosperity. A nation can have both of these things, if done correctly, and we see evidence of this time and time again in the Book of Mormon. One example is of the Nephites, not long after Christ had visited them. In 4 Nephi 1 we read,

2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
. . . 7 And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
. . . 18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.
. . . 23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

I believe that we can have people who are prosperous and who are common (not rich and poor), without taking away any freedoms. I believe that we can persuade men to choose to give of their abundance to the poor, without forcing anyone and taking that choice away. When people choose to give to the poor, everyone prospers, but when people are forced by things being taken from them, no one does.

The saints declared that governments need workers who will handle the laws with equity and justice, and that these same people should be chosen by the will of the people. It is the duty of every righteous man or woman, to seek out good and just leaders and help them to lead their country in the right ways. As far as America goes, I don’t think that enough people realize that if the voice of the people who are trying to live righteous lives, would be heard louder, our leaders would also be influenced to lead righteously. We have the ability to persuade those who are in government positions, if we stand up for what we believe.

In verse 4, the point is that religion is not a man-made institution, but an eternal institution from our eternal creator. As latter-day saints, we believe in the free exercise of religion, not just of our own, but of all religions that do not stop others from their rightful freedoms. We believe that nothing of man should be allowed to interfere with the institution of religion, or stop men from being able to worship freely as they choose. I love the last line of this verse, “the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” There are things that government is responsible for and should be, but forcing people to believe something or stopping them from freedom of thought and desires of the soul is completely wrong. I believe that all men should be allowed to worship freely, as long as how or what they worship does not stop anyone else from that same freedom.

5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.
7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.

We have a duty to follow the laws of the land in which we live, but we must have the right to choose and think for ourselves. It is the responsibility of a government to have laws and to have consequences for those who choose not to follow the laws. As it says in the twelfth article of faith, latter-day saints believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. There have been times when the laws of certain lands have taken away the freedom to follow the laws of God, and in these times, I believe it becomes a matter of sincere prayer to God for his help to be able to live His law. Sometimes it takes making a stand for a belief, such as Daniel who continued to pray even though he was commanded by his ruler that he must not pray to God. He was still allowed to choose and suffered the consequences of the law, but God protected him for following His law. I hope that I do not have to experience that kind of contradiction between the laws of this land and the laws of God, but I know that it is a possibility as we draw closer to the second coming. God will bless us if we do our best to obey his laws and live righteously.

It can sometimes feel difficult to respect our leaders who make choices we do not like, but as saints we need to be better than this. We should respect the office which these individuals hold, even when we disagree with their individual policies or decisions. For example, our president should be respected as the leader of our country. He should not be attacked as a person, because this is not a Christ-like thing to do. We do not have to agree with his decisions to respect him as our leader. Likewise, we do not have to agree with the decision of every law that is made, but we should respect and sustain it as a law. If we disagree with a leader or a law, it is our duty to do what we can to change what we do not agree with, not to disrespect or disobey.

Everyone one of us has responsibilities over something in our lifetime. For some it is nations and for others it is a home. We are all held accountable for how we lead and how we act in that responsibility. I have hope in the belief that those leaders who are unjust and unkind, will be held accountable for that in the eternities, because I believe in the justice of God. But as much as I hope for that, I must remember that I need to be the best leader in my home, so that I do not hold the same fate for making bad choices as well.

There is nothing wrong with punishment that is deserving for the crimes committed. Suffering for crimes is like the suffering for our sins that is an eternal principle. As a mother, it can be difficult at times to figure out what punishment is appropriate for the wrongs that are done in my home, but I know that there would be absolute craziness and a lack of respect for any rules if there were not any consequences. As saints, it is our duty to own up to our own mistakes, to take the appropriate consequences as they come and to repent fully for them. We do not consider ourselves above any laws. We are bound to uphold them as citizens of our countries. If we are striving to be honest citizens, then we will not do anything to stop another from proper punishment, and we will not cover up any crimes. We can and should still show love for anyone who has done something wrong, while allowing the consequences to be put into action. Punishment is in place for the benefit of all men and women.

9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

There is wisdom in keeping the laws and rules of the land in the control of those who lead the land, and separately keeping the laws and rules of any religion in the control of those who lead that religious group. Although, I have a desire for all men to believe as I do and to worship as I do, that does not mean that the leaders of a church should have control over a land. We cannot learn and grow if we are not given the choice to worship freely. I am happy when there are good, religious individuals as leaders in the government, because a righteous influence for good is ideal. But the church should leave the control of government to those who have been chosen to lead it. Likewise, any government should allow the churches to lead their own churches, as long as there is nothing that they do contrary to the laws of the land.

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.
12 We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.

Any person has the god-given right to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their own property. There are appropriate ways to deal with any abuse or attack that comes against us, and we should be wise in doing what is appropriate. Likewise, governments should have a responsibility to provide help in the appropriate situations. If, however, a government chooses not to help or is unable to help, when assistance is fully deserved, there is a right to our own defense against attacks.

As saints, we are believers in taking the gospel to the world. However, it is a gospel of peace and if preaching the gospel would put the peace or safety of others in jeopardy, it is not the right time for it. We do not believe that people should not be allowed to hear the gospel, but we will respect the laws of the lands. If we live righteously, and if as a church we are being strengthened and fortified, the Lord will open doors for the gospel in places where it has not been allowed before. I believe this is true.

I am so grateful for the safety that comes from having a government in place. I am glad that I live in a country that allows as much freedom as I have. I believe in laws and consequences and I know that we will be blessed by God for being good citizens where ever we live. I believe in freedom, and I am especially grateful to live where I can choose to worship freely and in a time when I do not need to fear for my life because of it. I am very grateful for the saints, who believed as I do now, and who endured through so many trials so that I could live the life of freedom that I have now.

D&C Section 19 (Part 1)

Historical Background

Martin Harris felt badly for the wrong he had done. He had been told already that if he was faithful from then on, that he would be one of the three witnesses. He had already seen the vision of the plates. However, he still came to the prophet, seeking to know where he stood with the Lord. This revelation was given in response to his concerns.

The Names of the Lord

“I AM Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world (v. 1).” The Lord is the Alpha and Omega. These are the first and last letter of the greek alphabet, which represent the beginning and the ending. His course is eternal. He is the creator of all that we know and he will be the one who restores all things in the end. The Lord is the Christ. He is the anointed Messiah. When he says “I am he”, He is the Jehovah known in the Old Testament. The Lord is also the Redeemer of the world. He is the only way that anything can have redemption. It is through His atonement and sacrifice, that we can be saved.

What is Meant by the Phrase “End of the World”?

“I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me—having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself (v. 2)—Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done (v. 3).” According to Bruce R. McConkie, this expression means “the end of unrighteousness or of worldliness as we know it, and this willbe brought about by ‘the destruction of the wicked’ (JS-M 1:4).” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 848.)

If we rephrase it the verse reads, “Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at then end of [worldliness and unrighteousness], and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done.” It gives this verse a meaning that says that the Lord will have all the power until all wickedness and unrighteous works will be done away with, and all will be judged.

Great Additional Truths Concerning God’s Punishments

“And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless (v. 4). Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand (v. 5). Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment (v. 6). Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory (v. 7). Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles (v. 8 ). I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest (v. 9). For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore (v. 10)—Eternal punishment is God’s punishment (v. 11). Endless punishment is God’s punishment (v. 12).”

We will all be judged and receive the reward worthy of the acts we did on this earth. For some, this will mean what we refer to as hell. In this revelation, we are taught that although there will be endless torment found in hell, but also that there can be an end. The manual I am using explains that for those who find themselves confined to hell, there is still the opportunity to learn and become better. Once they become better, they will deserve a greater reward and will be able to leave the state of eternal damnation and torment. Because God is eternal, we will always have the opportunity to progress. If however, those souls choose to stay the same, they will experience that torment for eternity.

Is There a Difference between Eternal Punishment and Eternal Damnation?

Verse 7 uses the phrase “eternal damnation” rather than “eternal punishment”. Is there a difference? Yes. Eternal punishment is what I discussed above. Eternal damnation is the opposite of eternal life. Anyone who does not gain eternal life, gains eternal damnation. Only those who gain the glory of the Celestial Kingdom and the highest degree of that kingdom, gain eternal life. It is a state that has a limit to its progression. One cannot be exalted if they are in a state of eternal damnation. In D&C 132:17 we read, “For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.”

D&C 131:2-4 says, “And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage] (v. 2); And if he does not, he cannot obtain it (v. 3). He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” Without sealing ordinances, one is unable to progress to exaltation in the eternities (v. 4).” This is part of the reason why temple work is so important. One who died without the knowledge of the gospel, can still learn of it on the other side of the veil. They can progress from any state of eternal punishment for the sins they committed in their life. However, without the sealing ordinance of marriage, they cannot progress into exaltation and therefore they must remain in a state of eternal damnation.

Mormon, Chapter 4

War and carnage continue among the Nephites and Lamanites

The Lord allows the wicked to punish the wicked

In 1 Nephi 2:20-24 we read, “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands (v. 20).  And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord (v. 21).  And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren (v. 22).  For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also (v. 23).  And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance (v. 24).”  It was prophesied long before Mormon lived, that if the Nephites rebelled against God, the Lamanites would be a scourge to them, or bring devastation through wars.

“And now it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and third year the Nephites did go up with their armies to battle against the Lamanites, out of the land Desolation (v. 1).  And it came to pass that the armies of the Nephites were driven back again to the land of Desolation. And while they were yet weary, a fresh army of the Lamanites did come upon them; and they had a sore battle, insomuch that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and did slay many of the Nephites, and did take many prisoners (v. 2).  And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation (v. 3).  And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them (v. 4).  But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed (v. 5).”

The Nephites had decided to go to war against the Lamanites, even though they had won the last battles.  Mormon had left them and was no longer leading the armies.  They went to battle, and just as it was prophesied in 1 Nephi, their rebellion brought them devastation.  The wicked are the ones who encourage fighting and bloodshed, that is why God uses the wicked to punish the wicked.  The fulfillment of this prophecy is just another in a long list, that show us the Lord’s prophecies will continue to be fulfilled even today.  We, like Mormon, need to stay away from the battles of the wicked.  In Alma 44:3-4 we read, “But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith (v. 3).  Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith (v. 4).”  We find protection in our faith.  If we stay true to the faith in God, he will protect us from the wicked and their influences.

The Lamanites prepared to attack Teancum (v. 6-7).  “And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation (v. 8 ).”  Whenever the Nephites begin to “boast of their own strength”, they are driven to humility by others.

When we deny that God is the reason that we come out on top, then we are bound to be taught a lesson in humility.  In James 3:5-6 we read, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth (v. 5)!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell (v. 6).”  Our tongues can bring us into great iniquity if we are not careful.  Boasting is compared to a small fire.  A small fire may seem harmless at first, but it does not take long for it to spread and grow beyond our control, to a point where we cannot put it out on our own.  Boasting may seem innocent at first, but it leads to greater pride, which is always the beginning of our downfall.  In D&C 59:21 we read, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.”  There is nothing that offends God more, than denying that all things come to us by Him.  He is the source of every blessing we ever receive.  We are not greater than God.  It is only through the Lord that we can someday become like Him.  When we boast of ourselves, we begin to think of ourselves as great and we cannot focus on turning to the Lord.

Satan, the great counterfeiter

In Moses 5:4-7 we read, “And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence (v. 4).  And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord (v. 5).  And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me (v. 6).  And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth (v. 7).”  The purpose of Adam’s sacrifice, was to represent the sacrifice of the Savior.

Satan is a great counterfeiter.  He has the power to make things that are bad look good, and things that are good look bad.  “And now all these things had been done, and there had been thousands slain on both sides, both the Nephites and the Lamanites (v. 9).  And it came to pass that the three hundred and sixty and sixth year had passed away, and the Lamanites came again upon the Nephites to battle; and yet the Nephites repented not of the evil they had done, but persisted in their wickedness continually (v. 10).  And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually (v. 11).  And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people (v. 12).  And it came to pass that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and this because their number did exceed the number of the Nephites (v. 13).  And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods (v. 14).”  Women and children were sacrifice to false gods by the Lamanites.  Sacrifice, which had been intended to represent such a sacred and wonderful thing, had been twisted by Satan into something horrific.

Satan continues to counterfeit things today.  The sacred nature of the family is one that he is fighting hard to twist into something it should not be.  The relationships that families should have, are precious and eternal.  Satan would have people believe that any relationship, even those created in sin and wickedness, should be allowed to be this precious.  It just is not so.  He is fighting hard to take the strongest bonds we should have on this earth, and make them weak and combined with sin.  Our families and our individual purposes within them, should be taken seriously and treated with a respect that is divine.

How much time has passed?

The Nephites attacked the Lamanites out of anger for the sacrificing of their women and children (v. 15).  The Nephites drove them out of the land and their was no fighting for another eight years (v. 16).  Then the Lamanites came in great numbers to fight again (v. 17).  The Lamanites were so strong that the Nephites lost from then on (v. 18-20).  The Nephite women and children were sacrificed again (v. 21).  The Nephites fled as much as possible (v. 22).  “And now I, Mormon, seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord (v. 23).”

I think that by this time, Mormon must have been quite a bit older.  In Mormon 1:2, he was ten years old (about 322 A.D.).  When the Lamanites came against the Nephites again it is 375 A.D..  I am sure it took a few years for them to drive them out of all of the lands.  This adds about 55 years since we started reading about him, making him around 65 years old.  Considering the fact that he spent so many years fighting battles with the Nephites, this is a long life.  He spent a great deal of that time leading them in battles.  I am sure he had his share of injuries, but by the hand of God, he lived through it all.  I know that he was preserved because he had a greater work to do.  It was his calling to take the sacred records that Ammaron had told him about.  He was given this calling, so that we would some day have these records.  I think that out of all the great things Mormon did in his life, the preserving of the records was the greatest.  Because of his service, we have the Book of Mormon today.  It has been such a wonderful blessing in my life.

Alma, Chapter 9

The divine law of witnesses

There is strength in numbers.  In a lot of situations, ‘two heads are better than one’.  I can study practically anything and get something out of it, but when I talk about what I am studying with my husband, I not only understand better from what I say to him, but he gives me insights or possibilities that I didn’t even think about.  (Note: This is why family scripture study should go hand-in-hand with personal scripture study.)  The Lord knows that two is better than one in some situations.  In Deuteronomy 17:6 we read, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.”  The more witnesses their are to something, the more believable it becomes.  This is one of the reasons why our missionaries go out to share the word of God in companionships, rather than by themselves. Also in Matthew 18:16 we read, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”  And finally in D&C 6:28 we read, “And now, behold, I give unto you, and also unto my servant Joseph, the keys of this gift, which shall bring to light this ministry; and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Alma and Amulek were a companionship of missionaries who the Lord sent out to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They separated in the city of Ammonihah to preach the word.  “And again, I, Alma, having been commanded of God that I should take Amulek and go forth and preach again unto this people, or the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass as I began to preach unto them, they began to contend with me, saying (v. 1):  Who art thou? Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man, although he should preach unto us that the earth should pass away (v. 2)?  Now they understood not the words which they spake; for they knew not that the earth should pass away (v. 3).  And they said also: We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day (v. 4).  Now they knew not that God could do such marvelous works, for they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people (v. 5).  And they said: Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things (v. 6)?  And they stood forth to lay their hands on me; but behold, they did not. And I stood with boldness to declare unto them, yea, I did boldly testify unto them (v. 7)…”  The people would not believe him, because he was just one man.  According to the law of witnesses in the scriptures we read above, they could reject the testimony of just one witness.

Amulek later tells the people the same things as Alma.  In Alma 10:12 we read, “And now, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified of the things whereof they were accused, and also of the things which were to come, according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.”  I am sure that if the people of Ammonihah reject both the words of Alma and Amulek, they will be judged greatly for it.  They had little faith in the power of God and thought that their city was too great to be destroyed.  We know from history, that even the greatest of cities can be destroyed.

Verse 4 says the prophesy was that the city would be destroyed in one day.  The footnote references Alma 16:10, which reads, “But behold, in one day it was left desolate; and the carcases were mangled by dogs and wild beasts of the wilderness.”  This is when this prophecy was fulfilled, during the eleventh year of the reign of the judges, the year after Alma and Amulek said that it would happen.  The prophecies that are given to us by the scriptures and the words of the prophets can happen tomorrow or many years from now, we don’t know when, which is why we need to listen and be prepared.

“Do ye not remember?”

One of my fondest memories is sitting with my Dad when I was little, after I took a shower, he would brush my hair and tell me how much he loved it.  Those moments stayed with me, and I just love it when he tells me how he loves my hair one way or another.  I have had very few personal moments with him and so this really sticks in my mind now.

The people of Ammonihah should have “remembered” that Lehi was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God and He led the people through the wilderness (v. 9), and that he told Lehi “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land? And again it is said that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord (v. 13).”.

They had forgotten the tradition of their fathers and the commandments of God (v. 8 ), and the many times their ancestors have been saved by God from their enemies even their brothers (v. 10).

The people of Ammonihah should remember fondly that the Lord has blessed their families many times in the past.  If they had remembered their blessings from the Lord, they would not be so quick to forget Him.  Because they have forgotten, they risk being cut off from the Lord’s presence.  I think that we need to remember our blessings as well.  I think that if more of my family realized the sacrifices that our family made for us to live here in the United States where we are free to worship how we want, and where we enjoy so many things that others are not blessed with, they would see that we have been blessed by the hand of God.  They would be able to see that because my ancestors wanted to be near the temple, the Lord made it possible for us to live here.  I hope that I do not forget these things and I am very grateful to be working on family history right now, so that I learn of them.  It gives me a stronger desire to do what is right, so that my family can continue to enjoy these blessings.

Are traditions good or bad?

Our family has mostly holiday traditions, but we have recently the tradition of going to lunch every Saturday.  We go to the cheapest place we know around here, because we can’t afford much, but the real tradition is setting aside that time to spend together, talking about whatever we want, and being a family.  This is a good tradition.  Good traditions are those that are good and lead us to do what is right.  Bad traditions would be those that take us away from God and the gospel.  According to verse 8 (see above), the people had forgotten the tradition of their fathers, which was to keep the commandments.  “For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land (v. 16).”  The Lamanites were ignorant in the gospel because of their traditions.  The Lord would show mercy because they had not been taught what was right and sinned, where the Nephites had been taught and still sinned.

“And at some period of time they will be brought to believe in his word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers; and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name (v. 17).”  Many of the Laminites would later hear the gospel, accept it and be saved.  Good family traditions that we should have include family scripture study, family home evening, going to church together on Sunday, and family prayer.  This is one of the reasons that I am so grateful to doing this personal scripture study.  I believe that this has caused me to feel the spirit more and be inspired to get my family on the right track when it comes to these traditions.  We have even gone so far as to have family council every week for a few months now, and although at times it is hard to get everyone on board, we have been blessed for doing them.  They are traditions in our home now, and we feel like we need them to have things go like they should.  I am grateful for good family traditions.

Why would the Lord allow the Lamanites to destroy the Nephites?

If my 5 year old and my 1 year old both did the same thing bad, like took a toy from someone, the punishment would not be the same.  This is because my 1 year old does not understand punishments yet.  She understands that she may want something and she is upset that she doesn’t get to have it, but her attention span is extremely short, so in a minute or two she won’t even remember that she wanted that toy.  My 5 year old has a very good memory and can understand that taking things from someone else is not the good choice.  Therefore she gets a punishment such as a time-out away from all the toys.  Even though we make the same mistakes as others in our lives, our punishments are not always the same, because we are different people.

“But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce danger of the Lord (v. 18 ).  For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God (v. 19);”  If it means that more good people would live and thrive in the gospel, the Lord will allow those who know what is right, but choose not to obey, to be destroyed.  In D&C 82:3 we read, “For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.”  This is why the Lord is so strict with the Nephites.  They know what is right and still choose to sin, while the Lamanites do not know what is right.

“Yea, after having been such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea, after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue, or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come (v. 20); Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation (v. 21); Yea, and after having been delivered of God out of the land of Jerusalem, by the hand of the Lord; having been saved from famine, and from sickness, and all manner of diseases of every kind; and they having waxed strong in battle, that they might not be destroyed; having been brought out of bondage time after time, and having been kept and preserved until now; and they have been prospered until they are rich in all manner of things (v. 22)—”  The Nephites have been truly blessed in times of righteousness.

“And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them (v. 23).”  This warning is the same for us today.  Those of us who have been given the gospel in our lives, will be held more accountable for what we know than those who do not know better.  This warning will be the same always as it was then.

What hope does Christ offer all of us?

In Ezekiel 33:11 we read, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”  The Lord is not happy about the punishments that come upon the wicked.  He just wants us all to live righteously.

“For behold, the promises of the Lord are extended to the Lamanites, but they are not unto you if ye transgress; for has not the Lord expressly promised and firmly decreed, that if ye will rebel against him that ye shall utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth (v. 24)?  And now for this cause, that ye may not be destroyed, the Lord has sent his angel to visit many of his people, declaring unto them that they must go forth and cry mightily unto this people, saying: Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand (v. 25);”  The Lord has sent Alma to call the people to repentance, so that they would be able to escape punishment.

“And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers (v. 26).  And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name (v. 27).”  His message is that they need to repent because the Lord will come soon to redeem the people who chose to repent and be baptized.  Alma taught them that the Lord is merciful and will redeem His people.

“Therefore, prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil (v. 28 ).”  This was a message of hope, that even though they had sinned, they would be forgiven and saved through Jesus Christ.

“And now, my beloved brethren, for ye are my brethren, and ye ought to be beloved, and ye ought to bring forth works which are meet for repentance, seeing that your hearts have been grossly hardened against the word of God, and seeing that ye are a lost and a fallen people (v. 30).”  Alma loved these people and wanted them to choose the right.

The people were not happy that he was calling them to repentance and they tried to put him in prison, but they could not.  Then Amulek also began to preach to the people (v. 31-34).

We have this same warning and promise of either salvation or damnation to our souls.  The Savior did come and offered all that He had, so that we could be redeemed.  We need to repent, be baptized, and live as righteously as we can.  We should continually use the atonement in our lives and if we do we will be blessed with more than we could possibly imagine.

And again, I, Alma, having been commanded of God that I should take Amulek and go forth and preach again unto this people, or the people who were in the city of aAmmonihah, it came to pass as I began to preach unto them, they began to contend with me, saying:
2 Who art thou? Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of aone man, although he should preach unto us that the earth should pass away?
3 Now they understood not the words which they spake; for they knew not that the earth should pass away.
4 And they said also: We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in aone day.
5 Now they knew not that God could do such marvelous aworks, for they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people.
6 And they said: aWho is God, that sendeth bno more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things?
7 And they stood forth to lay their hands on me; but behold, they did not. And I stood with boldness to declare unto them, yea, I did boldly testify unto them, saying:

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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