Posts Tagged 'Purity'

1 Kings Chapter 9

Solomon had been a good king for Israel so far to this point. He had reorganized his kingdom, wiping out those who would have brought strife from within. He had established peace with their neighboring nations. He had built the temple, as the Lord desired. And he was living as a righteous leader of the people, who trusted in God. He ruled with wisdom and desired to do right. This chapter continues the story of Solomon, after the building and dedication of the temple.

Temple

1 And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do,
2 That the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.
3 And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
5 Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
6 But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
8 And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?
9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.

The Lord appeared again to Solomon, as he did in a dream when He offered him wisdom. He told Solomon that he had heard his prayers and accepted the house built in His name. More specifically, in verse 3, the Lord told Solomon that he hallowed the temple. To hallow is to make holy, to consecrate, to purify or to sanctify. Without this act by the Lord, the temple could not have been a place where sacred rituals and promises could have been made by the children of Israel. It would have just been a beautiful building made by men. The Lord makes temples the places of holiness that they are, by the sanctifying power of his Holy Spirit.

The Lord promised Solomon that his kingdom would be established forever, if Solomon (and his people) would live righteously and keep the commandments. Likewise, if Solomon, or his descendants, turned from the Lord to other gods, Israel would be taken from the land of promise, and the temple would no longer be found acceptable to the Lord. Instead, Israel would be made an example to all the people, of consequences that happen when those who are blessed by the Lord, turn from Him to other gods.

10 And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king’s house,
11 (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
12 And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.
13 And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.
14 And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.

Solomon finished building the temple and the palace after twenty years. When he was done, he gave Hiram, king of Tyre, twenty cities in Galilee, for all the work he had done. Hiram did not find the cities acceptable, and they became known as the land of Cabul, which means something like dirty. He sent gold to Solomon. I don’t know why he sent gold, when he found the cities as undesirable as he did, but it seems he did not having anything against Solomon for this.

15 And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the Lord, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.
16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife.
17 And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether,
18 And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land,
19 And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
20 And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel,
21 Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.
22 But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
23 These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work.

Solomon had used a levy on those who were not Israelites, to build the temple, his palace, fortifications and the wall of Jerusalem, and to build and restore several cities, including Gezer. Gezer had previously been destroyed by fire when taken by Pharaoh of Egypt. Pharaoh had given the land to his daughter, the wife of Solomon, as a gift. The levy was not something new, especially to those who lived among them when they could have been destroyed by the Israelites. They had previously been spared and allowed to remain, so long as they gave service to the Israelites. Cities were built by Solomon, to store and maintain all that he had, such as chariots and horses. The men of Israel, became his army, his servants, and rulers of the land. He had 550 men, who ruled over the people who served him.

24 But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.

Pharaoh’s daughter went to live in the house that Solomon built for her. Then, Solomon began work on the fortifications.

25 And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord, and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the house.

Three times a year, Solomon went to the temple and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

26 And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.
27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.
28 And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.

Solomon built a navy of ships, with some of the men of Hiram as shipmen along with the servants of Solomon. They brought Solomon gold from Ophir.

I think the important part of this chapter, is that the Lord made a covenant with Solomon, as he had with his father, David. This promise is often repeated in the scriptures, which is that the righteous followers of the Lord, will be blessed in the land, and those who choose to harden their hearts and turn away, will be cursed and cast off. I believe this promise holds true for all disciples of Christ today. If we are truly striving to come unto Christ and live as He would have us live, he will bless our lands, our places of worship, and our lives individually. I have a great hope in these promises, as the time we live in seems to be more and more wicked. I know that if more people could see the value in coming unto Christ, and try to turn away from worldly things, this world would be a better place. I also know that the scriptures teach us things will continue to get harder and more wicked as we grow closer to the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I pray that I may continue to love the word of God and strive to follow the teachings of the Lord, so that I will not be cut off from Him, but receive the blessings offered by my own covenants with the Lord.

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Deuteronomy Chapter 22

In this chapter, Moses continued the sermon to the Israelites who were preparing to enter the promised land. He would now go over some of the details to the laws on how they were to treat one another and those things that belonged to each other. He began with instruction regarding the things that others may have lost.

1 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.
2 And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.
3 In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.

They were commanded that they should not take the things that belonged to one another and had been lost. They were to return lost items to their rightful owner. This applied to their animals, clothing, and any other property they found that did not belong to them. If the owner did not live near them, they were to keep the animal until that man came looking for it, and then return it without any difficulties arising. It has always been common decency to honestly return someone’s belongings when they were found.

This is a lesson I just had to talk to my daughter about on Sunday. We found something on our seat at church, and my daughter immediately said, “finders, keepers”. We talked about how it did not belong to us and we should not take it for ourselves just because we found it. It is interesting to me, how quickly the natural man in us could cause us to take things, if we do not already have a clear understanding of what it means to steal. This item was not one of any real lasting value, that I could see, but I took the opportunity to teach my daughter that it doesn’t matter what the lost thing may be. Even if it is never found by its owner, God knows the intents of our hearts and taking something that belongs to someone else, is not honest or in keeping with the covenants we make with God.

4 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.

They were to do the kind thing, when the animal of another fell down by the way, which was to help the animal. This would help to preserve the animal, so that it would be able to serve its purpose for whomever to which it belonged. There is a scripture referenced in the footnote, which I believe is so true. In Doctrine and Covenants we read the following:

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

When we notice some way that we can help another, we should be anxiously engaged in doing that thing. If we are unable to help, we should still have compassion in our hearts, and the desire to do all that we can do.

5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Men and women were not to wear one another’s clothing. Cross-dressing was not appropriate under the law of Moses.

6 If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:
7 But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.

If they found a bird’s nest with eggs or hatchlings, they were commanded that they should not take the mother along with the baby birds. They were to let the mother go, but could keep the babies for themselves. I am not sure what the purpose of this law was, other than perhaps the idea that taking both would stop the cycle of life for that mother bird, because she may have contributed to the creation of more birds in the future. Men would prolong their days, or live longer lives, if they followed this part of the law.

8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.

They were to build their homes with a battlement or a railing, on the roof, so that people would not fall off the roof and cause innocent blood to be spilt.

9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.

They were to grow pure crops of only one type of seed, so that the plants would remain pure.

10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

They were to use animals of the same kind, to plow their fields. I would think that this would make more sense anyway, because of the size of animals. I imagine that combining two different types of animals would make it unnecessarily difficult for the animals to do their work.

11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.

The Israelites were to wear clothing with the same material, and not to mix them at one time. Again, I do not understand why, other then possibly to stand as a reminder to remain pure.

12 Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.

They were to wear fringes on the edges of their clothing. These were a reminder of their covenants and the law.

13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

If there was a man who married and then decided he did not love her and spoke against her to others, claiming she was not a virgin when given to her, her parents could take the tokens of her purity before marriage, to the elders. The man was to be chastised by the elders, and he would pay the parents a fine of hundred shekels of silver for the shame he tried to bring to her and her family. Then, he was to be required to keep her as his wife for the remainder of his life. If she had not been a virgin or the parents could not prove his accusations to be false, she was to be stoned at the door of her father’s house, for the sin of pretending to be a virgin.

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Any person caught in an act of adultery, was to be put to death.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

A betrothed woman in Israel, was not to be any other man of her own choice. For the Israelites, a woman belonged to her future husband, just as much as she would when they eventually married. To be intimate with her, was like stealing her from her betrothed. If she was intimate with another before her marriage and did not say no to the man, then they were both to be put to death.

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

If a betrothed woman was forced into acts of intimacy (raped), he was guilty of death, but the woman was not because she had committed no sin.

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

If an unmarried and not yet betrothed woman, had her virginity taken, the man was to pay her father for her, marry her, and keep her all his days.

30 A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.

No man was to commit any adulterous acts with the wife of his father.

I feel like these laws, were laws that would cause the people to be a kinder people. A nation would have greater peace and happiness, if people cared more for the well-being of others. The spirit can only dwell among those who remain worthy of it. Acts of immorality, stealing, being inconsiderate of others, lying about another’s purity, and so on, would drive the spirit from their midst. We should think on these things as well. What types of acts cause us to be decent citizens and neighbors? What things could cause contention, fighting, unnecessary death, or the destruction of the body or spirit of another person? Do our acts welcome the spirit into our lives, or drive it away? I am grateful for the laws of God and even though they may seem to others to hold one back, I know that they bring happiness to all around, because they give greater freedoms and peace to everyone. I know that when we are kinder to those around us, we allow the spirit to dwell with us and influence our lives for good.

Leviticus Chapter 19

The book of Leviticus has been a book of instruction and commandment for the covenant people of the Lord. Since living among a nation, such as Egypt, many false traditions and customs would have been deeply set in the lifestyle of these people. It was necessary for the Lord to establish His law, which required commandments in all areas of life. These things make up the law of Moses, which the people were expected to live in order to receive the promised blessings of Abraham. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

God is holy. In the Bible Dictionary, under Holiness we read, “a holy person meant one who held a sacred office. The Israelites were a holy people because they stood in a special relationship to Jehovah. Under the guidance of the Prophets it was seen that what distinguished Jehovah from the gods of the heathen was His personal character. The word holy therefore came to refer to moral character.” The Israelites were commanded to be holy, because they were to stand apart from the world and live high moral standards, as God lives. Latter-day revelation commands us to do the same. Doctrine and Covenants 82:14 we read, “For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” Holiness is not perfection. This is a specific call to become more holy. Perfection would be holiness in wholeness. We are commanded to become a people of greater moral character. We are to be continually working on that special relationship we have with the Lord. That means we start each day with the desire and drive to return to the Lord and live as he would have us live. This is how we keep this commandment.

3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Often times the word fear means to reverence. In this case, a man was to treat his parents with reverence and respect at all times. The Israelites were to keep the sabbath and to remember that He was their God. The Lord was the reason they were who they were, and living how they were living. He is the reason we are as well. Many don’t realize this, but He the Lord of all. Those of us who have been taught this, are expected to keep it in our hearts and minds. The sabbath is His hallowed day and we should remember that as well.

4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.

There was to be no idolatry or worshipping of other gods. In 2 Nephi 9:37 we read, “Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” It makes Satan pleased, when he can draw our attention away from the true source of joy and happiness, which is Jesus Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 1:16 it says, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” There are many things which we make into idols in our lives and all of them will fail us and lead us to the destruction of our souls, if we allow them the opportunity. This is why the scriptures teach us to watch and pray always. The Lord was the one and only God of the Israelites, as he is the one true God today and the one whom we should worship.

5 And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will.
6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.
7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted.
8 Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

The Israelites were commanded to only give of peace offerings by their own will. Sacrifices that were unwillingly giving, were in vain. Moroni 7:6 says, “. . . for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.” If we willingly give our own sacrifices today, such as a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we show the Lord that we want to be obedient are devoted to Him. The Israelites were to partake of the peace offering on the same day or the following, but not on the third day. Anything that was left, was to be burnt. It was a sin to eat it after the second day and was no longer a sacred offering with the Lord. Any who went against this commandment was to be cut off, or excommunicated from the church.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to leave the outskirts and gleaning of their fields to those who were poor or a stranger. I am sure that if they followed this commandment, they would have enough for their own needs through the blessings of the Lord. This was a commandment, that teaches us it is not good to be selfish, but that it is good to help those in need. If we follow this same principle with our own belongings, the Lord will provide for our needs as well. We should be willing to give of those things that are on the outer portion of our own field, so that others in need may have more.

11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

They were commanded that they should not steal, cheat or lie to each other.

12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

No one was to take the name of the Lord in vain, either to swear by it or to profane or defile it in any way.

13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

They were not to commit any kind of fraud to one another, or to rob each other. When something was due to another, it was to be paid right away. It is not acceptable for any person to take advantage of another or to deny them of what they are owed.

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded kindness to those who were handicapped with deafness or blindness. They were to respect God. Respect to God, would cause one to extend that kindness and not to block the way of others. This goes for all those who are struggling when we are not, either physically or spiritually. When we know someone is in darkness or cannot hear what they need to hear, it is our responsibility to help them find their way and not to do things which would cause them to stumble or fall. This is a commandment for us to be a people of compassion.

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Judgment was to be righteous and just. I like that it points out both the poor and the mighty, because it can go both ways. There is no place for favoritism in judgment, but all are to be treated the same in this.

16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord.

They were commanded not to be the bearer of tales, or gossip. I think that when it says not to stand against the blood of their neighbor, that it means to do anything against, or in opposition to, them or their family.

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

A commandment was given, that they should not hate their brother. They were commanded to give wise rebuke, so that another would not suffer sin. I think this might be like constructive criticism, to help another to avoid mistakes of iniquity. The footnote at the beginning of this verse reads, “Though you may reprove a neighbor and not tolerate his sin, do not hate him.” If we look at it this way, it says that we should not hate those around us for their sins, but we do not need to tolerate their sin. We live in a world today, where people think that if we abhor a sin, we must hate the individual. This is not the case. I hate when my children lie to me. I think it is awful and I will not hesitate to reprove them when they do it. All the while, I love my children unconditionally. The commandment is for us to behave this way with all people. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 we read, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”. We cannot stand by and allow sin to destroy those around us without doing what we can to help when prompted to do so, but we must do these things with a heart full of love towards them.

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

The Israelites were commanded not to avenge wrongs or hold a grudge against another. They were commanded instead, to love their neighbor as themselves. The people of God have always been commanded to be a loving and charitable people. In 2 Nephi 26:30 we read, “. . . wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. . .” We too have been given this commandment, which we can find in Doctrine and Covenants 59:6 where it says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” and likewise in Doctrine and Covenants 88:125 which reads, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” If we love others as we love ourselves, I believe we will find it much easier to keep the other commandments of God.

19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

In all things, the Israelites were to keep the commandments, which were many by this point. The things of their lives were to be kept pure. Cattle and seeds were not to be mixed breeds. The clothes they wore were to be a single material, such as entirely cotton or entirely wool. This would insure that all things were in harmony with one another.

20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.
21 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering.
22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.

I think this means that a bonded woman who had relations with a man other than her betrothed, such as the man to whom she was bonded, was not to be put to death, rather because she was not a free woman, she was to be questioned. The footnote for being scourged says, “there shall be an investigation or inquisition.” The man of this act, was to bring a trespass offering to the tabernacle and have an atonement made for his sin. Then he was to be forgiven.

23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.
25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded, that when they first planted fruit trees, they were not to partake of its fruit for the first three years. In the forth year it was holy fruit, probably to be given to the purposes of the Lord. In the fifth year, it was to be that person’s fruit to have as an increase.

26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

There was to be no eating of blood. Enchantments and observing times, or any kind of sorcery, were forbidden. The footnote for rounding the corners reads, “by cutting the forelocks of the hair of the head.” They were not to make themselves bald or shave their beards. Scarring or marking their skin as a sign of mourning, was also forbidden. These things were probably common at that time. Some of these were rites of those who worshipped other gods or who wished to draw unnecessary attention to themselves, rather than worship the Lord.

29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

Prostitution of their daughters was forbidden. If they practice these acts, the land was sure to become full of it and other acts of sexual promiscuity and obscenities.

30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

The sabbath was to be kept holy and the sanctuary of the Lord was to be reverenced.

31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

They were forbidden to participate in wizardry, superstitions, or with those who claimed to speak with the dead. The footnote for this verse reads, “Do not turn to magic or necromancy.” It says to be defiled by them, which I think is a way of saying to be taken by their trickery. In my current study of history, it seems that many of the kings and other leaders had taken to having magicians and turning to those who said they could predict futures and speak with the dead, in order to make decisions for their people. This was sure to lead people to following after evil and eventual destruction.

32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The footnote for this verse says, They should “rise before the face of old age.” It was to be an honor, to have a head of gray hair. They were to honor their elders, especially their parents. Again, they were commanded to respect God.

33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to treat strangers with love as they would one of their own family, or a citizen of their land. They had been strangers once in Egypt, and when they were initially taken in, they were loved and treated kindly. The Israelites were not to oppress the stranger, the way that they were eventually oppressed in Egypt by the later rulers.

35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.

All judgment was to be righteous in all things, including measures. Because the Lord delivered them with righteous judgment, they were to obey Him and follow His laws.

It seems as though the Lord needed to give a reminder often that He was the one responsible for these commandments. The footnote in v. 14 for the phrase ‘I am the Lord’ says, “Note that this phrase occurs fifteen times like a seal of authority upon each of these statutes.” The things around us may have changed since these laws were given, but we are still expected to remember the Lord and remember the commandments he has given. I think that if we can remember the Lord and that the commandments are His and not from men, we will be able to follow them with exactness.

I think this phrase, in it’s repetition, also reminds us to turn to the Lord when we struggle with these things. When we have trouble honoring our parents, remember the Lord and He will help us. If we don’t know quite how to keep the sabbath, the Lord can help us. If we are having trouble putting other things before the Lord, he will forgive us and give us strength. If we find giving to the needy to be difficult, or don’t know where to begin, the Lord will guide us. If we find ourselves gossiping or using unkind words, we can turn to the Lord for courage to be better. If we struggle with anger, resentment, or thoughts of revenge, the Lord will be there to calm our troubled hearts and show us how to forgive. The Lord has not placed us here to fail. He knows that we will have hardships when it comes to keeping all His commandments. Can we imagine that God would ask us to do something, and then refuse to help us to accomplish that thing? If we do, we do not see God as the loving parent He is.

It is a blessing to have commandments and direction from the Lord, to help us stand apart from the worldliness around us. It is a blessing to know that He is there for us every step of the way. We can be a holy people because He promises that perfection is in our future if that is our desire.

Leviticus Chapter 11

In the book of Leviticus, the Lord continues to teach the children of Israel the law of Moses and all of its statutes and commandments. This instruction comes through the prophet, Moses, and his brother, Aaron, who was a high priest. The instruction continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

God created animals in all forms, but not all were made for man to eat. Within the law of Moses, they were given more strict commandments as to which animals were acceptable as food. Any that hooves, were cloven footed (two-toed), and chewed cud, were acceptable. This means animals such as the cow. Camels, coneys, and hares do not have the hoof, so therefore he was not acceptable. Pigs did not chew cud, so they were considered unclean and unacceptable as food. Because these animals were considered unclean, they were also not allowed to touch them when they were dead.

9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Fish were acceptable food for the Israelites. Any other seafood, meaning those without fins and scales, were not acceptable. It sounds to me, like they were able to touch them if they were dead.

13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
15 Every raven after his kind;
16 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
17 And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
21 Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
24 And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even.
25 And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
26 The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.
27 And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.
28 And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.

As far as birds go, those that were unclean are listed as the eagle, ossifrage (vulture), ospray, vulture (falcon), kite, raven, owl, night hawk, cuckow (seagull), hawk, little owl, cormorant, great owl, swan (barn owl), pelican, giereagle (vulture), stork, heron, lapwing (hoopoe bird), and the bat. (Labels in parenthesis are from the footnotes found in Deuteronomy 14.) All creeping fowls were unclean if they walked on all four legs. I’m not sure which animals this meant. Those that flew or crept, and had legs not used for walking were clean. Certain insects were okay, such as the locusts, beetles and grasshoppers, but other insects were creeping things and not acceptable. Those who touch the dead bodies of unclean animals, were considered unclean until the evening. Any dead body of an unclean animal, was not to be touched or that person was unclean. The animals that had paws, when dead, were unclean as well. Those that had to move the bodies, were to wash their clothes and were unclean until the evening.

29 These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,
30 And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
31 These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.
32 And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.
33 And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
34 Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean.
35 And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.
36 Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
37 And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
38 But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.
39 And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.
40 And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
41 And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.
42 Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.
43 Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.

Continuing on, weasels, mice, tortoises, ferrets, chameleons, lizards, snails and moles were not to be eaten. They were not to be touched when dead either because they were unclean. The Lord went further to say, that with these animals, if they died on anything, that was considered unclean as well. That thing was to be placed in water and was considered unclean until evening. An earthen vessel, was to be broken if it was touched by one of these when dead. The water in any container, or the food in the container, was to be considered unclean if any of these animals were dead in it. Any other tool that it fell on, was to be considered unclean and unusable, but if it died in larger amounts of water, the water was fine. If they died on seeds for farming, the seeds were clean, but if water touched it there, the water was unclean. If an animal they planned to eat, died on its own, it was unclean. If a man touched or ate it, he was to wash his clothes and be considered unclean until evening. Anything that creeps, without legs, I think, or slithered on its belly, or had more feet than the animals already mentioned, was considered unclean. They were not to do anything with them to make themselves unclean.

44 For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
45 For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

The Lord commanded the Israelites to be sanctified and holy, because God is holy. They were commanded not to defile themselves with any of these animals that were forbidden. The Lord gave them this strict commandment and instruction, to keep their bodies clean and pure.

I think of the details of this chapter, down to things touching the dead animals becoming unclean, and it causes me to reflect a bit. I can understand, from my point of view, why some of these animals were not acceptable to be eaten. Many of those that were unclean, were animals who ate other animals. Some unclean animals probably were not sanitary and would have made them sick. It’s not that all these animals were bad, though. I believe that it is okay for people to eat some of them today and still be considered as clean, because of the fulfillment of the law through Jesus Christ. And it seems a strange thing to have to break containers or not consume some of these animals which people eat regularly today. God has the power to make anything clean and holy. I think, more importantly, that this all had to do with how close they were willing to follow the law. When they ate or touched things that were unclean, they were not considered holy, or worthy to receive the promised blessings from the Lord, because they made a conscious choice to go against the law of God. They needed to learn obedience in all things, in order to have the presence of the Lord with them. Likewise, there are many things today which will make us unworthy of the presence of the Lord. The list of things in daily life now, which drive the spirit away, is so much more detailed and particular. The commandment to be holy is the same for us today. If we want to receive the blessings that come from our covenants, we have to live worthy of the spirit of God. Our worthiness is effected by the things we choose to come in contact with, whether it is partaking of something against the word of wisdom, listening to bad music, or looking at inappropriate material of any and all types. The uncleanliness that comes from these things, and so much more today, cannot be done away with simply by waiting until evening. Our worthiness only returns when we have gone through the repentance process and allowed the atonement of the Lord to act in our lives. We become holy through the Lord, Jesus Christ, and then we can receive the blessings of God.

Are We People of Virtue?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue . . .

My next question in this series is are we people of virtue? Not long ago, the motto for the Young Women of the church added a value, which I wish had been added while I was in my youth. The value was “virtue”. This is such an important quality for all people to have, especially women. What is virtue? It is being morally excellent, or having really high standards of morality. It’s being chaste and holy. Virtue is the “quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong” (online dictionary).

This value is one that is being diminished in the world. If I was asking this question of the world, I don’t think that I could truthfully answer in the affirmative. Virtue is seen as old fashioned and of little importance. Satan is doing all that he can to keep us from being a virtuous people. The gospel, however, has not changed with the times because it is unchanging. The gospel continues to teach us the value of virtue. In Proverbs 31:10 we read, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” I know this is true. Being virtuous, is choosing to focus our lives on things of eternal importance, rather than giving into our passions and the things which give us instant gratifications, especially those things of an intimate and physical nature.

I really liked a quote from the October 2011 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In speaking to the men of the church, Elaine S. Dalton, the Young Women General President, said the following:

You must be the guardians of virtue. “A priesthood holder is virtuous. Virtuous behavior implies that [you have] pure thoughts and clean actions. … Virtue is … an attribute of godliness.” It “is akin to holiness.” The Young Women values are Christlike attributes which include the value of virtue. We now call upon you to join with us in leading the world in a return to virtue. In order to do so, you “must practise virtue and holiness” by eliminating from your life anything that is evil and inconsistent with one who holds the holy priesthood of God. “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.” So be cautious about what you view in entertainment media or print. Your personal virtue will model for your daughters, and also your sons, what true strength and moral courage are. By being a guardian of virtue in your own life, in your home, and in the lives of your children, you are showing your wife and daughters what true love really is. Your personal purity will give you power. (See also Doctrine and Covenants 46:33; 121:45, 46)

A person can be virtuous whether they are married or not, male or female, young or old. The things that will claim our virtue are not particular to one group of people, but they can tempt every person. Being virtuous today, requires standing above the ways of the world. We can be virtuous if we keep our thoughts clean and avoid those things that easily de-sensitize us. These things are around us all the time in most places. A disciple of Christ must work to maintain his or her virtue. President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Whenever a priesthood holder departs from the path of virtue in any form or expression, he loses the Spirit and comes under Satan’s power. He then receives the wages of him whom he has chosen to serve.” We cannot serve both Christ and Satan, and therefore we must guard our virtue constantly if we want to live as a disciple of Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 we read, “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.” I love that this scripture uses the word “unceasingly”. It really is something that we need to remember all the time. The things that place our virtue in peril, are subtle and often times completely natural. They quite frequently seem completely innocent in the beginning. The key is to recognize where the dangers are and to make a strict commitment to avoid them. If there is a show on tv, which places our minds along the path of unclean thoughts, then we need to avoid that show. If we are married and we find that we have a desire to speak with a friend of the opposite sex more than our own spouse, then we need to avoid individual, private conversations with them. If being in certain places causes our minds to focus on those things that would make us unworthy, then we should avoid those places.

Being a person of virtue, means that we could, at any moment, say that we are worthy in our thoughts and actions, to go and be in the holy house of the Lord. In Psalms 24 we read the following:

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Our worthiness depends on us being virtuous. We need to recognize that it is just as important to keep our bodies and minds clean, as it is to keep the temple clean. In 1 Corinthians 3:17 we read, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Our bodies are the temples which God has given to us and we have the power and ability to keep them worthy, if we remain virtuous in thought and deed.

As a member of the Relief Society program, I am committed to keeping my life clean and virtuous. I know the importance of purging our lives of those things that draw us away from that which is sacred and of eternal significance. I know that when I live in a manner that keeps me worthy, I can have the spirit with me, to inspire me to do the work the Lord would have me do. I know that living a life of virtue is not the popular thing today and that the world would have me believe it is not necessary for happiness. I know that to have the eternal happiness that I am working towards, rather than the “happiness” that Satan and the world give, I need to live a life of virtue.

The Thirteenth Article of Faith

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We believe that we should be honest and true people. Our integrity is a precious thing. Being honest and true in all things, keeps our integrity intact. Proverbs 20:7 reads, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” When I think of honesty, I think of what it means to be dishonest. All things that are meant to mislead others or raise ourselves up in a manner of false perceptions or lies, which are those things that are dishonest, are things of Satan. Satan is the father of lies. Satan wants to shadow the truth with a little dishonesty here and there, and when we give in to these things, we are following Him. Honesty on the other hand, keeps us following Christ. Honesty is a very worthwhile attribute, which leads to stronger relationships, building up of trust, and so much more. Personally, one of the most obvious blessings of being an honest person, has been that people have found me trustworthy. I have been blessed with greater responsibilities in work, opportunities to have higher positions, chances to do work that others are not allowed to do, and a feeling of value that has given me a sense of strength and courage.

We believe in being chaste. The concept of chastity is fading away in the world we live in today. There are many who feel that being chaste is a thing of the past, and that we all need to change with the times. Chastity is purity. It is absolutely necessary for us to be clean if we hope to live with God again. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 we read, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” As temples, our bodies must be clean if we hope to have the spirit dwell in our hearts. Our cleanliness or purity will determine if we can dwell with God, because “no unclean thing can dwell with God” (1 Nephi 10:21). There is safety in this life and in the life to come, if we remain pure and chaste now.

Benevolence is charity and kindness. We believe in being a people of service and love, and continually striving to live as Jesus did. We believe in living life with our minds set on helping others in whatever way that we can. The Lord blesses each of us with material things, talents, time, and energy. The best way that we can show our gratitude to Him for all that we have, is to use it for good. The world today, tries to focus a lot of attention on what we can do for ourselves, but this is not how the Lord wants us to live. We need to be mindful of those in need. In giving, we can share the light of Christ with all those around us. In James 1:27 we read, “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 is truly how we show our love and devotion to our Father in Heaven.

We believe in being virtuous. Being virtuous is being morally clean. In the topical guide, the word virtuous references Psalms 24.

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

One who is virtuous is worthy to be in holy places of the Lord, because he has clean hands and a pure heart. We believe that we should not involve ourselves in those things which keep up unworthy, especially those related to our morality. We believe that the Lord has established that physical intimacy outside of marriage, is against his laws. Being a virtuous person will allow us amazing blessings, in particular those that can be received through attending the temple, which are the greatest blessings of all.

We believe in serving others. This is the type of life that the Savior patterned for us. We need to be continually engaged in doing good to others. This doesn’t mean that we should always be performing grand gestures of service, but mostly that we need to be constantly courteous and mindful of those around us. The good we do can be as simple as a smile or a hug. I think that it is extremely important, especially as we are living in a time where the world would have us take huge amounts of time to focus on ourselves, that we do our best to put the needs of others as a priority in our lives. We need to do kind deeds, teach whenever possible (especially the gospel truth), show sympathy and love, and pray for others. We believe that the reason for living this way, is that we will be eternally judged for our works in this life. If we live a life of good works, we will receive the greatest reward later. In Ecclesiastes 12:14 we read, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” I have experienced great blessing for the good works I have done in my life and I know that our lives will be greatly enriched through the service we give.

Paul taught the followers of Christ, the way to be saints. If we, as members, hope to live up to the name of our church, which claims that we are saints of these latter-days, than we need to be willing to be saints. In his letter to the Philippians he said, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Phillippians 4:8)” This is the admonition of Paul, of which we want to follow.

Faith is a Sunrise

We are believers or people of faith. There is a lot of what we believe that cannot physically be proven, but rather is felt to the center of our beings. Our beliefs are focused on the hope that God is there and will bless us for living righteously. In Jeremiah 17:7 we read, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Our beliefs are centered on an eternity and the possibility to live with God and our families again after this life. We are Christians, in the pure sense of the word. We believe that we can only receive salvation through Jesus Christ, who gave the eternal sacrifice for our sins and died so that we could live again. As Christians, we have been in a constant battle against the enemies of God. The early saints suffered all things in standing up for the gospel of Christ. We believe that true saints of God will continue to face extreme trials at the hands of those who do not believe. We will have to endure all the trials of our lives in order to receive the great reward that God has offered to us. We believe that if we are faithful in our endurance, God will be there to support and sustain us through all things we face. We need to remain steadfast, strong and firm in our beliefs, so that we can learn from our trials and have the ability to grow and progress. If we continually seek to find and follow those things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy, we will find happiness in this life and joy in the eternities. All things that are good, come from God. In Moroni 7:12 we read, “Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.” We believe that in order to come unto Christ and return to live with God again someday, we need to look for the good and avoid the evil at all costs.

I am a believer. I have hope in my salvation through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I want to live a life worthy of the rewards promised to all the children of God. I look forward with faith and hope in the blessings of eternal life. I am so grateful that I have the gospel in my life and that I have been blessed to believe in the truths found in the articles of faith.

D&C Section 131

This section contains more instructions given to the early saints, by the prophet, Joseph Smith. This was recorded in May of 1843.

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 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];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

In the plan of salvation, we learn of degrees of glory that we may receive after this life; that of the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial. In these verses we learn that there are three degrees of glory within the highest kingdom, the Celestial. The greatest glory that a person can gain, is only through celestial marriage in the house of the Lord. This means that the only way that we can become just as Heavenly Father is, we need to be married and sealed in the temple. The increase that is written of here, is the ability to have a spiritual children after this life, just as God has us as his spiritual children. Our ability to progress and obtain exaltation is dependent on our willingness to not only marry in the temple, but to keep the sacred covenants of marriage for the rest of our lives.

5 (May 17th, 1843.) The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.
6 It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.

These verses were initially hard for me to understand. I think that the idea is that some thought that the grace of God would save them whether they knew the truth or not. The prophet is telling the saints that we are saved through our knowledge of Christ and the higher laws. There are some who believe that we are just predestined to be saved without any work on our parts. To me this goes against the plan of God. If it was that easy our lives would have little meaning, other than to gain a body. I know that this is not the case. We will be saved through the atonement, because of our knowledge of Christ. In further study, verse 5 seems to reference making a “calling and election sure”. I cannot say that I fully understand the concept, but I think that it means that through the power of the spirit, we have more revealed to us and we act and make greater covenants to be sure in obtaining the blessings after this life. For those who do not have the opportunity to learn the greater knowledge in this life, the opportunity will come after this life. Then, with that knowledge, men will have the opportunity to be saved through the grace of God and the atonement of the Savior.

7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
8 We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.

I don’t know that I have ever heard the term “immaterial matter” before, so I guess I don’t need to worry about that, since these verses teach us that it does not exist. We learn however, that everything that was created as a spirit, is matter. I think that this is saying that everything that God created in spirit, takes up some physical space. Those things are so pure in form, that only pure eyes can witness it. Some day when we are purified through the atonement, we will be able to see all that has been spiritually created.

I am a person of faith and not science, so these things make perfect sense to me. I am sure that this may be harder to grasp for other, and so for that reason, I am more grateful that they are included in the scriptures. I love that we can gain a greater understanding of the progression and glories we can gain after this life, because it helps to place a greater value on the work that we do here in this life. I am so grateful to have been able to be sealed to my sweet husband in the temple and I hope to be able to endure this life well, so that I can have the blessings of exaltation and eternal life in the presence of God.

What Type of Example Should We Be?

This past weekend we went to our stake conference and were privileged to hear from Elder Nelson D. Cordova (of the Seventy). He extended a challenge for the adults in the stake, to read 1 Timothy 4 to discover what type of example we should be to the youth. I decided to take this challenge and focus on this instead of my usual study for today.

First Timothy is an epistle, or letter, from the apostle Paul, written to Timothy. In chapter four, Paul is explaining some attributes of apostasy in these the latter days. He talks about the temptations of the devil which can lead us away, such as lies, hypocrisy, and forbidding to marry. Paul goes on to tell Timothy what should be taught to the brethren. He tells him not to listen to the stories of the world, but look to the Lord and follow his example. He continues, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come (v. 8 ). This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation (v. 9). For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe (v. 10). These things command and teach (v. 11). Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (v. 12).”

The type of example we should be, is “an example of the believers”. Who are the believers? Looking at verse 10, the believers are those who trust in the living God. The footnote for the word believe in verse 10 references faith. Those who trust and have faith, are the believers. This trust of a living God, is I believe a trust in the Savior who has risen from the dead and continues to lead and guide his people through revelation and whisperings of the spirit. To be a believer, we must prove with our actions that we have this faith in the Lord. Our example should be “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

To be a believer, or an example of faith, in the Lord in our words, means that we will speak of how Christ blesses our lives. It means that we will bear testimony of what the Lord does for us and how we will be blessed after this life. It means that we will teach the gospel of Christ and of the life of Christ, with no doubt in our minds that the things we teach are true. It means that we will frequently express our gratitude for all that the Lord does for us.

To be a believer in our conversations, is taking our word one step further. It is one thing to teach a class in church, or to give a talk that expresses our trust and faith in the Lord. However, the word conversation indicates to me a much more personal discussion. In our conversations, we are more likely to say those things that are actively on our minds. We are more likely to express doubts and fears when we are speaking intimately with others. We cannot be a believer, if we sit with a friend and discuss things that show doubt and distrust in the Lord. In order for us to avoid speaking this way, our inner-most thoughts must reflect a knowledge of the Savior that can only happen through study and personal revelation. When we are casually talking one with another, we should only say things that show we believe in the Lord.

This verse says that we need to be an example of the believers in charity. Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is the service that we give which promotes a love for others that is a Christ-like love. During Christ’s ministry, he focused on serving others and never himself. When we openly serve others and put aside selfishness, we are an example in His charity. When others see our willingness to serve, they will also see the Savior’s love reflected within us. I don’t think there is a better way to show another that we believe in the Lord, than for us to live just as He lived.

Paul says that we need to be examples of the believers in spirit. I had to think a bit harder about what specifically this means. As I reflected on this, I thought of the nature of our spirits. Our spirits are eternal. Once we have had an impression placed upon our spirits, it cannot be denied because we know it to be an eternal truth. When we study and learn of the Lord and are blessed with confirmation from the spirit, we begin to have a knowledge of Him. Everything we do at that point should reflect this knowledge. A believer in spirit will glow with the fire of the holy ghost. A believer in spirit will have an inner joy that others will see and want to feel for themselves.

Next he says that we need be examples of the believers in faith. As we learn of the gospel, each principle must eventually become something that we know. Before we can have a knowledge of anything in this life, we must act on faith. Faith is living each principle even though we cannot see literal evidence of it. For example, the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that one must pray to God to draw closer to Him and to receive revelations from Him. I cannot see God, so I must have faith that I am actually praying to Him. I cannot see the basket of blessings that God is waiting to pour out upon me, so I must have faith that the blessing will come. I practice this faith, by saying my first prayer. If I am sincere, I will feel the spirit’s influence and receive answers and blessings. Then as I show my faith by praying more often and more sincerely, I will come to know the blessings of prayer and that God is truly listening and answering. Our acts of faith, will be an example to others that we believe.

Finally, he says that we need to be examples of the believers in purity. To be pure is to be clean and without the stain of sin. The footnote for this word references chastity and virtue. Our purity, chastity and virtue are most sacred above all things. Our goal in this life should be to someday return to live with God again. The only way that we can do this, is if our life is pure. That is an absolute principle of the gospel. The scriptures say that no unclean thing can dwell with God. In 1 Nephi 10:21 we read, “Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” The state of our souls for eternity depends on our purity in this life. When we are believers in purity, we will live in a way where we will do all that we can to avoid anything that will make us unclean. Even the best of us, is not without sin. The Savior alone, is the one person who has ever lived without sin. This means that without the blessings of the atonement we cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, in order to be a believe in purity, we must also make use of the atonement through repentance. This may not be something that others will see as an example because it is a very personal thing. However, when we teach and bear testimony of the blessings of repentance and the saving power of the atonement in our lives, we will be an example to others.

All people who wish to be true disciples of the Lord, must be willing to make any changes in their life that are necessary to be an example of the believers. Chapter 4 ends with Paul writing, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” I know that this is truth. I know that if we live the doctrines of the gospel, we will be saved. I also know that as we live as examples of the believers, we will influence others for good and help them to gain their salvation also.


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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