Posts Tagged 'Remembrance'

2 Chronicles Chapter 20

The people of Judah, were brought back to a remembrance of the Lord, under the righteous leadership of Jehoshaphat. He had led them in making covenants, removing certain temptations from among them, and establishing local leaders to teach them and help them to remain faithful. This chapter begins as follows:

1 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi.
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Other nations gathered together against Judah, including the Moabites and Ammonites. Jehoshaphat learned of the coming attack and sought the guidance of the Lord. He proclaimed a fast throughout all the land of Judah. They gathered together to fast and pray for help from God.

5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,
6 And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

Jehoshaphat prayed to the Lord, in the temple. In faith, he remembered the promise of the Lord, that if they were to pray to him in the temple, their prayers would be heard. Even his father, Asa, had received this promised when the Lord had said, “The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). Jehoshaphat prayed of their situation, seeking guidance and deliverance from their enemies.

14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation;
15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.
18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.
19 And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high.

A levite of Asaph (the singer) in the congregation, named Jahaziel, was touched by the spirit and began to prophesy to the people. The word of the Lord was that they were not to fear this enemy that was coming against them, because this was God’s fight and not their own. When they went down against them the next day, they would be found at the end of the brook (or valley) just outside of Jeruel. There, the men of Judah were to stop, be still and see the work of the Lord in their behalf. He promised that the Lord would be with them. They would be delivered from this enemy. With this promise, Jehoshaphat and the congregation of Judah, fell down and worshipped the Lord. The levites and musicians stood and praised God.

20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.

The army of Judah went forward in faith. Jehoshaphat rallied the troops with a call to believe in the Lord and his prophets. He also appointed singers to go before the army, praising the Lord and his mercy. They showed their faith not only by moving the army towards the fight, but by praising the Lord for the deliverance that was yet to occur. Do saints today have the faith in God to thank him and praise him before they see the answer to their prayers, as if the resolution has already happened? If nothing else, this helped them have the perspective to continue forward when the battle they were facing was more than they could handle on their own.

22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
25 And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

As they traveled in faith and with much singing and praise, the Lord caused that the armies of their enemies would be amubushed. The Ammonites and Moabites fought against those of mount Seir, and then they all fought among themselves and destroyed one another. When Judah got to the place they were to stand and be still, they saw that their enemies were all dead. They had faith the Lord would help them, but they had not been told what the help of the Lord would look like. Some of them, if not all, must have looked in astonishment at the scene before them. As they were the only ones left standing, Jehoshaphat’s army claimed a great amount of riches in the spoil.

26 And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.
27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies.
28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the Lord.
29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel.
30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.

After they collected the spoils of war, they gathered together and blessed the Lord. They returned to Jerusalem joyfully, with Jehoshaphat leading them. They praised the Lord with music at the temple. As a result of this battle, other nations feared the Lord was with Judah and had fought for them, so there was peace for Judah and Jehoshaphat.

31 And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.
32 And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord.
33 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.

Jehoshaphat was a righteous king of Judah for 25 years. However, the people were not a perfect people, and there were still some places of idolatrous temptation in the Land.

35 And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
36 And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.
37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.

At a later time, an alliance was made with Ahaziah, the wicked king of Israel, in which they made ships that were to travel to Tarshish. Eliezer, the prophet, prophesied to Jehoshaphat. Due to his alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord would go against their plans with the ships. As a result, the ships were broken by the Lord and unable to travel to Tarshish as they had planned.

The Lord needed the people of Judah to be devoted to him. They were his people because they had chosen to make covenants with him. He had guided and protected them according to their faith in him. They were not to make alliances with wicked nations, because they would likely succumb to the temptations of those nations. Rather, they were to rely wholly upon the Lord. If they did this, they would remember the Lord with humility and gratitude, clinging to their covenants and remaining faithful to him. Likewise, we need to remember to rely on the Lord and not on man. We need to fast and pray. We need to gather to the temple and pray there as well. God will hear our prayers. If we ask in faith, he will answer our prayers just as he answered the prayers of those in Judah at the time of this impending battle.

2 Chronicles Chapter 19

The kingdoms of Judah and Israel had an alliance with each other during the reign of Jehoshaphat and Ahab. Because of this alliance, Jehoshaphat had agreed to go with Ahab against his enemies. This he did even after the prophet in Israel had prophesied their failure and the death of Ahab. The fight went just as was prophesied and, while Jehoshaphat got away, Ahab did fail and die in the battle. This chapter begins:

1 And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.
2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.
3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
4 And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beer-sheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers.

Jehoshaphat returned to Judah and was met by Jehu, the son Hanani, who was a seer and a prophet. He asked if the king should have helped Ahab and his people, who were a wicked and idolatrous people. Jehu told him the wrath of the Lord was upon him. However, the Lord saw the good in Jehoshaphat, because he had done good for Judah by removing the idolatrous places of worship in the land and had himself, sought the Lord. So, Jehoshaphat went through all the land, working to bring them back to a remembrance of the Lord.

5 And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city,
6 And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.
7 Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.

He established judges throughout the cities of Judah, commanding them to watch themselves. Telling them that their service as judges was not for men, but for the Lord who was with them in judgment. They were told not to do wrong, not to show any favoritism or take any bribes or gifts for their service. This was after the pattern of the Lord, “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

8 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.
9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.
10 And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass.
11 And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.

He also caused that the Levites, priests, and patriarchs in Jerusalem, were set as judges for the Lord, for the times when a group of higher judges was needed by the people throughout Judah. He commanded them to do their service faithfully and with a perfect heart. Whomever came to them to judge in any matter, was to be warned against trespassing against the Lord. Strictness was expected with this command, so that the judges would remain in good standing with the Lord. Amariah, the chief priest, was placed in charge of these judges in all spiritual matters. Zebadiah, of the house of Judah, was placed in charge of the judges in all the king’s matters, with the Levites as officers to them both.

Jehoshaphat instructed them to have courage in their service and they would be with those who were good or that the Lord would accept the good they did. It takes courage to consistently stand for the right, especially when people in our fallen world will do whatever they can to have things go their way. The position of a judge, is a powerful position, susceptible to great temptations of the world. Jehoshaphat knew that there was a great importance for these men to courageously be righteous in their service, so that all would be blessed by the Lord for it.

It seems that the leaders of the Israelites, who were rebuked by God, quite often would rebel against him for their own failings. However, Jehoshaphat is a great example of the right way to take chastisement from the Lord. If we are doing something that is wrong, and have a reminder to repent from the Lord (whether that be through the spirit, our consequences, our church leaders, or other individuals around us), we should respond with a humble desire to correct our actions and strive to do better from that time forward. Jehoshaphat sought from that time, not only to remind the people of their covenants and duty to remember God, but to put in place the people necessary to help them in their own nearby cities. This is a pattern of the Lord’s church throughout history. For the Israelites, this was established by Moses as we read in Exodus 18:21-22. “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.”. In the times of the Savior, he himself led the church and placed just men throughout the land to help his followers stay true to the gospel he taught. In Ephesians 4:11-12 this pattern was taught. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. Likewise, in modern times, there are prophets and apostles called to lead the whole church of Christ, with many individuals called to serve throughout the world. This is so that the people of the Lord will have leaders to guide them and teach them, which are local and able to serve them one on one. This stands as a reminder that the Lord cares about us personally. He desires for his church to be led in righteousness, and he knows that individuals need to be led, taught, and even judged individually and personally, in order to stay on the path to God. The church of Christ is not a unit that will receive salvation as a whole, but it is a group of individual saints, striving as individuals and families, to live righteously, make and keep covenants, and attain salvation through Christ. The organization of the church is there to help us stay on the path to achieve this. We can see by his actions, that Jehoshaphat knew this in his day, and that he had a desire for the welfare and salvation of his soul, as well as the souls of his people.

2 Chronicles Chapter 16

In his efforts to be a more righteous king for Judah, Asa had destroyed the idols of his kingdom. He had led the people in turning back to the Lord, and making covenants with God. He had shown his own dedication and commitment, by following the covenants strictly himself. His reign continues with the following:

1 In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent to Ben-hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
3 There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
4 And Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
5 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.

Baasha was the king of Israel during this part of the reign of Asa. Asa had been king for 36 years, when Baasha went against Judah by building Ramah. Ramah was a town built in the land of Benjamin, on the border of Ephraim. His plan was to prevent his people from traveling to Judah, to the kingdom of Asa. Asa appealed to Beh-hadad, the king of Syria at Damascus, with a tribute of gold and silver from the temple treasury as well as his treasury, in order to get his help. Asa wanted Ben-hadad to go against Israel, so that Baasha would leave Judah alone. Ben-hadad listened to Asa and fought against Israel. The Syrian army attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and parts of Naptali. Baasha abandoned building Ramah, leaving Asa and his people to break down the stones and wood of it. He used them to build Geba and Mizpah. (see also Kings 15)

7 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.
8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand.
9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.

A seer named Hanani went to Asa with a message. Asa had turned to the Syrians for help, instead of relying on the Lord. The Lord had helped him and his people in the past, even though they were a smaller army. Asa was promised continual wars from that time forward, for his foolish choice and not continuing faithful to the Lord. Asa was not pleased with this message, and as a result, he imprisoned Hanani. Furthermore, he began to oppress some of his people.

11 And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.
13 And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
14 And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries’ art: and they made a very great burning for him.

Three years after the building and deserting of the town of Ramah by Baasha, Asa contracted a disease in his feet. He suffered greatly from it, but he did not turn to the Lord for help, he went only to his physicians. He lived only a few years longer, and during the forty-first year of his reign over Judah, he died and was buried in the city of David.

We are a fallen people in a fallen world, and as such we are prone to quickly forgetting God. Faith in the Lord is a continually changing aspect of life. It is not something that we can make strong and have it remain that way without anything on our part. For most of us, it waxes and wanes depending on what we are willing to give it during different experiences of mortality. We need to be constantly working on our faith in order to keep it active in our lives. This is why the scriptures teach us to be continuing, firm and steadfast in our faith. It is our choices and actions that will keep our faith continuing in strength, or allow it to become weak. If we forget our faith, by forgetting the Lord, our faith will shrink with the lack of attention. Asa allowed himself to forget. When he turned to other sources for help, he was choosing them for their wisdom and strength, over the Lord for his power to deliver his people. His faith weakened and while he was successful in the battle, he lost some of the power of God in his life and fell victim to disease and death, both physically and spiritually.

1 Chronicles Chapter 9

When the children of Israel entered the promised land under the direction of Joshua, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites. (One of the ancient names of the land was Jebus and those who lived there were Jebusites.) Because it was a stronghold in the land, they did not completely conquer it until David took it for his capital. Up to that that time, it remained an unclaimed area between Judah and Benjamin, though not without attempts from the Israelites to capture it. It became more than a stronghold and capital, when Solomon was instructed to build the temple there. The kings of Israel lived in Jerusalem until the kingdom divided, at which point it remained the capital of Judah. It was the last part of Israel that held strong in the days when the children of Israel were carried away captive into Babylon. This chapter includes some of those who lived in Jerusalem.

1 So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression.
2 Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims.
3 And in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim, and Manasseh;
4 Uthai the son of Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, of the children of Pharez the son of Judah.
5 And of the Shilonites; Asaiah the firstborn, and his sons.
6 And of the sons of Zerah; Jeuel, and their brethren, six hundred and ninety.
7 And of the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hasenuah,
8 And Ibneiah the son of Jeroham, and Elah the son of Uzzi, the son of Michri, and Meshullam the son of Shephathiah, the son of Reuel, the son of Ibnijah;
9 And their brethren, according to their generations, nine hundred and fifty and six. All these men were chief of the fathers in the house of their fathers.

Genealogy records of the Israelites were kept in the books of the kings of Israel and Judah. Those who lived in the lands of Israel were the Israelites, the priests and Levites, and the Nethinims. The Nethinims were servants of the temple. In Jerusalem, there were those from different tribes. There were men from Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh. The list begins with a line of Judah, through his son Pharez, who was the father of Bani, who was the father of Imri, who was the father of Omri, who was the father of Ammihud. The son of Ammihud was Uthai, who lived in Jerusalem. Also in Jerusalem, was Asaiah if the Shilonites, and his family. Jeuel and 690 of his family, the sons of Zerah, lived there. From the tribe of Benjamin, Sallu, who was the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, theson of Hasenuah; Ibneiah, who was the son of Jeroham; Elah, who was the son of Uzzi, who was the son of Michri; and Meshullam, who was the son of Shephathiah, who was the son of Reuel, who was the son of Ibnijah. The men were 956 in number and were the leaders in their tribes.

10 And of the priests; Jedaiah, and Jehoiarib, and Jachin,
11 And Azariah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the ruler of the house of God;
12 And Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasiai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer;
13 And their brethren, heads of the house of their fathers, a thousand and seven hundred and threescore; very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.

The priests were Jedaiah, Jehoiarib (Joiarib), Jachin, and Azariah, who was the son of Hilkiah, who was the son of Meshullam, who was the son of Zadok, who was the son of Meraioth, who was the son of Ahitub, the leader in the temple. Also, Adaiah who was of the line of Jeroham, Pashur, Malchijah (Malchiah), Maasiai, Adiel, Jahzerah, Meshullam, Meshillemith (Meshillemoth), and Immer. Along with these priests were their families and leaders of their tribe, including 1,760 men, who were capable of serving in the temple.

14 And of the Levites; Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari;
15 And Bakbakkar, Heresh, and Galal, and Mattaniah the son of Micah, the son of Zichri, the son of Asaph;
16 And Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun, and Berechiah the son of Asa, the son of Elkanah, that dwelt in the villages of the Netophathites.

Among the Levites, were Shemaiah, who was the son of Hasshub (Hashub), who was the son of Azrikam, who was the son of Hashabiah, the son of Merari; Bakbakkar; Heresh; Galal; Mattaniah, who was the son of Micah, who was the son of Zichri (Zabdi), who was the son of Asaph; and Obadiah, who was the son of Shemaiah (Shammua), the son of Galal, who was the son of Jeduthun, who was the son of Berechiah, who was the son of Asa, who was the son of Elkanah. These were those who lived in the villages of the Netophathites (possibly those who lived in Neophah, a town in Judah).

17 And the porters were, Shallum, and Akkub, and Talmon, and Ahiman, and their brethren: Shallum was the chief;
18 Who hitherto waited in the king’s gate eastward: they were porters in the companies of the children of Levi.
19 And Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, of the house of his father, the Korahites, were over the work of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle: and their fathers, being over the host of the Lord, were keepers of the entry.
20 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was the ruler over them in time past, and the Lord was with him.

One of the responsibilites of the Levites, was to be porters (a keeper of the port, or a gate keeper). This job was held by Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their families. Shallum was the leader. These men served in the king’s gate to the east, which was the entraced used by the king. A man named Shallum (Meshelemiah, Shelemiah), who was the son of Kore, who was of the line of Ebiasaph and Korah; and his family of the Korahites (Korhites), were the leaders of those who served and keepers of the tabernacle gates. Their fathers were keepers of the entry, as they were responsible for the host of the Lord when they were encamped near the tabernacle. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar (son of Aaron, and high priest in his day), had been their leader and was guided by the Lord (Phinehas was the high priest, and the grandson of Aaron).

21 And Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was porter of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
22 All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office.
23 So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards.
24 In four quarters were the porters, toward the east, west, north, and south.
25 And their brethren, which were in their villages, were to come after seven days from time to time with them.
26 For these Levites, the four chief porters, were in their set office, and were over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God.

Zechariah, who was the son of Meshelemiah, was the porter of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. He, along with the other porters who had been chosen to watch the gates, were 212 in number. David and Samuel, the seer, ordained them in their priesthood offices, and each were also counted in the genealogies of their villages. Their families held the offices which watched over the gates of the temple in four sections. These sections were the directional quarters of the house of the tabernacle, including east, west, north, and south. Each of their brethren from their villages, went to serve there for seven days on rotation. There were four chief porters, called to their office over the chambers and treasuries of the temple.

27 And they lodged round about the house of God, because the charge was upon them, and the opening thereof every morning pertained to them.
28 And certain of them had the charge of the ministering vessels, that they should bring them in and out by tale.
29 Some of them also were appointed to oversee the vessels, and all the instruments of the sanctuary, and the fine flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the frankincense, and the spices.
30 And some of the sons of the priests made the ointment of the spices.
31 And Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the set office over the things that were made in the pans.
32 And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath.
33 And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.
34 These chief fathers of the Levites were chief throughout their generations; these dwelt at Jerusalem.

When serving, the Levites lived in the area around the temple, so that they could open the temple each morning. Some of them were in charge of the ministering vessels that were taken in and out in total. Some were placed in charge of the vessels, instruments of the sanctuary, flour, wine, oil, frankincense and spices. Some were given the responsibility to make the ointment of spices. Mattithiah, who was the firstborn son of Shallum (Meshelemiah or Shelemiah) the Korahite, was placed in charge of those things made in the pans. Men of the Kohathites were responsible for the preparation of the shewbread for the sabbath. There were also singers (those responsible for the service of song or the music of the Lord’s house), chief of the patriarchs, who stayed in the chambers and worked day and night. The long-time leaders of the Levites, lived in Jerusalem.

The duties of those responsible for the house of the Lord, were of great value to the children of Israel. Without those who served each day, the people would not have been able to continue with offerings and sacrifices that were acceptable to the Lord. They may not have done anything else of note for the children of Israel, but this was a service that is worthy of remembering.

35 And in Gibeon dwelt the father of Gibeon, Jehiel, whose wife’s name was Maachah:
36 And his firstborn son Abdon, then Zur, and Kish, and Baal, and Ner, and Nadab,
37 And Gedor, and Ahio, and Zechariah, and Mikloth.
38 And Mikloth begat Shimeam. And they also dwelt with their brethren at Jerusalem, over against their brethren.
39 And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchi-shua, and Abinadab, and Esh-baal.
40 And the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal: and Merib-baal begat Micah.
41 And the sons of Micah were, Pithon, and Melech, and Tahrea, and Ahaz.
42 And Ahaz begat Jarah; and Jarah begat Alemeth, and Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begat Moza;
43 And Moza begat Binea; and Rephaiah his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son.
44 And Azel had six sons, whose names are these, Azrikam, Bocheru, and Ishmael, and Sheariah, and Obadiah, and Hanan: these were the sons of Azel.

Just north of Jerusalem, was a city named Gibeon. The father of Gibeon was Jehiel. His wife was Maachah, and their sons were Abdon, Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zechariah, and Mikloth. Mikloth was the father of Shimeam. They lived in Jerusalem next to their brethren. Ner was the father of Kish, who was the father of Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul was the father of Jonathan (the dear friend of David), Malchi-shua, Abinadab, and Esh-baal. Jonathan was the father of Merib-baal, who was the father of Micah. Micah was the father of Pithon, Melech, Tahrea, and Ahaz. Ahaz was the father of Jarah, who was the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth and Zimri. Zimri was the father of Moza, who was the father of Binea, Rephaiah, Eleasah, and Azel. Azel was the father of six sons named Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah and Hanan. This is the family of Saul.

It amazes me that we can have records of families from ancient times. The idea that some of these records were included as part of the book of kings, and that most of our scriptures include some portion of a genealogy, shows that a remembrance of those who have come before us has been important throughout the ages. I can only barely imagine what the full record of names would look like for the complete history of the earth, but I believe that record will exist and every person will be remembered for the role they played in this life. I know that keeping a record of our genealogies or doing our family history for this purpose is important, and on of the reasons is for remembering and having a love and gratitude for those who lived before us and gave us the life we have.

2 Kings Chapter 17

Israel had a king named Pekah, who began his rule while Azariah was king in Judah. Shortly after Pekah became king, Jotham began to rule in Judah. This lasted well over a decade, when Jotham died and Ahaz became king of Judah. Then, a man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah, killed him, and became the king of Israel. This chapter begins at this point in the history of Israel.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahaz had ruled in Judah for twelve years, when Hoshea became king of Israel. He only ruled for nine years. He was not a righteous leaders, but ruled in ways that went against the ways of the Lord. However, he was not as bad as some who had been kings before him.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

The Assyrians came against Israel, led by Shalmaneser. Hoshea allowed Israel to become servants to the Assyrians, and paid tribute to their king. Shalmaneser found out that Hoshea had sent messengers to Egypt, but had not brought tribute to him in Assyria as he had done each year, so Shalmaneser had Hoshea captured and put in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

Shalmaneser went throughout Israel and besieged the capital of Samaria for three years. Then, he captured it and carried the people of Samaria into Assyria, to places like Halah, Habor and the cities of the Medes.

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

The Israelites had sinned against God, even though He had saved them from the Egyptians. They chose to fear other gods, such as Baal, before they feared the Lord, becoming like those other nations who had been in the promised land before they lived there. The nations that their ancestors had worked hard to destroy from out of the land, under the direction of God. The Israelite people had done much wickedness in secret, and had built temples in each city, where they made sacrifices and offerings to their made-up gods. They built idols to worship and placed them all through the land. The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to do these wicked, idolatrous things.

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.
16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

Many prophets and seers were raised in Israel, to testify the word of the Lord against them and against Judah. The Isarelites were called to repent and return to following the commandments of God. The people would not hearken to the prophets, and they rejected them. They would not believe their words, and many generations in turn, refused to turn away from wickedness. They became a vain people, following after the traditions of the other nations around them. The Israelites made idols to worship Baal, including two calves in one high place. They had done this, so that it was convenient for people, who were far away from the temple, to worship often. There they built a grove or a place to worship where many acts of evil were committed in the name of Baal. This included the act of sacrificing their own children. They also used divination and enchantments. All these things caused the Lord to be provoked to anger against them. Because of these things, the Lord had them removed from the land of promise, leaving only the tribe of Judah. This was the main part of the scattering of the ten tribes of Israel.

19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

Ahaz ruled in great wickedness, and when he died, his son, Hezekiah, became ruler of Judah. The people of Judah were then a wicked people, who created their own laws to live by. As a result, the Lord rejected them along with Israel. Over the course of time, and because they had allowed the influence of evil to cause them to walk in sin, the Israelite nation was left to the hands of enemy nations, and God allowed them, specifically the ten tribes, to be carried captive into Assyria.

24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.
27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

The Assyrian king placed men from several foreign cities, in Samaria and the land of the Isarelites. As a side note, I have studied some of the practices of ancient times and one of them was to take a conquered people and remove them from their own land to an unknown place. When the kings did this, some believed it would cause the people to become more loyal to them, since they would not have any comforts or anything familiar to fall back on. They would need to rely on the government to know what to do in their new life. This act would also lower the chances for rebellion, because a conquered people were not left to gather together and rise up against an unwanted leader. So, the Assyrian king removed the Israelites from their familiar lands and from the common society and they became servants of a new land and king. Then, the king took others from different places and put them together in Samaria, creating a new society of people who were more likely to be loyal to him and easier to manage or control.

The foreigners were not a god-fearing people, and were not acceptable to the Lord, so He sent lions into the land and some of the men were killed. The people told the king that those who were there did not know the ways of the God of the land, so they were being killed by lions. The king commanded that an Israelite priest be returned to Israel, or Samaria, to live there and teach the people about the Lord. They did as he commanded, and the priest lived in Beth-el.

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;
35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Nevertheless, these people were from many nations who had their own gods, so they used the high places to worship their gods. Each group of people followed after their own traditions of worship, even including human sacrifices. They learned to fear the Lord as well, but they did not worship Him alone, much like the people who had already been carried away from the land. Their manner of worship and their lifestyles became a mixture of all types and continued from generation to generation in a land where the Lord had made covenants with the people of Israel. They lived according to their own interpretations of what God wanted, and therefore were never fully committed to following the Lord. The Lord has given men strict commandments in order to provide safety and assurance of greater blessings to come. When we pick and choose which commandments we will keep, or begin to put our own interpretations into those commandments, we forfeit that safety and assurance in favor of our own wisdom and the consequences will follow.

Sadly, the people of the Lord had forgotten Him and turned to false gods and unholy acts in the name of those gods. Nonetheless, the Lord had not forgotten them and had given them chances time and time again, to repent and return to righteousness. They did not, and so the Lord allowed them to deal with the consequences of their choices. The ten tribes of Israel were scattered among foreign lands and another people were placed in the land that had been promised to the faithful people of the Lord. We are also given the opportunity to be the Lord’s people. Those who are faithful today, can receive promises of God by making covenants, just as the Israelites had done. If we have made covenants with God, we have a need to remember Him. We will face the same challenges of the temptation towards idolatry in our own lives, though we may not recognize the things we choose as gods. Anytime we willfully turn from the Lord in an effort to worship something else, or raise something else to a place above the Lord, we are in fact doing what the Israelites did in ancient times. The adversary knows this and is working hard to draw us away with all types of distractions and temptations. If we can remember the Lord, especially when faced with temptation, we will be blessed beyond anything we can imagine. If we make choices to turn from the Lord, without repentance, we will deal with the consequences of our choices, and be scattered. To keep the Lord in our remembrance, the modern prophets and apostles have taught us that we need to pray, study the scriptures, repent, attend church and partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants with the Lord, and serve those in need. I am so grateful for the blessings of remembrance. I know that if we have a remembrance of the Lord and the things that He has done for us, especially that of the Atonement, we will not be put in bondage and scattered like the Israelites, but will have freedom and the blessings of eternity.

2 Kings Chapter 13

Jehu ruled in Israel during the reign of Joash in Judah. When Jehu died, his son, Jehoahaz, began to rule in Israel. Each of these ruled the nation, while Elisha was the prophet. Jehu had not ruled in the same wickedness of the kings before him, but he still worshipped other gods and did not follow after the ways of the Lord. This chapter continues the story of those who ruled in Israel in the days of Elisha.

1 In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

When Joash had ruled for twenty-three years, Jehoahaz became king of Israel. He was king for seventeen years, and ruled in wickedness. He continued to lead the people with idolatry, as the kings before him.

3 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days.
4 And Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.
5 (And the Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.
6 Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)
7 Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.

As promised, the Israelites were not protected in their wickedness, and the Lord allowed for them to fall into the hands of the Syrians under both Hazael and Ben-hadad, the kings. Then, when they were being destroyed by their enemies, Jehoahaz began to see what was happening to his people, and turned to the Lord and hearkened to Him. Israel was eventually delivered from the Syrians and returned to their normal lives, which included continuing to live with idolatry and the like. But at this time the Israelites were left with very little in order to protect themselves against their enemies, because of the oppression and destruction by the Syrians.

Sometimes men become so engrossed in their own wickedness, that God has a need to bring them down into humility. Then blessings can be given to them, as with Jehoahaz, who turned to the Lord when destruction was upon his people. In Alma 32:13, we read, “And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.” But the book of Alma teaches us also, that it would be better to become humble on our own and not wait to be compelled by God. In that same chapter we read, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word? Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.” (Alma 32:14-16) Greater blessings come to those who seek God before the difficulties become too hard to bear.

8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
9 And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.

Jehoahaz died and his son, Joash began to rule in Israel.

10 In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.
11 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 sin: but he walked therein.
12 And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
13 And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

Joash or Jehoash ruled for sixteen years. He continued the line of unrighteous leadership in Israel. During his reign, he fought against Amaziah of Judah. After sixteen years of being king, he died and his son Jeroboam became king of Israel.

14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.
16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.
17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.

Elisha became sick and was near death. Joash of Israel, went to see him and cried over him. Elisha told Joash to get a bow and arrow. He did and Elisha told him to put his hand on the bow. Then Elisha put his hands on the hands of Joash as they held the bow. Elisha told him to open the east window. When he did, Elisha told him to shoot. He did this, and then Elisha prophesied that the people would be delivered from Syria by the hand of the Lord. Elisha told Joash to hit the ground, which he did three times and then stopped. Elisha told him that he should have done it five or six times, because now he would only be able to smite Syria three times. If he had hit the ground as many as five or six times, he would have been able to consume Syria.

20 And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.
21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Elisha died. The Moabites began to invade the land of Israel as the year ended. There was who had died. As he was being buried, a band of men were seen. Those who were burying the man, threw the body into the sepulchre of Elisha. When the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisha, he came back to life. That is a witness to the power of God that had been with Elisha, that even his dead body held the power to raise a man.

22 But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.
23 And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
24 So Hazael king of Syria died; and Ben-hadad his son reigned in his stead.
25 And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.

Hazael continued to oppress Israel during the reign of Jehoahaz, but the Lord continued to keep the Israelites from destruction, because of the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hazael of Syria died. His son, Ben-hadad, became king, and Jehoash was able to regain the lands taken by the Syrians. Joash or Jehoash was able to beat Ben-hadad three times in order to get the Israelite cities back.

Again, it can be seen in this chapter, that unrighteous rulers lead their people in unrighteousness. Those who willing choose to be disobedient to the laws of God, are not blessed with His protection against their enemies. Rather, the disobedient are allowed to fall into the hands of their enemies. This is so that they might be brought back to a remembrance of God, and also because the blessing of protection is reserved for the faithful.

Ponderizing-Week 4 Thoughts

Jacob 2:18 is the verse that I have been ponderizing this week.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

What truly holds value to us, determines not only our character now, but what we will have and be after this life. I love the activity used in church to teach this principle. A teacher will place an empty jar in front of the class, along with three containers containing one of three items: sand, small pebbles, and larger rocks. The sand is representative of the things that likely have less true and lasting value, like the riches of our mortal world. The pebbles are those things that matter, but may not continue after this life. Finally, the rocks represent those things that will continue and will develop greater, lasting character, knowledge and happiness. For example, family relationships develop lasting happiness and joy. The teacher then shows the class what happens when a life is filled with the small stuff first. The sand will pile up, filling a good portion of the jar, followed by the pebbles. When the teacher attempts to place the rocks in last, they do not all fit. When we seek after the riches of the world first, we give little room for the things that truly matter. The teacher then removes the three items and begins again, placing the larger rocks in first, followed by the pebbles, and lastly pours the sand into the jar. It all will fit, because the sand will fill in the gaps left by the rocks and pebbles. The lesson is that if we seek for the things of God first, anything else we truly want in life, will not be left out, but will find its proper place.

Seeking after things of this world is not strictly bad, or even forbidden by the Lord. There are specific things that we should avoid, of course, because they are harmful or possibly addictive, but for the most part, the things of the world can be for our good. The point is, that when we use our agency, to seek after those things that will bring us closer to Christ, build meaningful relationships, develop our knowledge and talents, or cause us to serve and love others, anything else that may use our time and energy, will be done in wisdom and will be for our good.

One of the other thoughts that came to mind with this verse, is that it uses the word seek. Seek is a word of action. It requires effort, planning, and decisions. We should be active in our lives, choosing how we will live rather than allowing life to happen to us. We have the power to choose for ourselves, to what we will give our best efforts. I feel it is an eternal truth, that good choices require greater effort on our part. It is easy to choose those things that are not lasting and may not be for our good. Self-mastery is needed to choose to seek the things of God.

A simple example of this in my own life, is with scripture study. I have decided that study of the words of the prophets of old and modern prophets, is a priority in my life. I believe that it is extremely important to determining the kind of person I will be, and I know it is actively seeking for the kingdom of God. I have been asked many times about how I manage it with my already busy life. My answer always includes something about making the effort to put it ahead of other things, meaning putting it on my schedule. When I plan what my day will include, prayer and study are placed first. Because I have a life devoted to several small children who have places to be and things to do, I choose to sacrifice some additional sleep in the mornings to give a consistent place for study. It is never easy to do, but I know that God can bless me for the effort I am putting towards it. As I actively seek after the word of God, other priorities and desires seem to fall into place.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

President Thomas S. Monson has said that “decisions determine destiny”. I know this is true. What we choose this day can either lead us closer to God and His kingdom, or turn us from it. Sometimes even good choices can cause us to forget the Lord. Making the effort to seek after riches, or the things of the world, before seeking after the best things, will lead us down a path of temptation. I know that we can start each day with a decision to seek after the kingdom of God. Even making just one choice, will bless us greatly in this life. I have seen it in my own life and I know it will make a difference for eternity.

1 Samuel Chapter 12

The Israelites had been led by prophets and judges for many years. Samuel had been called to be their prophet and leader, but the people had desired to have a king as well. Under the direction of the Lord, Saul became their king, and with the help of the Lord, he started to deliver the people from their enemies. Samuel continued to be their prophet and this chapter includes his words to the people. It begins with these words:

1 And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.
2 And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
3 Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
4 And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.
5 And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.

Samuel was called to be the prophet in Israel while in his youth. His entire life, had been a life of example and leadership to the people. He had lived a life of service to the Lord and to the people of Israel. He was now growing old, and his life was a witness of his goodness to them. He had never done anything against any of them, but he asked them if he had, so that he would be right with them. They told him he had not done anything against them. He declared that God witnessed these things, to which the people agreed.

6 And Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers.
8 When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
9 And when they forgat the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
10 And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king.
13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.
14 If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:
15 But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Samuel reminded the people that the Lord had given them Moses as their prophet and caused that Aaron should have been their high priest. It was the Lord who had delivered the people from Egypt. Samuel reviewed the blessings of the Lord which had led his people to be where they were that day, as was done many times by the prophets of old when they were nearing death. The Lord had delivered the Israelites from Egypt, but the people had become ungrateful and forgotten Him. Then the Lord allowed the people to be oppressed by other nations through their own choices. He heard their cries for deliverance and sent them judges to free them from oppression. After much peace, they desired to be like other nations and have an earthly king, even though the Lord was already their king. The Lord conceded and allowed them a king, which they now had in Saul. Samuel exhorted them to continue to fear the Lord and to serve Him and keep the commandments of God, so that they and their king would continue to follow after God. If they would not keep the commandments, the Lord would be against them, just as He had been against their ancestors in their wickedness.

16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes.
17 Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king.
18 So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
19 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

Samuel told the people to witness a sign of thunder and rain, because they had done wickedly in asking for an earthly king to rule over them. Samuel called upon God to give the sign. It was given and the people feared the Lord and the prophet. The people recognized their sin and pleaded with Samuel to pray for them because of this evil choice they had made.

20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart;
21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
22 For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.
23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

Samuel told them not to fear, but to follow the Lord and serve him completely. He told them not to seek after the things of the world, which would not be lasting, but would be vain. Our limited perspective can sometimes make it hard to see that we have are choosing between things that would give us pleasure that will only last for a time on this earth, or things that would give us joy and peace for eternity. Those things that are strictly of this earth, are the vain things we should not be seeking after, because they will fade away and have no value. Samuel promised them that they would not be forsaken by the Lord, because they were His people. He also promised that he would continue to pray for them, because that was his duty in being their prophet. It was also his duty to teach them what was right and good, which was to truly serve the Lord and follow after Him, because they had been blessed greatly by the Lord. Again he promised destruction would come to them, as well as the king they had desired, if they turned to wickedness.

The gospel of Jesus Christ can be found in many nations throughout the world. The people of the Lord are everywhere. The specific temptations and weaknesses of His people, are diverse and numerous. Even though this is the case, the common thread when any follower of Christ follows after temptation, is the tendency to forget the Lord. If we can likewise, follow the counsel given by Samuel, we can avoid turning away from God. The promise remains that those who turn away from God and turn to wickedness, will find destruction to their souls. This idea is recorded several times throughout the scriptures. In Mosiah 7:29 we read, “For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.” Therefore, we would do well to continue to follow after the Lord, stay committed and loyal to Him, serve Him with all our hearts, seek after things of God, and keep His commandments. We should do these things, because we owe Him everything for the countless blessings He has given and will continue to give to us.

1 Samuel Chapter 7

After several months of plagues, death and destruction, the Philistine lords returned the ark of the covenant to the Israelites. It was returned to the land of Beth-shemesh. Many in the area were slain because they were disobedient to the instructions of the Lord, and looked into the ark. With great sorrow and mourning, the people of Beth-shemesh reached out to those in Kirjath-jearim, to take the ark out of their land. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the men of Kirjath-jearim came, and fetched up the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.
2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Men of Kirjath-jearim took the ark to the house of Abinadab. Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, was sanctified in order that he might be the one to take care of the ark. It remained there for twenty years, while it seems, Israel lamented. It is likely, that Israel was turned from the Lord in many ways, while I am sure He waited for them to remember Him. His presence was probably not with the land of Israel, to protect them and bless them, especially in the face of their enemies. They sorrowed in knowing the spirit of the Lord was not with them.

3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.
5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.
6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

Samuel, the prophet, called the Israelites to repentance. They were worshipping false gods, but he told them deliverance from the Philistines would come if they turned back to the Lord and served Him. The Israelites listened to Samuel and stopped their idolatry of worshipping Baalim and Ashtaroth. They returned to worshipping the Lord. Samuel called them to gather in Mizpeh, so that he could pray for them. They gathered in fasting and prayer, confessing that they had sinned against the Lord. The Philistines learned of the gathering of Israel and decided to go against them. The Israelites were afraid. They asked that Samuel continue to pray for their deliverance.

9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.
10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Samuel made an offering to the Lord, and prayed for Israel. The Lord heard and answered his prayer. The Philistines were getting closer to the Israelites, but the Lord thundered greatly on them, and they became uneasy or confused and were smitten. The men of Israel went after them and killed them. Samuel placed a memorial stone where the Lord had helped them.

13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
16 And he went from year to year in circuit to Beth-el, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
17 And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the Lord.

The Philistines did not come against the Israelites any longer, and the Israelites had peace with them for the rest of the time while Samuel was a judge. The Lord had delivered the Israelites again. Israel was able to restore all the cities that the Philistines had taken from them. Samuel traveled throughout Israel as he was their judge.

Again we see that the blessings of the Lord will be with those who turn to Him in faith. In Helaman 13:11 we read, “… thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.” This is an eternal principle with regards to the relationship of all men to God. We all sin, because we are human and none of us is perfect. When we repent and strive to keep His commandments, he is bound to bless us, but if we do not, it will not be good for us. The Israelites were blessed when they listened to the words of their prophet, and followed his council. We likewise, can be blessed to listen to and follow the words of our modern prophets.

1 Samuel Chapter 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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