Posts Tagged 'Scattering of Israel'

2 Kings Chapter 25

It was prophesied time and time again, that Jerusalem would be destroyed because of the wickedness of the king and people. The people of Judah had turned from the Lord towards false gods and wicked acts of worship. The destruction that was to come, was part of the prophecy which said that the tribes of Israel would eventually be scattered upon the earth. King Zedekiah was not a righteous king, but followed after the ways of the wicked kings before him. He had started his reign when many of the people of Jerusalem were captured and taken to Babylon. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, put Zedekiah into power with the expectation that the people of Jerusalem would pay tribute to him. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, which of course would make Nebuchadnezzar angry with the people.

1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
2 And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
3 And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.

Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem with his army. They camped in forts around the city and besieged it. This eventually brought a famine to the city, and the people had no food to eat.

4 And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
5 And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.
6 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.
7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.

The city began to fall, and the army of Jerusalem fled in the night through a gate in the wall by the king’s garden. They headed to the plains, where the army of the Chaldeans, a Babylonian army, were also surrounding the city. The Chaldeans went after Zedekiah and his army, catching them in the area of Jericho. The army scattered from Zedekiah, and the Chaldeans captured him and took him to king Nebuchadnezzar to judge him. The sons of Zedekiah were also captured and then killed in front of him. Then, he was made blind, bound, and taken captive into Babylon.

8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
9 And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
10 And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
11 Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away.
12 But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
13 And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
15 And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
16 The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.

About a month after famine had come to Jerusalem because of being besieged by the army of Babylon, Nebuzar-adan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, came into the city and burned the temple, king’s house, and all the houses in the city. The Chaldean army broke down the wall around the city. The remnant of the people were carried away, except the poor, who were left to farm and work in the vineyards. All the brass of the temple, found in things such as the pillars and baptismal font, were broken down and taken back to Babylon. Any tools made of brass, gold or silver, were taken away.

18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:
19 And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king’s presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:
20 And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:
21 And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.

The priests, Seraiah and Zephaniah, as well as those who served at the doors of the temple, an officer over the army of Jerusalem, five of the men who served the king personally, the scribe, and around 60 other men found in the city, were taken to the king. Nebuchadnezzar had them beaten and killed. This was the fulfillment of scattering of the tribe of Judah from the land of promise.

22 And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.
23 And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
24 And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.
25 But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah.
26 And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.

A man named Gedaliah, was left to be the ruler of the poor workers that were left in Judah. The captains of the armies, who had escaped the destruction, heard that he had been made ruler, and they took their men to him. Gedaliah told them not to fear being servants of the Chaldeans. He told them to give in and serve the king of Babylon, because then they would be allowed to live. One of the captains, Ishmael, who was of the royal line, killed Gedaliah and all of the Jews or Chaldeans that were with him in Mizpah. The remnant of the Jews, including the captains, fled to Egypt in fear of the Chaldeans.

27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
28 And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
29 And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
30 And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.

Jehoiachin, the previous king of Judah who had been carried captive into Babylon before Zedekiah was made king, was lifted up out of prison by the king of Babylon. He was treated kindly and raised above some of the other leaders in Babylon. He was shown favor in ways such as, being given food to eat continually, and given an allowance every day.

The time of the kings of Israel and Judah, reigning in the promised land, had come to an end. The Lord had allowed for the people to be scattered because they had turned from him. Prophecies were fulfilled regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of Israel being taken captive into Babylon. All of these things were according to the wisdom of God, because of the purposes of God. God’s purpose is to have as many of his sons and daughters return to him as is possible. The greatest opportunities for this were going to be made possible through the scattering of Israel, or rather, through the eventual gathering of Israel, because they were scattered. We live in the time of the gathering of Israel, and the time now is not far from when we will be able to rejoice in the promises of God to his covenant people. The fulfillment of these promises is made possible because of this gathering.

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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 15

This section of the bible is appropriately named the books of kings, as the list of the kings of the people of Israel continues. Jeroboam was the son of Joash (Jehoash), who became the king of Israel. The previous chapter teaches that he did evil and was a wicked, idolatrous leader. When he died, his son Zachariah became the king. Meanwhile in Judah, during the first portion of the reign of Jeroboam, Amaziah ruled. He was described as a king who ruled in righteousness, but some of his actions brought the destruction and capture of much of Jerusalem. When he died, his young son, Azariah, became king of Judah. The list of the kings continues:

1 In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah to reign.
2 Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done;
4 Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.

Azariah ruled from the age of sixteen, for fifty-two years. He ruled in righteousness, though he never removed the places where the people continued to make sacrifices and offerings.

5 And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
6 And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
7 So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.

The king became a leper and remained that until his death. While he lived in a separated place, his son Jotham, was acting as the judge of the land. Azariah died and Jotham became the king of Judah.

8 In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
10 And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
11 And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
12 This was the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.

During the reign of Azariah, Zachariah became king of Israel. He ruled in wickedness and idolatry. A man named Shallum conspired against him and killed him. Shallum became king of Israel. This was fulfillment of the words of the prophet given to Jehu. Jehu was the man, who had destroyed the house of Ahab and all that was connected to the following of Baal. Because he had done this, the Lord had promised him that his family would rule for four generations (see 2 Kings 10:30).

13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah king of Judah; and he reigned a full month in Samaria.
14 For Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.
15 And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

At some point after Jotham was king in Judah, Uzziah (Azariah) became king. Uzziah had ruled for thirty-nine years, when Shallum became king of Israel. He was king for a month and was killed by Menahem, who then became king himself.

16 Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.
17 In the nine and thirtieth year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned ten years in Samaria.
18 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
19 And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand.
20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.

Menahem attacked Tiphsah and all its borders, because they did not serve him. He killed every pregnant woman there. Menahem was a wicked and idolatrous king, who led for ten years. The Assyrians came against Israel, and Menahem gave money the king of the Assyrians, that he could retain the kingdom of Israel. The king of Assyria took the money and left Israel. This would not be the last of them seeing the Assyrians come against them.

21 And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
22 And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead.

Menahem died and left the kingdom to his son, Pekahiah.

23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria, in the palace of the king’s house, with Argob and Arieh, and with him fifty men of the Gileadites: and he killed him, and reigned in his room.
26 And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

When Azariah had been king in Judah, for fifty years, Pekahiah became king in Israel. He was king for two years, continuing the traditions of his father in wicked, idolatrous leadership. His captains son, Pekah, conspired against him and killed him in the palace. Pekah became king.

27 In the two and fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years.
28 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.
31 And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.

Pekah became king during the fifty-second year of Azariah’s reign in Judah. He was king for twenty years. He was an idolatrous king who ruled in wickedness. The Assyrians began to carry away Israelites from several cities, captive to Assyria. A man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah and killed him. He became king during the reign of Jotham in Judah.

32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign.
33 Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.
34 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.
35 Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the Lord.

Jotham was king at the age of twenty-five, and he ruled for sixteen years. He was a righteous king, as his father. However, he also did not remove those places where the people made sacrifices and offerings. Jotham did, however, add a higher gate to the temple.

36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
37 In those days the Lord began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah.
38 And Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.

Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Remaliah, king of Israel, began to stand against Judah. Jotham died and his son Ahaz became king of Judah. A bit of the story of Ahaz and Isaiah and how they dealt with Rezin and Pekah at this time, has been recorded in other scriptures (see Isaiah 7). The portion found in this record, continues in the next chapter. This is important to understanding the time when Israel was scattered.

This chapter is a list of kings who ruled in wickedness in Israel and those who ruled in righteousness in Judah. Nothing good is recorded of those who ruled in wickedness and followed after the evil, idolatrous ways of their fathers. All that seems to be written here of them, was death and destruction. While those who tried to rule in righteousness, seemed to have been blessed to rule for longer. The Israelite nation, both the northern and southern kingdom, were under attack by other nations, because they had not lived to be worthy of the promises of protection given to those who had first entered the promised land and were a covenant people of the Lord.

When we make covenants and strive to keep them completely, the Lord cannot hold back the blessings that are part of that promise. The covenant people of Israel, had been promised peace and safety. They had been promised to be a mighty nation, even the mightiest among nations. When they followed after righteousness, they were blessed with peace and prosperity in great abundance. Covenant, commandment-keeping people today, are promised with prosperity, and the perfect peace that can only come through the companionship of the Spirit of God. But, we must be vigilant in living the commandments to their fullest. We must put aside all that is wicked and evil in our lives. The people of Judah were led in righteousness, but not fully. There remained those things that could easily lead them away from God, because the high places were not removed from the land. Because they held back their full commitment to God, they were not blessed with the protection they truly needed. God will not force man to follow Him and He will justly allow for men to receive the consequences of their choices.

1 Kings Chapter 14

Jeroboam was the idolatrous leader of the ten tribes of Israel after the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms. Ahijah was a prophet of the Lord, who had prophesied that Jeroboam would become the king of the ten tribes. The prophesy also contained the promise of maintaining the kingdom, if Jeroboam was faithful to the Lord, but he had not been faithful. When the threat of loosing subjects was a possibility, he turned to false gods. Another prophet had told of death and destruction that would come at the altar of a temple of Jeroboam, to which Jeroboam was offended. The Lord had cursed him for trying to stop that prophet, and he still did not repent of his wicked ways. In the southern kingdom, Rehoboam ruled. Rehoboam had been the ruler of all of Israel, but in his pride and foolishness, he had tried to place greater burdens upon the people. His people had revolted and he had the majority of his kingdom taken from him. Rehoboam was left to rule over Judah. He did not rule in righteousness. This chapter begins a follows:

1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.
2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people.
3 And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.
4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.

The son of Jeroboam became sick, so he sent his wife in disguise, to the prophet Ahijah. He sent her with a gift offering of bread and honey, and she was to ask what would happen to their son, Abijah. She went to Ahijah, but he was blind in his old age.

5 And the Lord said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.
6 And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.
7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel,
8 And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes;
9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:
10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the Lord hath spoken it.
12 Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die.
13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.
14 Moreover the Lord shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.
15 For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger.
16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.

The Lord revealed to the prophet, that the wife of Jeroboam was coming to ask about her child, but that she would be in disguise. He was told to tell her he knew who she was. So when he heard her footsteps, he said to come in, announcing her as the wife of Jeroboam, then asked her why she hid her true identity, as he was a prophet who had heavy tidings to tell her. She must have recognized this was a man of God, since he was able to know who she was even though he could not see her and she was in a disguise. Ahijah told her to tell Jeroboam that God had chosen him to rule over his people, but instead of following after the Lord, he had made false idols. Since he had been an unrighteous leader, the house of Jeroboam was cursed to be cut off and taken away from Israel, or rather, destroyed completely. He was promised that the dead of his family would be eaten by the animals, possibly as a curse that showed they would have no respect given to their dead. The wife was told to return home, and as she did, her child would die. Also, that the people of Israel would mourn and bury him. This child would be the only one, or the last one of their family to be buried in a grave, because there was good in him. The prophecy continued, saying that a new king would rise up and cut off the house of Jeroboam, and the Lord would smite Israel and scatter them from the promised land, because they had done evil with their false gods and places of worship. The Lord would do these things to Israel, because Jeroboam had been a wicked ruler who led his people into this great sin.

17 And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died;
18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.
19 And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
20 And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.

So, the wife of Jeroboam went home and as she entered the threshold, her child died. Then, just as was foretold, he was buried and all of Israel mourned for him. Here it says that any more about Jeroboam is told in other records. He ruled for 22 years and then died, leaving his son, Nadab, to rule in his place.

21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.
23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.
24 And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.

Rehoboam was king of Judah, the southern kingdom, for 17 years. The people of Judah were not righteous, but were worse in sins then any of their ancestors. The land was full of idols and places for worship of their false gods. They had also been influenced by wicked nations and all the gross sins, including prostitution, that existed in the land before it was cleansed for the Israelites, had returned through this generation.

25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:
26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house.
28 And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.

Solomon had built a grand and glorious temple and palace in Jerusalem. It was likely a tempting place for any other nation to attack. The Egyptians, under king Shishak, came against Judah, and took all the treasures of the temple and the king’s house. He took all of the golden armor that Solomon had made during his reign. So, Rehoboam made brass sheilds and gave them to the guards of the palace. They used them to protect the king.

29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.
31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.

Again, these verses say that the rest of the actions of Rehoboam were recorded in the chronicles of the kings. In short, Rehoboam and Jeroboam fought one another for the rest of their days. Rehoboam died and was buried in the city of David, where his fathers were laid to rest. His son, Abijam, reigned after him.

This is such a depressing chapter to me. Two men who loved wickedness more than God, led their people into great wickedness. The entire land of promise, was full of wickedness and becoming ripe for destruction. The once strong and prosperous land of Israel, was divided and falling into the hands of other nations. Prophecies were made against the people, which were of destruction and death, and these prophecies were being fulfilled as the Lord withdrew his protecting hand from his people. The promise given to the children of the Lord was that they would prosper in the land so long as they worshipped the Lord and turned not from Him and His ways. Additionally, they had been promised that if they turned away, the Lord would allow others to remove them from the land of promise. There are similar promises made to the disciples of the Lord today. If we choose to follow the example of Christ, we will be blessed to prosper in our own promised land, and if we fall away into temptation, God will allow us to have the blessings removed from us. Greater things come to those who choose to turn their hearts towards the Lord.

Commentary on the Vision of Nephi

I recently received a comment on one of the first posts I wrote back in 2008, for 1 Nephi, Chapter 14. The following request was made:

Some things that I can’t understand that may be you could help me. When the angel asked Nephi if he remembers the covenants of the Father unto the House of Israel. And Nephi said, Yea. … the [angel] showed to Nephi the 2 churches. I just wondered why he showed this after asking Nephi. And in verse 17, I get a little hint here but still can’t gather all the thoughts.

I decided to make it a matter of further study, especially since I wrote my post so long ago. This response is a bit lengthy, but it helped me and I hope it can help others seeking to have a greater understanding.

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In all things in the gospel, especially as the spirit reveals truth to us, lessons are learned line upon line. I believe that the spirit is building upon the foundation of Nephi’s knowledge here. What is the foundation? For this, we need to look back to the beginning of the vision of Lehi. It is important to see the whole picture, to understand these smaller sections. Somewhere between 600 and 592 BC, Lehi has a vision of the tree of life (see 1 Nephi 8). It seems that in the perspective of Lehi, the importance of this dream is his family (descendants) receiving the glorious fruit of the tree. In the vision, the great and spacious building is introduced. We learn from what he teaches, that those within the building would mock and scorn those trying to do what was right. Throughout all time, the world has been against those who would choose to follow the Lord.

In 1 Nephi 10, Lehi teaches his family that the Jews would eventually return to Jerusalem after it would be destroyed. He taught them of when the Savior would come to earth, as the prophets had long foretold. He told them of how the Jews would dwindle in unbelief and kill the Messiah. Lehi tells them that at this time, the Savior would reveal himself to the gentiles. (I think it’s important to remember that Lehi and his family lived in a time when the Jews understood the gospel to be set apart for the Jews alone. The revelation for it to anyone outside of the covenant, would not come until Peter received it after the Savior had been resurrected. We read about that in Acts 10.) Then, Lehi preaches to them of how the Jews and gentiles compared to the olive tree and its branches. This is part of those things that the Lord promised in the covenants with their fathers, that the house of Israel would be divided. Lehi taught them of the gospel being received by the gentiles and of them bringing the natural branches, or the house of Israel, back into their place through coming to know the true Messiah. (chapter 10 vv. 2-14)

I am sure that the sons of Lehi had heard much of this before, through the teachings of youth. I believe he taught them with greater details, because of the vision he himself had received. Nephi desired to know the truth of this foundation his father had set in his teachings. In his pondering, he was carried away into his own vision (see 1 Nephi 11). In his vision, the spirit of the Lord first shows him the tree of life, which his father had seen. Then Nephi sees a vision of the coming forth of the Savior to the world. He speaks with an angel of what these things mean. Nephi witnessed the ministry of the Savior, and his apostles, to the Jews. Then he witnessed the sacrifice of the Savior by the Jews, and how the Jews would then fight against the apostles of the Savior. Those that fought against them, were in the great and spacious building of the world. In this part of the vision, Nephi has it confirmed to him, that the Jews would fall into apostasy and be of the world instead of being of the Lord.

In chapter 12, Nephi is shown more than what we learn from Lehi’s vision. He learns that his family would dwell in the promised land, as one of the broken off branches of the olive tree, and after many generations of fighting with the seed of his brothers, and great destruction for their wickedness, the Savior would appear to the part of his family that remained. Then after faithful generations, the two sides of their family would again fight each other, because of the temptations of the world. He saw again the great and spacious building of the world and its wickedness. Then he saw his seed destroyed in their wickedness and the seed of his brothers fall away into greater wickedness.

In chapter 13, the angel teaches Nephi of the many gentile nations. In verse 3 we read, “And he said unto me: These are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.” He witnessed the formation of the great and abominable church among the gentile nations. This is part of the world’s great apostasy and it is led by the devil himself. Nephi is taught that worldly things are the desire of that church, which would strive to destroy the righteous saints of the church of God. This great church is presented to Nephi, much like the great and spacious building of the world. Nephi was then shown that the descendants of his brothers, were separated from the gentile nations, and that a gentile man would be inspired to journey to them across the waters. The gentiles would scatter and destroy many of their descendants. Then, the gentiles would prosper and separate themselves from other gentile nations, through war. After the war, a book of a jew would be brought forth among them, which we know to be the Bible, which contains the covenants of the house of Israel. Nephi learns that the book would start pure, but would be changed by the great and abominable church. After being changed, it would cause some confusion and stumbling. The angel shows Nephi, that the Lord would cause the seed of Lehi to also keep records of the gospel and the truth, and that these records would be brought forth to the gentiles at that time. The gentiles would then, teach the descendants of his brothers, of the record of their fathers. The records together would convince many of the truth and eventually, the Lord would be made manifest to all the nations and all the people of the world.

This is what the angel has shown Nephi leading up to this chapter, 1 Nephi 14. The angel teaches Nephi that those who would accept the gospel contained in the records, and therefore accept and hearken to the Lord, would be joined into the house of Israel. This is the gathering of Israel in these latter-days. The angel reminds Nephi that he has learned that those who repent, gentile or jew, would not perish. Those who would harden their hearts, would have destruction. This is the great and marvelous work that would be had among all the world. This is when in verse 8, he asks Nephi, “Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel?” In all this teaching, the angel has been reminding Nephi of the covenants of the Father to the Israelites.

The covenant of the Father unto the house of Israel, is the Abrahamic covenant. The Bible Dictionary can teach us of this covenant better than I can explain it. It reads:

Abraham first received the gospel by baptism (which is the covenant of salvation). Then he had conferred upon him the higher priesthood, and he entered into celestial marriage (which is the covenant of exaltation), gaining assurance thereby that he would have eternal increase. Finally he received a promise that all of these blessings would be offered to all of his mortal posterity (D&C 132:29–50; Abr. 2:6–11). Included in the divine promises to Abraham were the assurances that (1) Christ would come through his lineage, and that (2) Abraham’s posterity would receive certain lands as an eternal inheritance (Gen. 17; 22:15–18; Gal. 3; Abr. 2). These promises taken together are called the “Abrahamic covenant.” It was renewed with Isaac (Gen. 26:1–4, 24) and again with Jacob (Gen. 28; 35:9–13; 48:3–4).

The portions of the covenant that pertain to personal salvation and eternal increase are renewed with each individual who receives the ordinance of celestial marriage (see D&C 132:29–33). Those of non-Israelite lineage, commonly known as Gentiles, are adopted into the house of Israel and become heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham through the ordinances of the gospel (Gal. 3:26–29).

Being an heir to the Abrahamic covenant does not make one a “chosen person” per se but does signify that such are chosen to responsibly carry the gospel to all the peoples of the earth. Abraham’s seed have carried out the missionary activity in all the nations since Abraham’s day. (Matt. 3:9; Abr. 2:9–11.)

To fulfill the covenant God made with Abraham—having particular reference to the fact that the literal seed of his body would be entitled to all of the blessings of the gospel (Abr. 2:10–11)—a number of specific and particular things must take place in the last days. The gospel must be restored, the priesthood must be conferred again upon man, the keys of the sealing power must be given again to mortals, Israel must be gathered, and the Holy Ghost must be poured out upon the Gentiles. All this has already taken place or is in process of fulfillment.

Then, with a reminder of the covenant, the angel shows Nephi that the world would eventually be divided into two parts or churches. The first is the church of the Lamb of God, which consists of those who are the people of God, the latter-day house of Israel. The second is everyone else, who would belong to the great and abominable church of the world, and who would be led by Satan. The two churches would fight. Those of the world, would fight against the people of God. At that time, when God and his people would fight against Satan and his followers, the covenant would begin to be fulfilled (see verse 17). This would lead up to the time of the second coming, which was written about in the book of Revelation, by the apostle John, and Nephi was told not to write any more of what he saw in the vision.

So, with all of this in mind, I think that the question the angel posed to Nephi, was more of a reminder to him that in this entire vision, he was being shown the fulfillment of the covenants made to the house of Israel. I do not think that what directly followed the question, was the complete answer. I think it’s much like posing a question at the closing of a lesson, when we may be reminded of the entire purpose for the words spoken. Nephi needed to be shown all that would lead up to the restoration of the gospel, which would lead to the descendants of his father being able to make sacred covenants again some day. Nephi was blessed with a knowledge that in latter-days, the house of Israel would be gathered again, so that the promised blessings of the covenant could be received by all those who were willing to be a part of the church of the Lamb. The fulfillment of the promises would come as the Lord’s church stood against the great and abominable church of the world. I hope that this helps in your understanding, as it has in my own. I think to understand it even more fully, it is important to also look to the book of Revelation, to see what Nephi was shown after what he has written for us. I have not yet approached the book of Revelation in my own deeper study, but I am really looking forward to it and the understanding I know it will bring.

Deuteronomy Chapter 4

The Law of Moses was given to the children of Israel, through the prophet, Moses, while they were in the area of Mount Sinai. Within that law, there were commandments and statutes, which they were to keep in order to turn their hearts more fully to the Lord and to live with one another in peace and happiness. At this point in the narrative of the Israelites, Moses was preparing them to have a new leader and to finally gain the promised land and rest from their journeys. He continues to instruct them in this chapter.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
3 Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.
12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Moses instructed the people, that they were not to alter the laws and ordinances of the Lord, whether to add or take away from them. In the book of Revelation we read a similar verse, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18). No man has the right to alter the words of the Lord, found in any book of scripture. If they do, it is only done to mislead others into apathy and sin.

Moses reminded them that there were consequences if they turned to other gods, as some of the people had done previously. In the case of those who sinned by following Baal-peor, they were all killed by the Israelites, plus a plague was brought among the people. The law of Moses, was the law they were to live in the land of promise. When they lived this law, they would be seen by others, as a great nation, with wisdom, and understanding, because God would be with them. He told the Israelites to remember the things which they had witnessed, and to teach them to their children, especially those things they witnessed in Sinai, when the Lord spoke to the people from the mount. He told them to remember when the ten commandments had been given to them. In modern times, we have also been told to watch ourselves and remember those things we have in the scriptures and the words of our prophets. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read:

43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

When the word of the Lord is given to us, in scripture or by the prophets, we are going to be held accountable to our understanding of those things, and for how much we teach them to our children, just as the Israelites were held accountable in their day. We might think that we’ll never forget the feelings we have at one time, or the things that we have witnessed at another. But, it is easy to forget if we are not living and teaching those things that we have learned. In addition, our children will never know, if we do not teach them. When I think of how important this is, I am reminded that many in the world today do not know of the gospel of Christ. Many do not know that we have living prophets today, just as they had Moses of old. Many do not know that revelation continues today and that we can each receive personal revelation for ourselves. Many do not know that we can make sacred ordinances and covenants with God, which can bring us eternal blessings. There is great importance in the missionary work going forward in our day.

14 And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
20 But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
21 Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:
22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Moses had been commanded by the Lord, to teach the laws (the law of Moses), which would be the laws of the land of inheritance. These laws would bring them peace and happiness as a people, just as the laws of God can do for us today. Moses told them to notice that there was no idol being worshipped on the day when they witnessed the voice of the Lord speaking to them. Moses taught them that they were not to make any images, like man or animal, or they might fall prey to worshipping that idol. They were the people of the Lord, chosen and delivered from Egypt. Because of the choices to fall away to worshipping other things, the Lord had not allowed Moses to enter the promised land. Moses pleads with the Israelites, to remember their covenants not to make false idols, because the Lord would be able to consume them with His fire.

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.
28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
33 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Moses taught the children of Israel, that if they should turn to worshipping idols after the generations have passed, judgement would be upon them and they would shortly be removed from the promise land and the nation of Israel would be destroyed. He promised them that they would be scattered among gentile nations. Those nations would lead them throughout the lands, serving their gods and idols, which are not real, but are made of wood and stone. He teaches us here, that the living God sees, hears, eats and smells. Moses also taught them, that if they would, instead, continue to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul, they would be blessed. He promised them that they would find the Lord and if they repented and were obedient through difficult times. The Lord would be merciful and remember the covenants of their fathers. Moses reminded them, that in all the time of the world, there had been nothing quite like the miracles and manifestations that they had witnessed. Never before had a people witnessed the glory of the Lord among them, as they had in the fire, or heard His voice speaking to them. Never before had a people been delivered from another nation, by such miracles and wonders. These things were a part of their lives, so that they would know the Lord was their God. They had been blessed and protected, because the Lord loved their fathers and had made promises to them. The Lord had made them a mighty nation, giving them the strength to drive the nations from before them, and giving them the promised land to inherit. Moses told the people to recognize that this had been the work of the only true God. They needed to be obedient to the commandments, in order to continue to receive the blessings of God and live a long life.

41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

The cities of refuge were then created (Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan), for those who might kill another without intention to do so.

44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.

Moses had concluded his teaching of the commandments and statutes of God, by bearing his testimony of the consequences of disobedience and repentance. Moses taught them of the causes for the eventual scattering of the Israelites, specifically the worship of false gods. Then he taught them of the gathering of Israel in the last days, when they would turn again to the Lord. He witnessed to them, of the goodness and mercy of the Lord and promised they would be blessed if they would remember the Lord.

We have the blessing of being able to look at these words in hindsight. The scriptures teach us, that the people inherited the land of promise, and then over time, they fell away to the worship of other things. Then, just as Moses said, they were scattered throughout all the nations of the world. It seems to me that today, there has got to be a bit of Israelite blood in all the nations. As the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, reaches all the nations of the world, there are some who are being drawn back into the house of Israel. The gathering is happening now, just as Moses promised them so long ago. This is not so much a physical moving back to Israel, but a spiritual gathering of hearts to the Lord. This is only possible through the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He made repentance possible to all people and His power is what moves the gospel forward now. We can all turn and find Him, if we will seek with all our heart and soul. The commandments are provided for us today, so that we may have the opportunity to obey and be blessed. The same great blessings that were given to the fathers of the Israelites, can be ours now, if we will turn away from the false gods of our day, and turn to the Lord.

Genesis Chapter 49

In the previous chapter, Jacob (Israel) had blessed his son Joseph and Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. He knows his time on earth is coming to an end, so he continues to bless his sons and their families in this chapter.

1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.

Jacob gathers his family together just as so many of the great prophets of old have done just before they pass away. What a blessing it is to live to an age where you can feel that time is drawing to an end and you are able to teach, exhort, and bless your children one last time before passing on. Jacob was both the patriarch of their family, as well as the covenant servant of the Lord or prophet, Israel, and as such was able to give the kind of blessings which told them of what was to come to these men and their families.

3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

Jacob reminds Reuben that while he is his first born and has brought strength and power to Jacob’s family, he will not be greatly blessed because he sinned against his father many years earlier. Reuben had slept with Jacob’s wife among other awful things, which took away his birthright. Instead the birthright was given to Joseph and to his two sons.

5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Simeon and Levi had also brought great shame to Jacob, when they sought revenge for their sister and killed men. They would not receive the blessings of his family.

8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Judah’s family would be blessed to rule over others in the house of Israel. The house of Judah would rule and make the laws until Shiloh would come, which is Jesus. Then at that time, the law would rightfully be the Savior’s. He would then establish a new and higher law.

13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.

I’m guessing that this blessing on Zebulun, meant his family would live near the sea and work with ships and the like.

14 Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

This sounds as though Issachar’s family would be happy to serve others and work the land.

16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
18 I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.

Dan’s family would be a judge for the children of Israel and I think some kind of protection to them.

19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Jacob prophesies here that Gad and his descendants would be taken by another force, but in the end they would overcome.

20 Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

The line of Asher would produce the wealthy of the house of Israel.

21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

I’m not exactly sure what this mean, but I know a hind is sometimes referring to cattle of some type. It should as though his family would advise others.

22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

Joseph and his family would be strong and fruitful. His branches, which are the Nephites and the Lamanites we learn of in the Book of Mormon, would run over the wall. I think this means they would separate themselves from the House of Israel (part of the scattering of the tribes of Israel), which they did by crossing the waters to the Americas. They would be blessed by the Savior, who is the shepherd and the stone of Israel.

27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

Benjamin and his family would plunder and take from their enemies for their own benefit. This doesn’t sound very positive, but perhaps that is just because of my limited understanding of how they spoke at that time.

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.
31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

Jacob had blessed each of his sons and their families with prophecies of what was to come for them. He told them that he was to be buried with his family back in Canaan, in the cave where his fathers were buried. This was what he had previously asked Joseph to make sure happened to him when he died. Then when he was done speaking to his sons, he laid down his mortal body and died. He was gathered to his people then, meaning he returned to the family which he had been sealed to eternally by the Lord.

I may not be fully correct in my interpretation of what each blessing meant that was given by Jacob, but the point is that each was given a patriarchal blessing by the prophet and their father. It is such a blessing to have the priesthood on the earth today, which gives men the power to bless their families with the authority and power of God. I am so glad that I have the opportunity to request blessings from my husband and that I have been able to receive blessings from my own father. I have truly felt the love of God through these blessings. It is also such a blessing that the power to give patriarchal blessings, which are prophetic blessings, as these blessings that Jacob gave to his children. Patriarchal blessings are those which can tell us more information about where we came from as well as what can be ours if we can remain true and faithful to the Lord.

The Gathering of the House of Israel

To view the entire lesson go here: The Gathering of the House of Israel

This week in our Relief Society lesson we are studying the gathering of the house of Israel. I think to understand this, we have to understand that the house of Israel was scattered. The house of Israel are the descendants of Jacob, who was later called Israel because of his righteousness. He had twelve sons who became the tribes of Israel. They were the covenant people of God during biblical times. In Deuteronomy 28:64 we read, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” The scattering was promised long before it actually occurred. The people fought amongst themselves and divided into two. This led to more fighting and eventually caused the scattering that had been promised to them. In 1 Kings 22:17 we read, “And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.” The descendants of Israel were scattered to all the world because of unrighteousness. In Romans 11:20, we read, “. . . because of unbelief they were broken off . . .”. The promises of the prophets of old, are only available to those who keep their covenants with the Lord. As latter-day saints, we believe that those who become covenant people of the Lord now, are in a sense adopted into the house of Israel.

What responsibilities do God’s covenant people have to the nations of the world?

In Matthew 28:19-20 we read the following:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

God’s covenant people have made covenants with the Lord, to be a light to the world. This means that they are to be an example of righteousness and have the duty to teach the gospel to all people and to bring them closer to God. In order for the world to be blessed as a whole, the covenant people of the God, must keep the commandments and stand for truth and righteousness.

What benefits have come to God’s children because His covenant people have been scattered throughout the earth?

Some of those who were scattered, such as Lehi’s family, brought the gospel with them to other parts of the world. Because of the scattering, much of the world has been able to learn of some portions of the gospel. The blessings of the house of Israel are not for only those who live where ancient Israel once was, so many people all over the world have the blessings available to them if they choose it.

Why does the Lord want His people to be gathered?

The Lord made a covenant with the house of Israel, that they would be gathered again. In 3 Nephi 20:29 we read, “And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.” The Lord wants to keep his covenant with his people. There has always been strength in numbers. We are constantly in a world-wide war against Satan and his angels. When we gather together as covenant people, we have the strength to overcome. In Jeremiah 12:15 we read, “And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.” The tribes of Israel need to be gathered so that the inheritance that God has promised them, can be received. It can only be received when they willing accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and so part of the reason for the gathering is to bring the people to Christ so that they can have salvation.

How will the house of Israel be gathered?

The gathering, which began with the restoration of the gospel, is done through missionary work. In 1 Nephi 15:1 we read, “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—”. As people are brought into the fold of God through baptism, they are gathered into the house of Israel. This gathering started with the gentiles when Joseph Smith was instructed to organize the church. It will continue until the second coming of the Lord, when all will be made aware of Christ.

In what ways have you been gathered spiritually as one of the Lord’s covenant people?

I made the choice to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a member I have made covenants with the Lord. Through these covenants, I have been spiritually gathered with other saints who are all striving to live righteous lives and become more like Christ. As I draw closer to him, through my choices and understandings of the gospel, I am gathering closer with the saints. I have been able to make more covenants because of living worthy to enter the temple of the Lord. These covenants and blessings are eternal and sacred to me.

UPDATE: The more I thought about this, I realized that even though I was raised in the church and baptized at age 8, I have since had the opportunity to be gathered spiritually. There were many things that I took for granted about the gospel, when I was young. Then, when I was 19 years old, I went out with a friend and we sat looking at the temple. We talked about the choices we had made personally and how we felt about our own levels of righteousness. He challenged me to be a better person than I was at the time and I challenged him to do the same. We made a pact to work on it together. In that very moment, I had a change of heart and I started my own personal gathering with the saints.

In what ways have you participated in the gathering of others?

In one way, I have tried to share my testimony with others. This is done both in word and in my actions. When we live a righteous life, firm in the truth of the gospel, we have a joy and a light that is an example to those around us. I am striving daily to be a light to others so that they will want to find the joy that comes through this gospel. In another way, I am helping to gather others, by going to do temple work. Those who are dead, are hearing the gospel through the missionary efforts going on beyond the grave. These people need people like me, to go and do the physical work for them in the temple, so that they can be baptized and make additional covenants. I am so glad to have the opportunity to share my testimony and to do work for those who have died. I know that these things bring me great blessings in this life and I have a great hope in the blessings that this will bring after this life as well.

UPDATE: I think it would be interesting to hear from Jews, who have a lineage of living as practicing Jews, about their feelings about the gathering of Israel. I am sure these promises are discussed for them today. This should be a source of great anticipation and excitement for those who are devout. I would love to know how they feel, so that I could understand even more, the blessings that will be when the gathering has been finished.

The Tenth Article of Faith

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

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

We believe that the Lord promised the Children of Israel that they would be scattered if they failed to keep his commandments and live righteously. In Deuteronomy 28:64 we read, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” Then we learn of the outcome of this promise in 2 Kings, chapter 17:

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.
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.
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.
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.

We believe that it is truth that Israel will be gathered again. In 1 Nephi 10:14 we read, “And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.” We believe that this gathering will literally be fulfilled. In Deuteronomy 30:3 we read, “That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.” The tribes of Israel will be gathered together from all the earth, where they were scattered. Moreover, we believe that this gathering has already begun. In Doctrine and Covenants 110:11, we learn when this gathering started. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had the keys of the priesthood restored to them, which gave them the authority from God to do this work. “After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”

We believe that the tribes of Israel will be restored to the knowledge of the truth, which has long since been denied and forgotten. In 3 Nephi 20 we learn what the Savior taught the Nephites of this:

30 And it shall come to pass that the time cometh, when the fulness of my gospel shall be preached unto them;
31 And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.

We believe that this restoration started with the gospel being taken to the gentiles, or those who were not of the house of Israel. This started with the translation of the Book of Mormon and the missionaries being sent out to the world to preach of the gospel. We believe that as the gentiles have received the gospel, they have made covenants with God, which has allowed us to be adopted into the house of Israel. We believe that it is our responsibility to take the fullness of the gospel to the rest of the world, which will bring the scattered tribes back together.

We believe that along with the gathering and restoration of the ten tribes of Israel, that Zion will be built. We believe that this Zion will also be knows as the New Jerusalem and it will exist as a partner to Jerusalem, which will be built again by the gathering of the tribes. We believe further, that the New Jerusalem will be upon the American continent. In Doctrine and Covenants 45 we read the following:

66 And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;
67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

In another modern revelation, the Lord revealed that Zion, the New Jerusalem, would be built in the state of Missouri (see D&C 84:3). We believe that this will be the center of Zion, but that Zion as a whole will exist throughout the world, in the hearts of the righteous and covenant people of the Lord.

We also believe that Christ, the Lord and Savior of mankind, will come again and will reign as Lord over the earth. In Matthew 16:27 we read, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Then in Doctrine and Covenants 76:63 we read, “These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.” He will bring all the nations under his reign, and all people will know that He is the Christ. I think one of the things I look forward to most, is that all laws will be the laws of God, and all governments will be under his rule. This means that all those things that are wicked and unrighteous about governments today, will no longer exist.

Finally we believe that at the second coming of Christ, the earth will be cleansed of all wickedness. In Malachi 4:1 we read, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” We believe that the earth will be renewed to its perfect state and then it will receive its proper glory, which is paradisiacal. In Isaiah 51:3 we read, “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” Then later in Isaiah 65:17 we read, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” That paradisiacal condition will be like the Garden of Eden that existed for Adam and Eve. Then it will have the glory and be prepared for the righteous to dwell upon the face of it.

These beliefs bring me such great joy and excitement. I believe that the work of the Lord is going forth and that the tribes of Israel are indeed being gathered, because the gospel is spreading across the earth. I know that wether I am alive or not, I will rejoice at the second coming of the Lord. I know that the earth will be prepared for his reign, and therefore it must be pure of all wickedness. This will be the beginning of the millennium, and I am so excited for the great work and blessings that will come from that time.

D&C Section 45 (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Part 1).

Historical Background

This revelation was given through the Prophet, Joseph Smith, to the Church. He said, “To the joy of the Saints who had to struggles against every thing that prejudice and wickedness could invent, I received the following:” [Section 45].

When did Jesus Speak These Things unto His Disciples As He “Stood before Them in Flesh”?

“Wherefore, hearken and I will reason with you, and I will speak unto you and prophesy, as unto men in days of old (v. 15). And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh, and spake unto them, saying: (v. 16) . . .”. The Lord begins to retell some of the teachings he gave to His disciples while he was on the earth (see v. 16-59). In Matthew 24 and 25, we can read the what the Lord taught his disciples, but parts of this original lesson are incorrect or incomplete in the version of the Bible we have today. The Prophet, Joseph Smith, received corrections from the Lord that were included in the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew.

Why Were the Early Apostles Anxious to Know the Signs of the Second Coming?

“. . . As ye have asked of me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds of heaven, to fulfil the promises that I have made unto your fathers (v. 16), For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel (v. 17).”

The Apostles had learned that when they died, their bodies and spirits would separate and they would be in bondage from then until the resurrection and restoration of all things began. This knowledge made them anxious to know what they could look for as far as signs of the second coming of the Lord. I believe that the apostles are waiting anxiously for the day when these things will happen, as probably most of the spirits who have gone on are waiting. It will be a glorious day, when the resurrection can unite those souls with their bodies and release all men from the bondage of physical death.

Jews to Be Scattered among All Nations

“And now ye behold this temple which is in Jerusalem, which ye call the house of God, and your enemies say that this house shall never fall (v. 18 ). But, verily I say unto you, that desolation shall come upon this generation as a thief in the night, and this people shall be destroyed and scattered among all nations (v. 19). And this temple which ye now see shall be thrown down that there shall not be left one stone upon another (v. 20). And it shall come to pass, that this generation of Jews shall not pass away until every desolation which I have told you concerning them shall come to pass (v. 21).”

The manual I am using to study tells of the destruction of Jerusalem, as told by the Savior. 33 Years after the Savior’s death, 66 A.D. to 70 A.D., a horrible war broke out between the Jews and I believe the Romans. It resulted in the destruction of all of Jerusalem, including the burning of the temple and the death of over a million and a half of the jews. Those who were left were mostly sold into slavery and scattered all over the earth.

Is the World Going to Come to an End at Christ’s Second Coming?

“Ye say that ye know that the end of the world cometh; ye say also that ye know that the heavens and the earth shall pass away (v. 22); And in this ye say truly, for so it is; but these things which I have told you shall not pass away until all shall be fulfilled (v. 23).” When the world “ends”, all the wicked will be destroyed and so it will be the end of all worldliness. Once there is no longer anything wicked, the world can be renewed.

What Are the “Times of the Gentiles” and When Are They Fulfilled?

“And this I have told you concerning Jerusalem; and when that day shall come, shall a remnant be scattered among all nations (v. 24); But they shall be gathered again; but they shall remain until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (v. 25). And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth (v. 26). And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound (v. 27). And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel (v. 28 ); But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men (v. 29). And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (v. 30).”

When Christ was giving this lesson, the gospel was with the Jews. Then after his death, the gospel remained with them until the destruction of Jerusalem. Then the gospel was given to the gentiles and taken from the jews. When Joseph Smith received this revelation, he was witnessing a fulfillment of some of these things. He had been an instrument in bringing the gospel light to those in darkness. Just as the Lord said, it was given to the gentiles first and the time of the Gentiles will be fulfilled.

Before the time of the Gentiles will be fulfilled there will be signs that are given in these verses. First, the Jews that were scattered, will be gathered again. According to the manual I am using, a greater number of the Jews have returned than it is believed were there when Moses led the children of Israel or when the Kingdom of Solomon existed in ancient times. Elder George Q. Morris formerly of the Twelve Apostles, said that we can now say they have returned. Second, it will be a time of commotion and sin will be everywhere. It is obvious that we live in this time. Third, many will not accept the gospel, which has been the case throughout the restoration. There are many who are unwilling to put aside the ways of man and change their hearts to follow the gospel.

Men’s Hearts Shall Fail Them

Men have given many of the hearts over to depression and sadness. The hope of something better is forgotten, because Satan has his hold on the hearts of people. The gospel brings the hope and joy that keep our hearts working properly.

What Will Cause the Love of Men to Wax Cold?

The love of men will wax cold because of iniquity. When we sin, we put ourselves above others. When we become so selfish that we will not help others and we turn our hearts away from those in need, our love waxes cold. The gospel teaches us to serve others and avoid sin at all costs. The love of men is waxing cold today and the ideas of the world say that we need to think about ourselves and do things to make ourselves feel better. The truth is, however, that we can only feel the best about ourselves, when we forget ourselves and think and serve those around us.

Why Is the Fulfilling of the Times of the Gentiles So Significant?

“And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land (v. 31).”


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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