Posts Tagged 'Signs and wonders'

2 Kings Chapter 20

Judah was the remnant of Israel in the promised land, when the rest were taken captive into other nations. Hezekiah was their king, and he led Jerusalem in righteousness. He had focused much of his leadership on removing the temptations of idolatry and strengthening the temple. Because of the faith of the people and Hezekiah, the Lord had delivered them from their enemies. This chapter begins as follows:

1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying,
3 I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.
6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.

Hezekiah was nearing the end of his life, due to illness (see also Isaiah 38 and 2 Chronicles 32). The prophet Isaiah came to see him and told him that the Lord wanted him to set his life in order because he would soon die. Hezekiah turned and prayed to the Lord, pleading for the Lord to remember how he had lived in a manner that would please Him. He cried sorely. Isaiah had left his room, and was on his way into the middle court, when revelation from the Lord came to him. He was told by the Lord to return to Hezekiah and tell him his prayer was heard and his tears were seen. He would be healed. On the third day, Hezekiah was to go to the temple according to the commandment God. The Lord would extend his life for another fifteen years. He would also deliver them out of the hands of their enemy, the Assyrians. The Lord would defend the city for his own purposes and because of the promises given to king David. Isaiah told him these things and then told his servants to use a lump of figs to cure Hezekiah. They did and he recovered.

8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day?
9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.
11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

Hezekiah asked Isaiah how he would know that he would be healed and be able to go to the temple on the third day. It is normal to wonder how a miracle may happen, when everything we know says otherwise. To show him a sign, Isaiah asked Hezekiah if his shadow should move forward or backward by ten degrees. Hezekiah replied that the movement of his shadow to go down ten degrees was simple, because that was the natural course when the sun moved, so it should return ten degrees from where it was at that time. Isaiah prayed and the shadow was moved ten degrees back from where it had been on the sundial of Ahaz.

There is no other thing in nature or made by man, that can turn back the time, the way that the Lord did for Hezekiah. This event may have inspired a confidence in Hezekiah, that had been weak in his state. It may have even been the reason that his body was able to completely heal from this experience, because attitude is a large part of recovery from phyisical problems with the body. Faith in the Lord brought healing to Hezekiah.

12 At that time Berodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

At some point after he was well, Beradach-baladan of Babylon sent gifts to Hezekiah thinking he was still ill. (see also Isaiah 39) Hezekiah received the gifts and then showed the Babylonians all the precious things and treasures of the kingdom. This seems to have been a moment of pride and boasting in his own greatness, which is not something that we should do. The faithful should praise the Lord and should not seek the glories and honors of men.

14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.
15 And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord.
17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.
18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

Isaiah went to Hezekiah and asked what the men had said and where they were from. After Hezekiah told him, Isaiah asked what he had shown them in his house. Hezekiah told him that he had shown them everything. Then Isaiah prophesied that all that had been shown to them, would one day be carried away captive into Babylon. His sons would be carried away into Babylon and become servants or officers in the palace of the king. The word of the Lord was good, but in truth, the prophecy was not good for the people of Judah.

This must have been a hard prophecy to hear, knowing that Isaiah was a true prophet and his words had been fulfilled in the past. Hezekiah was personally aware of the fact that the Lord kept His word and that Isaiah was speaking the word of the Lord about the destruction of his people.

20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

Hezekiah did other things for Judah, like create an aqueduct or conduit system that brought water to the city. The other things that he did were kept in the record of the kings. Eventually he died and his son Manasseh reigned.

The story of Hezekiah being healed, is an example of the power of the prayer of the faithful. Hezekiah had lived a good life and he desired to continue it. He prayed in faith, and was blessed to be healed and live. This does not mean that every prayer of the faithful will result in a trial being removed or in something being healed, but it does mean the prayers of the faithful are heard. If it had been the will of God for Hezekiah to die at that time, being the thing that would be a greater blessing in the eternities, he would have been allowed to die. A sweet and tender message is given to us in this chapter. Not only does the Lord recognize the words of our prayers, but he sees our tears. He knows when we are sad or mourning. The Lord knows of the moments of deep sorrow, sadness, and sickness in our lives and they do not go unnoticed. We are not alone.

Another lesson learned from this chapter, is that it is always important to keep our pride in check. Pride is, in my opinion, the root of so many other sins. It creeps into our lives in ways that are hard to recognize and it sinks into our hearts so quickly. The only way to be sure to avoid this, is to keep living the gospel as best as we can, striving to keep the commandments at all times, and repenting as soon as we recognize our mistakes. The protecting guidance of the Spirit, is the only sure way to avoid pride and its dangerous consequences. Blessings come when we live faithfully and pay attention to our weaknesses with a willingness to become more.

Ponderizing- Week 5 Thoughts

I have chosen a verse this week, which was referenced in a talk called “The Sabbath is a Delight“, given by Elder Russel M. Nelson in the April 2015 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It a great talk for anyone looking to improve their Sabbath day observance. The verse I chose to ponderize, is Exodus 31:13, which says the following:

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.

Observance of the Sabbath day is an eternal principal, which was established during the work of the creation of the world. I believe it is one of the most commonly ignored commandments worldwide, which is incredibly sad and telling. In 1991, President James E. Faust said, “In this day of increasing access to and preoccupation with materialism, there is a sure protection for ourselves and our children against the plagues of our day. The key to that sure protection surprisingly can be found in Sabbath observance”. I hope for this kind of protection for my family. This scripture teaches us that our choices to either keep or not keep the Sabbath, are a sign from us to God. Our choices show how we are willing to keep this commandment, or how we are willing to live our covenant with God.

For years, I have been considering this idea and changing the things that I choose to do. I have tried hard to set this day apart from the rest of the week, which is hard considering my daily labor is taking care of my children and home. But there are simple things that can be done. I turn on beautiful, uplifting music as we prepare for the day. We spend time reading the words of the modern prophets and apostles as a family. My husband and I have chosen to replace our normal nightly t.v. shows, with couples study of the scriptures. We try to talk to our extended family members more often. These things, among others, have helped myself and my family to remain focused on those things that matter most, especially our relationship with our Savior. We are blessed when we consider what sign we are choosing to give to God, and do those things that bring us closer to Christ instead of seeking after our own pleasures.

I saw a video this week, on the lds.org blog based on a post by Linda Clyde called, “My Heart-to-Heart with God about the Sabbath”. It is a great example of how we can consider our observance of the Sabbath day. You can watch it at this link: My Heart-to-Heart with God about the Sabbath

One of the things that I have thought about more this week, is the end of the verse, which teaches us that through our Sabbath day observance, we “may know that [He is] the Lord that doth sanctify [us].” Keeping the Sabbath day holy, brings us closer to Christ. It helps us to remember that we become better through Him and the gift of the atonement. He is the one who has the ability to make us pure and clean. He is the way to our personal perfection or to becoming whole in both body and spirit. He has the power to make us the best version of ourself. This verse promises us, that if we desire to know the Lord better, to become better, to be healed, or to feel clean, then we can, by keeping the Sabbath.

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.

I love the Sabbath day. It is my favorite day of the week. It is the gift of rest from every day labor. It is the opportunity to feel enriched, uplifted, and unburdened from worldly cares. It is a special time to focus more on family relationships. It is a time to renew covenants and show God that I am willing to remember Christ and to put Him first in my life. I love the feeling of renewed energy, peace of mind, and comfort, that I feel when I have done my best to reverence the Sabbath day. I hope that more people can experience the wonderful blessings of the gift of the Sabbath day.

What sign will you give on this Sabbath day?

1 Samuel Chapter 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judges Chapter 6

The Israelites had peace in the land, so long as they were drawn to the Lord and kept his commandments. In the last chapter, they had been delivered from Canaanite bondage and had peace for forty years. Their peace would not last, as time passed. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.
3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;
4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.
5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord.

Again, the Israelites returned to wickedness. The Lord allowed them to fall into the hands of the Midianites, for seven years. Their enemies destroyed their crops, so they had nothing for themselves or their animals. Great numbers of Midianites entered the land and made the Israelites a poor people. They began again, to remember the Lord, and pray for deliverance.

7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites,
8 That the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;
9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land;
10 And I said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.

A prophet was sent to Israel, by the Lord. He reminded the people that the Lord had been their deliverer in times past. He told them to obey the Lord and put away the gods of the Amorites.

11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abi-ezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.

An angel appeared to Gideon, as he worked to gather wheat in secret. The angel said that the Lord was with Gideon. Gideon asked why the Lord allowed them to suffer as they did. He was then called by the Lord to serve Him and deliver Israel from the Midianites. Gideon asked how this was possible, because he was so poor and not the strongest. The Lord promised that he would be with Gideon and he alone would be able to smite their enemy. Gideon asked for a sign that he had found the favor of the Lord. He asked the angel to stay so that he could bring a present out to him and the angel said he would remain there until he returned.

Gideon considered himself to be “least” in his house. The Lord does not strictly choose people for their outward appearance, physical strength or material belongings. In His perfect wisdom, he chooses those whom will show the strength, beauty, and goodness of the Lord. This is an example of what is more eternally significant to God, which is not the things that the world generally values in people. We may often feel that we are not qualified for the callings we receive in this life, but the Lord will strengthen the weak who choose to serve Him.

19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.

Gideon prepared meat, bread and broth for the angel. The angel had Gideon lay the meat and bread on a rock. I think this was meant to seem as a sacrifice being laid upon an altar.

21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.

The angel touched the meat and bread with his staff, and a fire consumed it. Then, the angel left. Gideon was amazed and possibly scared to have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. The Lord spoke peace to his heart. Gideon built and altar to the Lord.

25 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
26 And build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.

The Lord commanded Gideon to thrown down his father’s altar of Baal, and destroy his grove near it. He was instead to build an altar to the Lord and make a burnt offering with the wood from the grove. He was fearful of the consequences of this act, but he did it anyway, in the secret of night.

28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.
29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

The men of the city saw what had been done and discovered that Gideon had done it. They wanted to kill Gideon, so they asked his father to give him into their hands. Gideon’s father asked who would speak for Baal. Baal should speak for himself if he was truly a god. He called on Baal to call for Gideon himself, for destroying the altar.

33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him.
35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.

The enemies of Israel were gathered together. The spirit of the Lord rested upon Gideon. He blew a trumpet and sent messengers out into the land of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, to gather the people.

36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Gideon asked for another sign, that God would indeed cause him to save Israel. He put a fleece on the floor and told God that if the land was dry and the fleece became wet with dew, he would know that the Lord would do this thing. When he rose in the morning, the dew had filled the fleece as he had asked. Then, he asked again, pleading that the Lord would not be angry with him, that the Lord would then make the ground wet with dew and the fleece dry. When he arose, the Lord had allowed the dew to fall on the ground, but the fleece was dry.

We should not ask for signs from God, without entirely pure motives to know and follow what God has in store for us. I think that the Lord knew the heart and intent of Gideon, which I believe was to completely follow the Lord and His commandments. For most of us, signs follow the act of faithful obedience and are for a confirmation or to build testimonies. Those who unrighteously ask God for signs, are asking for the anger of the Lord to be against them. We would not benefit from being shown signs before we are willing to do what God has asked of us, because it is our faith in those things we cannot see, that teaches us truths we will remember forever.

One of the additional things I gather from this chapter, is how easily the adversary lulls people into carnal security. Just a little peace and plenty, can lead us to believe that everything is well with us. In times, when God is allowing us to prove to him that we can be good stewards of the blessings he gives us, Satan convinces us that we can turn to things of the world for our enjoyment and pleasure. The Israelites felt this carnal security when they were at peace with the nations around them. It wasn’t until they had strayed far from the path of God, and their enemies oppressed them greatly, that they remembered the importance of following after the Lord. The same things happen to us today, and this is why we should be striving to keep our feet on the path the Lord wants for us, even when things are going well. Daily prayer, daily scripture study, attending church to partake of the sacrament, and serving in the temple, are some of the simple things that will keep us in remembrance of the Lord.

Numbers Chapter 17

The Israelites struggled with understanding the order of the priesthood and the pattern for being ordained to the priesthood. The Lord had chosen Moses as His prophet. Aaron and his sons were chosen by the Lord, to hold the Melchizedek priesthood and serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. In addition, the Levites were set apart and ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, to assist the sons of Aaron and to bear the tabernacle when they traveled. These men did not choose this of themselves, but followed the plan that the Lord instructed them to follow. There were many thousands more in the host of Israel and some did not have a testimony of this pattern for themselves. Some who had rebelled against God, were destroyed for it. The book of Numbers continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod.
3 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.
4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
5 And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

The patriarch of each family was commanded to take a rod of their father, or of their tribe and to write their name upon the rod. There would be twelve rods for the twelve houses of Israel. Aaron, who was Moses’ elder brother, was to have his name on the rod of the Levites. The rods were then to be placed in the tabernacle of the congregation, where the presence of the Lord would meet them. The chosen rod would blossom as a sign to the Israelites of who was the chosen family to serve with the Lord’s authority and priesthood. This test and sign were to be given to put a stop to the murmurings of the Israelites.

6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
7 And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness.
8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.

Moses told the people what God asked of them, and each prince of the twelve tribes, or patriarch, gave their rod to Moses to be put in the tabernacle of congregation. Here it is called the tabernacle of witness, I think because this was going to be a witness to the people of the will of the Lord. The rod of Aaron budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds. Moses brought the rods out to the people, who took their rods and witnessed the rod of Aaron had been chosen.

10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
11 And Moses did so: as the Lord commanded him, so did he.
12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.
13 Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?

Moses was told to keep the rod of Aaron as a token against those rebels among them. This proof to those rebels would stop the murmuring and stay the hand of the Lord against them. Moses placed the rod in front of the testimony, as he was commanded. Those who were not authorized to hold the priesthood of the Lord, would die if they attempted to claim the priesthood and it duties for themselves by trying to enter the tabernacle of the congregation. I think that these questions of the children of Israel, were their way of recognizing the will of the Lord.

This witness to the people, was a blessing of mercy. The wrath of God was upon the rebellious host of Israel, but in His mercy, God gave them a sign to understand His will. They had not had the faith to believe upon the words of the prophet, and for this God had every right to destroy them, but He did not. Instead, the Lord helped them to know His will and gave them a warning and a token as a reminder of it. We are required now to be a people of faith. We are asked to believe upon the words of the scriptures and the prophets, both ancient and modern. These stories from the scriptures are a reminder for us, of the will of God. We each need to take it upon ourselves to seek for a testimony of these things and allow the spirit to be our own personal witness. I am grateful for the desire I have to gain a testimony of these things. The scriptures are a real treasure in my life. The spirit has taught me truth as I have been studying and trying to understand what God wants for me.

Challenge: Is there a principle of the gospel that you do not understand, as the Israelites did not understand the order of the priesthood? Have you studied it out? Take the time now, to study, pray and ponder about these things. If you truly desire for understanding and truth, the spirit can teach you. God blesses those who faithfully seek for these things.

Exodus Chapter 4

The Lord extended a call to Moses, to go back to Egypt and ask Pharaoh to let the Israelites be free. Moses, who had been preserved for this great purpose, did not understand how he could do what the Lord was asking of him. There was a history already, with the Israelites, and they had not seem him as one with authority. He had been told by God, to tell them that he had been sent to do this thing by the God of their fathers. The story of Moses continues:

1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.
2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

Moses questioned the idea that the Israelites would believe what he had to say. Then God gave power to Moses with the rod he had by making it something he could use as a sign to them.

6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

These were additional signs for him to show to the children of Israel, so that they would know that he had been sent by God to lead them. He could show them the power of the rod he held, or show them his skin changing to leprous skin and then back to normal again, or water from the Nile river becoming blood on the dry ground. All of these things would have been seen as great miracles by those who saw them. A rod turning into a living serpent was not a standard thing. Leprosy was a life-altering disease for the Israelites. Once one had it, he was banished as if he had been given a sentence to death. He was shunned from society and never expected to return, as there was no cure for it. To have it and then return to normal would have been amazing to them, which is why this miracle performed later by the Savior, was so amazing then as well. Finally, to change water to blood showed a power over an element of nature, which no man naturally had. Surely someone who had faith in the Lord, would recognize his power displayed by Moses.

10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Moses felt that he would not be able to speak well enough to do this work, and God reminded Moses that He is the creator of all and can do all things. Moses was still unsure of how he could do this, so the Lord told him that his brother, Aaron would meet him on his way. Aaron would become the spokesman for Moses and Moses would use the rod for signs. I think that Moses would have been capable of speaking well to the people, but they probably would believe the words coming from the mouth of Aaron, who had lived among them and known them better. Moses had faith in God and went forward with the work he was called to do. There are many times when we may have fear and doubts also, but if we go forward in faith, the Lord will bless us greatly. It is always a wonder to me, that the Lord would take the weak things of the earth, and do such great and marvelous things. I am sure there were other hebrews who would have been all too eager to do this work, but the greatest lessons can be learned from the humbleness of the servants of God. Moses was blessed to have the spirit of the Lord with him as he served. We too can have the spirit with us as we are promised when we make the sacred covenants of baptism. There is no work that the Lord would ask of us, which we cannot accomplish if we have the guidance of the spirit.

18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
19 And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
21 And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Moses received Jethro’s blessing to go back to Egypt and was then told that those who wanted to kill him were dead. Before leaving, The Lord told Moses that those who wanted to kill him were dead. Moses took his family with him to Egypt. He was told again to make sure he used the power that God had given him, to show the miracles of God to Pharaoh. The Joseph Smith translation gives clearer understanding to verse 21. Moses was told that the Pharaoh would harden his heart and not allow them to leave, not that God would harden the heart of Pharaoh, which is what it sounds like here. The Lord told Moses to tell Pharaoh that his firstborn would be slain if he did not allow the Israelites to go.

24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.
25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
27 And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.

The Joseph Smith Translation reads as follows:

24 And it came to pass, that the Lord appeared unto him as he was in the way, by the inn. The Lord was angry with Moses, and his hand was about to fall upon him, to kill him; for he had not circumcised his son.
25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and circumcised her son, and cast the stone at his feet, and said, Surely thou art a bloody husband unto me.
26 And the Lord spared Moses and let him go, because Zipporah, his wife, circumcised the child. And she said, Thou art a bloody husband. And Moses was ashamed, and hid his face from the Lord, and said, I have sinned before the Lord.
27 And the Lord said unto Aaron, go into the wilderness to meet Moses, and he went and met him, in the mount of God; in the mount where God appeared unto him; and Aaron kissed him.

The Lord expected his chosen servant to make and keep covenants and circumcision was an outward expression of the covenants the Israelites made with God. If the son of Moses had not been circumcised, he would not have been acceptable of the Lord and would have remained cut off from His presence. The son of Moses was circumcised by his mother, before they arrived in Egypt. Once the son of Moses was circumcised, the Lord let him continue on his way. Then, Aaron received inspiration from the Lord, to meet Moses. Moses told Aaron what had happened to him and what he had been called to do for the Lord.

29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
30 And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Aaron joined Moses in his work, and they gathered the Elders together just as the Lord had told them to do. Aaron spoke to the elders and Moses showed the signs, and the people believed them and worshipped God.

I am well aware of many of the weaknesses that I have. I know that God wants us to serve Him and that as we do, He can help us to find strength where weaknesses once were. As an example, I have a very difficult time remembering names. I was recently called to serve as Secretary in our women’s organization, the Relief Society. This would require me to know the names of all the women in our group and be able to take attendance during our Sunday meetings. While I knew this was a weakness of mine, I had faith that the Lord would help me to be able to do this. I am still working on it, but in the weeks since I have started doing this, the Lord has given me a lot of help and I now have the majority of the names in my mind along with what those individuals look like. I am so grateful for the help that the Lord gives us to be able to accomplish His work, even if the task may seem really simple. Prophets are people too. They have weaknesses and fears, which they are able to overcome through faith in the Lord. If we can also move forward in faith, we will be able to overcome our own weaknesses and fears. We would do well to recognize with humility, that we are not perfect as God would have us become. In order to help us to become more like Him, God needs to allow us to work on our weaknesses. In His infinite wisdom, God extends challenges to us, so that we can learn and grow. I am so glad that God can see my potential and has a desire for me to be able to reach it. Even though facing my weaknesses can be really difficult, I know it will be a much greater blessing for me and those I love.

Genesis Chapter 9

Noah and his family were saved from the destruction of the flood, which God had caused to come upon the entire earth. After Noah had given thanks and sacrifice to the Lord for all He had done for them, the Lord blessed Noah.

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.
6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Just as Adam and Eve were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, Noah and his seed were also given this commandment. They were also given dominion over all the animals of the earth, in the same way that Adam was first given. All living things were given to them, for sustaining their lives, but they were not to eat of the blood of any living thing. They were also told that no man should murder another, because of the value of God’s creation, which is man. If a man were to murder, than his blood was to be shed. This means that the death penalty for killing, was instituted for the posterity of Noah. These things all remain true principles of God to this day. We still have dominion over all living things. They are given to us for our good. But we must not drink the blood of any living thing, and most certainly we are commanded not to kill or murder another person. Our lives are a sacred gift from God and we should treat them as such. God continued with the following:

8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

God made a covenant with Noah and all the people and animals that were with him. This covenant was that the earth and the people on it would never again be completely destroyed by floods. The rainbow is the token, left in the sky after rain, which should stand as a reminder of the covenant which God made with Noah and all mankind. In the footnote for verse 13, it references the Joseph Smith translation of the verse, which includes a reminder of the covenant made with Enoch. That covenant, which we read about in the book of Moses, was that the floods would be stayed and a remnant of the seed of Enoch would always remain on the earth. The footnote also mentions that with the token, those on the earth would look up and those in the city of Enoch, or Zion, would look to the earth and all would rejoice. I can’t say that I ever thought of that before. I would love to keep this in mind when I see a rainbow, that it should remind us of the city of Enoch and the promise made to Enoch. And that we should rejoice and look forward to the day when the city of Zion will again return to the earth. What a beautiful thought this should bring every time we see rainbow, which in itself is one of the most beautiful and inspiring things I know of. I am so grateful for the Pearl of Great Price and the Joseph Smith Translation, which help my understanding of this covenant and token to be greater and more meaningful in my life.

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Ham was a disloyal son, who instead of protecting the modesty and honor of his father, went to tell others of it. Because of this, he was cursed by his father. His brothers, Shem and Japheth, respected their father and helped him, so they were blessed for their service and love to Noah.

28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.

I love that God gives signs for us to have a remembrance that he is there and that he loves us. I am so grateful to have this story of Noah, to teach me principles of the gospel. I want to live a life of righteousness, so that I can be reunited with those righteous people of the city of Enoch. I want to be deserving of the promised blessings that come to those who follow the commandments and are disciples of Christ. I hope and pray that others will be able to learn from my example and testimony, and that it will give them hope and a greater desire to be faithful and righteous in this life.

Signs of the Second Coming

To view the entire lesson, go here: Signs of the Second Coming

The Second Coming is something that I personally look forward to with great anticipation. 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.” As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Second Coming is the time when Christ will return again to this earth and rule over all the nations of the world. It is a time when great work will be accomplished. It will mark the beginning of the Millennium, when saints will work hard to complete temple work for all who have ever lived on the earth. It will be a time of great peace and joy.

What are some of the signs of the Second Coming?

The scriptures teach us of several known signs of the Second Coming. In Matthew 24, the Lord taught his disciples about the signs of his return.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Some of the signs include false Christs who deceive, wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, killing of the saints who stand for truth and righteousness, offenses, betrayals, and hatred, false prophets, and great amounts of sin and cold-heartedness. A great sign will be that the gospel will be preached to all the world, which is only made possible by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Then there will be great destruction through all the world both physically and spiritually. Then at the time of His coming, the sun and moon will be dark, the stars will fall from their places, and those who remain will see Christ coming again, with the elect of heaven at his sides. It may seem like a lot of doom and gloom, but the hope and excitement come in the outcome of these signs. In particular, the spreading of the gospel will bring great joy and happiness to people all over the earth, and even more to those who have already died and are waiting for work to be done on their behalf. As the gospel spreads, testimonies of Christ will be strengthened and faith will displace the fear of the awful destruction that is to come.

Another sign of the second coming, was foretold by the prophet Malachi. In Malachi 4:5-6 we read the following:

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

This has happened already. Elijah appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and to Oliver Cowdery, in the temple. He restored necessary keys for the sealing powers of the priesthood. This sign has been fulfilled and we are now preparing for the Savior’s coming by doing work in the temple.

We also believe that before the Lord comes again, the city of Zion will be built upon the American Continent (see Article of Faith 10). This is a sign that the saints of the latter-days have been anticipating since the restoration began.

What evidence do you see that the signs are being fulfilled?

It doesn’t take much effort to see the calamities of the world getting worse and causing more destruction and casualties than they have in years past. Natural disasters are happening often all throughout the world. Transgressions and sins are becoming popular culture and those things that are good are painted as wrong by the world. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a righteous individual without ridicule and hardship from others. On a more pleasant note, temples are being built more frequently and in more places around the world. The church continues to grow and the gospel is being taken to most of the world. I truly believe that the Second Coming is not far from us.

How can we remain calm and at peace even when some of the signs are terrifying and dreadful?

In Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 we read, “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” There was a time, when thinking of the signs of the Second Coming, brought me fear and discomfort. I have learned now, that this was because I was living in a way that caused me to fear what would happen for the things I was doing wrong in my life.

Faith is a Sunrise

Faith cannot coexist with fear. When we work to strengthen our testimonies and focus on preparing ourselves, fear is wiped away and faith takes its place in our hearts. I believe that this is true. In simpler terms, I think about how it feels to take a test when I am unprepared and have little faith in my own abilities. I am fearful that I will not do well, and I struggle greatly. When I study and become confident in my knowledge of the material, I do much better and I have a faith that I will do the best I can. This principle is the same for the feelings that come when we think about the Second Coming and the signs that precede it. We remain calm and at peace, when we try to follow the commandments, study the gospel, attend the temple, and follow the counsel of preparation given to us by the church leaders. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read the following:

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

We would do well to use wisdom in all that we do. We should not be wasting away our days, thinking that we can do whatever we want and prepare later. We need to be prepared for the signs that are negative, because something will effect everyone of us. We also need to prepare for those positive signs as well, because it is the duty of every disciple and follower of Christ to do their part in the work. It is through this preparation and active participation, that we will find a sense of security and peace.

Joseph Smith-Matthew (Part 3)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-Matthew part 2).

So far this translation of Matthew 24, had been what the Savior taught his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs that would lead up to the Second Coming. These words are meant for us to understand what we should be looking forward to, and preparing for as we live in these latter-days. I know that the Second Coming will occur and I am so glad that we have the gospel of Jesus Christ himself, to teach us how we can live to be excited for that time and the blessings of eternity, rather than to fear the end of our world as we now know it, or rather to fear our own destruction. (Emphasis in the following verses marks the difference in this chapter from the King James version of the Bible.) The Savior continues:

38 Now learn a parable of the fig tree—When its branches are yet tender, and it begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh at hand;
39 So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors;
40 But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.

The Savior teaches us that when the signs begin to come forth, as the leaves of the fig tree, is when we can be sure that the coming of the Lord is near. These signs began with the restoration of the gospel, when missionary work began to go forth to other nations and when the priesthood was restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we are living in the last days and that the Second Coming is not far away. We do not know the exact date, and we learn from this scripture that no one knows. When people claim to know the date of the “end of the world”, they are being deceived. Only God knows when the Savior will return again. Because of this, we are expected to rely on our faith and trust in God. We express this faith by preparing ourselves now, even if we will not live to see the day of His coming.

41 But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man;
42 For it shall be with them, as it was in the days which were before the flood; for until the day that Noah entered into the ark they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage;
43 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

We cannot afford to wait until our own floods come to wipe out the wickedness on the earth. We must not procrastinate the day of our own repentance. The story of Noah and the floods should stand as an example and a witness to us, that the plan of God will go forth and it will not wait for us to get our lives in order. We must be actively working to put all things in our lives into their proper order. It is our duty to put away the things of the world, or things like the eating and drinking of the world then. I don’t think that for most of us, it would require some fantastic change of heart. I believe that we each need to try to do the “little things”. These things are not truly little things, but are those things that will save us, such as daily scripture study and prayer, family home evening, going to the temple and church, and performing little acts of service every day. If we do these things, putting away the things of the world, and actively follow the counsel of our prophets, we will be saved when the coming of the Son of God occurs.

44 Then shall be fulfilled that which is written, that in the last days, two shall be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left;
45 Two shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken, and the other left;
46 And what I say unto one, I say unto all men; watch, therefore, for you know not at what hour your Lord doth come.

Every person will not be saved. There are some who believe that all people will be saved, but we are saved by the choices and actions we make in this life. We are saved through the atonement of our Savior, which means we must repent. The footnote for the word “left” references a scripture which tells us that 2/3 of the people on the earth, will be removed. This is something that is for all people to know and learn, not just those who are living righteously. The separation of the wheat from the tares, will occur to all mankind on the earth and we need to have the desire to be a part of the third that remains after the fire.

47 But know this, if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to have been broken up, but would have been ready.
48 Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.
49 Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
50 Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing; and verily I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
51 But if that evil servant shall say in his heart: My lord delayeth his coming,
52 And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken,
53 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
54 And shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
55 And thus cometh the end of the wicked, according to the prophecy of Moses, saying: They shall be cut off from among the people; but the end of the earth is not yet, but by and by.

If the time of the Second Coming had been revealed, we all would be ready when the time was there. Those who are faithful, will prepare themselves as if they knew the Lord was coming, even when they do not know. I think that those who are righteous, will actually be able to feel that the time is getting closer. Even now, when I discuss the ways of the world with family and friends, we often talk about how we can feel it growing closer each day. The faithful will be blessed for their preparations. I understand completely the example that the Lord uses for the servant who is not looking. When I was working both for an electrical contractor and a light manufacturer, there were times when management would decide to check on their productivity. The boss would go to a job site, or into the production warehouse at very unexpected times. There were a few occasions when he would catch good workers doing as they had been asked and things were going as expected. Those workers would receive some kind of reward for their good work. At other times, and sadly more often then not, those workers would be seen not doing their jobs and in effect they were caught costing the company time and money. A lot of these workers assumed that as long as they met their quota in the end, it didn’t matter how they did their work. Eventually that kind of attitude leads to a fall in productivity or quality of the product. These workers were reprimanded and sometimes even let go for their choices. This is what the Lord is teaching us here. We have been told that the world will be in the worst kind of wicked times. People will have made the choice to ignore basic gospel truths, and even go so far as to say the Lord is not coming, or the Lord does not exist. It is then, when He is least expected, that the Savior will come. At that time there will be those who are faithful and will be rewarded, but there will be more who will not be expecting it and will be unfaithful and unprepared. Those individuals will receive the reward that awaits those who are living wickedly.

The world is growing darker and people are now accepting more wickedness into their lives. It is hard to hear what our children are being faced with every day. It is difficult to find good, quality entertainment that is not tainted by the temptations and ways of Satan. But through it all, I am filled with hope and excitement for the things that are to come. I find joy in the knowledge of the peace that the Savior will bring. It is difficult to separate our lives from the wickedness of the world, but it is so worth it. I know that if we are faithful, we will truly be blessed. I love the Lord and I love His teachings and His gospel. I love knowing that the reward will be great for doing the right things in this life.

Joseph Smith-Matthew (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-Matthew Part 1).

This is a translation of Matthew Chapter 24 from the King James version of the Bible. (Emphasis in quotes below is for changes to the Joseph Smith translation from the KJV.) The Savior has taught his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and is relating it to the things that will happen at His Second Coming. He continues his teachings:

24 Behold, I have told you before;
25 Wherefore, if they shall say unto you: Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not;
26 For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

The Savior taught his disciples, and now us, that we must not believe the false prophets who will tell us the Savior will come in their ways. When He comes again, as the son which brings light to the whole earth. Anything or anyone, who claims that our salvation can come by any other means than what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, is a false prophet or false Christ. We do not have to go to the desert or in secret to find Him. We find Him through his gospel, which is plain and available openly to all who are searching for Him. The plan of salvation will not change because the times have changed, because God and His gospel are constant. I believe that He will come again, just as the prophets of old have said. I believe that the gospel is true and available to each and every one of us, if we allow our hearts to be opened, softened and changed.

27 And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.
28 And they shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars.
29 Behold I speak for mine elect’s sake; for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
30 And again, because iniquity shall abound, the love of men shall wax cold; but he that shall not be overcome, the same shall be saved.
31 And again, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked;
32 And again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled.

33 And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
34 Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled.
35 Although, the days will come, that heaven and earth shall pass away; yet my words shall not pass away, but all shall be fulfilled.
36 And, as I said before, after the tribulation of those days, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken,
then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;
37 And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus taught his disciples that all the righteous will be gathered from all over the earth. There will be great trials and tribulations, wars, evil and wickedness which cover the earth. We are experiencing a great number of these things today. It says that the love of men will wax cold. I think that this is evident greatly in the breaking down of the family unit. People are becoming cold to one another, especially to those whom they should love and care for the most. But even in with all that, those who remain righteous and faithful are promised that they will be saved. They will have this ability to be saved, because the gospel will reach to all the world. As the gospel goes forth, people will be drawn to the truth and to Christ, just as the birds of the air are drawn together to one place. Once the gospel has been taken to all the world, then the wicked will be destroyed. At that time, the signs of the coming of the Lord again, will come to pass as they have been prophesied. Those who are there to witness the signs of His coming, will be there until all things will be fulfilled, including the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. When he comes, all those who are covenanted members of His gospel, will be gathered together. I believe that at that time, those covenanted people will be quickened to meet the Savior and the saints who have died before that time. I hope that I am on the right path to be considered one who treasures the word of the Lord. I hope that I will remain strong and not be deceived by the temptations and snares that Satan will surely place in my path. I look forward to this great and dreadful day of the coming of the Lord.

This post is to be continued.


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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