Posts Tagged 'Trust'

2 Kings Chapter 22

Hezekiah had been a righteous leader in Judah. On the other hand, his son Manasseh, was extremely wicked, and brought the people of Judah along with him into great sin. Manasseh’s son, Amos, followed in the wickedness of his father and continued to lead the people in idolatry. All of these had died and at this point, Josiah, the son of Amos, had become king. This chapter begins with:

1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

At the age of eight, Josiah became king of Judah. He ruled for 31 years, or until he was about 39 years old. He was not like his father Amos, but lived and ruled in righteousness like King David. (see also 2 Chronicles 34)

3 And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,
4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:
5 And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house,
6 Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house.
7 Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully.

After 18 years had passed, Josiah being about 26 at the time, he sent a servant, named Shaphan, to the temple priest, Hilkiah, to take total of the money gathered from the people for the work of repairing the temple. This money was the tithes and offerings of their day. The priests had been faithful and did not require a reckoning of the money they were given to have the work done, because they could be trusted.

Tithes and offerings are for the purposes of building up the kingdom of God on Earth. Today, this money goes to the building and maintaining of temples and other church buildings around the world. The churches and temples are sacred places, consecrated for the faithful to gather, teach and uplift one another, worship God, covenant and serve. In ancient times, the temple of the Lord served the same purposes. It is right, that a faithful and righteous leader would desire to use the offerings of the people to rededicate the house of the Lord. If you would like to see more about temples in the LDS faith, I just saw this great, simple video about them: Mormon Temples

Trust in the work of the Lord, is so important to the uplifting and edification of all those who serve. Trust in God, of course, is of greatest importance. Those who serve in His kingdom, need to trust that God will keep his promises and covenants, and that He will be there to help them when they ask for help. Trust in others is also needed. So much of the work of the Lord, is Priesthood leaders, such as the prophets and high priests, giving callings and assignments to others, such as these priests in the temple, and then trusting that they will do their part in the work. When the work is accomplished the one who delegates is able to continue His work, others are able to come and participate in worship and service to the Lord, and most of all, those who were trusted and followed through, have opportunities to learn; grow in testimony, wisdom and knowledge; and become more as individuals. Additionally, we each individually, need to have trust in ourselves, that we are strong enough to do the work of the Lord. In one of the greatest paradoxes of the gospel, we are strong enough, when we become completely humble and submissive to the will of the Lord, becoming, in a sense, our weakest, in order to grow the most. Trusting the Lord, others and ourselves, is the only way that we can truly further the work of the Lord and reach our greatest potential as individuals.

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord.
10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
13 Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

The book of the law was found in the temple and given to Shaphan, who read it and returned to Josiah to give a report of what had happened. He told Josiah that the money of the temple had been gathered and given to workers. He also showed the king that the book of the law had been found. He read it to Josiah. Josiah responded by renting his clothes. He told the Shaphan, his son Ahikam, a man named Achbor, and his servant Asahiah, to ask the Lord about the words of the book of the law, in behalf of Josiah and the people of Judah. Josiah was concerned for the people because their ancestors had so often willingly disobeyed the words of the book. The men went to Huldah the prophetess, to her home in the northwest part of Jerusalem, and communed with her.

What a huge blessing it must have been, to have found the record of the law. This was their scriptures, even the record of the law of Moses. Nations who loose the records of their laws, forget what that law is and create their own laws in order to make civilization work. The lessons from the past, especially those found in our own scriptures, show that the nations who are strongest, both physically and spiritually, are those who know the law because they keep the records and use them. People who are raised up without the laws, are so much more likely to fall away from the traditions of the past. (This is one of the themes we can read about this throughout The Book of Mormon.) The laws of God, such as the law of Moses for the ancient Israelites, had not changed. This law was still in complete effect at the time the book was given to Josiah. Because it had not been preserved by the kings, as they had been commanded when first given to Moses and passed on to Joshua, it had been forgotten. Josiah did not know the fulness of the law, until he was able to read it. Our scriptures our precious, but only if we read them and apply them to our lives.

15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18 But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;
19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.
20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

Huldah prophsied that evil would come to the people of Judah just as the book of the law had said it would, or rather all the evil and curses brought upon the wicked found in the record, because they had chosen to worship other gods of their own creation. The words of verse 17, sound as though the curses would come because the people deliberately turned to idolatry to upset the Lord. Their wickedness may have been more rebellion than being raised in ignorance of what was right. Their choice to practice wickedness would have strong consequences. However, to Josiah, the Lord had heard his humble weeping and she prophesied that he would die in peace and not be the one to see the destruction of his people. The men returned to Josiah and told him what she had spoken.

Josiah would be blessed for his choice to do what was right, once he had learned of it from the word of the Lord. Three things happened to him in order to receive these blessings. First, his heart was tender. This sounds like he had an open heart, softened to the word, sensitive to it and ready to receive it, because he was willing. Second, he humbled himself to the Lord. In Alma 32:14, Alma was teaching the Zoramites who were poor and brought to humility by their circumstances. He said, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” Greater blessings come to those who are humbled when they learn the gospel, just as Josiah had done. In his humility, Josiah was concerned for others who would be destroyed, and was mourning for their loss. This humility and care for others, was seen by the Lord and blessings were promised as a result. If we are compelled into a situation where we become humble and then turn to the Lord with greater commitment, we will be blessed, but the greatest blessings and the most growth to our souls, comes in actively studying the word of God, and choosing for ourselves to have faith in that word and live what is taught. And third, Josiah heard or read the words and heard the spirit’s influence and inspiration. The word of the Lord will do nothing for us, if we read them, but refuse to hear what they can teach us. The blessing that was his, and can be ours if we follow this example and pattern, is peace. Peace is something that men desire for their lives, and he was promised to have this, even knowing what would come of his people.

As I read this chapter, I think back on a time in my life, after having three of my six children, when the hard drive that held all my digital photos and videos, had stopped working. I had lost all of them and experienced a mourning for something non-living, that I had never known was possible. (It seems a given to mourn for the loss of something living.)
I was beside myself with grief for weeks, as we did all that we could to possibly get something back. I felt as though I would not be able to remember my children as babies, and memories are so important to me. After several weeks, we got word, that the majority of the files had been recovered. My joy was so full. I know now, just how much I could mourn for the loss of non-living things of great value to me. This taught me to have greater gratitude for these things. Likewise, I am so grateful for the scriptures. I love them more than other things of this world, much like family photos, because of the happiness I feel as I study them. I am so glad that there are so many ways to have the scriptures available to us, because if they were lost to me now, I would be heartbroken. I know I would mourn them, because my memory will not always hold on to the words I study. I would forget them and yearn for the peace they bring. Knowing that the scriptures have not always been as available to mankind, and reflecting on just how short a time anyone in the world has even known about the Book of Mormon, enlarges my gratitude for being able to live today and have them. Finding the scriptures in the temple, truly was a blessing for Josiah and the people of Israel.

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1 Kings Chapter 18

The prophet Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. Ahab had married Jezebel, and he and his wife led the people of Israel in the worship of Baal. The worship of Baal was a wicked practice and led to great evil among the Israelites. Elijah had the sealing power and had closed the heavens in the land, meaning the people were suffering in a time of drought and famine. During this time, he had been blessed and preserved at the hand of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Elijah was commanded to return to Ahab, and then the Lord would allow rain to fall upon the earth again. So, Elijah went to Ahab in Samaria, where the famine had become very sore. Ahab called for his governor Obadiah. Obadiah had secretly saved a hundred prophets who were going to be killed by Jezebel, hiding them in caves and giving them food and water. Ahab sent Obadiah to find a place with water in the land, where they could save the animals they had left. Obadiah and Ahab parted ways.

7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
15 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah met Elijah on the way, and recognizing him, fell down and honored him, asking if he was, in fact, Elijah. Elijah confirmed this and told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was there. Obadiah was afraid that he would be harmed by Ahab if he returned to him saying that he knew where Elijah was. This was because Ahab had been hunting for Elijah the whole time he was in hiding, causing his people to make oaths promising that they did not know where Elijah was. If he returned saying he knew, Obadiah was worried that Elijah would not remain there, and then Ahab would kill him for it. Obadiah told Elijah that he had saved the prophets and that he feared the Lord, and he begged that Obadiah would not send him to do this. Elijah made a promise to him, assuring Obadiah that he would reveal himself to Ahab that very day, so Obadiah returned to Ahab and told him. Then, Ahab went to find Elijah.

Obadiah honored Elijah by falling on his face in a manner that showed great respect in their day. I wonder what it must have been like to be Obadiah in that moment. Clearly he had a love from the prophets of the Lord. He recognized Elijah and must have felt some awesome feelings at their meeting. In my own experience, I have had the opportunity to meet one who I believe to be a man of God. At the time, he was a member of the Seventy, and he came to our stake to call a new president. I attended a few meetings where he was present and the spirit he brought with him, was amazing. As the first meeting came to a close, I found myself having the desire to stay there and hold onto that spirit as long as I possibly could. Later, I had the opportunity to meet him personally and have a short conversation with him. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of respect and honor I had towards this man. I am sure that Obadiah felt some of these same feelings towards Elijah.

Obadiah’s role in this chapter, is a good example of trust in the Lord’s servants. Obadiah was able to put aside his fears of what the king might do to him, and trust in the promise from Elijah that he would remain to meet Ahab. He followed in faith, and although we don’t learn of anything more about him in this chapter, I am sure that he was blessed for his faithfulness.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Ahab saw Elijah, but did not honor him. Instead he blamed him for the troubles of Israel. Those who do not live as God would have them live, cannot recognize the blessings of God around them. Elijah’s presence there, was a blessing to Ahab, though he did not see it yet. Elijah said that the troubles they had were because of Ahab and his family, who had turned from the Lord and His commandments, and worshipped Baal instead. When people have come to know the Lord, and then reject Him and follow after their own heart, they bring troubles upon themselves. Elijah called for a gathering of Israel at mount Carmel, along with all the priests of Baal. Ahab obliged and a gathering was called. Elijah asked the people how they could continue to try to follow after both God and Baal, saying if they believed God was their God, they should follow after Him, but if they believed Baal to be their god, they should follow him. There was no response from the people. This is an eternal principle. There is no way to be devoted to God completely, and then do likewise towards anything else, because God expects all who serve Him, to put Him first in their worship, trust and faith. The people must have known that choosing to worship anything else, was pinning themselves against God. Over time, it would grow harder to try to split allegiance between the two and one would have to give out.

Elijah called their attention to the fact that he was the lone prophet of God there, while there were hundreds of their prophets of Baal. So with that he challenged them, to choose two bulls for sacrifice. They could choose one for themselves and he would take the other. They would both prepare their sacrifice upon the altars, with the exception of any fire. Then both would call upon their respective gods, Elijah to the Lord and the priests to their gods, to answer with fire from heaven for the sacrifice. The people agreed to this challenge. The priests prepared their sacrifice and proceeded to call out to their gods for hours with no response. It says here that as a result, they leaped upon the altars themselves. Elijah mocked them saying things like, their god must have sleeping or on a journey somewhere. The priests cried and cut themselves, which was a custom forbidden by the Lord. They continued to do this and their prophesying all day, until the time of the evening sacrifice, and their was still no answer.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

So, Elijah gathered the people to him, repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been broken, by adding twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He made a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice with wood, and then called for it to be covered in water. He had them pour water on the sacrifice and wood three times, and then cover the surrounding ground and fill the trench with water as well. Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, he prayed to the Lord that he would be heard, so that the people would know that He was the God of this people. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, that there would be an opportunity for the hearts of the people to return to God. The Lord answered his prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and all that was at the altar, including the water. The people witnessed this and fell down to worship the Lord. Elijah commanded that all the prophets of Baal be killed.

41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah told Ahab to go eat and drink, perhaps this was much like telling him to go about his day, and then the rain would come. As Ahab did just that, Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and threw himself on the ground, much like a manner of worship. He told his servant to go look towards the sea, but the servant saw nothing. Elijah told him to return to look seven times. On the seventh time, the servant said that a little cloud of the sea arose. The servant was commanded to go to Ahab and tell him to prepare his chariot, go down and not to stop even because of the rain. While this was done, a great storm came. Ahab rode to Jezreel. Elijah started to run, and by the hand of Lord, reached the entrance of Jezreel before Ahab.

Ahab was in a position, where he would do anything possible to bring water to the land. He had hunted for Elijah to take the drought away. I think that the Lord’s timing was perfect and not only allowed for Ahab to be in a state of humility because of their troubles, but meant that Elijah’s life would be spared. I think that if the time had been any sooner, Elijah may have been killed as the prophets before him. However, just as Ahab was trying to save the last animals from starvation and thirst, he was able to find the man he felt had brought this upon him and his people. Then, Elijah was able to prove to Ahab and the people of Israel, that there is no other God save the Lord.

This was quite a miracle to witness. The priests of Baal were given every opportunity in a full day’s time to pray, but their answer did not come. Their worship of objects, could not provide relief to their suffering, because their gods were not real. Elijah on the other hand, did all that he could to show that the Lord was true. This was a much needed witness to the people of Israel. They had been in a spiritual drought and famine without seeing it for what it was. In recognizing that they were trusting in false gods, the people had the opportunity to have their spirits fed and renewed.

Likewise, opening the heavens was a miracle. It showed that the Lord was in fact able to take away and give to men, and that He would do great things through the voice of His prophets. This was a miracle that more of Israel would have recognized as a blessing, because their very lives depended on having water to drink and food to eat. The people of Israel were greatly blessed at this time, to have both their physical and spiritual beings saved by the Lord. Now would have been the time for them to repent and return to the Lord.

The miracles performed in this chapter, cause me to reflect on my own life experiences. I have not witnessed the fire of the Lord, or the heavens open quite so literally, but I know that I have experienced many small miracles from God. These small miracles should stand as a witness to me, that the Lord is the only true and living God. There is nothing in this life that should be placed before Him in my worship. The Lord is the source of all that I need to succeed and survive. I know that in my life, I have been sustained as Elijah was, and the heavens have opened to give me all that I have truly needed, when I have been willing to recognize God, listen to his chosen servants, and strive to keep His commandments.

2 Samuel Chapter 21

David returned to leadership in Israel, with a divided nation between those in Judah and the rest of the tribes of Israel. However, they had managed to maintain a peace with their neighboring nations. The people in the land, were generally living according to their own desires and passions. It seems that the Israelite people would not have been considered devoted to the Lord at this time. Even David, had dealt with a lot of heartache and difficulty, because of his personal choices against the laws of the Lord. This chapter continues the story of David’s reign as king during this time of difficulty.

1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)
3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?
4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.
5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,
6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whomthe Lord did choose. And the king said, I will give them.
7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath that wasbetween them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.
8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

The kingdom of David had a famine that last three years. David asked God why they had this famine, and the Lord told him it was because Saul had killed the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites were a people that lived among the Israelites from the time that they first returned to the promised land. The Gibeonites were afraid that they would be killed by the great nation, and their mighty God, whom they had heard about, so they had promised to be their servants if they would allow them to live among them in peace. However, the Gibeonites had come to this agreement by deceiving the princes of Israel. This was not something that was an easy thing for the host of Israel to realize, and many of the congregation murmured against it. The Gibeonites were spared at that time, because of the oath made between them and the princes of Israel, but they were made servants of Israel because of their deceit. Apparently, Saul had try to kill them, even though they had an oath with the children of Israel. This wickedness had brought the famine upon the David’s kingdom.

This was in a day when oaths were taken so seriously by men, that breaking them could mean death. We do not hear of oaths made with this kind of weight behind them, in fact, it seems that more often than not, people make oaths with a back-up plan as to how they can get out of it. We have contracts signed, promises made, and word given, only to have several ways to back out afterwards. While, I am glad that we don’t have people fearing death at the breaking of a contract, I feel that their is great integrity in keeping promises and doing all that we can to fulfill contracts and oaths we have with one another. Truly strong character is shown in those who value promises with the same importance as those we read about in ancient times. Our world would be so much better today, if the words of another could more consistently be trusted and depended upon.

David went to the Gibeonites and asked what he could do to made amends for what Saul had done. In response, they said they did not want to be paid or have any Israelite killed. David offered to do anything they desired. The only thing they asked for, was for seven sons of Saul to be delivered to them for hanging, because he had been the man to go against them. David agreed, but he spared Mephibosheth, because he had made an oath with his father, Jonathan. Seven of the sons of Saul were given over to the Gibeonites, and they were hanged for the things that Saul had done. I cannot imagine how hard this would have been for David. It was not the custom of the Israelites to allow children to suffer for the sins of their parents (see Deuteronomy 24:16), but Saul himself was no longer there to make restitution for what he had done. This decision was probably not made lightly, and I can imagine that the families of those taken, would have been heartbroken.

10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

The mother of two of those who were taken, laid on the rock where they had been hung, making sure that nothing happened to the bodies for several weeks. David learned of this thing she did, while she was in mourning.

12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, which had stolen them from the street of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:
13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.
14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was entreated for the land.

Perhaps, because of learning what Rizpah had done for the bodies of those when loved, or perhaps for some unknown reason, David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh-gilead, and gathered them with the bones of those who had been given over to the Gibeonites. Saul and Jonathan were buried in the grave of Saul’s father, Kish. I expect that the bodies of the seven sons were allowed to be placed where their families wanted them to be. After these things were done, they asked God for the land, which I think might mean that they may have asked a blessing upon the grave sites, or the land where they were buried.

15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.
16 And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.
17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.
18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again abattle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.
19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Beth-lehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man ofgreat stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.
21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.
22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Then, Israel went to war again with the Philistines. David became faint from battle, which I imagine may have been caused by his age or health at this time. Knowing David was not able to fight, the son of Goliath, Ishbi-benob, wanted to kill David, but Abisahi helped David and killed the Philistine. The men of David told him he was not to go out to battle again, because they did not want to lose their king, the “light of Israel”. The battles with the Philistines continued, and the men of David continued to kill those who were the sons and family of Goliath.

The promises of God that were made to David after he had the man named Uriah killed, continued to effect his life. In this chapter, we can see that the sword would not depart from the house of David (see 2 Samuel 12:10). Not knowing how soon after the famine that these battles with the Philistines started again, it is possible that the Israelites were forced into battles while still dealing with the effects of it. These times must not have been great for the people of Israel, and I am sure it would have been hard to be their leader at this time. David, who could have turned to his own wisdom or that of his counselors, turned to the Lord. He knew that God could help him to know how to stop the famine and help his people. He continues to be an example of the importance of going to the Lord, and each time he did, he and his people were blessed by following the direction and counsel given. We too, should continually turn to the Lord for guidance and direction. When we do, trusting in the will of God, we can also be blessed with those things that we stand in need of at that time.

Genesis Chapter 46

Jacob (Israel) has been told that his son, Joseph, is alive and the governor over the land of Egypt. Joseph has been the favored son of Jacob and believed to be dead for several years at this point. Pharaoh has offered Jacob’s family a place to live and be fed through the rest of the famine, because they are the family of his trusted assistant, Joseph. Their story continues as follows:

1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
5 And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
6 And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:
7 His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

Israel left his home, with his family and belongings and began the journey to Egypt. He stopped first, to give thanks to God by the offering of sacrifices in the land of Beer-sheba. The name “beer” was the name of the place where the Lord had spoken to, and covenanted with both Abraham and Isaac. This was a sacred place of worship for Israel. God spoke to him in vision and told him not to worry about going to Egypt. I don’t think that Egypt was a land where the hebrews were generally treated well. It may not have been to the point of them all being slaves, but Egypt was a land where they believed in many gods and had the many false traditions of their fathers. I am sure it was not being easy for Israel to be taking his loved ones into that kind of setting. God promised that his seed would become a great nation there. God promised to be with him there and bring him out of Egypt again. I think when it is said that Joseph would put his hand upon his eyes, it meant that Joseph would give him a blessing. I also am not sure that God meant that he would literally bring Jacob out of Egypt, but that possibly this meant that eventually the family of Jacob would be brought out of the land of Egypt. Jacob faithfully went forward with his family and arrived in Egypt.

A Family Tree

The list of his grandchildren begins with his sons from Leah, his first wife. They are as follows:

8 And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.
9 And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.
10 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.
11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
12 And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.
13 And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.
14 And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.
15 These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.

These are the grandchildren of Israel, through Leah’s handmaid, Zilpah, his second wife:

16 And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.
17 And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.
18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.

These are the grandchildren of Israel, from his third wife, Rachel, who was the wife he loved and lost during childbirth:

19 The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.
20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him.
21 And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.
22 These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

These are the grandchildren of Israel, whom he had through his forth wife, Bilhah, the handmaid of Rachel:

23 And the sons of Dan; Hushim.
24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.
25 These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.
26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Jacob brought 66 grandchildren, eleven sons, 1 daughter and his 3 living wives, into the land of Egypt. There they were to meet up with Joseph and his two sons.

28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.
30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.
31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.
33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
34 That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Judah is sent to go ahead and meet Joseph and they would all meet in the land of Goshen where Pharaoh had prepared land for the family of Israel. Joseph and Israel are finally reunited with tears. Joseph tells that that the Egyptians see shepherds as an abomination, so he would go and tell pharaoh that they were shepherds. I am sure this was to keep his family safe and able to continue the work they had always done.

Jacob had a knowledge of the Egyptians and their traditions, which had probably been taught to him by his father. Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, had been raised in the land near Egypt and knew of the traditions because his own family lived them. Jacob knew they were not living according to the ways of God. It seems as though a bunch of those traditions were to consider certain associations with the hebrews to be an abomination (i.e. not eating with them). Here we learn that being a shepherd was also considered an abomination. It seems that Jacob had a lot to be concerned about in taking his family there, but he was faithful and followed the commandment of God to dwell in the land of Egypt. There are times in my own life, when my own logic would tell me that something would not work for myself or my family, but I know that following the inspiration of God has to be better. If we believe that God loves us and knows all, we need to recognize that the things he inspires us to do will be of great benefit to us physically and/or spiritually. Jacob recognized that God knew what was best and he trusted that God would remain true to the promises he gave. I hope that I can live to be a woman of that kind of faith and trust in the Lord.

Genesis Chapter 39

Joseph is one of the younger sons of Jacob (Israel). He had eleven brothers. He had been blessed with dreams by the Lord, which his brothers saw as a threat. There were also feelings of envy due to his being their father’s favorite. In response, they cast him into a pit and then sold him to some Ishmeelites on their way to Egypt. The story of Joseph continues:

1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

Joseph was bought by Potiphar and he prospered, even as a servant in Egypt. Joseph was righteous and had the Lord’s blessings. Potiphar recognized that Joseph was blessed by God and he made him his overseer or ruler of all his house and belongings. Potiphar was blessed for having Joseph in his household. I find it interesting that the footnote for the word “goodly”, references talents. I think this means that Joseph was a talented man who was able to help Potiphar to be more prosperous.

7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

Potiphar’s wife made advances towards Joseph, which he refused both because it would be wrong to do to Potiphar when he had made him ruler of his house, and because it would be a sin against God. Potiphar trusted Joseph and I don’t think he even watched over the things Joseph did in his house, because of the level of trust. She continued her advances towards him, until one day when no one else was around. She took hold of him and asked him again to be with her. He ran away, leaving part of his clothes that she held on to. She decided to use this to her advantage and called in other servants to tell them that Joseph had tried to take advantage of her. It takes a bold and unrighteous woman to be the kind of person to want to cheat on her husband and then can turn around and ruin the reputation of a man that has been so trusted and is known to be a righteous man. Potiphar’s wife repeated this story to Potiphar, who believed her and was angry with Joseph. Joseph, was then taken and put into prison with the prisoners of Pharaoh.

21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.

Joseph was an innocent man and still favored of the Lord. The Lord blessed him to find favor with the guards of the prison. The keeper of the prison, made Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. The Lord blessed the prison for Joseph’s sake. It is interesting to note that some of the best of men in the scriptures, are often cast into prison. With each of them that are righteous, the Lord continues to bless them and be with them.

This is a great example of standing up for our own virtue in the face of great adversity. Joseph was a righteous man, who loved God and would not commit this awful sin against Him. I am sure that he had a love for his master, Potiphar, and that losing that position in his household was extremely difficult. Because of his integrity, he was blessed and others were blessed because of him. I know that we will also be blessed if we hold fast to our own virtue and strive to have integrity. In Mosiah 2:41 we read, “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” The Lord will take care of us, when we stand firm in our faith and are obedient to His commandments.

Joseph Smith-History (Part 4)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History part 3).

At this point in the history of Joseph Smith, he has witnessed the first vision, experienced a lot of persecution, had several visits from the Angel Moroni regarding the plates of Gold, had the location of the plates revealed and been prepared to be a prophet, seer and revelator in the latter-days. This record continues:

55 As my father’s worldly circumstances were very limited, we were under the necessity of laboring with our hands, hiring out by day’s work and otherwise, as we could get opportunity. Sometimes we were at home, and sometimes abroad, and by continuous labor were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance.
56 In the year 1823 my father’s family met with a great affliction by the death of my eldest brother, Alvin. In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.
57 During the time that I was thus employed, I was put to board with a Mr. Isaac Hale, of that place; it was there I first saw my wife (his daughter), Emma Hale. On the 18th of January, 1827, we were married, while I was yet employed in the service of Mr. Stoal.
58 Owing to my continuing to assert that I had seen a vision, persecution still followed me, and my wife’s father’s family were very much opposed to our being married. I was, therefore, under the necessity of taking her elsewhere; so we went and were married at the house of Squire Tarbill, in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, New York. Immediately after my marriage, I left Mr. Stoal’s, and went to my father’s, and farmed with him that season.

During the four years in which he was being prepared to receive the gold plates, he continued to work for his family. Joseph seems to have been a good worker, and a good example of dedication and great work ethic to those who would later join the church. It is my understanding that Alvin, who died just months after the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph for the first time, was very close and beloved to Joseph and that loosing him was very difficult. This love and sadness at his death, would prove to be a great testimony builder when eventually the revelation that work could be done for those who had already died without the opportunity to have the blessings of priesthood ordinances. Alvin was a great example to Joseph, and he helped to keep Joseph committed to his calling. It would be good for all of us to try to be that kind of example in the lives of our family members, both by the things we teach others and the things we do.

Joseph met Emma and about 2 years later, they were married. This was in the same year that he would receive the plates. I look up to Emma for her courage in the face of difficulty. Even before they were married, I am sure that the persecution placed on Joseph became something that she had to deal with as well. I imagine that it was really difficult at times and she must have been a strong woman to be able to stick with him through it all. She lost the approval of her family when she chose to be married to Joseph and that is something that can be extremely difficult to deal with. She is a great example to me of one who is supportive of the priesthood and callings even when it meant extreme trials and heartache at times.

59 At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.
60 I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible. But by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.

Joseph was allowed to have the plates for translation, just as he had been promised. With his calling to translate the plates, he was also given the duty to keep them safe no matter what. Joseph must have been a very trustworthy man, with only the best of intentions in his heart. This was such an enormous responsibility that was given to the prophet. Because of this, Satan worked extremely hard to get men to try every way possible to get the plates from him. His persecution turned into physical violence against him, raids against his family home and more. Joseph recognized the hand of God in keeping them safe until he was able to return them to Moroni. I am sure there was a heavy weight until that day, when he no longer had to protect the plates from the hands of wicked men.

61 The excitement, however, still continued, and rumor with her thousand tongues was all the time employed in circulating falsehoods about my father’s family, and about myself. If I were to relate a thousandth part of them, it would fill up volumes. The persecution, however, became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester, and going with my wife to Susquehanna county, in the State of Pennsylvania. While preparing to start—being very poor, and the persecution so heavy upon us that there was no probability that we would ever be otherwise—in the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a gentleman by the name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars to assist us on our journey. Mr. Harris was a resident of Palmyra township, Wayne county, in the State of New York, and a farmer of respectability.
62 By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father, in the month of December, and the February following.

Because of the help of others, Joseph was able to remove himself from the intense persecution at his family home. He and his wife moved to Pennsylvania, where her family lived, because Martin Harris gave them the money to do so. Once in Pennsylvania, Joseph was able to work on the translation of the Book of Mormon by the power of God with the use of the Urim and Thummim. He had translated several characters in the first few months of working on this. It was at this time, that Martin, who had become a close friend to Joseph and acted as his scribe, asked the prophet to let him show some of the translated pages to others. After asking the Lord twice with the response that he was not to do this, the prophet asked again and was told that he could let Martin take the pages.

63 Sometime in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows:
64 “I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.
65 “He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”

Martin had hoped to receive the proof from wise men, so that others would believe the translation was true. The problem with this, is that it assumes that men can gain a full understanding of a spiritual thing from men. Martin Harris did not understand at this point, that the only way for people to believe the translations were true, would be by the power of the spirit, not by the word of man. This event of talking with a learned man who could not read a sealed book, was fulfillment of scripture. In Isaiah 29:11 it says, “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed”.

While away from Joseph, Martin lost the translated pages to the hands of wicked men. Martin was removed from his calling as the scribe for Joseph. This time became a trial of faith and obedience for Joseph, who had to sincerely repent for what he had done before he could begin translating again. We should never trust in the word of men over the promises that are given to us by God. This lesson teaches us that the Lord will allow us to have the things we truly desire, and if those desires are not the best He will give us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. This learning is meant to refine us into more obedient and faithful followers of Christ. I am grateful for the lessons that I have been able to learn from my own mistakes. I recognize that the pain that goes along with those lessons is necessary for our growth and that I will probably go through a lot more of these lessons throughout the rest of my life.

What Type of Example Should We Be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alma, Chapter 63

Who were the people in this chapter?

The people talked about in this chapter are Shiblon, Hagoth, Corianton, and Helaman.  Shiblon was a son of Alma the younger.  He was one of the missionaries to teach the gospel to the Zoramites and be spared by the hand of the Lord.  Hagoth was a ship builder (in this chapter).  Corianton was a son of Alma, who also went to teach the Zoramites.  He was the one to chase after a harlot and be called to repentance by the words of his father.  He continued to serve his mission after that.  Helaman was the son of Alma.  He was a prophet and a commander in the Nephite army.  He was the commander over the 2,000 (2,060) stripling warriors, who were led by their faith in God to success.

What kind of person was Shiblon?

If I was going to leave on a far away trip, I would give my most precious possessions to my Mother.  I would trust her to take care of my things and not let them be destroyed if possible.

“And it came to pass in the commencement of the thirty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Shiblon took possession of those sacred things which had been delivered unto Helaman by Alma (v. 1).  And he was a just man, and he did walk uprightly before God; and he did observe to do good continually, to keep the commandments of the Lord his God; and also did his brother (v. 2).”

The plates that had been kept sacred from the time when Nephi got them from Laban in Jerusalem, were passed on to Shiblon.  Shiblon was a righteous missionary and helped to bring many souls to Christ.  Helaman trusted Shiblon to keep them sacred.  We are also trusted to keep things sacred.  Things such as the covenants we make with God, callings given to us by God, raising children, and more.  We need to be like Shiblon and “walk uprightly before God”, “do good continually”, and “keep the commandments of the Lord”.

Why were Nephites migrating to the land northward?

Moroni died (v. 3) and then Nephites started to migrate.  “And it came to pass that in the thirty and seventh year of the reign of the judges, there was a large company of men, even to the amount of five thousand and four hundred men, with their wives and their children, departed out of the land of Zarahemla into the land which was northward (v. 4).  And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward (v. 5).  And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward. And thus ended the thirty and seventh year (v. 6).  And in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward (v. 7).  And it came to pass that they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea. And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not (v. 8 ).  And it came to pass that in this year there were many people who went forth into the land northward. And thus ended the thirty and eighth year (v. 9).”

Hagoth built at least two ships, which took many Nephites northward.  This is a lot like the explores of later times, who decided that there must be more out there and left to search for new places.  There reasons were probably similar, some looking for a fresh start after such a long period of war, some looking for wealth, some looking for more land, and so on.  This chapter only tells of one ship returning for more passengers.  It will be interesting to some day find out what happened to all those Nephites who left the land of promise for something else.  They had no idea that they were leaving the land where the Savior would eventually come and teach the people and bless them.

The importance of the sacred records

“And it came to pass in the thirty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, Shiblon died also, and Corianton had gone forth to the land northward in a ship, to carry forth provisions unto the people who had gone forth into that land (v. 10).”  Shiblon died, but could not pass the records on to Corianton, because he had left to go Northward.

“Therefore it became expedient for Shiblon to confer those sacred things, before his death, upon the son of Helaman, who was called Helaman, being called after the name of his father (v. 11).”  Shiblon passed the records on to Helaman the younger.

“Now behold, all those engravings which were in the possession of Helaman were written and sent forth among the children of men throughout all the land, save it were those parts which had been commanded by Alma should not go forth (v. 12).  Nevertheless, these things were to be kept sacred, and handed down from one generation to another; therefore, in this year, they had been conferred upon Helaman, before the death of Shiblon (v. 13).”  In keeping with Nephite tradition, those things which were not meant to go out to all the Nephites, were kept in the records that they kept sacred and passed on to those they trusted.  These records became the scriptures for those who received them.

These were like sacred family journals, kept for generations.  We have the privilege of having them available to read regularly.  I have tried over my lifetime to be a good journal keeper, but have not always been consistent.  When I am more consistent, I feel a deeper sense of gratitude and my testimony grows.  There are some things that I think are personal and more sacred to me that I hope my posterity will value someday.  I think the thing that keeps me writing more today, is that a year ago I heard a statistic that in three generations of time, we will be forgotten (and I can see this in my own family line to be very true).  What good am I to my posterity, if there is nothing recorded from my life.  I don’t want spiritually touching moments in my life to be lost and forgotten.  I want my great-grandchildren to benefit from knowing my life experiences and my testimony.

The exclamation point of the book of Alma

An exclamation point gives emphasis to a statement.  It makes it stand out more than others.  I think that one of the exclamation points of the book of Alma has been the importance of bringing souls to the knowledge of Christ.  There has been so much about missionary work.  There has also been a lot about the importance of standing for truth and righteousness.

“And it came to pass also in this year that there were some dissenters who had gone forth unto the Lamanites; and they were stirred up again to anger against the Nephites (v. 14).  And also in this same year they came down with a numerous army to war against the people of Moronihah, or against the army of Moronihah, in the which they were beaten and driven back again to their own lands, suffering great loss (v. 15).  And thus ended the thirty and ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 16).  And thus ended the account of Alma, and Helaman his son, and also Shiblon, who was his son (v. 17).”

So many times, the wicked have come up against the righteous in this book of the scriptures.  The overall emphasis of the book of Alma is that the Lord will save the righteous.  Whether they are righteous missionaries serving in unfamiliar and unfriendly areas (like the Alma and the sons of Helaman), or righteous church members who are defending the cause of freedom and the sacred values of the gospel.  If we are righteous, we will be saved.  It may not be a physical saving, but we will be spiritually saved and that is what is truly important.

 

Alma, Chapter 38

Can you be trusted?

The motto that is on the US coins is “In God We Trust”.  At this point in the scriptures, Alma has finished speaking to his son Helaman and is now talking to his son Shiblon.  “My son, give ear to my words, for I say unto you, even as I said unto Helaman, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence (v. 1).  And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end (v. 2).  I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites (v. 3).  For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee (v. 4).  And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day (v. 5).”

If Shiblon would trust God, Alma promised him that he would be delivered from trials and saved at the last day.  I think the best way that we show our trust in God, is to follow the commandments and follow the promptings of the spirit.  When I have turned to God in my own personal trials, I have always come out a better person because I have put my trust in Him.

Alma says, “I trust that I shall have great joy in you (v. 2)…” to his son Shiblon.  He is saying that he trusts Shiblon to honor him and bring him great joy.  Shiblon had already shown his father the kind of man he was, by serving the wicked Zoramites along side of him.  He showed his father that he was a man of faith, who wanted to bring others to Christ.  He has proven that he wants to do what is right, that he can have patience in suffering,  and that he puts his trust in the Lord.

Trust is such an important thing.  It is a daily struggle at times, to prove to the Lord that I can be trusted, but I know that I can always trust in Him.  I have faith that if I do the things that Alma has told Shiblon to do, that I will also be delivered out of my trials, troubles and afflictions, to be saved at the last day.

How can we gain a testimony?

My testimony has grown little by little throughout my life, as I have learned of the gospel and have had simple spiritual experiences.  Since, going through the temple the first time, for my endowments and to be sealed to my husband, my testimony has grown by much greater amounts at a time.  As I get older, I understand so much more because I am more willing to listen to what the spirit has to tell me, rather than what I think is best for myself (because they have not always been the same things).

“Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things (v. 6).  But behold, the Lord in his great mercy sent his angel to declare unto me that I must stop the work of destruction among his people; yea, and I have seen an angel face to face, and he spake with me, and his voice was as thunder, and it shook the whole earth (v. 7).  And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul (v. 8 ).  And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness (v. 9).”

When Alma tells Shiblon that the Spirit of God has made these things known to him, he is bearing his testimony to him.  He gained his testimony because he was “born of God”, after he experienced a visit from an angel and then the pain of his sins.  When he turned to God for forgiveness of his sins, he was blessed with a testimony of the Savior, His atonement, and the gospel.  If we are willing to turn to the Lord, we can also be blessed with a stronger testimony of the gospel.

Why is it important to receive counsel and warning?

It is important to have warnings when we may not know better for ourselves.  We see warnings around us all the time.  There are warnings on medicines, so that we do not use them when they could harm us.  There are warnings on signs when we drive, so that we will be safe on the roads.  There are warnings in the scriptures, so that we will be protected in this life and saved in the next.  As a parent, it is so important to warn my children of dangers that may come in their lives, because they are young and they do not know of the things that can truly hurt them.  There are even times, when I am sure they know of something that could harm them, but their curiosity gets the better of them, so I must warn them to keep them as safe as I can.

Even though Shiblon had proven to be faithful, Alma still left him with a warning.  “And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things (v. 10).  See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength (v. 11).  Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness (v. 12).  Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom (v. 13).  Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times (v. 14).  And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell (v. 15).”

Alma warns his son to not be lifted up in pride.  If we are prideful, we are not teachable and we will quickly be led away by our own selfishness.  We can avoid this pride by always being grateful to the Lord for everything we have and are.  He warns his son to bridle his passions and be filled with love.  We need to always be watchful of the simple things in life that can be a temptation to take us away from things of God.  Satan is very cunning and will have us do something we enjoy just once, then before we know it we cannot keep ourselves from our passion for that thing.  We can avoid the idleness and letting our passions get in the way, by serving others always.  When we focus on others, we cannot be focused on ourselves and our own desires.  Alma warns him to be careful of how he prays.  He says not to pray for the attention of others and not to be prideful in his prayers.  If we remember to pray for help with our own short-comings and pray that others will be shown mercy for what they do wrong, we will not put ourselves above them.  We all have our own challenges and temptations, we cannot allow ourselves to think we are better than others, just because we are trying to keep the commandments.  Ours is the greater sin, if we truly know better and yet still do things we shouldn’t, so we really should be focused on our own faults and not the faults of others.

Bridle all your passions

A bridle is something that is put on the head of a horse.  The purpose of it is to control them and direct them to where they should go.  A bridle keeps them in line and is a good thing to have.  Alma told Shiblon to bridle his passions.  When you bridle a horse, you do not destroy the horse, and the same is true when we bridle our passions.  Passions are strong feelings that we have been given by God to make us into the best people we can be.  To bridle them is only to control them, not to get rid of them.  I have a passion for performing.  I have loved it for many years, in fact most of my life.  But I have found that if I do not control myself in my performing, I can get carried away.  It can become the thing that guides my life instead of the gospel and the things I know are true.  Performing is a good thing that allows me to share my talents with others, which I know Heavenly Father would not want me to abandon completely.  However, I know that I must keep it controlled and in the right perspective.  It may not be the thing that controls me.

I find that as I keep myself closer to the gospel, my passions are easier to control.  If my mind is clear, because I am praying, reading my scriptures, and trying to do what is right, I know when I am approaching that line that I do not want to cross.  When it comes to my passion of performance, when I am doing what is right, I get a greater joy by using my performances to share my testimony with others.  As I control what I use my talents and energies for, I keep myself away from that line and instead point my passions in the direction that I know God would want me.  When I allow my spirit to control and direct me rather than my body, I can feel myself becoming a better person and I definitely find that I get more joy out of life.

My ason, give ear to my words, for I say unto you, even as I said unto Helaman, that binasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and cinasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be dcut off from his epresence.
2 And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your asteadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that bendureth to the end.
3 I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the aZoramites.
4 For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with apatience because the Lord was bwith thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.
5 And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your atrust in God even so much ye shall be bdelivered out of your trials, and your ctroubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
6 Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been aborn of God I should not have known these things.
7 But behold, the Lord in his great mercy sent his aangel to declare unto me that I must stop the work of bdestruction among his people; yea, and I have seen an angel face to face, and he spake with me, and his voice was as thunder, and it shook the whole earth.
8 And it came to pass that I was athree days and three nights in the most bitter bpain and canguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a dremission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.
9 And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is ano other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the blight of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and crighteousness.
10 And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and atemperate in all things.
11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not aboast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.
12 Use aboldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bbridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.
13 Do not apray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom.
14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are abetter than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my bunworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.
15 And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be asober. My son, farewell.

Alma, Chapter 18

What did the Lamanites believe about God?

God is our eternal Father in Heaven.  He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  He loves me and wants me to be able to live with Him again, so much so that he allowed his Son, Jesus Christ, to come and be sacrificed to save us all.  He knows what is the best thing for me.  He can allow miracles to happen and can give man the power to do anything.  He wants me to be like him.  He looks just like we look and is a living God.  In D&C 130:22 we read, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”  I think other churches believe that God, His Son, and the Holy Ghost are one being.  I think that they believe that this being is a spirit of sorts, or some unknown power.  I’m glad that I know what God is because I don’t think I would know how to believe or pray to some unknown being or anything other than what He is.

“And it came to pass that king Lamoni caused that his servants should stand forth and testify to all the things which they had seen concerning the matter (v. 1).  And when they had all testified to the things which they had seen, and he had learned of the faithfulness of Ammon in preserving his flocks, and also of his great power in contending against those who sought to slay him, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Surely, this is more than a man. Behold, is not this the Great Spirit who doth send such great punishments upon this people, because of their murders (v. 2)?  And they answered the king, and said: Whether he be the Great Spirit or a man, we know not; but this much we do know, that he cannot be slain by the enemies of the king; neither can they scatter the king’s flocks when he is with us, because of his expertness and great strength; therefore, we know that he is a friend to the king. And now, O king, we do not believe that a man has such great power, for we know he cannot be slain (v. 3).  And now, when the king heard these words, he said unto them: Now I know that it is the Great Spirit; and he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not slay you as I did your brethren. Now this is the Great Spirit of whom our fathers have spoken (v. 4).  Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit, they supposed that whatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants (v. 5);”

The Lamanites called God, the Great Spirit.  King Lamoni thought that Ammon was the Great Spirit (or God) because of his power.  He thought the Great Spirit was mad at him for killing the servants who had not been able to protect his sheep.  Lamoni’s ideas came from the traditions of his ancestors, who had thought that everything they did was right.  When we do not know truly who God is, we cannot truly know who we are.  We cannot possible know the meaning of our lives, without understanding true principals about God.  If I just felt that God was something that had created me, but not my Heavenly Father, I don’t think I would try very hard to please him.  If I did not believe that I could ever become like him, I would probably never think about trying to be “God-like” because it would be an impossible thing that would probably just make me feel inadequate all the time.  I am very grateful for the testimonies in the scriptures, that bear witness of who God is.  I am so glad that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son and that he shared what he witnessed with so many.  I love my Father in Heaven and am so grateful to Him for this opportunity to prove myself worthy to return and be with Him again.

I’ll listen to you when I know I can trust you

It is easier to trust people we know rather than those we do not.  We live with our family members every day and know them so well, that we develop either a great trust in them, or not.  We build relationships of trust when we allow others to get to know us and we serve them and show them that we love them.

“And the king answered him, and said: Yea, I will believe all thy words. And thus he was caught with guile.”  Lamoni said that he would believe all of Ammon’s words, which showed that he trusted Ammon.  Ammon had earned his trust by protecting his sheep and shepherds.  If more missionaries could gain this trust from those they try to serve, so many more would be willing to listen to their testimonies of the gospel.  Trust is a barrier that missionaries have to break in order to be able to teach people.  It is one reason why member missionaries are so important.  Because our families and neighbors have already learned to trust us and will be more willing to hear us.

“And it came to pass that king Lamoni inquired of his servants, saying: Where is this man that has such great power (v. 8 )?  And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land (v. 9).  Now when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished, because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them (v. 10).”  Here Ammon has earned an even greater trust from King Lamoni.  Ammon could have done anything at this time, because He had shown such great power, but he continued on working and serving the King.

“Now I surely know that this is the Great Spirit, and I would desire him that he come in unto me, but I durst not (v. 11).  And it came to pass that when Ammon had made ready the horses and the chariots for the king and his servants, he went in unto the king, and he saw that the countenance of the king was changed; therefore he was about to return out of his presence (v. 12).  And one of the king’s servants said unto him, Rabbanah, which is, being interpreted, powerful or great king, considering their kings to be powerful; and thus he said unto him: Rabbanah, the king desireth thee to stay (v. 13).  Therefore Ammon turned himself unto the king, and said unto him: What wilt thou that I should do for thee, O king? And the king answered him not for the space of an hour, according to their time, for he knew not what he should say unto him (v. 14).  And it came to pass that Ammon said unto him again: What desirest thou of me? But the king answered him not (v. 15).  And it came to pass that Ammon, being filled with the Spirit of God, therefore he perceived the thoughts of the king. And he said unto him: Is it because thou hast heard that I defended thy servants and thy flocks, and slew seven of their brethren with the sling and with the sword, and smote off the arms of others, in order to defend thy flocks and thy servants; behold, is it this that causeth thy marvelings (v. 16)?  I say unto you, what is it, that thy marvelings are so great? Behold, I am a man, and am thy servant; therefore, whatsoever thou desirest which is right, that will I do (v. 17).  Now when the king had heard these words, he marveled again, for he beheld that Ammon could discern his thoughts (v. 18 )…”.  This again increased King Lamoni’s trust in Him, because Ammon could tell what he was thinking.

“… but notwithstanding this, king Lamoni did open his mouth, and said unto him: Who art thou? Art thou that Great Spirit, who knows all things (v. 18 )?  Ammon answered and said unto him: I am not (v. 19).  And the king said: How knowest thou the thoughts of my heart? Thou mayest speak boldly, and tell me concerning these things; and also tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms of my brethren that scattered my flocks (v. 20)—And now, if thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee; and if it were needed, I would guard thee with my armies; but I know that thou art more powerful than all they; nevertheless, whatsoever thou desirest of me I will grant it unto thee (v. 21).  Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee (v. 22).”

We can teach the principals of the gospel to those around us, when we gain their trust, just as Ammon did.  If we trust in the Lord and use the power of the priesthood to bear witness of God and Jesus Christ, anything is possible.  When we truly love and serve others, they will see the light of Christ in us and want to know what it is.

How to be a great missionary

President Hinckley said the following to those who were not members of the church, “To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it.”  There are many good people out there who are living good lives because of what they have learned, but have not been introduced to the fullness of the gospel.  Most other religions have some or even a lot of truth in their teachings, but not all of the truth.  Our church and the gospel that we have can fill the gaps they may have in the truth.  What these souls can bring with them to us, can be a great blessing in our lives as well.  As a good missionary, it is important to use these true beliefs and build upon them.  If they believe in the resurrection, as many do, explaining that there is more details in the plan of salvation about what happens after we die that we believe, is just taking their belief one step further.  At times they may believe in something that is not true, such as the trinity.  In these cases, it is important to teach what we know to be true because the false teachings can lead people away from God.

“And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness, and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God (v. 24)?  And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth (v. 25).  And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit (v. 26)?  And he said, Yea (v. 27).  And Ammon said: This is God. And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth (v. 28 )?”  Lamoni and Ammon both believe in God.

“And he said: Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens (v. 29).  And Ammon said unto him: The heavens is a place where God dwells and all his holy angels (v. 30).”  Ammon taught Lamoni that God created all things which are in heaven where God lives.

“And king Lamoni said: Is it above the earth (v. 31)?  And Ammon said: Yea, and he looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart; for by his hand were they all created from the beginning (v. 32).”  We learn precept upon precept, so because he already believe in God and that God had created everything on the earth, it was just the next step to believing that God had created everything in heaven and man also.

“And king Lamoni said: I believe all these things which thou hast spoken. Art thou sent from God (v. 33)?  Ammon said unto him: I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true (v. 34);  And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God (v. 35).”  Next Ammon taught him that man is created in God’s image and can have the spirit of God in them.

“Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of the world, and also the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem (v. 36).  And he also rehearsed unto them (for it was unto the king and to his servants) all the journeyings of their fathers in the wilderness, and all their sufferings with hunger and thirst, and their travail, and so forth (v. 37).  And he also rehearsed unto them concerning the rebellions of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, yea, all their rebellions did he relate unto them; and he expounded unto them all the records and scriptures from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem down to the present time (v. 38 ).”  Ammon taught Lamoni that Laman and Lemuel who were the ancestors of the Lamanites, had rebelled.  The Lamanites had believed that they had done nothing wrong, and this was just one false teaching that Ammon corrected with his teachings.

“But this is not all; for he expounded unto them the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world; and he also made known unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and all the works of the Lord did he make known unto them (v. 39).”  Ammon had already taught about the beginning of man on the earth and then he taught him about Christ and the plan of redemption.  I think it is easier for people to hear the parts of the plan of salvation that are to come, after they understand what has already happened.  A lot of religious people believe in Adam and that he transgressed, so teaching that Christ would bring about the ability for even Adam to be forgiven for what he had done against God, is important.

“And it came to pass that after he had said all these things, and expounded them to the king, that the king believed all his words (v. 40).”  Lamoni believed the words of Ammon, because Ammon was being led by the spirit and understood how these things needed to be taught.

At this point, king Lamoni pleaded to God for his sins and he was overcome by the spirit and fell to the earth.  His servants believing he was dead, took him to the queen and everyone began to mourn for 2 days and 2 nights (v. 41-43).

Ammon had been a great missionary and had taught king Lamoni true principles of the gospel through the spirit of God.  We can all be as great a missionary as Ammon, if we prepare ourselves and then seek for those who are ready.  The Lord will guide us, because he wants all people to have the opportunity to hear the gospel.  We need to have faith and courage to go outside of whatever comfort zones we may have.  In Ether 12: 27 we read, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  The Lord will make up the difference if we teach others with a willing and a humble heart.

And it came to pass that king Lamoni caused that his aservants should stand forth and testify to all the things which they had seen concerning the matter.
2 And when they had all testified to the things which they had seen, and he had learned of the faithfulness of Ammon in preserving his flocks, and also of his agreat power in contending against those who sought to slay him, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Surely, this is more than a man. Behold, is not this the Great Spirit who doth send such great punishments upon this people, because of their murders?
3 And they answered the king, and said: Whether he be the Great Spirit or a man, we know not; but this much we do know, that he acannot be slain by the enemies of the king; neither can they bscatter the king’s flocks when he is with us, because of his expertness and cgreat strength; therefore, we know that he is a friend to the king. And now, O king, we do not believe that a man has such great power, for we know he cannot be slain.
4 And now, when the king heard these words, he said unto them: Now I know that it is the Great Spirit; and he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not aslay you as I did your brethren. Now this is the Great Spirit of whom our fathers have spoken.

5 Now this was the atradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a bGreat Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit, they supposed that cwhatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants;


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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