Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rules for Separation Water Usage

Today I read Numbers 19 which contains instructions for sacrificing a red heifer and waters of separation which have to do with being unclean and the process for becoming clean again.  The process seems a little involved to me, but in reality I'll bet it wasn't so bad.  It never ceases to amaze me how involved the steps of the Law of Moses was, and all so that the Israelites could be as healthy as possible.  At least that is my reasoning, I can't really think of other reasons to go to all the trouble of separating oneself from the congregation if you touch a dead body and so forth.

Heavenly Father's laws and commandments don't always make sense to us, but we can always rest assured that there is purpose behind them.  God does not do anything without a reason.  Just because we do not understand the reason doesn't mean it isn't there.  From what I have observed in my own life that reason is generally our own health or spiritual welfare.  It's much easier to have faith in God when you have an understanding of His true character.  Joseph Smith actually taught that unless you have a correct understanding of His character you cannot have faith in Him at all.  I suspect this is because we have to really understand what God's mission and plan is all about to really believe in Him.  At least that's how I see it.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Levites Given Tithes in Lieu of Land for Inheritance

Today I read Numbers 18 which is all about the Israelites and making offerings, their tithes.  It also deals with the fact that the Levites have no land for their inheritance but they receive the tithes that the people bring from their sacrifices.  The Lord truly does take care of His people and those who serve Him.

In our day and age when we pay tithing we are also blessed by the Lord, sometimes in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.  I could name off numerous instances where the Lord has blessed someone I know for paying their tithing.  I personally have never been given money that I needed or found money that I needed, but I have certainly been blessed with people giving us food and in other ways.  The Lord does take care of His people and it is a wonderful thing to rely on the Lord.  It takes faith though, that first time is really scary when you don't know what is going to happen.  But the Lord is always there to catch you.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Evil Speaking of the Lord's Annointed

Today I read Numbers 17 which is kind of a continuation of the last chapter where some of the Israelites were murmuring against Moses and Aaron.  They were complaining against them and wondering if they were really the Lord's chosen and felt they were better than Moses and Aaron.  The Lord wants to put all these issues to rest once and for all and so tells Moses to perform a test.

The Lord tells Moses to have each head of the tribes to bring Moses a rod, or staff, with their name engraved on it.  These rods were placed in the tabernacle and left overnight.  When Moses returned the next day, Aaron's rod had blossomed with flowers and actually produced almonds.  This seems to have worked as the people react to it with reverence and even a little fear in regards to the tabernacle.

Through it all, it reminds me of the commandment against evil speaking of the Lord's anointed.  One of the few things that Heavenly Father seems to not tolerate from His children is speaking ill of those He has called.  In fact for those who have been through the temple, it is one of the things we promise, that we will avoid speaking ill of our priesthood leaders.  It can be a challenge sometimes, because we are not perfect.  However, we are still commanded to sustain them and support them, and most importantly, follow them.  Heavenly Father chooses those who are in positions of authority and He does it for a reason.  Sometimes it is so that person can grow.  We are not always told and should not be told what His reasons are, but we need to trust Him.  If we do, our lives will be so much easier.  Until tomorrow. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Lord Slays those who Speak Out Againts Moses

Today I read Numbers 16.  It never ceases to amaze me that the people would think that Moses was setting himself up to be their leader.  After all they have seen and done since Moses came to Israel to liberate them.  Do they really think that he could have done all those miracles himself?  Apparently they did because in this chapter there are about 250 plus people who are mad at Moses saying he is power hungry and that the Lord really hadn't chosen him.

It is very amusing to me that such people who generally accuse others of being power hungry, are really power hungry themselves.  Case in point Laman and Lemuel were always mad at Nephi because he was their younger brother and they thought he was trying to rule over them.  It wasn't the fact that they didn't want to be ruled, well in a way it was, but it was more the fact that they wanted to do the ruling.  They were the ones who were power hungry and wanted to be in charge.  So it is in this chapter with some of the sons of Levi.  The are mad at Moses saying he has set himself up to be a prince among the Israelites and are taking power unto himself.

So amusing that what they are accusing Moses of doing is exactly what they want to do.  It kind of reminds me of Steve Jobs getting mad at Bill Gates when Microsoft first came out with Windows which was based on another companies design but was also taken from Apple's new design.  Steve Jobs essentially got mad that Bill ripped off the other company before he could.  Similarly, Moses is only following the commands of God and doing what Heavenly Father wants him to do.  Yet others are blatantly ignoring all the miracles that Moses has performed that are impossible for man to perform themselves.  As expected, the Lord does not take kindly to the people speaking evil of His anointed prophet.  God causes a fissure in the earth to open up and swallow the rebels who are speaking out against Moses.  Sometimes it seems harsh to me when God punishes the wicked, but when He punishes blind stupidity, it doesn't seem so harsh to me for some reason.  I guess that's because I really, really don't like stupidity.  It's a flaw of mine.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Man is Stone for Breaking the Sabbath

Today I read Numbers 15 where different types of offerings are laid forth.  I'm so glad that in our day and age we don't have to worry about giving different types of offerings for different things.  It's just a flat give 10% of your annual increase.  You don't have to worry about the circumstances or what type of an offering to make, you just have to pay your tithing.  It's so much easier.

I often wonder if the harsh penalties for disobeying the laws and commandments were still in force today what kind of a world we would live in?  In this chapter a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.  Now, as far as physical labor goes, that's about as easy as it gets really.  But when Moses asked the Lord what should be done with the man, he was told to stone him!  That is a really harsh punishment for so light an offense.  Or perhaps it is not a light offense.  It's hard to tell really because so much has changed and the world does not keep the sabbath day holy at all any more so compared to what most people are doing, gathering sticks seems almost laughable as far as sins go.

But I wonder what would our wold be like if we imposed such harsh penalties in our own times for breaking the Sabbath day.  I'll tell you one thing, there would be no more breaking of the Sabbath!  Sometimes I wish there was a more concentrated effort on the part of everyone else to do what was right and follow the commandments of God.  It would make for a really nice world I think.  I guess I'll just have to wait for the millennium.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Israelites Doomed to Wander Forty Years

Today I read Numbers 14 where the Lord tells the Israelites that because they would not hearken unto him or Caleb or Joshua, none of them who were over the age of twenty besides Caleb and Joshua, would set foot into the land of Israel.  I feel really bad for Heavenly Father, He has done so much for the children of Israel and shown them so much.  He protected them, and saved them from Egypt, and the Red Sea and has fed them manna, and yet they didn't believe that He would keep His promise to them to protect them from the inhabitants of the land.  Say what you will about their reasons, it all boils down to them not believing that God would protect them. 

The really sad thing is they realized they screwed up when Moses told them the words of the Lord, that they would not be allowed to enter into the land of Israel.  Some of them tried to go up to the land anyway, we are not told how many, and were slaughtered because God was not with them.  Moses warned them that it was too late for that but they went up anyway.  I really do have to wonder about the Israelites and their mental state because the way the narrative is written, they are really dumb!  I mean they had seen miracle after miracle and yet they still didn't believe Heavenly Father would help them. 

Of course, they are no dumber than we are today in our world.  We see miracles all the time and yet we doubt the existence of God Himself!  We see miracles where there is no rational explanation at all for what has happened except that God intervened, but we still, like Laman and Lemuel, doubt that He can help us.  Or perhaps, even worse, we think He can help us, but doubt He WILL help us.  That to me is a gross misunderstanding of God's character if that is the case.  God wants to help us and will help us.  Most of the time the only thing holding Him back, is us.  We don't accept His help.  We think our way is better, or that our knowledge is more vast than the creator of the universe.  And yet compared to Him, we are like a little ant crawling along the kitchen floor in search of food.  We have no idea what's really out there.  And yet the one being who can help us, we shun His help, blaspheme against Him and think that we know better.  The story is often repeated and always with the same results.  Heartache and misery.  The old saying goes that unless we learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it.  And history has shown just how accurate that saying is.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Israelites Spy on the Land of Israel

Today I read Numbers 13 where the Israelites send in 12 men to spy out the land that God had promised them.  One man from each tribe of Israel was sent out to spy the land and return with some of the fruit of the land.  The men came back with plenty of fruit and a good report of the land itself and its bounties, however the people/inhabitants of the land were very over exaggerated.

The scriptures state that the men brought back an evil report, except for Caleb who encouraged the Israelites to go into the land and said that their numbers were easily enough to overcome them.  The other ten spies however disagreed with him and shut him down saying they had seen giants and that the cities of the land were walled and very tall. 

I have often wondered if the ten spies were just scared to go into Israel against those people or was it something else.  I don't really think that it would be called an evil report if they were driven by fear.  I think for some reason the ten men did not want to go into the city.  Or perhaps it was a lack of faith in God that He would help them.  I really don't know but I do know that only Caleb and, as we will find out in the next chapter, Joshua brought back a report saying the Israelites were sufficiently strong to enter into the land.  And as we will find out in the next chapter they are punished for it.  That is part of what makes me think it was more than just fear.  Heavenly Father is kind and loving to His people and I don't think He would be angry with people who are just afraid, I think there was something else going on that we are not told about.  Maybe we will know the truth one day of what happened, or rather, the complete story.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Miriam Punished for Complaining about Moses

Today I read Numbers 12 where Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses.  I have always wondered about this chapter.  It states that both Aaron and Miriam complained against Moses but only Miriam was punished.  The chapter states that Moses was the most meek man in all the earth.  To me this indicates that Moses is not bragging that he is talking to the Lord or that the Lord has chosen him.  But Miriam is still upset with him and complains to the people I think, it doesn't really specify who she complains to.

The Lord's response is quite interesting I feel.  He comes down in a cloud and talks to Aaron and Miriam and states that with a normal prophet, He would speak to them in a dream or a vision.  But with Moses He has spoken to him face to face and Moses has seen the similitude of the Lord.  God makes it very clear that while He may have spoken to Miriam and Aaron, Moses is His chosen servant, end of discussion. 

God is very displeased with Miriam and shows her what happens to those who speak ill of His anointed servants.  The Lord punishes Miriam, who I guess was complaining the loudest, by making her skin leprous.  When Moses asks the Lord to heal her He tells Moses that she will be healed in seven days.  I imagine this gave Miriam a lot of time to think about her circumstances and her lust for power and authority, because let's be honest that's really what this was all about.  If Moses was really that meek, then he wasn't bragging about it all the time, rather Miriam was jealous of Moses and wanted the authority that He had.  This is why many are called but few are chosen.  They can't handle the authority, which is really sad.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Lord Gives the Israelites Quails to Eat

Today I read Numbers 11 where several things happen.  In this chapter the Lord commands Moses to appoint 70 men to help him with the children of Israel.  These men are to help Moses with the administration of the host of Israel was my understanding and to assist him in all matters.  In this chapter the Lord also kills several rebels, although we are not told what they are rebelling about or what exactly they were doing, only that the Lord consumed them with fire from heaven.Heavenly Father made very public examples of people who were problems in those days it would seem. 

The main part of this chapter however is the Israelites complaining about not having any meat.  Now, I can understand them wanting to have meat with their meals, but apparently they took it way too far and complained that they never should have left Egypt.  This is quite the slap in the face to Heavenly Father and I can't imagine who in their right mind would accept slavery for meat.  That is so totally ridiculous that it does not surprise me in the least that God's anger was kindled against them.  I'm not sure I could hold my tongue against such a ridiculous statement. 

But God told the Israelites that He would give them their meat, so much meat that it would fill them to the point it would come out their nostrils.  I thought that was a very interesting description.  The Lord caused quail to fall around the camp, to a days journey all along the perimeter of the camp and two cubits high!  That is a lot of meat!  And the people let their greed get the best of them and the Lord hit them with a plague which killed off some of the Israelites, probably the most vocal of those saying they should never have left Egypt.  Still, the way this chapter is written it makes it sound like even the most humble of people took way too much this go around.  The Israelites had to learn to trust in God again and that He would take care of them and that He knew what was best for them.  It can be a hard lesson to learn indeed!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Warning System of the Israelites Laid out

Today I read Numbers 10 where the Lord sets forth the marching order of Israel and also sets forth the call to arms.  Honestly I thought this was brilliant to have such a detailed structure of what to do during each type of an emergency.  It is very clear cut and each Israelite, down to the smallest child, would know exactly what to do in case of an emergency.  It's much clearer than our own emergency system!

The rest of the chapter details who is in charge of each tribe.  It is not too surprising really how much like a military band the Israelite camp was.  The military is about nothing if not order and God is also a God of order.  If we think about it, humans really like to have order also.  Think about infants and toddlers, they thrive on a schedule and when that schedule gets broken, it is very hard on them.  Even as adults we like to have a schedule as much as possible.  It gives us security and a sense of comfort.  Heavenly Father of course knows this and wants us to be happy so He gives us what we need to be happy.  He is a very loving Father.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Israelites Commanded to Keep Passover Even When Unclean

Today I read Numbers 9 and I must say I was instantly struck by the relationship between the ancient Israelites and the early church in this dispensation.  The setting of this chapter is that when the feast of the passover came again, there were some of the men who had come into contact with dead bodies and so were deemed "unclean".  As such, they were not able to keep the feast of the passover with the rest of the Israelites.  This upset the men as they wanted to worship their God too, so Moses went to inquire of the Lord.

I can think of dozens of examples of something similar to this with Joseph Smith in the early days of the church.  It is a wonderful thing to have an open connection to the Lord like that, to be able to take a question to the Lord and know you will receive an answer?  Of course, any person can do the same thing, Heavenly Father will answer all His children's inquiries in His own due time.  When it concerns matters of His people as a whole, that is when the Lord communicates through His prophets.  It is comforting to know that He has always followed the same pattern throughout history.  Man is fickle and ever changing but we can always count on Heavenly Father to be there for us and stay the same.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Levites Consecrated

Today I read Numbers 8 where the Levities are set apart in front of the Israelites.  It also sets the age limits for those who are to serve among the Levities.  The Levite men are to serve from the age of 25 through the age of 50.  This makes me think of the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth and John the Baptists.  I have always pictured them as old men and women who had a children way after their prime.  However, if this was the law, it would appear they were almost 50 or under 50 years old, at least Zacharias was, I suppose Elizabeth could have been older.  Still though, at age 50 Elizabeth was still most likely post menopausal so I do not want to downplay the significance of the miracle that was John the Baptist.  It's just that I had always pictured him as a very old man, and apparently he was not.

The Lord has Moses set apart the Levites in front of the children of Israel.  I suspect this is to show the children of Israel who had God's authority so that there was no question in their minds.  And from what I remember/know of the Old Testament, they did accept the Levites without question and they knew who the priests were.  The Levites were consecrated to the Lord in place of the first born of all Israel.  Heavenly Father reminded Moses that since the time of Egypt, all of Israel's first born children had been consecrated to Him, however He is taking instead the tribe of Levi.  Sometimes I wonder why the Lord did it this way.  It would have been interesting and probably would have worked out ok if He had kept it as the first born of all Israel.  Perhaps He did it this way to keep the line of succession clear?  Or to prevent families from trying to hide their sons?  Obviously there was a reason as God does not do anything without cause.  I'm sure we'll find out some day.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Princes of Israel Make and Offering

Today I read Numbers 7 and quite honestly my first thought when I read this chapter is that this book, the book of Numbers, is aptly named!  This entire chapter save for a few verses catalogs the offerings of the Princes of Israel.  In all honesty, it is quite tedious.  Now, that is how I feel about it personally.  From a historical standpoint, this chapter is probably a gold mine so I don't want people getting the wrong idea that I think this chapter is worthless, it is not.

The last verse of this chapter however is of substance.  In the final verse of this chapter the Lord speaks to Moses out of the mercy seat.  I find this interesting because it tells us once again that Moses was called of God and received instructions from our Heavenly Father.  He was called of God, just like Joseph Smith and every other modern prophet in this dispensation.  Moses had a very hard task and was led of God to make sure he performed it properly and to help him.  I'm sure Moses' task was extremely daunting.  Heavenly Father is very caring and loving and does not leave His children alone in their hour of need.  That is very comforting to me.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rules of the Nazarite Set Forth

Today I read Numbers 6 where the Lord sets forth the rules governing the Nazarites.  Essentially they were to avoid strong drink, dead bodies and not cut their hair while they were consecrated to the Lord.  Now, this chapter does not state what a Nazarite does or why he, or she as I assume they can be women too, is consecrated to the Lord.  I must admit that I don't really know anything about them.  I remember Sampson was a Nazarite but that is all.

But consecrating ones life to the Lord is not a new concept for those who read the scriptures.  Samuel was given to the Lord by his mother, Hannah, after she prayed for children.  Jesus of course was consecrated to God.  I'm sure several others were also.  In our day and age, young men, and sometimes women, consecrate portions of their lives in the service of our Heavenly Father.  For the men it's two years, for the women it's eighteen months.  During those months these men and women are consecrated to doing the Lord's work and forsake everything including families, to serve Him.  This is what it means to consecrate ones self to the Lord.  To give all your time, talent and energies to the building up of the kingdom to Heavenly Father.  It's a wonderful feeling and doesn't really feel like sacrifice at all.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Laws for Jealousy Offerings

Today I read Numbers 5 where the Lord sets forth the rules governing jealousy offerings and when a man or woman makes a mistake.  When I first started this chapter my first thought was that the Lord is really concerned with when we make mistakes, but then I realized that is because we are human and we are going to make mistakes, it is going to happen.

The natural man is an enemy to God, as we are already aware.  Heavenly Father knows this, of course, and so He wants to give Moses and the Israelites all the information they need to make sure that they know how to act in any given situation.  It is unfortunate humans cannot stay faithful to things.  They turn away from their God, from their spouse, from almost any aspect in their lives.  I personally despise anyone who would have an affair and turn away sexually from their spouse for any reason.  It is the ultimate betrayal to give that most sacred part of yourself that you only give to your husband/wife to another.  It shows a complete lack of caring for their spouse.  If they truly loved their spouse then they would stay faithful.  They should come clean to their spouse that they are having trouble with feelings of attraction to another person and invite their spouse to help them.  It is so much easier to overcome temptations if we get the strength and help from our spouse.

But Heavenly Father knows that people are going to have affairs and not stay faithful to their spouse and as such He wants to make sure that the Israelites know how to handle that situation.  Heavenly Father knows the human heart and its follys.  I'm sure most of you have heard the phrase hope for the best, plan for the worst.  I think that is what Heavenly Father is doing here in this chapter.  It's what all of us need to do.  If we are prepared, we shall not fear.  The only advice I can give is to have no secrets from your spouse.  It sounds simple, but can be a challenge.  But the reward is an eternity of happiness.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Lord Assigns the Levites to Parts of the Tabernacle

Today I read Numbers 4 where the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to divide up the responsibility for the tabernacle and moving it when they broke camp.  The Lord assigned several families the responsibility for different parts of the tabernacle.  It never fails to impress me how in those days the Lord left nothing to chance but dictated their every responsibility for them.  I wonder if this was because it was so sacred or if it was just because the Israelites had trouble when left to their own devices?  I'm sure we will know some day.

In a way, it is kind of nice how the Lord spelled everything out for them.  I know there are some Latter-day Saints that would love that, in fact there have been Latter-day Saints in the past that complained why Heavenly Father didn't just flat out state what items to avoid in the Word of Wisdom, such as caffeine or soda drinks.  But as the Lord has told us in the past, it is not pleasing that we should be commanded in all things but that we should use our own intelligence to make decisions.  Now, when it comes to the temple, or other such sacred things such as ordinances, that is when He gives us explicit instructions, but otherwise, He prefers us to come up with the choice/decision on our own.  How else are we going to grow?  Until tomorrow.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Tribe of Levi is Consecrated to the Lord

Today I read Numbers 3 where it lists the generations of the Levites and and the Lord explaining to Moses that He had taken the tribe of Levi for Himself.  The Lord asked Moses and Aaron to number all the first born males from one month old and up in the host of Israel.  He explained that because of the final plague in Egypt, these men had been consecrated for Him.  But instead of taking those men, the Lord instead claimed the tribe of Levi for His own to officiate in the office of the priest for the Children of Israel. 

I wonder what it would have been like to have been claimed by the Lord for His own?  To be able to help those who needed it by officiating in the office of a priest.  Honestly if we want to know, we have a temple in our times that can give us the same sense of satisfaction.  The priests in the days of Moses were helping those who could not help themselves obtain salvation, we can do the same in our day by going to the temple and performing ordinances on their behalf for those who cannot do it for themselves.  It gives us great satisfaction when we can help those who are suffering because of not having performed those sacred ordinances before passing on.  Great satisfaction indeed!  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Israel is Divided Into Camps

Today I read Numbers 2 where the Israelites are broken down into companies by their tribe.  As I read this chapter I couldn't help but be reminded of the Lord's house being a house of order.  Everything has its place and all situations are accounted for.  Heavenly Father has a plan and we need to trust Him that His plan includes us and that He is wanting to help us.  If we keep that in mind, we have the best possible chance for a happy life.  And that's really all I have to say on that.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moses Takes a Census

Today I read Numbers 1 where the Lord commands Moses and Aaron to take a census of the Israelites, broken down by tribes, of all the males age 20 and older who are fit to go to war.  Judah had the most and Manasseh had the fewest.  The tribe of Levi was not included in the census by the express command of Heavenly Father.

The tribe of Levi was not included because their job was to handle the tabernacle and the ark of the covenants.  They were the priests of the people if Israel, a far more sacred and important job than going off to war.  I have often wondered why the tribe of Levi was chosen to be the priests.  I have wondered if it was because Moses and Aaron were of the tribe of Levi, or perhaps because the tribe of Levi did not participate in the golden calf debacle and in fact were the ones that helped Moses and Aaron put to death all those who did worship the golden calf.  Perhaps it is a combination of things.  We are not told, but it is clear that they were the priests of the Israelites and were in charge of making sure the sacrifices were performed properly and that the tabernacle and ark were cared for.  It is a big responsibility and I'm sure that the tribe of Levi handled it well.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Israelites Commanded to Pay Tithes

Today I read Leviticus 27 where the Lord talks about in terms of consecration how much a person is worth in offerings and how much the land is worth.  The Lord has always required His people to have offerings and to pay tithes.  It is interesting though that He tells the Israelites how much a person is worth based on their age so that they can pay the appropriate amount.

I think that some people get confused because God asks His people to pay tithes that God cannot take care of His saints.  But as we have discussed in previous posts, the Lord does not need us to take care of His people, He is the God of Heaven and Earth and can care for His people in any manner He chooses.  The purpose of tithes and offerings is to humble us and cause us to overcome our attachment to the things of this world.

As we follow the commandments of the Lord, no matter which ones they are, we will become more Christlike and be able to overcome the natural man.  That is the point of all commandments.  If we follow them with a willing heart, we will be able to return to live with Him some day and become like He is.  That is His promise to us.  And I look forward to it.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

God's Way is the Best Way

Today I read Leviticus 26 which is kind of an interesting chapter.  The whole chapter is the Lord telling the Israelites how He will punish them if they do not follow His commandments.  He also tells them how He will bless them if they do follow His commandments.  Kind of the carrot and the stick method, except with Heavenly Father it is not a threat, just a statement of fact.  He wants the Israelites to have all the facts so they can make the best decision for themselves.

Our day and age is really no different.  Heavenly Father has given us commandments and told us that when we follow the commandments He will bless us, but when we don't it is up to Him to bless us or not.  Heavenly Father really is a better parent than most here on earth could ever hope to be.  He understands that there is no cookie cutter mold that we can all fit into and be happy.  He wants us to become like He is, because He knows that is where the ultimate happiness is to be found, but He also recognizes that not everyone desires that.

It's kind of funny to think that some people would shun happiness, but that is exactly what they do here on earth.  Drugs, alcoholism, smoking or any kind, promiscuous sex, these activities make ones life miserable.  It generally takes years and years for the individual to realize this and understand that their life is wasted and that the things they are choosing to do is what is making them unhappy and lead a miserable life.  God's way is the only way to true and everlasting happiness.  Some people have to find this out for themselves.  It's sad really that more people won't take God's word for it.  As if they know better.  Silly humans.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sabbath and Jubilee Years

Today I read Leviticus 25 where the Lord commands the Israelites to take a Sabbath year, or in other words, to take the seventh year off and not plant or harvest anything that grows during every seventh year.  This reminds me a lot of field rotation and is a very interesting concept.  It does not explicitly state it in this chapter unless I missed it, but during this seventh year the Israelites also would not fight or go to war, debts were forgiven and indentured servants were set free.

Now, the first year, the Lord was really trying their faith in my opinion.  I mean it's a scary thing not to plant anything or harvest anything for a whole year.  God did say that on the sixth year they would harvest enough food for three years time.  So I imagine that when the sixth year came around and it was time to harvest the fields and fruits that the Israelites were saying a prayer that the Lord would come through as they knew that they would not be planting any food the next year.  I wonder how they kept all their food from spoiling or if it was like the mana they ate for forty years and the Lord made it so that the food would not spoil during those three years?  I guess we'll know one day.

The Lord also stated that every fiftieth year was to be a year of celebration and jubilee.  Feasts were to be held, dances were to be had.  It was to be a joyous time for everyone.  Heavenly Father definitely loves His children and wants their existence to be enjoyable.  Men are that they might have joy, He told Nephi.  Heavenly Father wants this existence to be as enjoyable as possible, but He still has to give us trials so that we can grow.  This life is for nothing if we do not have an opportunity to grow.  But He does not want it to be one trial after another.  Rather He wants us to be able to find joy in all that we do.  If we can do that, then we will have an extremely enjoyable life.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, June 8, 2012

An Eye for an Eye

Today I read Leviticus 24 where a blasphemer is put to death and the Lord gives Moses that most famous of phrases, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  Human nature is all about fairness.  Children, without ever being taught the concept will utter the phrase, "That's not fair".  And they are right, a lot of what happens to us in life is unfair from a fairness perspective.

It is part of the natural man to want what other people want and to have it be equal.  But we adults all know that the world doesn't work that way.  The world will hand you whatever it wants to.  Heavenly Father will give you what you need in order to progress, this means trials.  We grow the most from our trials and tribulations.  Just like a bird needs the experience of coming out of the egg to strengthen it, just like a butterfly uses emerging from the cocoon to fill out its wings, if we did not have trials, we would never grow and progress into something better.

But the reason this law of an eye for an eye appeals to mankind is because it is all about fairness.  We want revenge on those who have wronged us.  When someone hits us, the natural man's response is to hit back.  And to be told that God justifies it and gives us permission to hit back?  Oh what a wonderful thing that was to hear.  And then Jesus came and changed it.  He told us to turn the other cheek.  That the higher law is NOT to hit back.  Now, God told the Nephites that they were justified in hitting back if they were not guilty of the first offense, but it was better to not retaliate at all.  That is hard to do.  It can be really hard when we have been unjustly hurt.  However, like we just said, if we learn to do it, we will be more Christlike.  And that is our goal.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

God Gives the Various Feasts to Israel

Today I read Leviticus 23 where God gives Moses the laws concerning the feasts and Sabbath day observance.  It is interesting to me how many feasts the Israelites have each year.  Now, they certainly do not have the market cornered, many religions include feasting as part of their worship services in one form or another.  Latter-day Saints are notorious for bring food to everything, especially funerals. 

But the majority of the chapter was actually more about how to make sure they were keeping the Sabbath day holy.  It is very important to the Lord that we take off one day in seven and keep it holy.  This is as much for our benefit as it is for worship.  We need the down time and if anyone stops to think about it, it makes a lot of sense.  It's just like a vacation in terms of what is needed.  We take vacations as a rest from our labors, to rejuvenate our bodies and to give our minds some rest.  The Sabbath is meant to do the exact same thing.  And it can if we approach it in the right fashion.

If we use the Sabbath day each week to make sure that we are resting from our labors and the cares of the world, it can 100% rejuvenate us.  When we focus on the things of the Spirit for that one day a week, I'm not sure how or why, but it is like a reset button.  The rest of the week just goes better.  It's hard to explain and really has to be experienced to be believed.  But once you experience it for yourself you won't want to go back to the way you used to experience Sundays.  I can promise you that.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rules Governing Who is Allowed to Perform Sacrifices

Today I read Leviticus 22 where the Lord sets forth the laws concerning which priests may be allowed to offer sacrifices for the people.  No surprise, but only priests who have no blemishes and are clean according to the Law of Moses may offer sacrifices for the people.  When you think that the priest is acting in the stead of Jesus Christ, it is not surprising that the Lord makes such a stipulation.  What did make me chuckle is the verse about not being able to touch anything that creeps.  In other words they could not touch any bugs and still be considered clean. 

Heavenly Father also reiterates to Moses in this chapter that all sacrifices must be physically perfect.  He even lists blemishes that one might normally overlook, such as a scab, that would disqualify an animal from being used as a sacrifice.  Obviously we know the reason for such strict rules now, but I have to wonder what the Israelites of the day thought about it.  Did they even wonder why it had to be a firstborn male without any physical blemish?  We are not told but I suspect some did.  It makes me wonder if some of them searched the scriptures to learn more and try and be more spiritual.  I know that the Nephites did, because Jacob states that they do and actually condemns them for it because the reason they were searching the scriptures was for a way to justify their whoredoms.  Obviously such reasons for searching the scriptures are wrong, but searching the scriptures to better understand God and His plans?  I believe that makes Heavenly Father very happy when we do that.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rules Concerning Who Priests Can Marry Set Forth

Today I read Leviticus 21 which govern the rule concerning the priests and who can offer sacrifice in the holy of holies.  The priests who are allowed back behind the holy of holies must be without physical blemish of any kind.  This is another instance where it seems really harsh until you remember that they are acting in the stead of Jesus Christ, who had no blemish.  Although I have never heard it said He had no physical blemish, it makes sense since He would have just been able to heal them Himself if He had any.

The part that is interesting to me is that the priests are commanded to marry a virgin.  This means they cannot marry someone who is a widow or divorced.  Now this is one that I don't understand.  I also don't understand why Jesus when He was on the earth forbade marrying someone who was divorced for any reason other than fornication.  It seems unusually cruel to me.  Now, I feel I understand the nature of God pretty well, and God is not cruel despite what some might think, so there is a reason behind this.  I just don't know or understand it. 

It can be a challenge sometimes to follow the commandments of God, especially when we don't understand them.  It is my understanding however that according to what I have read, if someone marries someone who is divorced, the sin is upon the head of the person who divorced the woman.  I'm sure it will all make sense when I need to know it and when I pass away and can ask Heavenly Father about it.  Until then, I am not too worried about it since I am already married and barring she passes away before me, will not be getting married again.  I am totally committed to her, and she to me.  I wish everyone could have such a relationship as I do.  The world would be such a nicer place!  Until tomorrow.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Death Penalty for Certain Sins in Ancient Israel

Today I read Leviticus 20 where the Lord explains that all the commandments He just gave to the children of Israel concerning honoring their parents, no homosexuality or incest or bestiality, carry the death penalty.  In other words if any of the children of Israel commit these sins, they are to be put to death.

In this day and age where most people feel that the death penalty should be done away with, I personally do not feel this way, this probably seems harsh.  However, it's just like with any cancer, it has to be cut out.  If it is allowed to remain, it can spread and then the body dies.  The reason Heavenly Father had the Israelites kill or drive off all the people that currently inhabited the land of Israel is because the Israelites were prone to falter and fall away and if they had been allowed to remain, there would have been problems. 

So it is with the sins that Heavenly Father forbade them from doing in chapter 18 and 19.  He knew that if anyone committed these sins and were not slain for it, that the sins would spread and would cause other people to also do those things.  Now, many would probably argue that after Christ came, the death penalty has been done away with and would no doubt cite the story of the woman taken in adultery that Christ allowed to live as their example.  Such people would do well however to remember that Christ still condemned the behavior, adultery, and told the woman to sin no more.  He did not say it was ok to commit those sins, He merely did not put the woman to death over it. 

From this story we can glean that it is still wrong to curse one's mother or to engage in homosexual practices or any other sexual perversion that God has listed.  This includes adultery.  I personally deplore adultery of any kind.  There is never a reason for it, ever.  If you are unhappy in the relationship then the relationship needs to end, you do not have sexual relations with anyone who is not your spouse, ever.  I have no sympathy for these people of any kind.  God's way is the only way to true, everlasting happiness.  I invite all those who doubt to try it and see.  Until tomorrow.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Commandments Given to Moses Still in Effect

Today I read Leviticus 19 where the Lord forbids multiple kinds of sin.  Included in this chapter is the forbidding of body piercings and tattoos.  I wonder if because so many people consider this all to be part of the law of Moses if that is why so many Christians in our day just flat out ignore all of it?  I'm sure they are out there, but I am not aware of any other Christian religions besides the Latter-day Saints that forbid tattoos and body piercings.

I sometimes wish God had been more clear what was the Law of Moses and what wasn't.  To my understanding, when Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses, the part that was fulfilled was the part concerning animal sacrifice.  All the commandments that He gave to the Israelites including the 10 commandments and other commandments such as incest, homosexuality, tattoos and everything else are still in effect today for all Christians.  It's so strange to me that most Christians believe the 10 commandments are still in effect, even if they won't follow them, but discount everything else the Lord said to the Israelites of that day.

Of course, maybe they do believe it's all still in effect and they just don't care.  As I said, how many Christians actually follow the 10 commandments?  How many Latter-day Saints follow them?  Not nearly enough, for both categories!  If you need proof that Latter-day Saints are just as at fault as the rest of the Christian world, just watch any General Conference.  There is plenty of rebuking and calls to repentance going on.  Latter-day Saints are not perfect by any means, and we do not have the market cornered when it comes to sinning and discounting the commandments of God.

We could all be doing better, including me.  I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  I need help to be better and to make sure I am living the commandments the way God intends them to be lived.  Our Latter-day prophets do a great job of making sure we all understand what is expected of us and what we need to be doing.  God is still God.  The commandments He gave the Israelites so that they could be more like Him are still in effect.  He still cannot stand sin in the least degree of allowance.  He still commands us to be perfect no matter what.  We are only going to fulfill that command if we follow all the commandments that He has laid forth for us.  But it is possible.  Remember that God gives no commandments unless He prepares a way for mankind to accomplish what He has commanded us.  I don't know about you, but that gives me a lot of hope.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

God Forbids Incest, Homosexuality and Bestiality

Today I read Leviticus 18 which forbids the practice of incest, homosexuality and bestiality.  It's so interesting to me that in this day and age so many who profess to be Christians don't follow the laws set forth by our Heavenly Father.  Homosexuality is a very hot topic right now and so many people love to quote the Savior as telling us to love our neighbor and point out that He did not say anything about homosexuality.  But it's because He didn't need to, He had already addressed it.

In this day and age people love to twist words and try and catch someone contradicting themselves.  It's almost like a game for them.  For some reason these same people think hat it is impossible to love a person and yet condemn what they are doing.  And yet that is exactly what we are commanded to do.  We are commanded to love everyone no matter what they are doing, but it does not mean we have to approve of their choices and what they are doing.  I have many friends who are homosexual and I like them and enjoy talking to them and being around them, they are very good company.  But I do not approve of their chosen lifestyle.  It is possible to love the sinner but hate the sin.

So many people these days are trying to guilt people into doing what they think is right.  They think that if we are truly tolerant of other people that we should approve of gay marriage, or marriage between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman.  This is not tolerance.  This is incorrect doctrine.  God has made it very clear that sexual relations between two men, or two women, is an abomination in His sight.  There is right, and there is wrong.  But I promise that Heavenly Father loves all His children, perhaps those that wander more than others.  He wants them to return to Him and to do what is right, but He will never force them. 

It is so interesting to me that while incest and bestiality is certainly happening in the world, the world still thinks of it as wrong and a social taboo.  I wonder why they view it as a taboo but not homosexuality.  I don't really have an answer for it.  I know that now people who practice homosexuality have tried really hard to make it seem like an acceptable alternative practice/lifestyle and so that is why homosexuality is so accepted, but I don't really understand why incest and bestiality have not gained a similar acceptance.  Don't get me wrong, I'm quite glad that they are not socially acceptable, it's just very strange to me is all. 

The Lord has made His stance very clear.  People can lie to themselves and to others all they want but God has made His stance and hasn't budged in all this time.  If we want to be on the Lord's side, we need to make sure we are clear on what that stance is.  All you have to do is read the scriptures, it's all there.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Concerning the Consumption of Blood

Today I read Leviticus 17 where God tells the Israelites to abstain from eating, and I assume drinking, the blood of any creature.  I'm not sure how anyone would acquire a taste for blood anyway, anytime I accidentally get some on my tongue from a wound of my own it tastes all metallic, I can't imagine another animal's blood being any better.

The Lord makes an interesting statement however in that He tells the Israelites that the Atonement is in the blood.  Or in other words, what makes their animal sacrifices worth anything other than just a dead animal, is the blood itself.  I do not claim to understand how this works but God said it and Joseph Smith did not correct it so it is true.  I know that when Jesus Christ did the Atonement for all mankind, He bled from every pore because of the pain.  I had always assumed that was a side effect of what He was doing, but after reading this chapter today, perhaps there is more to it than that.  Perhaps His bleeding at every pore was necessary, perhaps He had to shed His own blood in order for it to be a true Atonement.  I am honestly just guessing here and don't know for sure.

But I remember some cultures, including the Chinese which I am pretty familiar with because of my mission, they eat the blood of animals in such things as blood sausage and blood cake.  According to what I read in this chapter that is against what Heavenly Father wants us to be doing.  The blood is important and not for our consumption.  Good enough for me.  Until tomorrow.