Thursday, May 31, 2012


Today I read Leviticus 16 where Moses and Aaron are taught about the scapegoat and how to offer sacrifice regarding the scapegoat.  It is so interesting to me that of all the things that could translate to our culture, it is the idea of a scapegoat.  The idea is that all the sins of a people can be put onto a single animal, a goat in this case, and that it is then released into the wilderness.  Quite clearly a type and shadow of the Savior Himself.

It is interesting to me how many different types of sacrifice the Israelites had.  I mean they have a different type of animal and method of sacrifice for just about every instance.  I wonder why that is honestly, why wasn't it just the same type of animal for all their sacrifices?  Perhaps so it didn't become too routine and that they had to think about it and keep it at the forefront of their thoughts?  I'm not really sure but I suspect it was to try and keep things so they did not become too common and that the people had to make sure they were doing the sacrifice because they wanted to, not just going through the motions. 

Anytime an ordinance gets repeated too often, it can lead to it becoming a routine and losing its significance.  Latter-day Saints face this conundrum with the sacrament.  It is repeated each and every week and we can take it for granted quite easily instead of using it the way it was intended and making sure that we use it to draw closer to our Heavenly Father in remembrance of what our Savior did for us.  Jesus Christ was our scapegoat, He took upon us all our sins, because He loved us and wanted to.  He was scared yes, who wouldn't be?  But He did it willingly and out of love for each and everyone of us, and love for His Heavenly Father.  That is true sacrifice.  Any LDS readers out there, I hope you will recommit yourself to using the sacrament each week as it is intended, to draw closer to the Savior.  I know I will.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Laws Governing those that Bleed

Today I read Leviticus 15 where the Lord gives the law concerning if someone is bleeding, having sex, or a woman is on her period.  Pretty much it is all the same, anything they touch, lie on, etc, is unclean.  However, the woman on her monthly cycle is actually separated for 7 days until her period is over.  The cynic in me immediately thought that it was a great way to avoid all the hormones that accompany the monthly cycle of a woman, just get away from her.  However, that is obviously not the reason.  Hygiene and people's safety are the main reason that she, and anyone else who is bleeding, need to be separated. 

This chapter however gives a whole new outlook on the story of the woman who touched the Saviors garments in order to be healed of the issue of her blood of 12 years.  Imagine being completely separated from everyone, from all society for 12 straight years!  Being unclean and not have anyone touch you, ever.  What a horrible prospect that would be.  No wonder she had the faith to touch the Savior's robe.  What bravery she had too, if anyone had recognized her and realized who she was, that she was supposed to be isolated, I would hate to think what would have happened to her.

The surprising part of this chapter to me is actually the strict rules regarding sex and when a man ejaculates.  Now, knowing that sexually transmitted diseases can be in a man's semen, I can understand why God would have such strict rules for the children of Israel, but I wonder what the people of the time must have thought.  Having to wash themselves after sexual intercourse or anytime the man's semen touched them.  It must have sounded pretty strange to them I'll bet.  But as always, God's laws are always for the benefit of His people.  They are all about keeping them safe and healthy, whether they knew it or not.  Makes you wonder what laws and commandments God is giving us these days for our health or other benefit that we don't know about.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Method for Cleansing Leprous Houses/Leprosy of the Spirit

Today I read Leviticus 14 which deals with the manner that the people would handle a house that was leprous and would deal with the clothing of a person who had leprosy.  I find it interesting that the people who get leprosy have to offer a sin offering, almost like the reason they got leprosy was because of some sin they did.  It is no surprise to me however that a sin offering is a firstborn male lamb without blemish.  It's just a shame that the people of the day could not see the imagery, but then again, hindsight is 20/20.

After yesterday's reading with how seriously the people considered leprosy to be, it is no surprise to me that they would also burn the clothing and tear down the house and even go as far as to remove the housing materials out of the city into a designated unclean spot.  The people take leprosy very seriously. 

As I read this chapter I could not help but draw a parallel between leprosy of the body and leprosy of the spirit, or rather the decay of the spirit.  If a person allows their spirit to become contaminated, it can infect the entire person, and even those around them.  There is a reason that as youth we are encouraged to make friends with those that share our same values.  It is because we will become like those we associate with.  If we associate with someone who has leprosy of the spirit, or is of a damaging spirit, then we will most likely be damaged too.  It's just a matter of how much. 

Now this way of thinking may seem harsh, but it is no different than the thought process behind the old saying one bad apple spoils the bunch.  If there is a cancer in your body you remove it.  If there is a cancer in your spirit,  you also need to remove it.  The only way to do that is to remove yourself from the situation and pray for Heavenly Father to cleanse you and help you become better than you are/were.  It's supremely important and all of will have to face that choice someday.  Most of us have to face it on a regular basis since we frequently associate with those who are not of the same religious faith as us.  Decide now how you will handle those situations and it will not be a test at all, but rather something you have prepared for your entire life.  You will not be sorry you did.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Law Governing Leprosy

Today I read Leviticus 13 where the law concerning leprosy is set forth.  I can imagine this law was followed very strictly and even the person who got the leprosy was understanding of the need to be separated.  Few diseases cause panic and fear like leprosy does.  I have often wondered why it was so prevalent in the olden days and why it is almost unheard of now.  I think perhaps living conditions have a lot to do with it.

This chapter is one that on the surface might seem like God is being really unfair to those who have the disease, but really this chapter shows His love for His people.  Leprosy is a very frightening disease.  I do not recall if it is communicable or not, but even if it is not, just imagine seeing someone who has chunks of skin falling off of their bodies.  That is a frightening prospect and not many people would want to be around it.  It would cause panic in today's culture for sure.  I am very glad that while it is still around, the cases are few and far between.  I don't think we would know quite how to handle an outbreak of leprosy in today's culture.  Talk about a Job experience and a disease that is meant to turn one to the Lord.  I cannot even imagine having such a debilitating disease.  It makes me very glad for the good health I enjoy.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Laws Regarding Childbirth

Today I read Leviticus 12 which deals with the laws regarding a woman and childbirth.  It is pretty crazy to me that the time a woman needs to recover from giving birth to a boy is different from the time she remains unclean if she has a girl.  Does Heavenly Father know something we don't in regards to how the woman's body handles giving birth based on the gender?  And it's not a small difference either.  For a boy it's around 30 days but for a girl it's over 60!  I can't help but wonder about the huge difference.  I'm sure I'll know someday.

The rest of the chapter is about offering a sin and an atonement offering after childbirth to become clean.  The idea that a woman is unclean is a little like the Chinese practice of a woman not bathing or doing anything strenuous after giving birth for 30 days.  In Chinese culture, when a woman gives birth, she does not leave the house, bathe, or really do much of anything for the first month, so her body can rest.  As I understand it, she stays in bed with the exception of getting up to go to the bathroom.  Typically her mother will come and take care of the new baby and do all the housework for her.  This is so the woman's body can rest and recover after the stress of childbirth.  It sounds like Heavenly Father is trying to also minimize the woman's chance to catch a disease or get sick.  The stress of childbirth is very high and I imagine that it can put a lot of pressure on the woman's body and wrack her immune system leaving her vulnerable to infection.  I suspect this is the real reason why Heavenly Father wanted the women isolated for at least a month after childbirth.  Heavenly Father never gives any laws without a good reason, we just don't always know what that reason is.

This chapter is a good example of why I can't wait to meet Heavenly Father.  I have so many questions about things from the past and I want to see and know it all.  I love learning new things and when I die, I want to learn it all.  It will be interesting to see how it all works and how we are taught.  I can hardly wait!  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Lord Gives the Israelites a Law of Health

Today I read Leviticus 11 where the Lord outlines what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten.  It is very specific and even has rules about if an unclean bird falls out of the sky, dead, and hits someone, what is to be done then.  It is interesting how specific it is.  But then again it had to be, there were very limited options for food preservation and the may, or may not have known best cooking practices when it came to certain types of meat.  Or perhaps there was just more types of sickness and parasites in those days, I'm not sure.

I do know however that God gave them very specific laws on what they could eat and what they could not eat.  And He expected them to keep the laws.  Now, God has said that not at anytime has He given us commandments there were temporal in nature but rather all commandments are spiritual.  It makes me wonder what the spiritual aspect of this law on what to eat and what not to eat is.  I would imagine that, obviously, keeping the commandments of God will qualify you for the Spirit to be with you, but apart from that, especially given the fact that we all eat these animals now, is there anything inherent about eating these types of animals that drives the spirit away?

I personally don't think so, but I could be wrong.  I think it had a lot to do with just following the commandments of God and doing what He asked of us.  It can sometimes be hard for us to follow the commandments, but in such cases, it is important to remember that God only gives us commandments because He wants us to be safe.  Every good earthly parent has given their children rules that don't make much sense to the children.  But if the child breaks the rule the will quickly find out in most cases why it was a bad idea to do the activity.  Touching a hot stove comes readily to mind.  The child does not understand the consequences of touching a hot stove, but the parent does, so a rule is created to protect the child.  The person may not understand the consequences of eating under cooked pork, but God does and so He creates a commandment to safeguard His children and protect them from physical ailment and potentially even death.

The thing I always bear in mind when a commandment doesn't make sense to me, is that God loves me and wants me to be protected.  He is not going to make a commandment willy nilly just to see me run around for His amusement.  Rather He wants to protect me as much as possible and so He creates commandments to keep me safe, even if I don't understand them or appreciate them.  I try and always remember that, especially when I can't understand the plan, which is a lot!  Until tomorrow.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Having the Proper Authority and Alcohol, a Plague

Today I read Leviticus 10 .  The chapter starts out with a lesson in the importance of having the proper authority.  Two men who are not set apart as the priests offered what is referred to as strange fire in the scriptures.  The Lord was extremely not pleased by this and send fire to consume them.  I have often wondered why the punishments in the old days were so severe compared to today where if someone tries to do something without the proper authority it is just invalid.  I don't have an answer but perhaps it will come in the future.  This is not the last time we will read of someone being slain for doing something the shouldn't have.

The part of the chapter I enjoy most is when God commands Aaron and his sons to abstain from liquor.  The Lord then goes on to state that this will separate the holy from the unholy, common from the uncommon.  Now, some might state that God was only commanding the priests to abstain from liquor, and they would be right.  But my rebuttal is, why would we want to partake in something that the Lord has deemed will make us unholy?  I have never, and figure I never will, understand the worlds fascination with alcohol.  I don't understand why so many people choose to drink alcohol, why so many are addicted to it and won't even admit it.

To me it seems a cowards drink.  It is a drink that people use to run away from his/her pain instead of facing their problems and trying to utilize the Atonement to resolve their issues.  Now granted, I have had a very easy life.  The worst thing I have had to deal with is a good friend committing suicide.  I have not had to deal with any abuse in my life, any major illness or accidents that change me physically.  My life is really easy honestly.  But I do know that the trials I have faced thus far, the speed bumps along my road, I have turned to my wife, my family before she was around, and the Lord.  I don't for the life of me understand how crawling in a bottle can help in the slightest.  I really try hard not to be judgmental but I really can't help judging this world as unfit when it comes to alcohol consumption.  It is a plague that has tormented mankind from its earliest days.  I almost have to wonder, did God put it here purely as a test for mankind?  It's possible. 

I feel happy and lucky that I have never been tempted by alcohol.  I have never wanted to try it, never had any desire and am honestly filled with disgust anytime I even seem someone holding an alcoholic beverage in any form.  I try my best not to judge, but it is so hard.  Perhaps that is my test and trial.  I don't know honestly.  I do know that I fantasize about a world without liquor and in my dreams it is a place of beauty and happiness.  It's called the millennium!  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Aaron Offers Sacrifice and Miracles

Today I read Leviticus 9 where Aaron and his sons take over the sacrifices.  Before this, Moses had performed the sacrifice if you read chapter 8.  I wonder if Aaron required a learning curve at all or if he got it right the first time?  I suspect Aaron did not do it picture perfect the first time, but was close enough.

The part of this chapter that stood out to me the most was the end of the chapter where Heavenly Father sent fire down from heaven to consume an offering.  What must it have been like to live in those days?  When there were miracles in such spectacular fashion like that?  I suppose it was a little frightening too.  I mean, as I think about it, if an angel suddenly appeared in my room when it was dark and no one else was around, that would be really spooky.  One moment nothing and then suddenly an angel is standing there?  Even Joseph Smith, who had seen Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, stated that when Moroni appeared to him it frightened him, but the fear soon left him.

As neat as I think it would be to have a spiritual experience like that, I think it would be frightening too.  I mean, just imagine seeing fire descend out of heaven to consume a burnt offering like that?  That would sure spook me.  Although in this day and age of special effects, we might be too jaded for such miracles.  I suppose if this were to happen today for a group of people, the people would rationalize that it somehow was a Hollywood stunt or something similar.  I also once heard it said that in our day and age we don't need miracles to keep our faith up.  I don't know if this is true, but I do know that even if I saw Jesus Christ appear in front of me right now, it would not change what I already know.  I know He is real and He lives.  I know that this is His true church and that the Priesthood of God to officiate in His name has in fact been restored upon the earth.  I don't need to see Jesus Christ with my physical eyes to know that.  My spirit knows it and that is enough for me!  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Importance of Agency in God's Church

Today I read Leviticus 8 where Moses is commanded to take Aaron and anoint him to be a priest in front of the entire congregation.  This scene reminds me of nothing so much as in our modern day having someone who is recently called to a position sustained by the congregation.

The Lord's church and plan of salvation has always been about choice and voluntarily making commitments.  The Lord never forces us to do anything.  Every covenant we make, every ordinance we participate in, is always participated in by our own choice.  Even the most sacred of covenants we enter into in this life, in the temple, before we do so we are invited to leave if we don't want to make the covenants that will be required of us.

Agency, or the ability to act and not be acted upon, has always been fundamentally important to God's plans.  It's so important that Heavenly Father banished 1/3 of His children from our of His presence and condemned them to Outer Darkness and never having a body.  Satan of course was banished for trying to steal the power and glory of God, but the 1/3 host of heaven was banished because they wanted to destroy the agency of man.  At least that is my understanding of it all.  Agency is not only important to the plan of God, it is the foundation of it.  We will always have a choice when it comes to the things of God. 

Now, I personally feel that once we make those covenants with God, we have freely given our Agency to Him and no longer have the choice, but rather must obey what God tells us to do.  That is the choice we made.  Just like when I married my wife, I gave up my agency to be single or divorce her.  I took her into my life and agreed to become one flesh with her and take care of her on behalf of God.  I gave up my agency to be alone.  That is how I choose to look at it.  When my wife and I first got married we agreed that no matter how bad things got, divorce was never an option.  I think if more people approached their marriage like this things would go a lot smoother in life. 

Of course for that to work spouses would have to treat each other very well.  I am appalled at how I hear people speak to and about their spouses.  It's no wonder there is so much divorce.  So many couples are trying to be single people who live together and have sex from time to time instead of becoming one flesh.  There is a reason we are commanded to become one.  If you treat your spouse the way you want to be treated, there should be no problem.  What a world that would be!  Until tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Striving to be Like Heavenly Father

Today I read Leviticus 7 where the Lord finishes His instructions on the various sacrifices to be made, including how to sacrifice and which parts are to be consumed by the priests.  Sometimes the Old Testament to me seems like a scavenger hunt.  You dig and dig and dig through the ordinary and occasionally you find nuggets of precious truths.  Now, I only say that because we no longer follow the Law of Moses and no longer sacrifice animals to Heavenly Father.  If we did, then the Old Testament would be invaluable, because we cannot worship God without knowing how to worship.

Every generation has had prophets and every prophet has told the people how to worship Heavenly Father.  In olden days, it was a little more complicated.  In modern times, we are asked to follow the commandments and to live the law of the Gospel, Consecration and Chastity.  These laws are important in our progression towards becoming more like Heavenly Father. 

I sometimes wonder why people have such a hard time understanding that God is an exalted man.  I guess because they think it diminishes His power and authority somehow.  But I personally think it is the most natural thing in the world.  However, I also have a wonderful earthly father that I look up to and strive to be like so to me it is perfectly logical that I have an Heavenly Father to strive to be like too.  I am glad for Heavenly Father's servants throughout the years, centuries and millenia that recorded His words so that we have it all now, at least all that has been revealed to us, so that we can understand His nature and how we can progress like Him.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sin Sacrifice Laid Forth

Today I read Leviticus 6 where the Lord outlines more rules governing sacrifices.  These rules are to govern the type and method of sacrifice used for sin offerings when someone has done something wrong.  Heavenly Father even gives a few examples, such as lying to your neighbor, borrowing something from a neighbor and not giving it back things along those lines.

The main thought I had while I was reading this was lamentation on the folly of man that we do all these things that Heavenly Father is listing here and causing us to need this type of sacrifice on a regular basis.  It's really sad that the natural man has such a powerful grip over us and that some people will do just about anything in order to get ahead.  I remember  a scene in one of my favorite movies called "Family Man".  A young girl buys a soda and pays with a $1 bill.  The clerk gives her change as if she paid with a $10 bill.  Instead of saying anything about it the girl smiles and leaves.  The clerk then shakes his head and laments that her integrity is only worth $9 to her.  When I go out to eat somewhere, I am very quick to point out if I have been over charged, but I am just as quick to point out when I have been under charged.  My integrity is worth more than a few dollars.

It's really sad to me how some people will do things just for money or a few possessions.  I really can understand people who steal food in order to live.  I can understand their mentality and way of thinking.  There are better ways in my opinion, but I can understand it at least.  I cannot understand people who steal other things though.  It makes no sense to me.  Find another way, or better yet, do without.  It is the natural man that whispers that you deserve it and the company will not miss it, etc or whatever it is that the natural man or devil whispers to such individuals in order to get them to do what he wants them to do.

We all have these tendencies, some more strong than others.  It is up to us to put them to rest and to not let them get the best of us.  When we take the time to really pray and ask our Heavenly Father for assistance in doing what is right, He will take the time to ensure we have the help we need in order to succeed and become better than we are.  Heavenly Father always helps us accomplish our righteous desires, as long as they do not contradict His plans.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sin Offerings are Outlined

Today I read Leviticus 5 where the Lord details the way to make a sacrifice for a sin offering.  It reaffirmed to me that I could not live back then.  I don't mind killing bugs, but anything with only four or two legs I have a hard time even thinking bad thoughts about.  I could not imagine having to kill a bird every time I committed a sin.

But just like we talked about yesterday, I think that is part of the point.  We are supposed to think about what we have done and it should be hard to make a sacrifice for our sins.  We should have to really think about what we have done.  In today's life, our sacrifice for sin needs to be a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  We should also feel badly that we caused Jesus to suffer more.  Sometimes however, I think the Israelites had it a little easier because theirs was a very physical reminder that they had done wrong.  I suspect though that after a little while it got easier and easier to just kill the pigeons and move on with your life.

And, despite their having to make a physical offering for their sins, they still had to have a contrite spirit and broken heart.  Repentance was still very real.  Amulek taught that the same spirit that inhabits our bodies in this life will inhabit them in the life to come.  Nothing changes with death.  We are still the same person.  Despite their sin offering being something tangible, they still had to repent of those sins and strive to be a better man or woman.  But I wonder how many of them understood that concept?  Not many I suspect and that is sad.  They could have had the fulness of the Gospel if they so chose, but they willingly rejected the greater blessings of the Lord.  Talk about a sad day.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Animal Atonement Sacrifice

Today I read Leviticus 4 where the Lord outlines how to handle an Atonement offering.  It is very detailed and, to me at least, seems to be trying to convey the sacredness of it to the people.  These are Atonement offerings, the people have done something wrong and an animal is going to be sacrificed because you did something wrong.  I wonder if this made the people think twice about what they were going to do, or perhaps it was just the opposite, when they were contemplating sinning their thought was that it was only a bullock that would be sacrificed and they would be off scott free.

Sadly, this type of mentality is very prevalent in our society.  There are many people that think all they need to do is confess their sins and they are automatically absolved of them.  I have heard horror stories of people going to mardi gras with the intent to do things they know are wrong and they do it because they know all they will have to do is confess to their priest and all will be well.  Such people do not understand the Atonement and repentance at all.  Such people would really benefit from reading Alma's account of his repentance in Alma 36.

Repentance is in fact a gift from God but it is painful when done properly.  This is because the purpose of repentance, and true repentance, is to change our very nature and our lives.  It is not to absolve us of sin, although that is part of it.  The real goal of repentance is to change who we are so that we become more Christlike.  And just like breaking a limb that set wrong so it can heal properly, it can hurt, a lot!  I hope the Israelites valued life, even animal life, so that they did not think that they had an easy way out when they did something wrong.  I hope they seriously considered the consequences and that an innocent animal would lose their life if they did something wrong.  I know I would have if I had lived back then!  Until tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Process for Handling the Sacrifices

Today I read Leviticus 3 where the Lord details the proper way to offer sacrifices and what to do with the organs of the animals and how to handle the fat and liver, etc.  As I read this chapter I have to wonder if there was a medical reason behind all of this that caused the Lord to be so particular about the way the Israelites and the priests were to handle the sacrifices.  I'm sure if I were to go looking there is a medical professional out there somewhere that has talked about this very thing.

However, maybe it's just the benefit of hindsight, but I have a real hard time understanding how the Israelites could perform sacrifices their entire lives and not understand it all pointed to something else, the Atonement.  It's all there, a firstborn male without blemish.  Of course, in all fairness, the Israelites in the time of Jesus had no way to know that He was without sin/blemish.  So I guess it is the benefit of hindsight that we can recognize that all this sacrificing is to lead them to Christ.  It's so interesting though that the prophets in America, such as Abinadai understood it.  I guess the Israelites were too blinded by their priests and others.  It's sad to me really.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Lord Takes Care of Those That Serve Him

Today I read Leviticus 2 where the Lord explains how meat offerings that are cooked with flour are to be handled.  I was really impressed when reading this how the Lord is taking care of Aaron and his sons, the priests through the law of sacrifice.  God has never, as far as I am aware, had a paid ministry or priests that earn money simply because they are priests.  In the Book of Mormon culture, the priests farmed and earned their own food through their labors.

In Old Testament society, it does not state that they did so, but I believe they were sustained by offerings made by those who came to make sacrifice.  For example this chapter tells the children of Israel that when they bring a meat offering, a part of it goes on the fire to be burned for the Lord, but the rest is going to be consumed by Aaron and his sons.

To me, that is the Lord taking care of those who serve Him.  Aaron and his sons, especially in the beginning, were probably busy from dawn till dusk with handling the sacrifices of the Lord.  I doubt they really had any time to provide any food for themselves.  So the Lord allowed them to be fed by the people.  Later in Israelite society there were priests who abused this privilege,  but we will get to that later.

The Lord has always taken care of His servants in whatever fashion is needed.  I can remember multiple instances as a missionary being cared for by God.  Sometimes it was a thoughtful branch president who bought me a rain suit because I was on a bicycle.  Other times it was a missionary companion looking out for my well being when a careless driver ran a stop sign and would have hit me if not for my companion's quick action.  Still others it was protecting my head and back when while riding a bicycle a driver opened his car door and hit me with it and I flew over the handle bars.  The Lord cares about us and wants us to be healthy and happy.

Sometimes He accomplishes this in normal means.  He helps us get a job where we can earn money to feed ourselves and our families.  Sometimes it's creating programs to assist those who fall upon hard times, like the Church Welfare program.  Other times He has to step in more dramatically and stop a car from falling off the road.  I have had many such conversations with those not of the LDS faith and all agree that God is watching out for us and that we can ensure His protection through righteous living.  It is wonderful to me that while the various religions may differ on certain key issues, we all agree that God is good, He loves us and He protects us.  It really is a strong comparison between our Heavenly Father and a good, kind earthly father.

I'm sure once there were enough priests to handle all the needs of the people, the priests were able to take care of most of their own food needs again.  That is just my guess though, truly I don't know for sure.  But at the beginning when the Law of Moses was first implemented, it makes perfect sense to me that God would use it to those who are giving up their lives in service to Him.  Of course He is going to care for them.  Just as He still cares for us and those that serve Him still.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Atonement Sacrifice of Animals is Laid Forth

Today I read Leviticus 1 where the rules of how to sacrifice animals are laid forth.  I can't help but wonder why the Lord would want animal sacrifices anyway.  What purpose do they serve?  They remind the people of Israel of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how His eternal sacrifice will save them, but I am not aware of any eternal laws that state an animal can be sacrificed in place of another person for the remission of our sins. 

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is retroactive, meaning it covers all the sins of everyone who had already lived.  So this includes the children of Israel who are sacrificing animals at God's behest.  Not only that, but we learn in the Word of Wisdom that animals are precious to the Lord and while they are here for our use and benefit, it is pleasing to the Lord that we use them only when we need to, in times of scarcity of food and winter.  So why does God require animal sacrifice at all?

I really don't have the answer.  I know that it is all a type and a shadow of things to come and to point the people forward to the Atonement, but beyond that, I don't know.  I do know that I could not have lived in those days.  Just reading about what they had to do to those poor animals makes me sad and sick to my stomach.  I am really glad that we no longer have to do animal sacrifices, I'm not sure how I would handle them honestly.  I like animals and don't think I could constantly be having to kill them, especially knowing they were dying because I did something wrong.  Although, I should feel bad about that anyway since all sin causes our Savior to suffer. 

So whatever the reasons for it, God has commanded the children of Israel to perform animals sacrifices.  We will learn more about it as we read Leviticus and hopefully the Lord will share with me why it was required in the first place.  I am interested since I know the Lord does not condone wonton slaughter of animals.  I'm sure if it is important for me to know, He will share it with me.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Aaron is Ordained

Today I read Exodus 40 where Moses rears the tabernacle and anoints Aaron and his sons.  This is the chapter where Aaron officially receives the priesthood and starts officiating as a priest and serving Israel.  It must have been an interesting and exciting time, much like in this day and age the completing of a new temple to the Lord.

I can only imagine the excitement among the children of Israel as they watched the tabernacle be put up for that first time.  To have Moses go in and place everything in order and pronounce it acceptable to the Lord.  What a feeling that must have been!  I wonder how they selected who got to witness Aaron's ordination?  With such a large crowd there would actually only be a few hundred who could logistically gather round to watch as Aaron was set apart.  I imagine it was the tribe of Levi who got to witness it since they also were to receive the priesthood and act as priests for the host of Israel.

Israel has always been God's chosen people and the Bible and Book of Mormon are the only records that we have of God and His dealings with mankind.  It is a comfort to see that God has always followed the same pattern.  When His people are free, He wants them to build a temple where they can perform sacred ordinances for salvation.  God does not change.  The times change and the people change, but God is always the same.  I derive comfort from that and so should everyone.  I don't think people realize what it means to have a God that is constant.  Just think for a second if we had a God who was NOT constant.  What a world that would be! 

Could you imagine if God told us one thing and then next week completely went back on it?  How would we know how to serve Him?  How would we be able to do what He wants us to do?  We would always be second guessing ourselves and would not be able to rely on God at all.  What a scary thought!  Because I don't know about you, but the one being I can always count on no matter what is Heavenly Father Himself!  I love my wife but she is human and can make mistakes.  God is perfect and will always do as He says He will.  I find great comfort in that knowledge, as should the entire world.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Modest Dress is Important

Today I read Exodus 39 where the Lord tells Moses to make the robes for Aaron and his sons.  It is interesting  to me how important clothing is.  The most sacred of ordinances requires certain clothing and when we go to church we wear our best clothing.  Clothing is an integral part of our society, but it has changed much over the course of the years, and not really for the best.

It's really sad to see how much clothing styles have changed, especially in the case of women.  Immodesty has become the norm in clothing and it is not a good look.  Women don't respect themselves enough to keep their bodies private and sacred.  If they don't respect themselves, how do they expect other people to respect them?  When I was dating around and looking for someone to marry one of my main criteria was how they dressed.  I did not want a woman who dressed like the women on TV.  It is so interesting to me that the more "fashionable" women's clothing is, the less fabric is used.

My opinion has not changed now that I am married either.  My wife is a very attractive woman and I don't want other men oogling my wife.  Nor do I want to go around oogling other women.  Part of the problem with this society these days is there is little to no fidelity in mind.  One of the reasons I enjoy being a Latter-day Saint so much is that modesty is highly favored.  We learn in the Book of Mormon in the book of Jacob that God delights in the chastity of women.  Latter-day Saints get a lot of flack about our garments that we wear after we go to the temple for the first time.  And yet those garments help us stay modest in our dress.  If we wear them correctly then we have to wear clothing that covers them up.  Modesty is a value that has gone away that we really need more of in this life.  Modesty is a value that if it made a comeback would solve so many of the world's problems.  I really wish all women, and men, would dress more modestly.  It would be such a nicer world.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bezaleel was Prepared to Serve the Lord

Today I read Exodus 38 where Bezaleel finished the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant.  This chapter details what materials were used to finish the ark and the tabernacle and it sounds to my unexperienced understanding like it was certainly made to last.  And considering that the tabernacle was in use for 40 years, I'd say that Bezaleel did a good job.

As I was reading today's chapter I couldn't help but wonder where Bezaleel learned his skills from.  I'm quite confident that he was raised up by the Lord so that he would be prepared to serve God when he was called.  In history you see people, men and women who were obviously called before they were actually called to serve their Lord.

I believe I have mentioned that I like to read the biographies of the Latter-day prophets.  I like to see how they have lived their lives and become the Lord's representative here on the earth.  One thing I have found as common ground is that they all had experiences that prepared them for being the Lord's spokesperson.  The Lord qualifies whom He calls.  But I have found that sometimes He qualifies them before He calls them.  Like the refiners fire, these men throughout history have been put through experiences that prepared them uniquely for what God called them to do.  Bezaleel was prepared before he was called also.  Perhaps it will make it easier to deal with challenges as they come, knowing that perhaps one day because of them, you will have a chance to serve the Lord.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bezaleel Makes the Ark

Today I read Exodus 37 where Bezaleel makes the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat.  This man must be a very talented artisan because he is the man they predominantly mention building the ark and the tabernacle.  He is a man that had no trouble dedicating his time, talents and energy to the building up of the kingdom of God.  And as I said, it sounds like he was really talented.

There's not a lot to say honestly about this chapter.  We just talked yesterday about consecration and that is what comes to mind when I read this chapter.  It really kind of strikes me as odd that some people would not want to serve God.  I mean, why wouldn't they?  He is the creator of our spirits and our souls and He has always treated us fairly and treated us well.  He only wants what is best for us, it's just that what we think will be good or best for us does not always match up with what He KNOWS will be best for us.  The thing we can do to make sure we are the happiest we can be in this life is to make sure that we pray for our will to align with His.  That is what will give us the most happiness.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Serving the Lord in His Way

Today I read Exodus 36 where it details the actual building of the tabernacle in detail.  It is interesting that it talks about the dimensions again of the tabernacle and what materials are used.  I suppose it's possible for someone to follow this model and build a replica of the tabernacle it is that detailed.  I'm really surprised Moses went to the trouble of recording this amount of detail for a reason, but I'll be honest that I don't know what that reason is.

As I was reading this chapter however I did think about the work of the Lord.  God is involved in all aspects of this church and the Gospel and He loves all His children very, very much.  He pays attention to us all and knows us by name.  That being said He takes care of us in a myriad of ways.  He sometimes will give us the opportunity to bless the lives of others.  At other times it is our turn to be blessed by someone else.  The law of consecration states that we will use our time and talents and everything we have to bless the lives of others in doing what God asks of us.  We are no longer asked to help build temples like the early saints were.  We are not asked to contribute funds or help build stake centers or chapels like our fathers and grandfathers were.  No, we are asked only to give up our time and some energy to bless the lives of someone else.

I have talked many times before now about how God uses us to further His work and have even mentioned how when we do this, it actually blesses us.  And this is all still very true, I just don't want to repeat myself too often.  But what has been on my mind a lot lately, is that we can be doing more.  That may sound harsh to some that are already giving it everything they have and perhaps it is harsh.  But when I think of people who declare they have earned a rest I can't help but think of Doctrine and Covenants 122:8.  Jesus Christ never passed up an opportunity to serve, that we know of.  Even when He was asleep, when people came to see Him, He got up.  Are we greater than He?  No, we are not.  If we are striving to emulate Him and His example, then we need to make sure we are truly emulating it.  It is more than just lip service.  Anyone can say they believe, the Zoramites did that much!  Much like a testimony is found in the bearing of it, true Gospel living is found in the living of it.  When asked to serve, we need to serve.  When asked to give, we need to give.  If you disagree, I invite you to read Mosiah 4 again.  And there will always be a multitude of reasons why you can't serve, but they will all sound very hollow when you stand before our Maker and have to give an accounting of why you didn't help one of His children when he/she needed it.  I know I don't want to be in that situation.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Israelites Build the Tabernacle

Today I read Exodus 35 where Moses teaches the people about keeping the Sabbath holy and the people come together to build the tabernacle.  This chapter reminded me a lot of the stories of the Saints in this dispensation building the Nauvoo temple.  All the people seem to have come together in order to build the tabernacle with everyone providing different parts of the labor to perform the commandment that the Lord issued.  I can't help but wonder if the people were so zealous to complete this because they were anxious to prove their recent transgression was in the past and would not be repeated. 

I also am amused that when Moses gives the children of Israel the commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy it merely says to rest on the seventh day.  All the little nuances such as how many steps they could walk on the Sabbath or what was allowed for them to eat, all came later and it did not come from Heavenly Father.  When Heavenly Father gave the commandment, it was a pure and simple command to rest from their labors on the seventh day.  I honestly don't understand how people can function without taking a day off from everything to rejuvenate themselves.  I would personally go nuts if I didn't have Sunday to rest and go to church and focus only on the things of Heavenly Father.  But then again, I was raised that way.  Perhaps those who were raised differently think that it is normal for them to feel run down all the time.  Who knows?  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Priesthood is Taken Away from the Israelites

Today I read Exodus 34 where God commands Moses to make new tablets of stone and bring them to Him so that He can give Moses the law again.  God tells Moses that it will not be the exact same as before.  Joseph Smith restores some text that was lost where God tells Moses that He will give Moses a carnal law to give the children of Israel and that He will take His Priesthood out of the midst of the people.  This is a very real and severe punishment but the gravity of it might not come across right at first to some of the people.

Holding the Priesthood of God, the very authority and power that Jesus Christ used to create the world and universe around us is a fantastic privilege.  It is the highest honor a man can hold in this life in my opinion.  Now, some non-LDS readers might cry foul that it is not offered to women but let me first clarify that this is a decision made by God Himself, not the Prophets and Apostles.  Who are you to tell God what to do with His own authority and power?  Secondly, these arguments about equality and fairness to women fade away if you understand what the Priesthood is.

The Priesthood is a call to serve.  It is a ticket to a life of service.  The Priesthood cannot be used to bless your own life in any way shape or form.  The only way a Priesthood holder can use his authority to bless his own life is by using his Priesthood properly to bless the lives of others and by so doing Heavenly Father will bless him.  But that is it.  A Priesthood holder cannot perform any ordinances for himself.  He cannot bless himself.  If we are sick and in need of a priesthood blessing we have to ask another Priesthood holder to bless us.  We cannot baptize ourselves or perform any life saving ordinances beyond the sacrament.  My personal thought, which I have shared on here before, is that women don't need the push in the right direction to serve like men do.  They will serve on their own and are even able to perform one of those ordinances necessary for salvation for themselves.  God has a profound love for His daughters and takes care of them.  Men on the other hand need the Priesthood to help them serve and take care of Heavenly Father's children in the proper way.

So even though it may not seem like it, removing the Priesthood from the common man of the Israelites is in fact a BIG deal.  Entire generations of men were not able to receive the blessings that come from holding the Priesthood in righteousness and using it to bless the lives of others.  Such privilege was limited to the tribe of Levi.  The people made their choice and they did not choose God.  And as we said just the other day, God will not be mocked!  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Moses Talks with God Face to Face

Today I read Exodus 33 where the Lord sends Moses and the children of Israel on their way.  The Lord is very displeased with the children of Israel and the way they have behaved and He tells them this through Moses.  He tells them to put off their ornaments and the children of Israel do this and feel ashamed according to the scripture.  I cannot even imagine what they must have felt like, what must have been going through their heads.  They knew they had some heavy duty repenting to do.

This chapter also holds some very cool doctrine.  Although it must be very strange to read this chapter without the JST to help make sense of it.  In verse 11 we read that Moses speaks to God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.  So here we see that Moses saw God, face to face and spoke to Him.  However, verse 20 seems to contradict what we just read.  It states that no man can see the face of God and live.  Without the JST this can be quite confusing.  Although I don't understand why people would give precedence to one of the verses over the other.  I mean, why believe that no one has seen God and lived over the one that saw Moses talked with God face to face?  Perhaps it is because there are multiple scriptures stating that no one has seen the face of God because they have all been changed either intentionally or otherwise.  Whatever the case, people are more willing to believe that no one has seen the face of God than the fact that a prophet of the Lord has seen Him.

Unless I read this chapter wrong, it also seems that God stopped personally guiding the children of Israel but instead would send an angel to guide them.  I could be reading it wrong or misunderstanding what the Lord is saying here, but I don't think I am.  The Lord was angered with them and showed His displeasure by removing His presence from their midst.  I cannot imagine what the children of Israel must have thought when they heard that.  Talk about remorse and heartbreak.  And yet it was not the remorse that leads to true repentance as we will see in further chapters.  It seems that the children of Israel never really learn their lesson.  It is sad really but they have a never ending cycle of disobedience followed by repentance and then returning to their old sins.  Much like we do today actually.  Some things never change.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Golden Calf

Today I read Exodus 32 the famous chapter where the people of Israel make a golden calf and worship it.  This episode has never made sense to me at all.  I understand that the people were used to having idols to look at and worship.  It was all they knew and understood because they had lived all their lives in the land of Egypt, and in Egypt they worshiped idols.  However, what I have never understood is that shouldn't have Aaron have known better?  He and his sons were chosen to receive the Priesthood and to assist Moses and to officiate in the temple/tabernacle.  How could he not have known better?  I know that we probably have just the barest of outlines of what actually happened, but wouldn't it have been important to include that Aaron fought them on it and argued with them if in fact he did?

Also, I know it is unfair to compare myself to the Israelites, but I can't help doing so.  I have never understood why people need something to look at to worship anyway.  Now, I know that like I said earlier, the Israelites have been living in Egypt and that this is what they have seen before this, but they have to know that Heavenly Father is not a cow/calf!  Why would they want a golden calf to worship and pay obeisance to?  Why would they want to be like the Egyptians anyway?  I have never understood why members of the church of God, in any era, want to be like the rest of the world.  What's so great about the rest of the world?  What do they have other than sin and misery that the Church of God doesn't have?  Nothing.  Wickedness never was happiness, it just takes some people a long time to realize this fact. 

When Moses returns and sees what is transpiring it is always heart warming to see that none of the tribe of Levi were partaking in the sin and revelry.  When Moses rallies the children of Israel the tribe of Levi is the one that responds.  Is it any wonder why they are chosen to be the priests of the people and have the priesthood and officiate in God's ordinances on behalf of the people?  They respond in righteousness when all around them is sin and debauchery.  Now, again, we only have the barest of outlines here, but Moses commands the tribe of Levi to kill over 3000 men, and I assume women too although it does not state this fact.  I have to assume that these are the men, and probably women, that would not repent of the evil they had committed and when Moses commanded them to.  Now the scriptures state that those worshiping the calf were naked, although the footnote states that the word naked might denote just riotous behavior and revelry.  Whether they were naked or not, part of the problem was the way they were "worshiping" the calf.  It's not just that they made it, it is the fact that they were degrading themselves with their so called worship services.  They were so loud that when Moses came part way down the mountain and found Joshua waiting, Joshua thought the camp was being attacked by an army.  That's pretty bad in my opinion. 

Moses in his anger broke the tablets that contained the law and covenants of the Lord that God had just given him.  However, I'm pretty sure that God would have taken them away even if Moses had not broken them.  Heavenly Father was pretty upset by the behavior of His chosen people after He had done so much for them.  And who wouldn't be?  I mean what a slap in the face.  That is rejection on a grand scale.  This is part of the reason that God gives them the lesser law from this point on, because it is clear that they can't handle the greater law.  But we'll read more on that later.  I never have been able to wrap my mind around this story in the Bible and I guess it's because I don't have all the details.  One day I imagine we'll be told the entire story and we can know why they did this reprehensible act.  For now it is enough to know that they rejected the Lord their God, knowingly and willfully, and God will not be mocked.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Working for the Lord and the Sabbath

Today I read Exodus 31 where the Lord gives Moses instructions in regards to finding artists to dedicate their craft to the beautifying of the tabernacle.  It reminds me of the law of consecration, where we consecrate everything that Lord has blessed us with for the building up of the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth.  I have talked before how the Lord does not really have need of us, He is the master of all the universe, He can have the very elements rise up and do His bidding if He so desired.  We have need of serving Him.  When we serve our Heavenly Father, we change who we are and become closer to Him, we become better people. 

It's kind of like our earthly parents.  When children start to grow up, they start having chores assigned to them to teach them how to work as well as the value of work.  Now, children probably view this as the parents taking it easy and using child labor to make their lives easier.  The reality of it all though is that the parents could do the work faster and better.  But children need to learn how to work and so the parents allow the children to help them out and to be a part of what makes he household run smoothly.  But what the children don't understand is that this is entirely for the benefit of the child.  It takes a lot of work as a parent to help their child learn to work, way more work than if the parent had just done it themselves.  I imagine Heavenly Father is the exact same way.  He could do it so much faster and better, but we are the ones that need to grow and learn from the experience, so He allows us to help Him.

The last part of the chapter is about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  I have often wondered just why western culture got away from keeping the Sabbath holy.  Well, I know the answer to that if I'm being honest, money.  Business, corporations what ever you want to call them realized that they could earn more money if they were open on Sundays.  I honestly don't see how the common man does it though.  I need my Sundays to recharge my spiritual batteries so that I can face the coming week.  If I did not have that, I am confident that in a few weeks I would be a miserable person and consequently miserable to be around to!  When ever I read the verse that talks about how God rested on the seventh day from His labors I always think of D&C 122 where Jesus asks Joseph Smith if he is greater than Jesus?  Now, the context is completely different, but I still think it fits.  If God took a day off to rest, whether He needed it or not, are we better than God that we don't need a day off to rest from the labors of the world?  Hardly.  We are not better and more capable than God is.  If He needed to take a day off to rest and relax, then so do we, and that's all there is to it.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Spirit Testifies of Truth

Today I read Exodus 30 where the Lord gives instructions on Atonement sacrifices and incense and altars.  It is interesting to me that the Lord would give instructions to the children of Israel that Atonement sacrifices are to be done with money.  I do think it is really neat that no matter how rich or poor you are, you pay the same amount for an Atonement sacrifice.  I suppose this is the justification that some churches use to solicit funds for salvation.  It's just so sad to me that the people are so willing to trust those in positions of religious authority that they would trust their ministers/preachers that what they say is right and the will of God.  It's no different than some Latter-day Saints and how we are viewed by the outside world.  As a missionary I was accused of blind obedience more than once.  I always thought it was interesting that we are the only church accused of that.  But I can see why someone might think that Latter-day Saints believe everything their leaders tell them.

What they don't understand is that Latter-day Saints have the Gift of the Holy Ghost and if we are worthy of it, we can have the spirit of discernment with us and can tell immediately upon hearing it if what we are being told is correct or not.  We will feel the Spirit testify to us that what we are being told/taught is true and right.  And if we have doubts, we can always go to the Lord, the source of all truth, and ask Him to confirm it to us.  And He will tell us one way or the other.  Although I suspect that most Latter-day Saints don't even need to take advantage of this step if they are living righteously.  They just need to listen to the still small voice and be receptive to what the Spirit tells us.

It can sometimes be hard though to hear the still small voice when it is testifying of truth to us.  There are so many distractions in the world, however sometimes the biggest distraction is us.  Every Sunday I look around the chapel during Sacrament meeting and see people sleeping, playing on their phone or tablet, lost in thought or any number of other activities other than listening to the speaker.  Last month in General Conference Elder Hallstrom talked about being active in the church, but less active in the Gospel, and that is exactly what he was talking about.  Some people go to church every Sunday but they don't pay attention.  They are not invested in feeling the Spirit and getting the most out of their worship.  It saddens me really to see it happening, but just like with the parable of the 10 virgins, we cannot share our oil/testimony with others.  We have to work out our own salvation.  No one can force us to become converted to the Lord, we have to make a conscious choice and it is not a one time event as some would have us believe.  It takes consistent work to be converted to the Lord because at any time we can fall away.  We have to be constantly vigilant to try and stay on the strait and narrow path.  Jesus never said it would be easy, He only said it would be worth it.  And it is!  Until tomorrow. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ordinances in the Right Way

Today I read Exodus 29 where the Lord gives instructions on how for sacrifices and for consecrating Aaron and his sons.  As I was reading this chapter I couldn't help but think of all the other ceremonies and ordinances that God has asked all of His followers to follow.  Heavenly Father is very particular about the ordinances that need to be performed.  I believe this is because these ordinances are older than time and Heavenly Father is just following the plan and pattern that His God followed before Him.

Saving ordinances are necessary for salvation and have to follow a prescribed pattern.  This is partly because Heavenly Father promises certain things when we perform these ordinances and if Heavenly Father is going to promise us things, He needs to know that we are doing the ordinances properly.  He cannot be held to a promise for a broken ordinance.  We have to make sure that they are performed properly and to the specifications that He has set forth.  We also need to make sure that they are done by the proper authority.  If they are not done by the proper authority, they are not valid in the eyes of Heavenly Father.

The other part of this chapter is the fact that Aaron and his sons are given the Priesthood to perform these ordinances on behalf of Israel.  It is not enough to have a testimony and a desire to have the ordinances performed, we have to have them done by the right authority.  Even Jesus sought out John the Baptist because John had the Priesthood necessary to baptize Him.  Jesus did not just go to anyone, He purposefully went to the person He knew that would have the authority to perform the ordinance.  It really is not possible to stress the importance of proper authority and proper execution of ordinances.  Just like with earthly agreements we want to make sure that we are signing our name to what we desire, Heavenly Father will only honor the proper ordinances done by the proper authority in the proper way and in some cases in the proper place.  But when we do follow the proper pattern, we always get wonderful promises that the Lord gives us.  And all He asks in return is our obedience to Him.  It's a small price to pay really.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Moses Makes a Urim and Thummim

Today I read Exodus 28 where Moses is commanded and given instructions on how to build and construct the Urim and Thummim.  The Urim and Thummim has always interested me.  Partially because I am pretty good with foreign languages and since the Urim and Thummim were used to translate the Book of Mormon that is what I primarily associate their use with, but they are more than that.  This is the tool through which God communicated with His prophets.  I wonder if the tool was more for the benefit of man than any actual significance of helping God to communicate with His prophets.

What I mean is, did the Urim and Thummim actually help God communicate with His prophets somehow, or was it a placebo effect?  Was it merely the fact that the prophets had someplace to focus their attention and so it was easier to hear and acknowledge the Lord's instructions.  The mind can do fantastic things and can even convince itself of some incredible things. I have a friend whose wife many, many years ago lost her arm in a car accident.  Unfortunately through all of this she still has phantom limb pain and nothing they have tried will make it go away.  My friend however read about a therapy where using mirrors it appears that the limb is restored and in most cases the brain accepts it as a fact, even though logically the person knows the limb is still gone, but the brain acknowledges is and the pain goes away forever.  Sadly I moved away and don't know if my friend and his wife ever tried the therapy, but it is simply amazing to me how the brain can do so much. 

So that being said, was the Urim and Thummim a placebo effect where God was using it to make the prophets minds think something was going on that wasn't, or was God genuinely using the device to communicate with the prophets?  I honestly don't know.  I do know though that there have been multiple Urim and Thummims in history and that prophets have used them all throughout time.  So whatever their true use and the workings behind them, they are important and God uses them and that is good enough for me.  I'm sure I'll find out one day.  I'm really anxious to see one actually and examine it for myself.  I think that would be really neat.  Someday I will have my chance both to examine it and to find out once and for all how it works.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

God is Constant

Today I read Exodus 27 where the Lord continues to give Moses very detailed instructions on how to complete the tabernacle.  I am again amazed that Moses was able to retain all that detail.  I again have to wonder if with all our modern conveniences if we give up something, some part of our brain that would function better if we did not have television and computers, etc.  I mean, how did Moses remember all of those directions?  He did not have them written down somewhere on a blueprint.  How did he remember them so exactly?  Did Heavenly Father bless Moses so that he would remember more clearly?  I truly don't know.  But this is not the first time that people who write the scriptures are blessed with long memories. 

I also wonder what was going through Moses' mind when he is hearing all these instructions on what to build and how to build it.  I'm pretty sure my first thought would have been where all this material is going to come from.  Perhaps what they took from Egypt was enough to cover all the metals that were needed, but where did all the wood come from?  I don't really know anything about the geography of the area, but were there really that many trees growing around that area?  I guess they do otherwise the Lord would not have commanded Moses to do all this.  Perhaps there was only shittim wood around the area and that is why God told Moses to use that to build the ark.  I really don't know.What I do know is that God would not have given the commandment to Moses unless there was a way for Moses to accomplish it.  That is always a very comforting thought.  God is constant and does not change.  The pattern He followed back then is the same pattern He will follow today.  We can always count on Him.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Moses Commanded to Build a Tabernacle

Today I read Exodus 26 where Moses is commanded to create a tabernacle.  He is not just commanded to create it, he is given very specific instructions on how to create it, down to the measurements.  When I was reading this, I thought to myself how obvious it is that God is a God of order.  He wants things done a very certain way, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Order is good.  As I loaded up the page to start writing today's entry however, I had another thought.  I thought to myself, what if my earthly father called me up and asked me to build him a shed?  What if he said he needed a shed built and left it at that and left the details to me?  Well, I have never built a shed before.  I've seen them and even torn down one once upon a time before, but I have never constructed one.  I have no idea about measurements or the best type of materials to make it with, I would literally be clueless on how to even start!

Moses was raised as a prince in Egypt.  When he was forty years old, he fled Egypt and spent the next forty years being a shepherd.  No where in his upbringing would I imagine he was told how to construct a building, let alone a portable one.  Heavenly Father is in fact a being of order yes, but He is telling Moses each specific measurement as an act of mercy.  He's giving Moses a blueprint to follow so that Moses can accomplish the commandment that God has set before him.  Nephi tells us in the third chapter of his first book that God gives no commandments unto the children of men unless He prepares a way for them to accomplish that commandment.  In chapter seventeen of that same book, God commands Nephi to construct a ship, something Nephi has never done before.  But God shows Nephi how to construct it and helps him do it.  It is no different with Moses.  God gave Moses a commandment, and then prepared the way for Moses to keep that commandment.  This chapter is an example of God's mercy toward His children. 

It may be tedious for us to read since we are not the ones building the tabernacle, but as I read this chapter with the proper attitude and context, it is just another testimony of God's wonderfulness and His love towards His children.  He really does take care of His children.  I can remember about eight years ago or so, my father was replacing the deck on his house.  I spent a couple of nights and some Saturdays helping him out.  I remember at one point we needed to take off a part of the deck that wrapped around the house and was roughly 30 feet off the ground.  I remember when he tried to use the power saw, it died.  It had been working fine not more than 2 minutes before that.  My dad made a joke that Heavenly Father was trying to save his life by keeping him from doing something stupid.  So he went and got a regular manual saw and started cutting away at the boards with me holding his hand and bracing for support.  About one minute into his sawing my dad stopped saying he just felt wrong about this and had an imagine of a cartoon character sitting on a limb as they saw the limb off the tree with them on it.  So we stopped.  I don't know what would have happened if we had continued, but both my dad and I believe that Heavenly Father was trying to stop us from making a mistake.  I can count more times than just this, more clear examples than this, where Heavenly Father saved my life, quite literally, where there was no other possible explanation for what happened.  Heavenly Father loves His children and wants to take care of them.  If we live our lives righteously we can count on His blessings.  Why would we not want to take advantage of His protection?  Until tomorrow.