Thursday, April 28, 2022

Entering the Promised Land (Joshua 1-6, 23-24)

Joshua the Prophet

READ Joshua 1:1-5

Who selected Joshua to lead Israel after Moses’ translation?

The Lord.

No committee or vote was involved.

 

READ Joshua 1:6-9

What is to be the key to Joshua’s success?

Know the word of the Lord as delivered to Moses in the scriptures.

Why is knowing the word of the Lord key?

If he knows the words or law, he can be obedient to the commandments.

If he is obedient to the commandments, he will be filled with light.

If he is filled with light, he will be able to enter into the rest of the Lord himself and receive his own covenant direct from the Lord’s mouth, as did Moses.

How does one learn the word of the Lord?

Find a true messenger and listen to their words; either an angel from heaven or a person on earth who knows the Lord through face to face interaction.

“Meditate therein” - ponder and pray over the words and concepts in scripture.

“Day and night” - this is not a cursory viewing or even a mammoth one-time project.

 

READ JS-History 1:74

How do the scriptures come alive to us?

When we seek after and receive the Holy Ghost.

And are filled with light.

Which is the mind of God (see LoF 5:2).

And spend time in the scriptures, pondering them and asking questions of them.

 

 

Crossing the Jordan River

READ Joshua 3:5, 10-13

Why is the Lord showing Israel a sign that He is among them?

He’s not - first they have to sanctify themselves, like before Sinai.

Signs follow those that believe - so if they have faith, the Lord will do His miracles.

 

READ Joshua 3:15-17

Why did the Priests have to step into the flooding Jordan River before the Lord parted the water?

It was a trial of faith for the priests, as much as it was for the people.

The Lord asks us to step out of the light and into the darkness - a step of faith - before He will act - otherwise it’s not faith.

 

 

The Walls of Jericho

READ Joshua 2:1-6, 9, 11 and Hebrews 11:31

Why did Rahab betray her people to help Israel?

She received a revelation regarding the fact that the Lord had given the land to Israel.

She exercised faith in that inspiration.

She was following The Lord.

 

READ Joshua 2:12-13, 15, 18

What was the true token Rahab asked of the spies?

The scarlet line or rope that was used to save them.

The word for line (“tiqvah” or teek-vuh) is everywhere else translated as the word “hope” - we exercise faith in the hope or promise we have been given by Christ when He gives us His testimony or word that He will save us.

The scarlet line was the symbol of that hope or promise; it was to be hung in Rahab’s window like the red blood of the Passover lamb which was likewise a symbol to the destroying angel to spare those inside because they had covenanted with the living God and had received a hope or promise of exaltation.

 

READ James 2:14-26

What sacrifice did Rahab make to seal this covenant of faith?

James uses this experience of Rahab’s to illustrate the principle that faith without works is dead.

She would have been dead - either from her people if they ever found out she had committed treason or from the invading Israelites if she had not displayed the “Passover covenant” of the red line in the window.

She did not just say “be ye safe” but put her life and the safety of her family on the line after having received the revelation from the Lord as to who Israel was to Him and what she needed to do to aid His work.

 

READ Joshua 6:1-6

What was the Lord saying to Joshua when He said, “see I have given into thy hand Jericho”, as it was still fully protected?

All things are before His face.

As a result, He is not a linear thinker or communicator.

His ways are truly not our ways.

He could, and did, destroy those solid stone walls with a blast of sound.

 

READ Joshua 6:17-18; Deuteronomy 7:2-5

Why was Israel commanded to destroy every living thing in Jericho but Rahab and her house?

The Canaanites were “accursed”.

Israel would become accursed if they took things that were accursed.

Israel will break their covenants if they marry outside of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Israel had to enter the Promised Land as a whole, sanctified people (that’s why they had to wait 40 years for the unfaithful to die - instead of just leaving them in the desert).

If Israel is personified as a single person, the impure elements within that person had to be purged before entering into the Rest of the Lord (promised land).

If Israel is personified as a single person, why would the Lord tell them to utterly destroy the people of Canaan? (see Exodus 4:22-23 as an example of personification)

We need to stop dabbling in Babylon but “go ye out”.

If we surround ourselves with unholiness, the chances of us being impacted is greater (see Lot in Sodom and Israel in Egypt).

If we become unholy, we will remain separated from the Lord, which is spiritual death.

Also, remember the story of Rahab - the Lord will spare all of those who receive Him (implying that the others in Canaan had chances to come unto Christ but didn’t take them - remember the prophet Balaam, who had never heard of Israel but knew God until he betrayed Him).

 

 

The Conquest of Canaan

READ Joshua 12:1, 7-8 and Judges 1:19-21

What modern event in the last 20 years does this “conquest of Canaan” remind you of?

George W. Bush landing on the aircraft carrier after the “conquest” of Iraq - “mission accomplished”; when in fact, it was really just beginning and was never really accomplished as ISIS later took over and the battle continued.

Why were the children of Israel not able to “accomplish” the “mission” of conquering the promised land?

The people of the land had more advanced technology (iron instead of bronze).

Canaanites were somewhat wealthier albeit in decline (trade, culture).

Israel continued the “strongman model” they began with Moses - see Joshua 1:16-18 - they seem to have a real distaste for interacting with the Lord individually and personally. 

If Canaan represents the Promised Land or the Rest of the Lord which is His presence, Israel cannot get there as a people anyway - they must “enter in” individually.

If these conditions are accurate, how did they get any success at all?

Direct intervention: they displayed some degree of righteousness and faith because by faith the walls of Jericho fell (Hebrews 11:30).

Inspiration which they followed: the Lord taught them how to fight in a way that would raise their probability of success; military intelligence - Rahab and Jericho (Joshua 2); logistics including when to attack so they could eat as they go and don’t have big supply lines (Joshua 3); guerilla tactics to avoid directly engaging the Canaanites chariots; neutralization of city defenses like Jericho (Joshua 2) and Bethel (Judg 1:22-26) through secret gates or physiological tricks; enticement of city defenders to leave their defenses by ruse like in Ai (Joshua 8); surprise attacks like at Gibeon (Joshua 10:9-10); night operations like at Ai and Merom (Joshua 11:7)

 

 

Choose You This Day

READ Joshua 24:15-16, 19-20

Is this a good reason not to seek to truly come unto Christ or serve Him?

No - by rejecting when He extends any blessing or opportunity to you, you are walking away from Him and eventually damning yourself.

What “hurt” will you do to yourself if you choose not to serve the Lord?

You will eventually meet Him and you will not be prepared to stand in His presence.

And ironically, you will hurt yourself in two ways: 1) being blinded by the glory of His light as you encounter Him unprepared, despite the fact that He is just existing – He is not “hurting” you (Mormon 9:3-6) and 2) the disappointment of not taking what Christ offered you freely will be a flame of fire and brimstone within your soul as you torment and condemn yourself for your folly.

 

We have no choice but to offer our whole souls on the altar of the Lord - it is an act of mercy and grace by the Lord to allow us to do so, as we are unworthy, and our whole souls are all that we have to sacrifice that is really ours to give.

 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Entering the Promised Land (Joshua 1-6, 23-24) QUESTIONS

Joshua the Prophet

READ Joshua 1:1-5

Who selected Joshua to lead Israel after Moses’ translation?

 

READ Joshua 1:6-9

What is to be the key to Joshua’s success?

Why is knowing the word of the Lord key?

How does one learn the word of the Lord?

 

READ JS-History 1:74

How do the scriptures come alive to us?

 

 

Crossing the Jordan River

READ Joshua 3:5, 10-13

Why is the Lord showing Israel a sign that He is among them?

 

READ Joshua 3:15-17

Why did the Priests have to step into the flooding Jordan River before the Lord parted the water?

 

 

The Walls of Jericho

READ Joshua 2:1-6, 9, 11 and Hebrews 11:31

Why did Rahab betray her people to help Israel?

 

READ Joshua 2:12-13, 15, 18

What was the true token Rahab asked of the spies?

 

READ James 2:14-26

What sacrifice did Rahab make to seal this covenant of faith?

 

READ Joshua 6:1-6

What was the Lord saying to Joshua when He said, “see I have given into thy hand Jericho”, as it was still fully protected?

 

READ Joshua 6:17-18; Deuteronomy 7:2-5

Why was Israel commanded to destroy every living thing in Jericho but Rahab and her house?

If Israel is personified as a single person, why would the Lord tell them to utterly destroy the people of Canaan? (see Exodus 4:22-23 as an example of personification)

 

 

The Conquest of Canaan

READ Joshua 12:1, 7-8 and Judges 1:19-21

What modern event in the last 20 years does this “conquest of Canaan” remind you of?

Why were the children of Israel not able to “accomplish” the “mission” of conquering the promised land?

If these conditions are accurate, how did they get any success at all?



Choose You This Day

READ Joshua 24:15-16, 19-20

Is this a good reason not to seek to truly come unto Christ or serve Him?

What “hurt” will you do to yourself if you choose not to serve the Lord?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Song of the Lord (Numbers 22-24; Deuteronomy 6,8,11,32)

Balaam the Prophet

READ Numbers 22:8-13

Who was Balaam?

A prophet of God (or a spiritually gifted individual whose “eyes are opened”) who is not one of the Children of Israel (of the covenant) but receives true prophesy from God and communes with God and His angels.

If a spiritually gifted person curses someone that God does not want cursed, by whose power do they do it?

The adversary’s or any other dark entity who is not aligned with the true and living God.

Does God really curse people?

Yes, if they reject what is freely offered to them and turn to other “gods” like the Children of Israel did (see Deuteronomy 28:15).

 

Interestingly, when Israel attacks Midian, they kill Balaam who had taught the Midianites how to successfully defeat Israel by tempting them with the worship of false gods.

READ Numbers 24:13

Why would Balaam go from swearing to follow the Lord to selling his spiritual services for money?

We stand in peril every hour that we are here on earth.

Anyone can fall from grace (D&C 20:32) – it’s a cautionary tale to all who have spiritual gifts.

 

 

The Song of the Lord

READ Deuteronomy 31:19-22

Why does the Lord give Moses a song?

As a testimony against the people that they were taught the truth but would not embrace it but rather turned from it.

Because words put to music can be more easily remembered and have a more powerful emotional response.

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:1-2

What is the dew and small rain to the tender plants?

It is a matter of life and death - if they don’t get the moisture to sustain them, they will die in the heat of the day.

This is particularly true of new vegetation without a mature root system.

But if it is heavy rain or a flood, they will also die.

Who are the tender plants (found in the desert land, v.10)?

The Children of Israel.

How did the Lord sustain life for Israel?

Manna from heaven - physical life.

His words and doctrines - revelation, tabernacle, the Law – spiritual life.

 

READ D&C 130:18-21, D&C 93:36 and D&C 88:13

Why is true doctrine life-giving?

True doctrine is both 1) intelligence and 2) leads to intelligence through via obedience to god’s law.

Intelligence is the glory of god = light.

Light gives life.

“A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God” (History of the Church 4:588).

 

READ Deuteronomy 33:13

While all of Israel were admonished to receive the life-giving dew, which group was specifically blessed to receive it?

The Tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh).

The latter day gentiles of the last days – at least until they reject it (see 3 Nephi 16:6-11).

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:3-4

Who is the “rock”?

The Lord God of Israel.

Why is He called the Rock?

Rock meaning the “stone of Israel” or Temple (Gen 49:24; Gen 28 - Jacob’s Ladder and the stone altar - “God’s house for surely He is in this place”).

Rock as the source of life-giving water (Ex 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:1, 4).

Rock as the Stone Tablets or Law/Covenant or Word or Truth (3 Nephi 15:9).

Rock as sure foundation (Hel 5:12).

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:5

What does the “father-child” relationship imply?

Child is loved by father.

Child has same traits or genes as father.

Child can grow up to be like father.

How can you tell if a child is related to a certain father?

Child appears similar to their father (Alma 5:14).

Child does the same works as the father (“like father, like son”) John 8:41.

How could Israel become “no longer His children”?

Jehovah is perfect, a god of truth without iniquity.

While the Children of Israel are corrupt, perverse and crooked.

They have broken the covenant of adoption into the family of Christ.

Is there any hope for Israel to be reconciled with Jehovah?

Yes - READ 1 Nephi 21:14-16.

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:6, 10-14

What does “requite” or “repay” the Lord imply?

We owe Him; we are in His debt (Mosiah 4:19).

How does the mother eagle teach her young to fly?

By “stirring up the nest” so that it becomes undesirable to stay there in comfort.

But when they finally jump and fall, because they can’t fly she jets down below them and catches them on her back and flies them back up so they can practice again - it is tough love but what is required for them to learn to fly like she can – a leap of faith.

Unlike in our culture, how did Israel regard the “fat” of anything?

It was the best part and was fit to be sacrificed on the altar to God.

It represented plenty or blessings.

“Fat of kidneys of wheat” means the “best of the best of the wheat” or the “cream of the crop”.

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:15-18

After being offered (and sometimes enjoying) the “cream of the crop” of the Lord’s blessings, what does Israel “waxing fat and kicking” imply?

Gorge themselves on blessings.

Take them for granted - entitlement mentality - no thanksgiving.

Not “fit” or able to do the tasks that good nutrition normally enables.

Why did the Children of Israel view the Lord’s blessings as theirs by right?

They were the “chosen people of the Lord” via Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Their ancestors had procured the blessings which they inherited - no need for personal righteousness or a personal covenant for them; they misunderstood the nature of the covenant given to the Fathers – that all who rise up and receive the covenant themselves will be their sons and daughters; instead they thought that all sons and daughters would be given the covenant as a free birthright.

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:19-26

What happens when the Lord “hides His face” from a people?

No revelation.

No physical protection.

No economic blessings.

They are left to themselves; if they are inherently strong, they may last for a while on their own merits (in this world, at least) but it won’t last and when they die, they’re stuck.

Why does the Lord scatter His people?

When you sin against the greater light, you receive the greater condemnation.

Like the branches of the olive tree in Jacob, the Lord tries to save the tree by removing bad wood and grafting wild and tame branches into various trees.

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:36-42

When the Lord has scattered and cursed Israel, what can their gods do?

Nothing.

Their idols (the work of their hands, i.e. economy, military, technology) cannot save them or even help them when the Lord chooses to curse the people.

Why does the Lord curse them?

To show Israel that there is only one “true and living god”.

Their new gods can’t stop the Lord (similar to Egypt).

To get them to repent, if possible.

When they have been sufficiently humbled because they have no power, what will the Lord do?

He will have compassion on them.

They will receive strength again when they return to look to the one true god of strength.

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:43

Why should they rejoice?

Because the Lord will remember the covenants He’s made.

Finally, a generation will come that will turn to the Lord and remember Him, enabling Him to remember them (as He is no respecter of persons).

He will not force or compel them - let them come who will come and partake of the waters of life freely (see Alma 5:34; Alma 42:27). 

Songs are meant to be remembered, so what is the lyrical arc in this song?

The living god speaks the truth that will save you.

The truth is about your Rock or redeemer.

But you have corrupted yourselves and are no longer His children.

He has given you so many blessings.

And you repay His kindnesses with rejection.

So He left you to yourselves.

You will receive what you deserve and be scattered.

Your new gods will be shown to have no power (arm of flesh).

When you have hit bottom, He will have compassion on you.

You will rejoice again, because He will make atonement for you and you will enter into His land (into His rest or presence).

 

 

Moses Is Translated & Taken into Heaven

READ Deuteronomy 34:1-6 and Alma 45:19

What is Moses being shown?

The promised land of Israel.

Why would the Deuteronomists and/or the apostate Christian church want to remove Moses’ translation from the scriptures?

They do not want us believing in or understanding the doctrine of translation.

It sounds a bit too “magical” or “out there” for a sophisticated individual to believe.

What really happened next?

He walked off the mountain, through a pillar of fire, and up Jacob’s Ladder to enter the Rest of the Lord.

 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Song of the Lord (Numbers 22-24; Deuteronomy 6,8,11,32) QUESTIONS

Balaam the Prophet

READ Numbers 22:8-13

Who was Balaam?

If a spiritually gifted person curses someone that God does not want cursed, by whose power do they do it?

Does God really curse people?

 

Interestingly, when Israel attacks Midian, they kill Balaam who had taught the Midianites how to successfully defeat Israel by tempting them with the worship of false gods.

READ Numbers 24:13

Why would Balaam go from swearing to follow the Lord to selling his spiritual services for money?

 

 

The Song of the Lord

READ Deuteronomy 31:19-22

Why does the Lord give Moses a song?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:1-2

What is the dew and small rain to the tender plants?

Who are the tender plants (found in the desert land, v.10)?

How did the Lord sustain life for Israel?

 

READ D&C 130:18-21, D&C 93:36 and D&C 88:13

Why is true doctrine life-giving?

 

READ Deuteronomy 33:13

While all of Israel were admonished to receive the life-giving dew, which group was specifically blessed to receive it?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:3-4

Who is the “rock”?

Why is He called the Rock?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:5

What does the “father-child” relationship imply?

How can you tell if a child is related to a certain father?

How could Israel become “no longer His children”?

Is there any hope for Israel to be reconciled with Jehovah?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:6, 10-14

What does “requite” or “repay” the Lord imply?

How does the mother eagle teach her young to fly?

Unlike in our culture, how did Israel regard the “fat” of anything?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:15-18

After being offered (and sometimes enjoying) the “cream of the crop” of the Lord’s blessings, what does Israel “waxing fat and kicking” imply?

Why did the Children of Israel view the Lord’s blessings as theirs by right?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:19-26

What happens when the Lord “hides His face” from a people?

Why does the Lord scatter His people?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:36-42

When the Lord has scattered and cursed Israel, what can their gods do?

Why does the Lord curse them?

When they have been sufficiently humbled because they have no power, what will the Lord do?

 

READ Deuteronomy 32:43

Why should they rejoice?

Songs are meant to be remembered, so what is the lyrical arc in this song?

 

 

Moses Is Translated & Taken into Heaven

READ Deuteronomy 34:1-6 and Alma 45:19

What is Moses being shown?

Why would the Deuteronomists and/or the apostate Christian church want to remove Moses’ translation from the scriptures?

What really happened next?

 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Israel in the Wilderness (Numbers 11-14, 21)

The Wilderness of Wrath

We've talked over the past few posts about the Lord's ultimate objective in rescuing Israel from Egypt - to create a "peculiar nation" or Zion, where at Mount Sinai all would enter into the presence of The Lord.  But Israel refused to meet God face to face and He honored their desires and removed the High Priesthood from their grasp.  We talked about the journey from the world of Egypt to God's presence at Sinai, as symbolized in the Tabernacle - which required baptism and sanctification via the Lord's Wilderness School.

After their rejection of the Lord at Sinai, how did the wilderness they traveled through change?

The actual desert terrain remained the same – stark, arid, and dangerous.

But the wilderness changed from one of refuge from the Egyptians and sanctification in preparation for entering the Lord’s presence and knowing Him to a wilderness of cursings, wrath, indignation and judgement (see D&C 84:19-27; D&C 124:46-50).

What happens when you spurn the opportunities God offers and choose instead to follow “other gods” in the form of other priorities?

You will reap the whirlwind.

You will be left to yourself; physically and spiritually.

What aspects does the Lord’s Wilderness include?

Leaving the things of the world behind.

Separation from worldly people.

Going only where The Lord directs.

Trials of faith and opportunities to sacrifice.

Discovering our basic weakness.

Trust in The Lord to take care of worldly needs.

Means of daily revelation given.

The ministry of angels.

Temples in the wilderness.

Confronting Satan.

See Blaine Yorgason’s book I Need Thee Every Hour for more insights.

 

READ Numbers 11:4-6

Which of these aspects are Israel still struggling with?

Leaving the world behind – while they’ve left Egypt physically, they still pine for it, remembering the “good old days” of their enslavement when they could at least visit the “flesh pots” and bask in the reflected glory of the great, worldly civilization.

Separation from worldly people; they've brought them with them – they are them.

Going where the Lord directs; they are just wondering lost or setting up camp and stagnating for months or years at a time.

Failing the trials and not seeing the opportunities to sacrifice - asking "why is this happening to us"; although The Lord is taking care of their worldly needs, they don't like the manna.

They are dependent upon the Lord for their very survival – the manna they eat every day; but they complain about it.

They are blind to their weaknesses, still thinking of themselves as “chosen” because they have a strongman prophet like Moses who actually communes with God.

They want Moses to be the means of revelation; they don't want to commune directly with heaven, whether it be angels or The Lord; for example, only the Priests can administer in the Tabernacle.

Angels are not ministering to them often, if at all; or only to a very few.

They have a tabernacle which is supposed to guide them to understand the temple but they get caught up in the ritual and never see or experience the real thing (the actual veil between heaven and earth).

They embrace Satan with their idolatry of golden calves and of Moses.

 

 

Would God That All Were Prophets

But while a people may be struggling, that does not have to stop individuals from rising up personally - as that is really all that counts anyway.

 

READ Numbers 11:24-29

Is this prophesying pleasing to The Lord?

Yes.

Can a man stop the Lord from revealing truth to another person?

Not without offending the Lord.

What can we learn from Moses' response to these spiritual manifestations by others?

This was Moses' and the Lord's desire from the beginning - that Moses not be the only one saved in all of Israel.

The Lord has not given up on Zion - although the Holy Order has been taken away, individuals can still rise up and progress in their spiritual journey and attain all of the blessings that are offered - The Lord is NO RESPECTER of PERSONS.

Everyone who has received the Gift of the Holy Ghost should have and display spiritual gifts - they are for the benefit of the rest of the group - they are opportunities to receive revelation and to serve.

 

READ Numbers 12:1-2, 5-8

How does this incident with Miriam and Aaron differ from the one in the preceding chapter?

Aaron and Miriam feign spiritual gifts/prophesy but they are "dark speeches" - or lies; The Lord will reveal Himself to true prophets but He has not revealed Himself to them.  God knows it and they know it. 

In the preceding chapter, the prophesies were real revelation from God.  God knew it and Moses knew it, and rejoiced in it.

Aaron and Miriam are using feigned spiritual gifts or power to enact their wills through compulsory means (they didn't like Moses' choice of wife) - this is completely against the principles that govern priesthood power as laid out in D&C 121.  Whatever priesthood (association with the Powers of Heaven) they may have had is gone anyway.

This story is sometimes used to illustrate the sin of “lesser members questioning of a High Priest or Prophet's authority”, using the fact that Moses was so humble as justification, but when you read the story in the context of the last chapter, that is not what is really happening here.

What is the cautionary tale we should learn from the story of Aaron and Miriam?

Do not feign spiritual experiences.

Do not use compulsion.

And NEVER combine the two - using fake spiritual experiences/power to compel people to do what you want.

You will be cursed if you do!

 

READ Alma 26:22, D&C 76:5-10, D&C 76:114-118, Hebrews 8:10-11, 1 Cor 2:9-10, and 3 Nephi 11:14-17

What kind of revelation does the Lord want each of us to receive?

He wants to reveal ALL things.

Revelation has nothing to do with “Church government” - remember that this Church is an earthly institution only; confining revelation to “church stewardship” is contrary to the scriptures.

Most of what God wants to reveal to us has nothing to do with Church government or policy but it has much to do with the doctrine of Christ and our standing before Him.

Why do these things have to come directly from God and not via a man?

The natural man can’t comprehend it.

No man can articulate it effectively to another anyway.

You can’t KNOW with a surety that Jesus is the God of the whole earth and was slain for the sins of the world unless He reveals Himself unto you.

 

"Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a prophet? Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (TPJS 137:9-10)

“God hath not revealed anything to Joseph but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them.” (TPJS 170:6)

 

 

The Spies’ Report on Canaan

So, they walk through the wilderness and get to the borders of the land of Canaan (Palestine) and Moses sends 12 spies into the land to check it out.  They come back with the following report:

READ Numbers 13:26-33

What was their report regarding the Promised Land?

It was as rich and plentiful in its fruit and produce as they had hoped.

It was inhabited by many different tribes of people; some of whom were giants and all of whom looked tough.

 

READ Numbers 14:1-4

And how would you expect the Children of Israel to react to this report?

We’re going back to Egypt.

 

Two of the twelve spies had faith and spoke to the people very much like Nephi spoke to his brothers with regards to obtaining the Plates of Brass:

READ Numbers 14:7-9

Given the account of the other spies, why does Caleb say “they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them”?

The Lord will fight their battle for them, if they don’t rebel against the Lord.

 

READ Numbers 14:10-12, 22-23

What is the Lord’s response?

To disinherit them - so that they are no longer the Lord’s people. 

He is done with them and their lack of faith and constant entitlement and bickering.

At a minimum, they will not enter the promised land - Israel will wander for 40 years in the desert until this faithless generation have all died.

Why is the Lord so hard on Israel?

They rejected the offer to become Zion and stand in His presence.

They witnessed so many miracles and so much of God’s power but every new trial saw them revert to ground zero again.

They were terrible whiners.

There is a law of karma or condemnation in play here - they have brought upon themselves a curse (D&C 124:48).

 

 

The Brazen Serpent

READ Numbers 21:4-9, Hel 8:14-15, 1 Nephi 17:41, and Alma 33:18-20

What was required to be saved from the poisonous snakes?

To look up at the brazen serpent that Moses had constructed.

If all they had to do was look, why did many not look?

They didn’t believe it would heal them.

They didn’t have faith in God.

Why is something so easy as “looking” called a “labor”?

Because faith without works is dead.

Because exercising faith in the face of poisonous tree serpents takes spiritual effort, i.e. labor.

 

READ Matt 11:28-30

How can a "yoke" be light? What is the yoke?

Our relationship with God.

Our responsibilities under His gospel covenant.

Where is the requirement for obedience to the Law of Moses to be saved from the serpents?

Where indeed?  By grace we are saved, after (despite) all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23).

We must look for life to the one who was likewise “lifted up” on a “pole” or cross of wood.

Why was the symbol of a serpent used?

In Near Eastern cultures, the serpent had a dual symbolic role - both the “monster” who guarded the gates of the netherworld (“I am the gatekeeper and employeth no servant there”) and a god who gives life (“I am the light and life of the world”) - (from Noordtzij, Numbers, p. 186-7).

But it is interesting that the snake has no inherent life-giving traits that we know of - the serpent on the pole can only give life because of the Lord’s gracious will - He forgives, He heals, He delivers from death.

 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Israel in the Wilderness (Numbers 11-14, 21) QUESTIONS

The Wilderness of Wrath

We've talked over the past few posts about the Lord's ultimate objective in rescuing Israel from Egypt - to create a "peculiar nation" or Zion, where at Mount Sinai all would enter into the presence of The Lord.  But Israel refused to meet God face to face and He honored their desires and removed the High Priesthood from their grasp.  We talked about the journey from the world of Egypt to God's presence at Sinai, as symbolized in the Tabernacle - which required baptism and sanctification via the Lord's Wilderness School.

After their rejection of the Lord at Sinai, how did the wilderness they traveled through change?

What happens when you spurn the opportunities God offers and choose instead to follow “other gods” in the form of other priorities?

What aspects does the Lord’s Wilderness include?

 

READ Numbers 11:4-6

Which of these aspects are Israel still struggling with?

 

 

Would God That All Were Prophets

But while a people may be struggling, that does not have to stop individuals from rising up personally - as that is really all that counts anyway.

 

READ Numbers 11:24-29

Is this prophesying pleasing to The Lord?

Can a man stop the Lord from revealing truth to another person?

What can we learn from Moses' response to these spiritual manifestations by others?

 

READ Numbers 12:1-2, 5-8

How does this incident with Miriam and Aaron differ from the one in the preceding chapter?

What is the cautionary tale we should learn from the story of Aaron and Miriam?

 

READ Alma 26:22, D&C 76:5-10, D&C 76:114-118, Hebrews 8:10-11, 1 Cor 2:9-10, and 3 Nephi 11:14-17

What kind of revelation does the Lord want each of us to receive?

Why do these things have to come directly from God and not via a man?

 

"Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a prophet? Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (TPJS 137:9-10)

“God hath not revealed anything to Joseph but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them.” (TPJS 170:6)

 

 

The Spies’ Report on Canaan

So, they walk through the wilderness and get to the borders of the land of Canaan (Palestine) and Moses sends 12 spies into the land to check it out.  They come back with the following report:

 

READ Numbers 13:26-33

What was their report regarding the Promised Land?

 

READ Numbers 14:1-4

And how would you expect the Children of Israel to react to this report?

 

Two of the twelve spies had faith and spoke to the people very much like Nephi spoke to his brothers with regards to obtaining the Plates of Brass:

READ Numbers 14:7-9

Given the account of the other spies, why does Caleb say “they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them”?

 

READ Numbers 14:10-12, 22-23

What is the Lord’s response?

Why is the Lord so hard on Israel?

 

 

The Brazen Serpent

READ Numbers 21:4-9, Hel 8:14-15, 1 Nephi 17:41, and Alma 33:18-20

What was required to be saved from the poisonous snakes?

If all they had to do was look, why did many not look?

Why is something so easy as “looking” called a “labor”?

 

READ Matt 11:28-30

How can a "yoke" be light? What is the yoke?

Where is the requirement for obedience to the Law of Moses to be saved from the serpents?

Why was the symbol of a serpent used?

Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Exodus to Mount Sinai (Exodus 15-20, 32-34)

     Crossing the Red Sea

 

READ Exodus 14:9,12

What are the Israelites doing?

Demonstrating where their faith is (God can’t save/deliver us).

Demonstrating where their heart is (in Egypt).

Shows that they never were fully onboard with this deliverance thing, anyway.

 

READ Exodus 14:21-22

What do you think the Israelites were saying to themselves when Moses divided the sea?

“I don’t believe it.”

 

READ 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

What is Paul teaching us here about the parting of the Red Sea?

It was a “baptism” of sorts - they were leaving the worldliness of Egypt.

They were committing to follow the Lord.

They were “crossing through the valley of the shadow of death” (the wall of water) which is baptismal symbolism of death and rebirth.

 

 

The Lord’s Wilderness of Sanctification

         READ Exodus 15:1-2; 21-25

What does it take to distract Israel from God’s greatness?

Three days without water in the desert.

A bitter well.

What kind of tree made the water sweet?

It wasn’t the tree - it was Jehovah - “I am the Lord that heals thee” (v25).

The “tree” is symbolic of the Cross.

He could have made the water sweet without the wood - but sometimes we need a physical prop.

 

READ Exodus 16:1-4

What is the “Wilderness of Sin”?

It is the Lord’s testing ground for their faith.

It is the Lord’s “wilderness school”.

Discovery of the true desires of our hearts and understanding of our personal weakness.

It is the Israelites' preparation ground for Sinai.

How are the Israelites doing so far?

Not so good - they are swearing by the name of God that they would rather be dead in Egypt than alive but dying in the wilderness.

If they have “even a desire to believe” they don’t show it much; but they sure aren’t acting on that belief - they don’t have faith in the God they swear by.

How does one enter the Lord’s “Wilderness School”?

Baptism is the gate?

They have “performed” the baptism by water via their Red Sea crossing.

But the baptism by fire is always an inner, individual “baptism” and is predicated upon them living the gospel covenant; which only a few show that they have done.

Why is His school be held in the Wilderness?

We must leave behind the “flesh pots of Egypt” or Babylon.

We must be “delivered” into the Wilderness - deliverance from physical danger (slavery, in this case) and deliverance from sin through the birth of the spirit (still in progress, in this case).

To receive training in the Ways of the Lord, without distraction from the World.

To be proved - the wilderness is both refuge/asylum AND trial/tribulation.

 

READ Exodus 16: 9, 12

What is the Lord trying to teach the Children of Israel?

In the Lord’s Wilderness School, He takes care of all worldly needs (it is about sufficiency not excess, however) - He will continue to preserve their (miserable, faithless…) lives.

The quail and manna are a temporal sign of His love and power as their God.

But outward signs are not enough - they must “come near before the Lord” to truly know Him.

The food keeps them alive long enough to do that.

 

READ John 6:35, 48-51, 63

Why did the Children of Israel eat manna and are dead?

He is talking about spiritual death not physical death.

They did not eat of the “bread of life” - Christ.

They only focused on the temporal benefits of worshiping God - i.e. staying alive physically in the wilderness.

They missed the fact that physical life or death is really nothing if you don’t find the Lord; the primary reason we are here on earth is to come unto Christ and be redeemed from spiritual death; that is how you “live forever”.

 

READ D&C 88:66-68

How are Christ’s words “spirit,” “truth” and “life”?

Good intentions are not enough.

You must be taught the words of truth or you cannot have faith.

You can only have true faith unto salvation in something that is true - otherwise the object of your false hope will let you down in time and your faith will fail.

The truth of the living bread is “eaten” or taken into your soul by covenant - like food, His Spirit becomes part of who you are; it changes you by giving you health and energy (if it is good food and you have been eating spiritual “junk food”), and enables you to do things you could not do before, which in turn affects who you can become (sanctification).

After those true words about how to be saved have been acted on in faith… Christ’s actual “words” or promise to us of eternal life, given when He ministers to you in the flesh, is what truly gives life.  His words prophesy or promise an eternal life that you will experience and as a God of Truth, He cannot lie – no matter how improbable His promise seems to you at the time.

 

 

The Sinai Temple

 

READ D&C 84:19-23

What did Moses plainly teach to the Children of Israel?

That the greater priesthood holds the key to the mysteries and the knowledge of God.

That without the ordinances (covenants) of the mysteries of the kingdom and the authority of the High Priesthood After the Holiest Order of God, the power of godliness is not manifest to men in the flesh - in other words, they cannot enter into the presence of the Father in the flesh, which is how you obtain the knowledge of God.

That you must sanctify yourself to receive these great blessings and enter into God’s presence.

 

READ D&C 93:1

How should they have sanctified themselves to enter the presence of the Lord?

Forsake their sins.

Come unto Christ.

Call on His name.

Obey His voice (personal revelation).

Keep His commandments.

See also D&C 67:10-14; D&C 88:67-68 (again).

 

READ Exodus 19:5-6, 10-11

Who was invited or called to receive this High Priesthood and enter into the rest or presence of God?

ALL of the Children of Israel.

Moses was trying to establish Zion again - a PEOPLE, not just a single PERSON, who could stand in God’s presence.

 

READ Exodus 19:12, 16-17, 23-24

Why can’t the people ascend Mount Sinai past the “bounds”?

Most of them have not sanctified themselves sufficiently to enter into the presence of the Lord.

They will burn up in His glory if they come into contact with Him.

The bounds protect unprepared people from being utterly wasted in God’s presence.

 

Mormon 9:3-5

What is God doing in these verses?

Nothing - He is just being.

We break (burn) ourselves against His perfection and inherent glory.

He is not “punishing us” - we punish ourselves with a “flame of unquenchable fire”.

The “burning” is both physical and spiritual.

 

READ Exodus 20:18-21

What is their response to the Lord’s invitation that all should enter into His presence?

They don’t want to come into His presence.

Send Moses “the Prophet”.

He can stand between us and God.

We will follow the prophet.

We are afraid to go ourselves into the glory, lest we die.

They refused to come unto Christ.

How does Moses reply to their concern?

He knew this was God’s plan from the beginning and told the people not to worry.

He is here to prove you – but He wants you to come unto Him.

God wants a “kingdom of Priests and a holy nation” (see 19:6).

Even if you must go through the refiner’s fire first – it will be more than worth it.

 

READ D&C 84:24

How did the Lord react to their rejection of His offer to come unto Him themselves, but to send Moses instead?

The Lord was NOT pleased with their desire to place Moses between Himself and them.

The Lord wanted ALL of the Children of Israel to enter into His rest.

There is no such thing as group salvation; membership in a Church will not save you.

It is their PERSONAL salvation that is at stake - Moses’ election was already made sure, but the rest of the Israelites had yet to receive that blessing.

The prophet’s role is to PREPARE them for that event, not to stand between them and God.

 

 

The Ten Commandments

 

READ Exodus 20:2-4, 7-8

What is the common theme in the first four of the Ten Commandments?

The proper relationship between us and God: that He is the only God that exists, so we should worship Him.

First Commandment: “I am” the Lord your God; Yahweh is God (“I exist”) v2.

Second Commandment: No other gods before me - do not worship idols (gods who don’t really exist) v3-4.

Third Commandment: Do not take the name of God in vain – since I exist, treat me (God) as a person not an object; v7.

Fourth Commandment: Keep the Sabbath day holy – worship me; draw close unto me and I will draw close to you; v8,

 

READ Exodus 20:12-17

What is the common theme in the last six of the Ten Commandments?

How we should treat our fellow man.

Fifth Commandment: Honor parents.

Sixth Commandment: Not to kill.

Seventh Commandment: No adultery.

Eighth Commandment: No stealing.

Ninth Commandment: No false witness.

Tenth Commandment: No coveting.

 

READ Matt 22:36-40

How does the Aaronic Ten Commandments come alive in Christ’s Celestial law?

If you love the Lord with all thy heart, soul and mind, you will do the first 4 commandments (really, all ten).

And if you love the Lord, you will love your neighbor as yourself, and keep the other 6 commandments.

If you ARE – if you love the Lord with all your heart and love your fellow beings as well - then what you DO just flows naturally.

But if you do not love God and your fellow men (you are not yet spiritually alive), but keep the Ten Commandments regardless, you will gain light through your obedience (God is no respecter of persons and obedience to eternal law merits light) and hopefully understand the deeper spiritual foundation of the behaviors that you are exhibiting, so you can begin to embrace them and love God.

 

 

The Tabernacle

 

In Chapter 24, the Children of Israel make a covenant by sacrifice to keep the commandments of the Lord.  What does the Lord command them to do next?

Build a tabernacle.

Build the Ark of the Covenant to go in the Tabernacle.

What is the difference between making a covenant by sacrifice and making a covenant to sacrifice?

The first is efficacious (in affect) - the Lord requires the sacrifice of all earthly things in order to lay hold of faith unto salvation (see the Lectures on Faith).

The second is a promise to sacrifice in the future - but is not yet in affect.

 

READ Exodus 25:8, 22

What is the purpose of the Tabernacle and its Ark?

Enables the Lord to easily visit His people - abide with them.

It is a temple.

It is a portal to heaven.

 

READ JST Exodus 34:1 and Leviticus 16:2

What happened with regards to the tabernacle as a result of Israel's breaking their covenant with The Lord?

After that, just the High Priest was allowed to enter and just once a year! (talk about being under condemnation!).

The High Priesthood was removed from them – including from the High Priest.

 

 

The Law of Moses

 

READ D&C 84:25-27

Having given up the right to know God themselves, what does the Lord do for the Children of Israel?

In His mercy, He gives them a remedial process of outward ordinances/covenants and a priesthood that enables it.

What does "preparatory gospel" include?

It includes repentance and baptism for the remission of sins – which enables the Holy Spirit to animate you.

Carnal commandments – behavioral guides to enable living with more light.

It includes the ministering of angels – to teach the higher commandments and impart further light.

 

READ Luke 24:25-27

What did Christ teach the two on the Road to Emmaus about the Law?

That it also testifies of Christ - it points to Him, for those with eyes to see.

What is our modern day "Law of Moses"?

For the Strength of Youth.

The Word of Wisdom.

Tithing (vs. consecration).

Home teaching.

Church attendance.

Cultural Sunday observances.

Anything that focuses people on outward performances and is easily measurable and observable: behaviors and standards.

What are the advantages of these "Laws"?

Obedience to standards enables increasing in the Spirit - being filled with more light; which can enable you to receive even more IF you ask for it.

They are clear/plain, which is especially important for concrete thinkers (80% of the population).

What could be a danger of this approach?

We fixate on the outward performances while omitting the weightier matters (the desires of the heart or your intent; your will or whole soul).

It is less effective - “The study of doctrine and the teaching of doctrine will change behavior more than the study of behavior will change behavior.” (Boyd Packer).

It can produce "mindless drones" with blind faith but no "well of living water" or "oil of the Spirit" within them, if they do not press on past the "what" to the "why" of the gospel.

 

READ Galatians 3:24-25

What does Paul teach us about the purpose of the Law?

The Law of Moses was intended to lead us to Christ.

It is not a “law” unto itself for salvation.

 

Let's explore some of the ways that the Law was designed to point people to Christ rather than being an end of itself...

 

READ 3 Nephi 12:19

Why would The Lord give a Law that the Israelites would never be able to come close to living?

To break their hearts and make their spirits contrite when they finally admit that they can't live the Law and will not be saved by their own merits.

The Law is supposed to be impossible to live in reality, so that people are forced to turn to Christ.

To expose our imperfections and pride.

What happened when the Israelites failed to keep these commandments?

They had to offer up the sacrifice of an animal.

 

READ Alma 34:13-14

Why did the Law require the sacrifice of an animal?

To point to the infinite and eternal sacrifice of a God.

To remind them that only ONE sacrifice is needed - all the others are in similitude of that one.

Blood, the symbol of life and the symbol of this fallen world, is required to make a covenant efficacious or binding; until Christ’s sacrifice ended it (see 3 Nephi 9:19-20).

 

READ 3 Nephi 9:19-20

What is the sacrifice required of those seeking to live the higher law?

Broken heart and contrite spirit; your whole soul, which is the only thing that we can sacrifice that is really ours to give.

 

Let's read about the Day of Atonement...

 

READ Leviticus 16:7-10, 15, 21

Who does the goat of the sin offering represent?

Christ.

What does the sprinkling of that goat's blood before the Mercy Seat represent?

Christ's suffering in the Garden before the Father where He bled from every pore while taking upon Himself (although undeserving) the sins of the people.

Who does the "live goat" or “scape goat” represent?

Us.

We are laden with sins and yet are allowed to escape into the wilderness.

While the other goat is killed that we might live.

What is the difference between the two actual goats?

Nothing - they are interchangeable - either could have been chosen to fulfill either of the two roles.

 

On the actual Day of Atonement, we see this same story play out in real life...

 

READ Luke 23:14-25

Christ, of course, is the one the people demand to be sacrificed, but how is Bar-abbas the "scapegoat" who represents us?

He is also literally a "Son of the Father" – bar (son of) abba (the father).

He is laden with sins – treason and murder.

He is allowed to go free while Christ is killed in his place and for his sins.

Why was the veil in the temple torn at Christ’s death?

As Christ dies on the cross, the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem is rent from top to bottom showing that the Father was a witness to Christ's blood being shed before His throne.

 

READ D&C 88:32-33

In summary, why were the children of Israel given the Law of Moses?

They were a stiffnecked people (see Mosiah 3:14).

It is all they were willing to receive.

Because they would not RISE UP THEMSELVES and accept the Lord's invitation to be in His presence and become His sons and daughters but wanted Moses to stand between them and tell them what to do.

To act as a preparatory gospel; God is patient and had not given up on them, even in their sins and stubbornness; they were still “His people”.

The Law had within it temple worship, with all of its symbolism of Christ and entering into God’s presence.

The Law truly testifies precisely and intimately of Christ, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Sadly, the Law backfired and they viewed the fact that they had it as making them better (the “chosen people”) than those around them who did not have the (significantly limited, particularly in comparison with what they might have had…) light and knowledge they had been given; they made the Law an end in itself, as if zealous adherence to it would please God and save them – they missed the whole idea that it was a remedial law meant to humble them while it led them back to the higher law and the presence of the Lord; they were “chosen” to be an example of foolishness, so that we could choose to be wiser than they had been.

 

READ Alma 12:28-30

Why does the preparatory gospel include the key of the ministering of angels?

Angels are sent to prepare people; after they have repented, been baptized and kept the carnal commandments - they are ready for more, for the baptism of Fire available through the Melchizedek priesthood, which they no longer held (except Moses, personally).

They are allowed to behold a proxy of His glory (through the angel).

Angels minister to men to testify to them of His word and of the coming of Christ, preparing them to receive Him (see also Alma 32:23 and Moroni 7:22).

 

The Return to Israel & the Second Temple (Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai) QUESTIONS

Returning to Israel Background: The temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, when they sacked the city, killing or ta...