Romans 13

Romans 13: Keep the Commandments

                Paul explains that every soul is subject to a higher power; therefore Governments also derive their authority from God, and must therefore be obeyed. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe “…in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (Articles of Faith 1:11)

Essentially, Paul explains that all Christians should do good to their fellow man, be righteous in upholding the law and the commandments, through obedience. Love your neighbor and let the saints cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.

Ezekiel 19-20

Ezekiel 19-20

Chapter 19: Ezekiel laments for Israel

Jerusalem is compared to a lioness – the first of her young is Jehoahaz, removed from power by the king of Egypt; the second is Jehoiakim, brought in chains to Babylon. The Jewish nation is a vine that flourished, but was plucked up in fury and planted in the wilderness, in dry and thirsty ground. Ezekiel laments for Israel, because their fruitfulness is gone.

Chapter 20: Failing to keep the commandments

The Elders of Israel come to ask Ezekiel’s counsel. God commands Ezekiel to speak of them and their rebellion and idolatry, in Egypt, and in the wilderness and in Canaan. Ezekiel tells them of the importance of the Sabbath Day, he tells them that the Lord said; “…hallow my sabbaths; and they hall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Ezekiel 20:20). This shows us that by going to church and keeping the Sabbath day holy, we are showing God that we know he is there and likewise the Lord will return that favor and help us in our lives. What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy? Well for starters church is very important, along with: reading scriptures, participating in family activities that are wholesome and refraining from doing work on that day. This also means that you shouldn’t make someone else have to work. Therefore, refraining from shopping is very important. However, Ezekiel reminds them that if they turn their faces towards the Lord, that they will be restored.  Jerusalem is represented as a forest doomed to be destroyed by fire.

Jeremiah 17-18

Jeremiah 17-18

Chapter 17: Keep the Sabbath Day

Judah is fatally inclined to idolatry. The happiness of the man that trusts in the Lord is contrasted with the man that trusted in man.

“…Cursed be the man that trusteth in man… and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5) God alone knows the deceit and wretchedness of the heart of man. A comparison is made between a bird’s hatching the eggs of another species, which will soon forsake her, and the vanity of them is ill-acquired riches. Jeremiah talks of his sincerity, and prays that the evil intended him by his enemies may revert on their own heads. “Let them be confounded that persecute me…” (Jeremiah 17:18)

God will always fight our battles for us, if we follow His commandments. Therefore if someone is persecuting you, for what you believe… the Lord will protect you, by confounding them!

Jeremiah tells us that the people “…say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come now.” (Jeremiah 17:15) Those who believe in the Word of God and know when something is from God, because they can feel His spirit, will know and accept the Book of Mormon as Word of God. The “Word” of God is not limited to the “Bible”, the Bible is indeed part of the Word of God, but is not His complete record or Word.

“…hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein.” (Jeremiah 17:24)

In Jeremiah 17:22-27 we read about the importance of the keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The Lord speaks to us through the writings of Jeremiah saying that we must not do any work on the Sabbath Day. This means that we should not be working to make money or make others work. We can however serve or do things that relax us and put us closer to God.

Chapter 18: Repent and God will Repent

The house of Israel is like clay in the hands of a potter. The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem are invited to repent; their refusal is as unnatural as someone preferring the snowy Lebanon or barren rock to a fruitful plain, or other waters to the cool stream of the fountain. Those who continue to do in evil in the sight of the Lord will be punished, and those who repent will have the anger and wrath of God withheld from them. A conspiracy is formed against Jeremiah, who appeals to God, and curses his enemies. The Jews will be scattered.

Isaiah 55-56

Isaiah 55-56

Chapter 55: Salvation if Free

The Lord invites those who are thirsty to come and be richly fed.

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) Don’t wait around to call upon the Lord to help you… call upon His help, while He is there.

The everlasting covenant is talked about in terms of the sure mercies of David. The wicked will be forgiven if they forsake their ways. The Lord’s thoughts are higher than men’s thoughts.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Simply put: we don’t understand the ways of God.

Sometimes we question why things happen in the world in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Why did God cause a natural disaster to occur, why did someone die before their time… etc. Everythin has a reason, but we may not fully understand why. But an all knowing, all powerful God… does! “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)

The Lord’s word shall make the earth fertile. Psalm-like image of the mountains and hills breaking forth in singing. Out of this fertile earth will come the word of the Lord, and He said: “…my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

One thing to keep in mind in verse 11, God said His “word”, and His word is not “a” book, it can be multiple books, like it was before the Bible was formed by MAN. Jesus even said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Mark 13:31) Notice how it said “words”, if word was meant to be “a book”, like the Bible… then we are only talking about one book and not multiple books. This is why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in an OPEN Cannon of Scriptures, where revelation is alive and not dead, where God’s words are not limited to the one single book.

Chapter 56: Keep the Commandments

A call is made to be righteous, and not defile the Sabbath. The foreigner and the eunuch will not be separated from the Lord. The Lord will judge the “…greedy dogs… shepherds that cannot understand…” (Isaiah 56:11) I believe this is referring to the pastors of churches, which are built for gain. In the Spanish “Reina-Valera” version of the Bible it uses the word “pastors” in place of Shepherds.

Joshua 23-24

Joshua 23-24

Chapter 23: Keep the Commandments and Love God

Joshua speaks to Israel and encourages them to be courageous in keeping the commandments of God. He advises that the Israelites keep the commandments and LOVE God. He commands them not marry the remnants of the Canaanites, for if they do they will be brought down and destroyed for the evil that they have committed. If Israel serves other gods they will be cursed and destroyed.

We must follow the laws of Moses: Verse 6. But do we have to follow them today? I would say no. But can we learn a lot from the laws? Yes. Many things like eating of pork and other animals are not an issue today. But the general laws of doing good in the sight of God is something we must hold to.

Chapter 24: Serve the Lord God

Joshua gathers Israel and recalls how the Lord has blessed and led Israel throughout the years. Joshua and all the people make a covenant to choose serve the Lord only and no other gods. Joshua and Eleazer die. Joshua dies at the age of 110 (verse 29). The bones of Joseph are taken from Egypt and buried in Shechem.

I am including the actual text from chapter 24, only because I think it serves as a great summary of what the Lord has done for Israel since the beginning. Verses 1-13;

                “And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.” (Joshua 24:1-13)

                Joshua asks the Israelites “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua warns that if “…ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, they he will turn and do you hurt… after that he hath done you good” (Joshua 24:20). I find this to be very true, if we chose to disobey God’s commandments and serve other gods (which can be putting material things before him) then we will be hurt. We can take a look at the world today and see that people are suffering everywhere… why? Because they are not following the commandments of God. Don’t have sexual relations outside of marriage… and then when people do that and get diseases and have unwanted pregnancies they look to God and say “there is no God” or that “How could God cause such horrible things to happen?”

You want to know the answer? He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, he always warns us, but if we don’t listen… WE ARE THE ONES LETTING BAD THINGS HAPPEN!! God hates to see us suffer, but like in the end of the verse “…he hath done you good.” (Joshua 24:20). Why has he done you good, by hurting you? Because you have to learn. Just like a parent telling their child to not touch the stove, but after the constant pursuit to touch the stove, the parent gives up and lets the child do what they want. The result? A crying child. God sees us the same way. Honestly we are all a bunch of crying babies in his eyes, and if we want something bad enough, eventually he won’t intervene, in fact he gave us agency to choose for ourselves. Remember Adam and Eve? He let Adam make his own decision. We too can make our own decision, as long as we are prepared to face the consequences of our decisions.

Leviticus 25-27

Leviticus 25-27

Chapter 25: Jubilee

The Lord speaks to Moses in the Mount Sinai. He tells him that for seven years the children of Israel are to reap and sow the land. But in the eighth year they are to not dress the fields or prune the vineyards, but are supposed to let the land rest. In that same eighth year (or every eight years) the Lord will provide more meat in the wilderness for them to eat, because for that eighth year they will eat an increase in meat.

For every 50 years something special happens, the Jubilee! Every 50 years in the 10th day of the seventh month during the week of Atonement, shall the Jubilee trumpet sound.

The laws of the sale of lands and homes are revealed and Usury is condemned by God.

Chapter 26: Keep the Commandments

Temporal and Spiritual blessings can be for the children of Israel if they follow the commandments of God. If they choose to disobey, then they will be followed by cursing, scourging and desolations in the land. When people repent of their wrongdoings the Lord will have mercy upon them.

7 times more plagues for walking contrary to the laws and commandments of God. (Leviticus 26:21)

Chapter 27: Tithing

Properties are consecrated unto the Lord. Israel is commanded to pay 1/10 of all their increase in crops/flocks and herds. (Leviticus 27:32)