John 11

John 11: Lazarus

                In the town of Bethany there was a sick man by the name of Lazarus, who was the brother of Mary, the one who anointed the feet of Jesus. Upon hearing this news that He was sick, He stayed where He was for two days, then He told His Apostles that they should go down into Judea. But having been recently rejected from that are, the Apostles were confused as to why Jesus would want to go there again. Jesus teaches them; “…Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is not light with him.” (John 11:9-10) Essentially if we don’t have the light of God with us, we will always stumble among the world of darkness. We should always walk among others of good crowd, so that the light from all can shine together.

Jesus tells them that “…Our friend Lazarus sleepeth…I go, that I may awake him out of a sleep.” (John 11:11) Later Jesus told His Apostles, that Lazarus was indeed dead. When they arrived to meet Lazarus, they learn that four days had passed since he was laid to rest in his tomb. When Mary and Martha (Mary’s sister) find out that Jesus has come, Martha runs to meet Him, and says to Jesus; “…if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (John 11:21) But she knew the power of God and the miracles that Jesus had performed and says; “…I know, that even not, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:22) Jesus reassures her; “…Thy brother shall rise again.” (John 11:23) Martha knew of the Resurrection and explains that she knows he would one day rise again, in the last day. Jesus then tells her; “…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on my, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25) Jesus asks Martha if she believe this and she responds that she does. Jesus then calls for Mary and she came running out of the house, those who were gathered with her followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb of Lazarus.

When Mary met Jesus she fell at His feet and cried, those Jews who followed her out of the house also wept, even “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) The Jews and all those gathered said to “…Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:36) and those same people wondered if Jesus could perform such a great miracle of raising someone from the dead. Jesus asked to see where Lazarus was buried and before entering the tomb, lifted up His eyes and said; “…Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41-42) This is very interesting, because the people believed in Jesus, they were given signs. Throughout the scriptures people have asked for signs to believe, but it doesn’t work that way. Signs follow those who believe, and that is evident here. You don’t have to KNOW, you just have to BELIEVE and by BELIEVING, God will give you signs and wonders, to make you KNOW!

Jesus then “…cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” (John 11:43) At that very moment, Lazarus came forth, bound in his grave clothes. Jesus commanded that those around him go and loose him from those bands. Many of the Jews gathered did believe on Jesus.

Some of the Jews who did not believe went their ways to tell the Pharisees, and they held a council; “…What do we? For this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” (John 11:47-48) The Chief Priest Caiaphas came to the conclusion that Jesus must die for the nation, so that only one many perish and not the entire nation. Jesus knew of their desires and fled from the Jews, no longer teaching among them. He and His Apostles continued to teach in a city called Ephraim. During this time, the Feast of the Passover was occurring, and the Jews waited for Jesus to show, so they could capture Him.

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Zechariah 11-12

Zechariah 11-12

Chapter 11: Messiah will be betrayed

Zechariah is told to feed a flock of sheep for slaughter, as the Lord would do with his own people. Zechariah’s two staffs are called Beauty and Bonds. Zechariah dismisses three shepherds and breaks the staff called Beauty. We don’t know who these three shepherds are, but my guess is that they are leading astray the Lord’s people.

Zechariah foretells the Atonement of Jesus Christ and his betrayal for only thirty pieces of silver; “…If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.” (Zechariah 11:12)

“The Judas, which had betrayed him… repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood… …And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter’s field…” (Matthew 27:3-4; 9-10)

The Lord was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, both Jeremiah and Zechariah foretold of this.

Chapter 12: The Jews will know Christ

In the final Great War before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, all nations shall be engaged in war at Jerusalem. Zechariah tells us that the Lord will protect Jerusalem;  “…in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3) The feeble shall become be like David, and the house of David shall be like God. The spirit of grace and supplication will be poured on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The Jews will then see Jesus Christ “…and they shall look upon me [Jesus] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 12:10-11)

Ezekiel 5-6

Ezekiel 5-6

Chapter 5: Judgment of Jerusalem

Ezekiel is commanded to shave his head and beard. Once he has the hair, he is commanded to evenly divide the hair into thirds.

  • He must burn a third
  • Smite a third with his knife
  • Scatter a third to the wind

He is commanded to do this to indicate the judgment that will be executed on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The chapter goes on further to explain more judgments; including famine and wild beasts. The result of this judgment leads fathers to “…eat the sons… and the sons shall eat their fathers…” (Ezekiel 5:10) The pangs of hunger cause these wicked people to resort to cannibalism.

Chapter 6: Israel shall be destroyed

Ezekiel sets his face towards the mountains and prophesies against Israel: He is told to tell its people that the high places will be made desolate, those who are close to the city will die by the sword and those far off shall die from famine. After all this desolation, the people will know that God exists.

Ecclesiastes 11-12

Ecclesiastes 11-12

Chapter 11: We Know Not the Works of God

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

I find it interesting how fast people can denounce God and say He does not exist! Some people believe that we know everything and that God never has, and never will exist. We as humans do understand a lot about the world, but there is so much that we are still learning… the reason? Because God knows all and we know very little.

Because life has no guarantees, we should seize available opportunities and not play it safe. Even though life is uncertain, it doesn’t mean that you should let it pass you by. Don’t wait for conditions that many never exist. We should enjoy every day but remember that the afterlife is eternal.

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

I find it very interesting how we are supposed to follow our heart and do what we want… after all we get one life on earth to live, right? So we need to make it the best one we can! But God warns us that we are still to be held accountable for what we do, so YES we do have agency and we are encouraged to explore the world and learn, but we must know that our desires and our passions are within the bounds… the LORD sets!

Chapter 12: After Death and the Plan

                “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

                Everyone will return to God as a spirit and the body will be turned into dust, until of course the resurrection.

                “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether or be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14)

Solomon concludes the book by giving his antidotes for the two main ailments that he talked about. People who lack purpose and direction in life should fear God and keep his commandments first. The people who think that life is unfair should remember that God will go back and look and everyone’s lives and make his judgment.

It is interesting that it says there is not end to many books… this means that the Bible is NOT the ONLY word of God! The Book of Mormon, if read diligently and prayed about earnestly can be manifest as truly Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Psalms 45-46

Psalms 45-46

Chapter 45: The Messiah Fairer than the Children of Men

To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.

                “Thou art fairer than the children of men…” (Psalms 45:1) Here the author is telling us that the Messiah (the Lord) is fairer than men.

“Thy throne, O God, is forever… the scepter of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Psalms 45:6-7)

                Here we learn that the Lord (Jehovah or Jesus) is fairer than men, but also that He answers to the same God we do; The Father! If we fast forward to the New Testament we read in Hebrew 1:8-10; “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever… a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God; even thy God, hath anointed thee… And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.”

Who is the God of the Old Testament?

                Why is this important? We know that the God of the ‘Old Testament’ was named Jehova. We know this because in Exodus 3:13 Moses asks the ‘God of the Old Testament’; “…when I come unto the children of Israel… and they shall say unto me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?” God responds back in the next verse and says; “…I AM THAT I AM… Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you… Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever…” (Exodus 3:15-16)

                So we learn that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jabob of the Old Testament is named “I AM”. So now we have to fast forward again to the New Testament to see what was said about this God named “I AM”. In the story of the adulterous woman, Jesus tells the men who condemned the woman and wanted her to be stoned; “…He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…” (John 8:7) This of course did not make the Pharisees happy and then began to question Jesus. Jesus was not about to be ridiculed and responds in a very authoritative, yet respectful way; “…I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me…” (John 8:28)

Jesus was trying to make a point, He was sent by His Father! Jesus goes on to tell the Pharisees that if a man follow his worth “…he shall never see death” (John 8:51) of course Jesus is talking about a Spiritual death, but the Pharisees did not get this point and continued to ridicule Jesus; “…Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham” (John 8:56) Jesus responded to this by telling the Jews “…Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) This clearly shows that Jesus was the ‘great I AM’ of the Old Testament. After all “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him…” (John 1:1-3)

“By the word of the Lord [Jesus] were the heavens made…” (Psalms 33:6)

                Notice how it says the ‘Word’ was with God, and yet he is God? Jesus is a God but He is not THE God, which is our Father. Jesus was with the Father in the beginning; Jesus acted as a builder of the Universe, where the Father was the one who laid out the plans our ‘blueprints of the universe’.

Chapter 46: “Know that I am God”

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A song upon Alamoth

                “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear…” (Psalms 46:1-2)

Even when the world around us crumbles; through war and natural disaster we need to not fear, if we truly have faith in the Lord. “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalms 46:10). This is a great reminder for everyone; just BE STILL and know that God is there!

 

Job 23-24

Job 23-24

Chapter 23: After Trials, We are Refined

Job answers his friends, yet again; “Even to day is my complaint bitter… and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:2-4). The wisdom and counsel of Eliphaz and others was of no relief to him, and just made his mental and spiritual agony worse. Job felt separated from God. He had found comfort and solace in God in previous times, but in this catastrophe he felt he could not find God.

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-9)

Job explains to his friends that he indeed did look for God, but felt that He could not be found anywhere! Job tried with all sincerity to find God, but felt that God remained hidden. Even so, Job knew that God was still watching him, even if he couldn’t see or feel his presence. Job understood that even without seeing God, he knew that God was there and that what he was doing was for his own good. Job knew that this was a trial, even though he hated it and was suffering greatly deep down Job knew that this had to be, so that he would come forth as “gold” or in other words come forth stronger and more refined.

“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined” (Job 23:11)

                Even after being accused of sin and abandoning God, Job proudly and boldy tells his friends that he has indeed kept the ways of God and had been and is continuing to be righteous.

Chapter 24: The Wicked Often Go Unpunished

“Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?” (Job 24:1) This is a fairly difficult verse to understand, but we might look at it in a different way; “Since God knows and will judge everything, why are the godly kept in the dark about His ways?” This also adds more application to the question of why God allows the prosperity of the wicked.

Other translations of the Bible read; in the NIV “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? The New Living Translation says “Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?”

“Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them” (Job 24:12)

Why does God permit suffering? Job goes on to explain a little bit about WHY, but I want to share a little more insight into this question;

WHY does God PERMIT SUFFERING?

In the Book of Mormon we can find a story about a man named Jacob, Jacob was the first born of a man named Lehi. The story goes that Lehi (who was ancient prophet in Jerusalem) received divine inspiration to leave the city, before it was destroyed. Lehi and his family depart into the wilderness and while on their journey they encounter many hardships. Lehi explains to his first born son that “…God…shall consecrate thine affliction for thy gain” (2 Nephi 2:2), he goes on to explain a little about the plan of salvation (and the free gift of Salvation), agency and the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. But the most important part for us to understand take from this story is that there is opposition in all things.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not… righteous could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad…” (2 Nephi 2:11)

Lehi knew that in order to have good, we must also have bad. Sometimes people wonder, why do commandments exist? I would respond that they exist for the very purpose that laws exist, for our protection. For if you “…shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness… if there be no righteousness there be no happiness… no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery… if these things are not, there is no God… if there is no God, we are not, either the earth…” (2 Nephi 2:13)

So, why does God permit suffering? I would argue that we live in a world of good and evil, for our own understanding. If we have never felt joy, we cannot understand it. However, if we feel pain and then feel joy we can truly understand what joy is, while at the same time learning what pain is. “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself…” (2 Nephi 2:16). God gave us agency, and part of that agency means that we can truly act for ourselves, which means people can do bad things to others. If God were to interfere, we would not have agency.

With this agency, we can choose to be free and to “…choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of  all men, or to choose captivity and death according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27)

But we know that God wants only the best for us, “Adam fell that men might be’ and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25)

We are meant to enjoy this life, learn from it and repent of our wrong doings, while still in the flesh.

Job continues to say that those who commit these atrocious acts of murder, robbery or who commit adultery and all other manner of wickedness will see the morning and to “…them even as the shadow of death…” (Job24:17). Those who are wicked may be prosperous in this life, but in the end, when the morning comes, the judgment will befall them.

At times, we may fall on our knees in despair, and even usher up a prayer… “Heavenly Father, I hope you know, I am having a hard time”. Have you ever felt this way? I know I have, maybe you feel that God has abandoned you, or that He is nowhere to be found. The truth of it all? God is there. He is always there. Sometimes we are left to suffer, that we might know the joy, and we can feel the everlasting glory of his light.

Job 17-18

Job 17-18

Chapter 17: The body returns to dust

Job directs a complaint both towards earth and towards heaven. Job continued his same sense of defeat and brokenness as described in the previous chapter.

“Are there not mockets with me?” (Job 17:2) Instead of getting support from his friends, they tear him down and tell him that everything that has happened to him, is because of his own sin.

Job felt that not only were his friends against him, but that heaven was against him. Here he pleads for an agreement of peace between himself and heaven.

One day the body returns to dust, job shows his lack of hope.

Chapter 18: The wicked know not God

Bildad continued to trade insults with Job. They accused each other of being dense and stupid as beasts.

Bildad felt that Job wanted to overturn unchangeable laws of life; mainly the laws of cause and effect that tell us Job has caused his own crisis by his sin and refusal to repent.

Bildad wanted to teach Job about the life and fate of the wicked, and in doing so he hoped that Job would get the idea that he was among the wicked that Bildad described. The wicked man was someone weak in his steps, unable or unwilling to continue the journey of life. He felt this accurately described Job and set him among the wicked men. Bildad takes previous statements of Job and turns them back upon him. Job spoke in his previous speech about how he felt attacked and assaulted by God on every side (Job 16:9-14). Bildad regarded this as proof of Job’s wickedness.