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.

Advertisements

Romans 9

Romans 9: The Law of Election

                Paul expresses his sorrow over the stubbornness of the Jews. Paul then explains  how the Law of Election, or predestination works. We learn that God chose Jacob over Esau before either of them was born. This shows that it is possible for someone to be pre-destined to accomplish a goal for the Lord. God deals with individuals in either mercy or judgment, and no one can find fault with His dealings. God also foreordained Israel for adoption of the covenants, the promises, and the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This Salvation comes to both Jew and Gentile and is obtained through Faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings.

Romans 3

Romans 3: Man is Judged by Faith in Jesus Christ

 

“What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?” (Romans 3:1) Paul addresses the Romans and states that regardless of being a Jew or a Gentile, ALL are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ. He asks: what does it profit a man to have only the LAW, and not the FAITH? Man’s unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. The law cannot save us from our sin and the penalty that accompanies it. Paul points out that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:23-25)

Sinners (everyone) are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus Christ Atoned for the Sins of ALL, we can be saved. However, we must understand what being Saved means.

What is Salvation?

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, everyone will experience a temporal death. However, through grace, which was made possible by the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, everyone will be resurrected and receive immortality. Resurrection alone does not qualify us for eternal life in the presence of God. Remember, Paul said; “…all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23), these sins make us unclean and unfit to dwell in God’s presence. For this reason, we are saved through Grace, ONLY after all we can do. After all, Jesus Christ died for us, the very least we can do is follow His law. Essentially, Jesus Christ unlocked and opened the door to Eternal Life, we however must make the choice to enter through that door. This is where Grace is a FREE gift from God, but Eternal Life and Salvation require our part. What is it that we must do? We must live by God’s law and we must follow in the steps of Jesus.

Paul ends this chapter by asking; “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31) What does he mean? He means that we should throughout either the Law of Faith, but have both. Faith without works is dead! The Book of Mormon helps us to understand a little more about grace; “…we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God, for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 25:23) 

Acts 25

Acts 25: Paul Appeals unto Caesar

When Felix is replaced by Festus, Paul’s Jewish accusers decide to re-try the case against Paul. Paul asks Festus to appeal unto Caesar; “…I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.” (Acts 25:10) Festus explains the case involving Paul to the visiting King Agrippa. Shortly after, the trial begins, and Festus makes an opening speech explaining the situation of the Jews desiring his death and Festus explains that the Jews made warrantless claims and false accusations with no evidence against Paul. Festus explained that this was contrary to Roman Law, explaining; “…It is not the manners of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.” (Acts 25:16) Festus desired that King Agrippa hear from Paul himself, and he agrees.

Isaiah 57-58

Isaiah 57-58

Chapter 57: No peace for the wicked

The righteous are persecuted. God’s people have committed spiritual adultery. He who puts his trust in the Lord shall possess the land and inherit His holy mountain – in contrast to those who trust in idols. The stumbling block shall be removed. The Lord will restore, but there is no rest for the wicked.

Chapter 58: The Law of the Fast

God’s people ask why their prayers go unanswered. In fact, their ritual observance was shallow and did not proceed from the heart. God is more pleased to see people help the oppressed and poor.

“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thous seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.“ (Isaiah 58:3) When we fast, we need to fast for a cause. While we fast we donate money/food that we would have consumed during the fast… this will then go to help the needy and in turn give blessings to both parties. The light of the true worshipper shall break forth like the morning; he shall be as a watered garden. Those who keep the Sabbath will ride on the high hills of the earth.

Psalms 119

Psalms 119

Chapter 119: The Laws of God

Psalms 119 is the largest Psalm in all of the Psalms, the author is unnamed; most historians however, almost universally say it is a Psalm of David, composed throughout his entire life. The Psalm does not flow perfectly from one Psalm to another, which means that if it were written by David, it was written over his life and then compiled later.

The Psalm is arranged in an acrostic pattern. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this Psalm contains 22 units of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 sections is given to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line in that section begins with that letter. The closest parallel to this pattern in Scripture is found in Lamentations 3, which is also divided into 22 sections.

Because this is a Psalm glorifying God and His Word, it refers to Scripture over and over again. The psalm is remarkable for how often it refers to God’s written revelation.

In this Psalm there are 8 basic words used to describe the Scriptures, God’s written revelation to us:

  • Law (torah, used 25 times):  Its parent verb means ‘teach’ or ‘direct’; therefore coming from God it means both ‘law’ and ‘revelation.’
  • Word (dabar, used 24 times): The idea is of the spoken word, God’s revealed word to man.
  • Judgments (mispatim, used 23 times)
  • Testimonies (edut/edot, used 23 times): This word is related to the word for witness.
  • Commandments (miswah/miswot, used 22 times)
  • Statutes (huqqim, used 21 times): The noun is derived from the root verb “engrave” or “inscribe”; the idea is of the written word of God and the authority of His written word.
  • Precepts (piqqudim, used 21 times): (principle: a rule, instruction, or principle that guides somebody’s actions, especially one that guides moral behavior)
  • Word (imrah, used 19 times): Similar in meaning to dabar, yet a different term. More of a promise from the Lord.

Being such a long Psalm – and the longest chapter in the Bible – this Psalm has been of some historical note. There have been many lengthy works written on this Psalm. I hope that I can give a simple, yet in depth understanding of this Psalm.

א Aleph (1-8)

In beginning to describe man’s blessedness, the Psalmist starts with the idea that being undefiled in the way is a blessing. “Blessed are they… that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalms 119:2)

ב Beth (9-16)

                Ponder the precepts and ways of the Lord. The author tells us; “I will… have respect unto thy ways… I will not forget thy word” (Psalms 119:15-16)

                This reminds me of the scripture in Isaiah 55:8; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways me ways, saith the Lord” We need to remember that even when we don’t understand a commandment, we must obey them anyways. We cannot pick and chose what commandments we will follow. We must follow them all and have respect for them.

ג Gimel (17-24)

                The author asks the Lord to help “Open… [our]…eyes, that [we] may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalms 119:18) Many people in the world keep their eyes shut out of fear or ignorance. We must open them and see the truth.

ד Daleth (25-32)

                “…teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so I shall talk of thy wondrous works” (Psalms 119:26-27)

This reminds me of the LDS Hymn: I am a child of God.

“Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do. To live with him someday.” (LDS Hymns, 301)

ה He (33-40)

                “Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end” (Psalms 119:33)

We need to learn, understand and practice the commandments which the Lord has given to us. If we do this we can be blessed.

ו Vau (41-48)

                The Lord gives us mercy, truth and salvation. The author says; “I will speak of ty testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.” (Psalms 119:46) We need to be able to give testimony, even before people that might not favor our testimony. Be not afraid to testify.

 

ז Zain (49-56)

“This is my comfort in my afflication: for thy word hath quickened me.” (Psalms 119:50) If we follow the commandments of the Lord, we will find peace and joy.

ח Cheth (57-64)

                “I am a companion of all them that fear thee [the Lord], and of them that keep thy precepts” (Psalms 119:63) we should make friends that love and fear the Lord and keep His commandments. I think it is even more important to have a companion (husband or wife) who also fears the Lord.

ט Teth (65-72)

                “Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.” (Psalms 119:66) Ask the Lord for his good judgment, and for His knowledge.

י Jod (73-80)

                “Let my heart be sound in thy statues; that I be not ashamed” (Psalms 119:80) We need to pray that the Lord will keep our heart strong, because we may feel out of place in a world that doesn’t hold to the values, statutes or commandments of the Lord.

כ Caph (81-88)

                Those who do not follow the commandments of the Lord will persecute those who do follow the Lord. Pray to the Lord to be lifted up, so that they may not consume you.

ל Lamed (89-96)

                “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants” (Psalms 119:89-91)

The above scripture is often used by many to claim that the Bible is the ULTIMATE Word of God and that it is PERFECT and will ENDURE forever. Other scriptures that some may use to explain how perfect the Bible is would be: Isaiah 55:11 and Mark 13:31.

I do agree with the scriptures in the sense that God’s WORD will not pass away. But I don’t believe that the Bible is 100% of God’s WORD, nor do I believe that it has been translated correctly. In LDS belief the 8th Article of Faith says: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…” I don’t believe that the Bible is translated correctly and throughout thousands of years too much has been changed or lost to take every word literally.

מ Mem (97-104)

                “I have more understanding than all my teachers… I understand more than the ancients, because I kept thy precepts” (Psalms 119:99-100) If we put our faith in the Lord, by following His commandments, we can become more knowledgable. Knowledge can be gained in this life, however a full knowledge of life and everything else can never be gained without God.

נ Nun (105-112)

                “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105)

If we put the Lord’s words into action, we will find our paths (lives) much more illuminated and full of joy.

ס Samech (113-120)

                “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love” (Psalms 119:113) Hate wickedness and Love God and His commandments.

ע Ain (121-128)

                “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies” (Psalms 119:125)

We are all servants of the Lord and in order to fulfill our purpose as servants (or missionaries) we must pray to have His understanding to know the gospel.

פ Pe (129-136)

                “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalms 119:130) God’s Word or His Gospel are so simple to understand that even the most simple/humble person can understand.

While serving a 2 year mission in Honduras for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I found that the most uneducated, illiterate person could understand the simple truthes of the Gospel more than the most educated and “complex” person.

צ Tzaddi (137-144)

                “The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live” (Psalms 119:144) If we have the Lord’s understanding we will live a longer life and in the end live forever with Him in His kingdom. God and His testimony (or Gospel) is forever.

ק Koph (145-152)

                The Lord’s testimonies are founded forever. All of God’s commandments are full of truth.

ר Resh (153-160)

                “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.” (Psalms 119:160)

God’s word is forever, even if man distorts changes or removes important parts of the Bible. God’s word is also not limited to one single book. This is something important that we must remember. God’s canon of scripture is not closed.

ש Schin (161-168)

                “I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love” (Psalms 119:163) the author; who is most likely “David” hated lying and told the Lord that he hated it. The Lord himself also hates lying and it is a reminder for us all to keep from lies and abound in God’s commandments.

ת Tau (169-176)

                All of the Lord’s commandments are in righteousness. We need to delight in His law and have our souls saved through His salvation.

 

Nehemiah 9-10

Nehemiah 9-10

Chapter 9: Jews Fast and Confess Sins

On the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. They stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; and for another quarter they confessed and worshiped the Lord.

Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the Lord. The Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said:

“Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous: And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea; And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day. And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.

                Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.

But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments;  And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage; but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.

Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and with eldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.

Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan.

Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it. So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would.  And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.” (Nehemiah 9:5-25)

Anytime a nation forsakes the Lord and his prophets, being disobedient to the Laws of God… Nothing GOOD will ever come from it!

“Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies.

But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.

Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.” (Nehemiah 9:26-31)

Even after people have sinned and gone against the words of the Lord and his prophets, if they turn to the Lord again, they can always have a chance for redemption. The prayer continues…

“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day. Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly. Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.

Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it: And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.” (Nehemiah 9:32-38)

This chapter is for the most part a prayer to God, where the Jews confess their sins and he Levites bless and praise the Lord.

Chapter 10: Sabbath Day and Tithes

Those who placed their seal on the document were: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These were the priests.

The Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, and Kadmiel. Their brethren: Shebaniah, Hodijah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, Micha, Rehob, Hashabiah, Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, Hodijah, Bani, and Beninu.

The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.

The rest of the people; the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding; these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:

Those statutes, made by the above named individuals were as follows;

  • We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons;
  • If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt. (Nehemiah 10:31)
  • Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

They cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the Lord. They made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of their ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the Lord; to bring the firstborn of their sons and their cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of their herds and their flocks, to the house of God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; to bring the firstfruits of their dough, their offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of their land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all the farming communities. And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of God, to the rooms of the storehouse. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.

In this chapter we learn a lot about the importance of tithing and keeping the Sabbath day holy, see Nehemiah 10:31 and 38.