Abraham 1

Abraham 1: Abraham Seeks Blessings of the Patriarchal Order

“…at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful to obtain another place of residence;” (Abraham 1:1) Abraham sought for a higher knowledge and the blessings that come from the Patriarchal Order, however Abraham lived in a home that discouraged his advancement in the Gospel or forbid him to practice the Gospel, so Abraham explained; “… I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right where unto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” (Abraham 1:2-3)

Because Abraham was a follower of righteousness he desired to have the blessings of the priesthood and be able to bless with the priesthood. Abraham explains that this priesthood was; “…conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.” (Abraham 1:3) Abraham’s Authority was given to him from a long line of Authority through his fathers. Abraham explains that he had followed the commandments of God, whereas the rest of the people decided to follow after other gods; “For their hearts were set to do evil, and were wholly turned to the god of Elkenah, and the god of Libnah, and the god of Mahmackrah, and the god of Korash, and the god of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; Therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrifice of the heathen in offering up their children unto these dumb idols, and hearkened not unto my voice, but endeavored to take away my lifeby the hand of the priest of Elkenah. The priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharaoh.” (Abraham 1:6-7) These people were wicked and had turned their hearts from the Lord to sacrifice children to idols that could not speak.

 

Abraham-facsimile-11

                “Now, at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to offer up upon the altar which was built in the land of Chaldea, for the offering unto these strange gods, men, women, and children. And it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh, and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun.” (Abraham 1:8-9)

Several hundred years after the flood, the inhabitants of the earth multiplied throughout. However, their knowledge of God had nearly disappeared. President Joseph Fielding Smith commented on the Egyptian Human Sacrifice;  “Abraham was of the [tenth] generation from Noah. Several hundred years had passed since the flood, and people had multiplied and spread over the face of the earth. The civilizations of Egypt, Chaldea, Assyria and the petty nations of Canaan, had been established. In the midst of this scattering the true worship of the Father was nearly lost. Sacrifice instituted in the days of Adam and continued in the practice and teaching of Noah, in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of Man, had become perverted. Instead of offering clean animals, such as the lamb and bullock, the apostate nations had dwindled in unbelief to the extent that human sacrifice was offered to their idol gods” (The Way to Perfection, 85).

Abraham was not alone in his desire to worship the one and only God, there were three virgins [direct decedents of Ham, who was the son of Noah] who were going to be sacrificed because of their virtue, for they; “…would not bow down to worships gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon the altar…” (Abraham 1:11) Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints compared these three virgins to the story of ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego – see Daniel 3:12-30’. He described these three women as; “marvelous models on enduring uncertainty and on trusting God… Matching those three young men are three young women whose names we do not have. They are mentioned in the book of Abraham, remarkable young women about whom I am anxious to know more. They were actually sacrificed upon the altar because ‘they would not bow down to worship [an idol] of wood or stone’. Some day the faithful will get to meet them” (“Not My Will, But Thine” [1988], 119–20).

Abraham explains that they came and laid violence upon him; “…that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar…” (Abraham 1:12) As they were about to take his life, Abraham cried out to the Lord; “…and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands; And his voice was unto me: Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee…” (Abraham 1:15-16) God promised to deliver Abraham from these people and carry him away into a land in which he knew not. God then destroyed all of Potiphar’s Hill in the land of Ur.

Abraham went down to the land of Egypt, where he found a government which was patterned after the patriarchal governments of old, but was devoid of all revelation and priesthood. This ultimately lead the Egyptians into idolatry.  The land of Egypt was founded by the daughter of Ham; ‘Egyptus’ who had a son named ‘Pharaoh’.

The first government of Egypt; “…was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal” (Abraham 1:25)

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote:

“Egypt was not the only nation, in these early times, which attempted to imitate the patriarchal order of government. We have seen in Abraham’s record that this was the order of government in the reign of Adam, and down to the time of Noah.

“Naturally that form of government would be perpetuated in large degree by all tribes as they began to spread over the face of the earth. As men multiplied they organized first in the family group, then into tribes and eventually into nations. The greater powers would naturally occupy the most favored spots. Stronger tribes would overcome the weaker and force them to join the national government, or else they would be subdued and treated as slaves, or placed under tribute. As the patriarchal order was handed down from father to son so also would the political authority be perpetuated with the same claims to authority…” (The Progress of Man, 3rd ed. [1944], 100–101.)

Abraham explains that the rights of the priesthood were only handed down from proper Authorities and that The Pharaohs; “…would fain claim it from Noah…” (Abraham 1:27) Fain means “content or willing to accept an alternative when the more desirable thing cannot be attained” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, 2nd ed., 657). Therefore this “Fain Claim” was not proper authority.

Abraham ends this chapter by explaining that he had preserved records; “…concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.” (Abraham 1:31) Abraham kept records of the creation, the planets and the stars in order to preserve this record for the posterity that shall come after him.

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7: Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood

                In this chapter, Paul writes a letter to the Hebrews and starts off by telling them who Melchisedec was. Melchisedec was the King of Salem; “…who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him. To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all…” (Hebrews 7:1-2) This is very important to know, Abraham, who was counted by all as a very great man in the eyes of both God and men, was blessed by Melchisedec? Abraham also gave his tithes to Melchisedec, this would imply that Melchisedec was a very powerful and wise man in both the eyes of God and man.

Paul goes on to explain that Melchisedec was; “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (Hebrews 7:3) Here we learn a lot about the character of Melchisedec, he had no parents, no ancestors and was made ‘like unto the Son of God’. If we were to take this scripture exactly as it is written, one could understand that Melchisedec was on the same level of Jesus Christ. However, more modern day revelation has revealed exactly what this scripture meant;

“This high priesthood [the priesthood that Melchisedec had] being after the order of his Son [Jesus Christ], which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things.” (The Book of Mormon; Alma 13:7)

                The Book of Mormon, which was written in the Americas during the time of the Old and New Testament of the Bible, explain that Melchisedec himself was not without father or mother, nor was HE himself made like unto Jesus Christ. Rather, the priesthood which Melchisedec held was without years. This priesthood was made from the foundation of the world and was made after the order of Jesus Christ. While we do not know much about Melchisedec, it is likely that he did actually have family. While we do not know all the facts, one thing we do know is that Melchisedec held a priesthood which was of the highest order. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through Jesus Christ we have been given this Priesthood Authority, which we call the “Melcizedek Priesthood” after the same order which Melchisadec belonged too.

Paul goes on to ask the Hebrews to consider; “…how great this man was, unto whom eve the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of his spoils.” (Hebrews 7:4) At this time, under the sons of Levi was the Priesthood after the order of Aaron, known as the Aaronic Priesthood. This priesthood was considered at the time to be the highest order. However Paul explains; “…what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisadec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”  (Hebrews 7:11) Paul, like the Hebrews was probably confused by this, but Paul clarifies that this priesthood did not come from the tribe of Levi. Rather it is “…far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there riseth another priest. Who is made, not after the law for a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” (Hebrews 7:15-16)

Paul explains that when a priest would go into the temple to make a sacrifice for the peoples sins, they would often times have to make a first sacrifice for their own sins. This would make them pure enough to facilitate a sacrifice for the sins of others. However, with the high priests, who were after the order of Melchisadec; “…needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his owns sins, and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” (Hebrews 7:27)

Paul explains that a High Priest; “…is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26)

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6: Importance of the Priesthood

                Paul continues to address the subject of Priesthood in this letter to the Hebrews; he starts out by urging the members of the Church to “…go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works…” (Hebrews 6:1) In other words, we should move towards becoming perfect, this doesn’t mean that we are currently perfect. However, if we continue to sin (especially if it is the same sin) over and over again, and ask for repentance the same number of times… we are not moving towards perfection.

Paul explains that certain ordinances must be performed when God permits them to be performed; “…baptisms, and… laying on of hands… resurrection of the dead… this will we do, if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:2-3)

So a big question arises, how do we know when God permits? Looking back one chapter; we read that we cannot take upon ourselves “…this honour…  [except] …he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4) This is where having a modern day prophet on the earth is IMPORTANT. With the Authority restored on the earth, we can know God’s will today. We don’t have to rely on prophets of old to help us solve our problems of today. Therefore, proper Priesthood Authority is needed… a direct line back to Jesus Christ Himself MUST exist.

Assuming that someone has proper priesthood authority, doesn’t mean that they can’t lose that priesthood authority. Paul, addressing the Hebrews and most likely their concerns, explains the process for returning to full fellowship, with priesthood keys restored; “If they [priesthood holders] fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:6) This means that if a priesthood bearer, fall away from the Gospel and His covenant at Baptism; he must repent, crucify themselves (spiritually) and be publicly dis-fellowshipped from the congregation. This means that they would not participate in the more sacred callings and privileges reserved for obedient members of the church. Until, a time when priesthood leaders through revelation, determine that the member be restored to full fellowship.

Paul explains that those who do fall away should not feel as if they have failed in the eyes of God; “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name…” (Hebrews 6:10) If someone fails to live righteously, but earnestly seeks to do well… will be granted forgiveness, in that; “They be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12) How marvelous is God, being merciful unto all men!

Paul explains that God made a promise to Abraham, and because God could swore to no one greater than He; “…he swear by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” (Hebrews 6:13-14) Abraham was given a promise, and the Lord made sure that if Abraham fulfilled his promise, God would swear by His promise. “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Hebrews 6:15)

                Paul mentions this to help us better understand that we have purpose in this life; “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” (Hebrews 6:19)

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1: The Gospel = Word and Power

                Paul addresses the Thessalonians and explains that he came unto them in word and power;

                “For our gospel, came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

                This chapter, although short, is very powerful. Paul explains that he is not just a minister of word, but actually has POWER from God. This power or “Authority” is necessary in the ordinances of the gospel and is needed for the TRUE Church of Jesus Christ.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the power of the Priesthood and its restoration began on May 15, 1829 when the resurrected John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon them.

Acts 19

Acts 19: The Gift of the Holy Ghost

                While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the upper coasts of Epheus where he found certain Disciples of Christ who had not yet received the Holy Ghost;

“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as head whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto the, Unto what then where ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:2-6)

                When Paul had asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost, they knew nothing of it. These people thought they had received a valid baptism with the proper authority. However, Paul, an Apostle of the Lord told them that they had been baptized without the actual Authority. So when the people heard and understood this, they were RE-BAPTIZED, because a baptism without the proper Authority is just getting wet, and serves no purpose. Paul then gave them the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, by the proper Authority. Thus, it is important to have proper Authority to get a proper baptism. This Authority was lost some time after Paul was an Apostle, but has been restored in these Latter-days.

While in Ephesus Paul has a mixed response, but performs miraculous healings. The seven sons of Sceva, Jewish exorcists, try to exorcise by the name of the Lord Jesus. However, the evil spirits do not recognize them or their proper Authority and are beaten by the evil spirits. Many in Ephesus renounce occult objects. Demetrius, a maker of idols, opposes Paul because his business has suffered. A riot starts, which is finally calmed by a city clerk.

Mark 9

Mark 9: Transfigured on the Mount

                Jesus and the Apostles stand at the top of a mountain, with Peter, James and John. Jesus “…was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:2-4) Shortly after, they saw a cloud come over them and a voice saying; “…This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Mark 9:7)

                Suddenly, the Apostles found them alone with Jesus again as if nothing had happened. On their journey down from the Mountain, Jesus tells them that they must not speak of the things they saw until after He has risen from the dead. The Apostles then asked Jesus “…Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things…” (Mark 9:11-12)

                Jesus arrives, where a group is gathered for Him. A man in the crowd yells out to Jesus; “…Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” (Mark 9:17-18) Jesus, at this point, was a little upset because His own Apostles could not remove the evil spirit. So Jesus turns to the Apostles and says;  “…O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.” (Mark 9:19-20)

                Jesus, moved with compassion, asks the father how long this evil Spirit had resided in the child. The father tells Him from birth. Jesus tells the father, who was in disbelief as casting this devil out; “…If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24) Jesus then cast the evil spirit out and commanded it to no more enter or molest the child. As Jesus and His Apostles were leaving the area, the Apostles ask Jesus privately; “…Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:28-29)

                Jesus and the Apostles then depart through Galilee and while on their journey the Apostles had questions about who was greatest among the Apostles and what it meant that Jesus would die and come back three days later, but every one of them was too afraid to ask. Jesus of course knew their questions and called the twelve to sit and listen; “… If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Jesus then continues by speaking about children and their importance in the Gospel “…whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

Mark 3

Mark 3: Healing on the Sabbath

                A man comes near Jesus with a deformed hand, and the scribes stand by waiting to see if Jesus will heal the man on the Sabbath. Jesus perceives their hearts and simply asks them: “…Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days. Or to do evil? To save a life, or to kill?” (Mark 3:4) Jesus heals the man and makes his hand whole. Immediately the scribes come together to charge Jesus!

Jesus travels throughout Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Jordan, Tyre and Sidon all while being followed by a group of people. When Jesus spoke he usually spoke from a boat or had a small boat nearby, for fear that people would essentially “tackle Him”. Everyone who wanted to be healed of Him would come near and want to touch Him. Unclean spirits would cause those possessed to fall to the ground and weep for seeing the Son of God.

Jesus travels up a mountain with the twelve Apostles so that He could ordain them as Apostles (Those called by Jesus and given His priesthood Authority and Power) and not just as Disciples (those who follow Jesus). He ordains all of them with the ability to preach, and the power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils. After He finishes ordaining them, they all go to have a feast. While there, some scribes come and accuse Jesus of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub (the devil). So Jesus says; “…How can Satan cast out Satan?” (Mark 3:23) Jesus goes on to explain that if a house or nation is divided it cannot stand, therefore if Satan is against himself, he also cannot stand. Jesus goes on even further to explain that those who deny the Holy Ghost are in danger of eternal damnation. Therefore, don’t deny the Holy Ghost!

One thing we learn here is that Jesus says “…whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:35) Some will use this verse to explain that Jesus never had any direct brothers or sisters, that he was essentially an only child. Is this true? He is the Only Begotten of the Father, but Jesus was born of Mary, so did Mary have any more children? Because if she did, then they would at least be blood related half-brothers to Jesus. In Mark 6:3, we read: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are no his sisters here with us? …” (Mark 6:3) Therefore we learn that Jesus had siblings!

Matthew 24

Matthew 24:

Second Coming: Jesus talks to His Apostles 

Jesus is outside with the Apostles and His disciples as they gave Jesus a tour of the temple, but Jesus walks away and tells them that not one stone of the temple will be left on top of another, instead all of them will be thrown down. The disciples are curious and ask Him how this could be. They ask him about the signs of the end of the world, and Jesus tells them:

“…Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation…. there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes… All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:4-8)

Jesus knew exactly how the end would play out, and what Jesus said has an eerie similarity to all the events currently going on in the world today. Who would have known that over 2000 years later these words would sound true? Jesus continues by telling the Apostles and disciples with Him, that the world will come for them “…and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my names sake.” (Matthew 24:9) Jesus is referring to the Great Apostasy that would occur, where the Apostles would be killed and the Priesthood keys and authority would be lost from the world… no wonder the age after Christ is known as the “Dark Ages”, the Authority from God was lost, and many would come and deceive to “fill” that void.

Jesus explains to them that the Last Days would come and many false prophets, and Christ’s would arise; “…if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:23-24)

                Jesus explains that even the smartest, and most elect individuals will be deceived by Satan. After all the tribulations on the earth are over; “…the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29) Essentially we will be without light and comets will come to destroy the earth, but right before the world seems to be doomed, the Son of man, Jesus Christ, will come from the east and he will come with a great sound of trumpets with His angels.

We can speculate as to when this will happen, but Jesus tells His apostles; “… that day and hour knoweth no man… but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) Jesus tells His followers that in that last day two will be in the field working and one shall be taken up. Jesus explains that if someone knew the hour that there house were to be broken in to, they would wait and catch the man. Likewise if we knew the hour Jesus would come, we too could be ready. But we don’t know that hour… so we need to be ready at any time!

Nehemiah 7-8

Nehemiah 7-8

Chapter 7: Genealogy Records/Priesthood

When the wall was built; and the doors hung, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, Nehemiah gave the charge of Jerusalem to his brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, because he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.

Nehemiah said to them to not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.

Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt. Then God put it into his heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, and the people, that they might be registered by genealogy. Nehemiah found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return, and found written in it:

These are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city. Those who came with Zerubbabel were: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy-two; the sons of Arah, six hundred and fifty-two; the sons of Pahath-Moab, of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and eighteen; the sons of Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Zattu, eight hundred and forty-five; the sons of Zaccai, seven hundred and sixty; the sons of Binnui, six hundred and forty-eight; the sons of Bebai, six hundred and twenty-eight; the sons of Azgad, two thousand three hundred and twenty-two; the sons of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-seven; the sons of Bigvai, two thousand and sixty-seven; the sons of Adin, six hundred and fifty-five; the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety-eight; the sons of Hashum, three hundred and twenty-eight; the sons of Bezai, three hundred and twenty-four; the sons of Hariph, one hundred and twelve; the sons of Gibeon, ninety-five; the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, one hundred and eighty-eight; the men of Anathoth, one hundred and twenty-eight; the men of Beth Azmaveth, forty-two; the men of Kirjath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty-three; the men of Ramah and Geba, six hundred and twenty-one; the men of Michmas, one hundred and twenty-two; the men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three; the men of the other Nebo, fifty-two; the sons of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred and fifty-four; the sons of Harim, three hundred and twenty; the sons of Jericho, three hundred and forty-five; the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred and twenty-one; the sons of Senaah, three thousand nine hundred and thirty. The priests: the sons of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred and seventy-three; the sons of Immer, one thousand and fifty-two; the sons of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred and forty-seven; the sons of Harim, one thousand and seventeen. The Levites: the sons of Jeshua, of Kadmiel, and of the sons of Hodevah, seventy-four. The singers: the sons of Asaph, one hundred and forty-eight. The gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, one hundred and thirty-eight. The Nethinim: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, the sons of Keros, the sons of Sia, the sons of Padon, the sons of Lebana, the sons of Hagaba, the sons of Salmai, the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephishesim, the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, the sons of Bazlith, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Tamah, the sons of Neziah, and the sons of Hatipha. The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Sophereth, the sons of Perida, the sons of Jaala, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth of Zebaim, and the sons of Amon. All the Nethinim, and the sons of Solomon’s servants, were three hundred and ninety-two. And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer, but they could not identify their father’s house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, six hundred and forty-two; and of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Koz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name. These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim. Altogether the whole assembly was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred and forty-five men and women singers. Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five, their camels four hundred and thirty-five, and donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty. And some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments. Some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the treasury of the work twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas. And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments. So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.

Chapter 8: Ezra Records the Law of Moses

Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the Lord. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, that this day is holy to the Lord; do not mourn nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them to go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. The Levites quieted all the people, by telling them to be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.

All the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them. On the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.

They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, by telling them to go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths. Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Judges 17-18

Judges 17-18

Chapter 17: Priesthood Authority

There was a man who lived near the mount of Ephraim, his name was Micah. He tells his mother about 1,100 shekels of silver that were taken from her and that she had cursed. Well that same 1,100 shekels he tells his mother, he took and has it. His mother responds with blessings on his head. Micah’s mother takes the silver back and says she will consecrate it unto the Lord.

So Micah’s mother takes the silver t an idol maker, to have it made into an idol to place in his house. So Micah has a shrine made and consecrates one of his sons to be a priest. Micah’s shrine is the “house of gods” It says that this was done, because Israel had no king, and everyone “…did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6). So it seems like there was a lack of order.

A Levite happens to wonder by and Micah asks him to stay and be a priest, the Levite agrees and is paid room and board, food and a salary of 110 grams of silver per year. Micah thinks that the Lord will be pleased with him, because he is worshiping him and he has a Levite as one of his priests. We learned earlier in the Bible that the Levites (one of the twelve tribes of Israel) were given charge of the ordinances and rituals of the temple. In other words the Levites had the priesthood authority.

Chapter 18: Idolatry

As the tribe of Dan wanders looking for a place to settle in the Promised Land, they send some spies to check out the land and find a good place to settle. During this search they come across the Levite that is living in Micah’s house (from the last chapter). They ask this Levite to inquire of the Lord and find out if their trip will be successful, the Levite sends them on their way in peace, that the Lord was with them.

These men of Dan leave and go to a place called Laish were they find some very desirable land that was a little quiet. The spies decide that this land would be suitable and go back to the tribe of Dan to tell them the good news.

The spies return to their brothers in Zorah and Eshtaol and tell them to “…Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold it is very good… be not slothful to god, and to enter to possess the land.” (Judges 18:9).

They get the people pumped for war, and the Danites get ready for battle with 600 of their men. The 600 warriors start their journey to the land of Laish. On their journey they pass by the house of Micah and the 5 spies that had been there previously get an idea. Their idea is simple, rob Micah and convince the Levite priest to come with them. As they enter into the house of Micah, the priest asks them what they are doing, they tell him the obvious and then convince the Levite that it would be better that he put his priesthood to good use among a whole tribe and not in just one man’s house. He agrees and goes with them.

As the Danites are leaving, Micah gets angered and chases after them with some men. The Danites ask him what his problem is, Micah says basically “are you kidding me? You stole everything from me, and you are asking me why I am mad?” (this of course is a paraphrase of what he really said. But Micah realizes that the Danites are too massive and powerful for him and his men, and decides to back off. The Danites arrive in the land of Laish and conquer the region.

The people living there were unable to do something, because they lived very far from anyone else and they had no relationship with anyone else. Once they conquer the land, they set up the idols of Micah and they will continue to serve those idols until they are captured.