The Story of CHRISTmas

 The Story of CHRISTmas

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(I have included a 3 part video: ‘Joy to the World’ to accompany the story of CHRISTmas) Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

                Tis the season for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells and of course; Santa Claus! It is the season of bad traffic, great store sales and angry shoppers fighting over some “must have” electronic or gadget. During this HoliDAZE, we often forget the true meaning of Christmas, that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and the Savior of the World.

Since the beginning of time, Prophets have foretold of the coming of a Messiah, a Christ King who would be born in Bethlehem and suffer the sins of the world. The story of the Birth of our Savior begins when the Angel Gabriel visits Mary, and tells her of the coming of her son, Jesus Christ…

“…the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women… when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying… And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God… behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest…” (Luke 1:26-31)

                “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow  thee… that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35)

                Mary was engaged to Joseph, and being a virgin she was confused as to how she could become pregnant and have a son. Angel Gabriel comforts her and tells her that the Son of God shall be born, and that she had been chosen, being highly favored of God to bring forth Jesus into this world. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

                The Story of the Birth of Jesus Christ continues in the Bible;

                “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed… And all went out to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem… To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child [pregnant]… And so it was, that… the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1, 3-7)

                It was part of the law in those days for every man to go to his village to pay taxes; Joseph went to Galilee, because that is where he needed to pay his taxes. Because of the great number of people there, they were unable to find a proper place to sleep, and were forced to deliver the baby in a manger. The Son of God was Born, His name;  Jesus Christ!

                During this time, a star was seen in the east, and shepherds abiding in their fields saw that Jesus Christ had been born…

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men… as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass… And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-16)

The Shepherds had surely heard the words of the Prophets of old, and their prophecy of the coming of the Son of God, upon seeing the Multitude of Heavenly Hosts, sing “Glory to God in the highest” they knew that the Lord had been born and immediately went to see their King. The Star in the East could be seen, round about the world…

                “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem Judaea… there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled…And he sent them [the wise men] to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word… that I may come and worship him also… they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced…And when they were come…they saw the young child with Mary…and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gift; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1-3; 8-11)

                The Wise Men, in most accounts are referred to ask the “Three Wise Men”, most likely because of the three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) that are given to Jesus. However the scriptures never tell us how man wise men there were. Nevertheless, the wise men are warned in a dream to depart and not to return unto Herod, for he had other plans…

                “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country…when they departed, behold the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt… for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:12-13)

                “…Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and inall the coasts thereof, from two years and under…” (Matthew 2:16)

                Herod, fearing that the Son of God had been born, attempts a cowardly action of killing all children age 2 and below. However, God the Father had other plans and protected His Only Begotten Son, so that He might go among the world and die for everyone and their sins, to enable us to return again one day to Our Heavenly Father…

                “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn not the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

                God knew of the divine plan of His Son, and allowed Him to grow strong in the spirit. For God was with Him; “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40)

                The Bible teaches clearly that Jesus is the Christ and that through Him we might be saved, and given the opportunity to return to live with God. However, it is important to note that the Star in the East was seen throughout the World! The Ancient Inhabitants of the Americas saw the Star too, and their account is written in the Book of Mormon, which also testifies of Christ and His divine mission. A Book of Mormon Prophet named Alma, testified of Jesus Christ…

                “…I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgression of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it. For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish… yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.” (Alma 34:8-10, The Book of Mormon)

What Does the Book of Mormon Say?

                Shortly before the Birth of Jesus Christ, people lived in Ancient Americas, where God also called Prophets to guide His children. One of these Prophets was named Samuel, and Samuel testified of Christ and His coming into this world. However, there was a great division of believers and non-believers. Those who did not believe, decided that that time of preaching Christ’s coming was to come to an end…

“…it came to pass that… the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there were greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people. But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken of by Samuel, the Lamanite. And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled therefore your joy and your faith concerning this things hath been vain… and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful…But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if it were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been in vain.” (3 Nephi 1:4-8, Book of Mormon)

Samuel the Lamanite (A Prophet in Ancient America) had told his believers that the sign of Christ’s birth would come when the sun would go down, but no darkness would come. The unbelievers grew impatient and set a date to which the sign must be accomplished for them to “believe”…

“…it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet… when Nephi… saw this wickedness… he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people… and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying: Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into this world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouths of the prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world … and this night shall the sign be given.” (3 Nephi 1:9-14, The Book of Mormon)

Nephi, seeing the wickedness and disbelief of the people bowed humbly in prayer before his maker, and was heard! The Lord told him to be of good cheer, for he would soon come into the world, to fulfill all that was prophesied by prophets of old…

“And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled… at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came. And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth… for they knew… they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear… and it came to pass that there was no darkness in all the night… the son did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given…. A new star did appear…” (3 Nephi 1:15-21, The Book of Mormon)

When the evening came, and then the night, the sun did not go down. This made many who believed and disbelieved to fall to the earth in fear. However, the sign had been given, fulfilled and a new star did appear. The announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ did not just come unto the people of the old world, in the Middle East. Rather, God the Father made the announcement to ALL His Children, in ALL parts of the world. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ teaches of His divine mission, and anyone who thoughtfully and prayerfully reads it will come closer to Him.

This Christmas, remember CHRISTmas, for Jesus Christ came unto the world, to be rejected and die for all the sins of mankind so that we might be given the gift of Salvation and Eternal Life.

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Summary of 2 Samuel

Summary of 2 Samuel

Chapter by Chapter:

2 Samuel 1-2: David Kills the Amalekite Who Killed Saul/David is King of Judah
2 Samuel 3-4: David and Saul Wage War/Saul’s Captains are Slain
2 Samuel 5-6: David: King of Jerusalem/The Ark of the Lord in the City of David
2 Samuel 7-8: A House of the Lord/David Defeats Many
2 Samuel 9-10: Restoration of the Land of Saul/Israel Defeats: Amonites and the Syrians
2 Samuel 11-12: David Lies with Bath-sheba/Plural Marriage
2 Samuel 13-14: Ammon Rapes his Sister Tamar/Absalom Sees the King after Years
2 Samuel 15-16: Absalom Conspires Against David/Ahithophel Counsels Absalom
2 Samuel 17-18: Ahithophel’s Counsel is overthrown/Joab Slays Absalom
2 Samuel 19-20: David Returns to Jerusalem/Sheba Leads Away the Tribes
2 Samuel 21-22: The Lord Sends a Famine/The Lord Blesses Those Who Trust Him

2 Samuel 23-24: Rulers Must be Just/David Sins; The Lord Sends Pestilence

 

After learning of Saul’s defeat by the Philistines, David sings a song lamenting over the deaths of Saul and his friend Jonathan. David travels back to Hebron where his followers and the tribe of Judah anoint him as king. During this time, Saul’s chief commander, Abner starts a sort of insurrection and instates Saul’s son, Ish-Bosheth as King of Israel. War follows between Abner’s men and the army of Joab (David’s general). Ish-Bosheth falsely accuses Abner of sleeping with one of his concubines, Abner decides to defect and go to the side of David. David welcomes Abner, and Abner convinces the other tribes of Israel to recognize David as king of Israel. Two of Ish-Bosheth’s men betray their ruler and cut his head off to present to David. David is horrified that these men committed such a crime and have both of them publicly executed. The tribes declare David, King.

David leads the Israelites onward into battle, conquering the city of Jerusalem. He builds a palace there and calls the area the “City of David” aka “Zion”. David takes care of a massive Philistine threat and manages to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The Ark is brought in an elaborate procession with singing and dancing. Michal (David’s wife) is upset over his embarrassing act of dancing and singing. David’s prophet Nathan receives a message from God, the message is good.  Israel will be granted rest from opposition and promises that the kingdom of David will last forever. David continues in enlarging his borders and making diplomatic relations with surrounding foreign nations.

One day, from the roof of David’s palace he sat and watched a woman bathing. Her name was Bathsheba, David summons for the woman and brings her into his bedroom and sleeps with her. He finds out shortly later that she became pregnant as a result of this lustful act. David, to try and cover up his sin calls for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to be sent to the front lines, so he will die on the battle field. Uriah is killed on the battlefield and David marries Bathsheba. Nathan (David’s prophet) confronts David about this and tells him a parable. The parable is about a wealthy man who steals a poor man’s only prized sheep. David is outraged over this act of selfishness and that is when Nathan tells David that the story is about HIM! Nathan predicts that God will come down on David and his household for his sin. David repents and fasts for many days, but still when his son is born he dies during childbirth! Afterward David is forgiven and Bathsheba bares another son, Solomon.

David’s older son Amnon falls in love with his half-sister Tamar and rapes her. David is furious but does nothing. Tamar’s brother Absalom however is very unhappy and wants to do something about it. So he invited Amnon out to the country, where he and David’s other sons murder Amnon. Absalom flees to a city of refuge for 3 years. David, after having mourned for Amnon, allowes his son Absalom back to Jerusalem.

After coming back, Absalom plots a conspiracy to overthrow David and his throne. Through warmth and kindness and deceit he is pronounced King by his followers and David is forced to flee Jerusalem with his men and the people of the country side weep as they see him flee. One of Saul’s family members sees them and screams/shouts obscenities while throwing rocks at David and his men. David tells his men to just let him be. Absalom enters Jerusalem and in a display of defiance, rapes David’s concubines.  Absalom’s aides advise him to attack David immediately, while another aide (a spy for David) convinces Absalom to wait and Absalom takes that aides advice. With this delay, David manages to get an army built up large enough to kill 20,000 of Absalom’s men in the forests of Ephraim. Absalom while riding through the forest in battle is caught by a branch and hangs. Joab finds him hanging in the tree and ignores David’s instructions to treat Absalom gently and drives three spears into Absaloms hanging body. When David finds out about the death he screams for his son.

To the frustration of his officials, David shows mercy to all of Absalom’s supporters who approach him for forgiveness, especially Absalom’s commander Amasa. David sends messengers to the leaders of Judah, and the tribe welcomes him back to Jerusalem. The remaining tribes (Absalom’s chief supporters) fear that David will be angry at them. An uprising follows, but Joab traps the rebels in a city and the city’s residents hand over the severed head of the rebel leader. Angered that David has shown mercy to Amasa, Joab stabs Amasa one day while pretending to greet him.

David rebuilds his throne with continued acts of local diplomacy and with military victories over the Philistines. He composes a song praising God as a loving and kind deliverer, and the narrator briefly recounts the feats of David’s most famous fighting men.

1 Samuel 3-4

1 Samuel 3-4

Chapter 3: The Prophet Samuel

Eli (the priest) begins to wax old and lies down on his death bed. While he is there, at night while Samuel was sleeping, he is called by who he thinks is Eli. So Samuel wakes up and goes to see Eli, who claims he did not call him. So Samuel goes back to bed, but again hears “Eli” calling him. So he wakes up and goes to him, and again Eli tells him that he did not call him. So Samuel goes back to sleep. This goes on 3 times before Eli realizes that it is actually the Lord calling him. So Eli instructs Samuel to go back to sleep and if he is called again, then he should arise and speak back to God saying; “…Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth…” (1 Samuel 3:9). Samuel goes back to sleep.

Again Samuel is awakened by a voice calling him, so he wakes up and does as Eli had instructed him. In verse 10, it says that the Lord “stood” by him when he answered. I am going to take this that the Lord LITERALLY was standing next to his bedside, as he has done in the past and future with ALL PROPHETS that he has called. The Lord tells Samuel that he will do a thing in Israel that will cause all who hear it to tingle. Essentially he is going to destroy the wicked and a lot of people (mostly wicked people) are not going to like it. Samuel is recognized in all of Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba as established prophets of the Lord God. The Lord appears again to Samuel in Shiloh.

Chapter 4: Eli Dies

The Israelites are defeated by the Philistines, more than 30,000 soldiers of Israel are killed. The Israelites try to use the Ark of the Covenant to defeat the Philistines and it works for a moment, because they get scared, but ultimately they built up enough courage an essentially slaughter the Israelites and steal the Ark of the Covenant. Eli’s sons are slain in battle and his daughter in law dies during childbirth. Eli at age 98 years old dies of an accident and breaks his neck. My guess is that he fell? Eli judged Israel for over forty years.

1 Samuel 1-2

1 Samuel 1-2

Chapter 1: Hannah Bares Samuel

                There was a man who lived in Ramathaim-zophim of the mount Ephraim, his name was Elkanah and he was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu who was the son of Zuph, who was an Ephrathite.

                Elanah has two wives; Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. Elkanah still loved Hannah even though she could not have children, but Hannah was very upset about this. So Hannah starts to starve herself and gets very sad, her husband asks her why she won’t eat, and tells her “…am I not better to thee than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8). Hannah decides to go up to the priest in the temple and starts praying to God, except she made no noise, from what I can see is that she was saying a prayer in her heart. The priest tells her to go and to be no more sad, because the Lord would grant her petition.

 

                Hannah conceives a child and names him Samuel. Hannah waits until Samuel is weaned and is more of a child than a baby and takes him to the temple and there they make a sacrifice to God; with three bullocks, one ephah of flour and a bottle of wine (remember back to the previous books that talked about sacrifices).  Samuel shall be from here on out an instrument in the hands of God.

Chapter 2: Hannah has more Children

                Hannah rejoices in the Lord and his great Salvation. She is completely filled with joy! In verse 3, I came across a very interesting verse;

                “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3)

                This verse hit me hard. For several reasons that are very specific to LDS (Mormon) doctrine. Joseph Smith once taught that men could not be saved by ignorance. By your ACTIONS God will essentially weigh your salvation. So when I hear people saying things like “accept Jesus into your heart and you are saved”, it makes me very sad. Because is it really that simple? Absolutely not. Was it simple for Jesus to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane? Bleed from every pore of his body? OR Die on the Cross for the sins of everyone? No, absolutely not! So to say that you are saved for just accepting Jesus into your life is not enough. You have to live by his teachings and follow his commandments. That is why this verse struck me, because someone who is ignorant has an overbearing sense of pride with a superior manner towards people who are “less than themselves” or inferiors. So essentially those people who say “accept Jesus and be saved” and then openly make fun of people and other religions that teach and practice “good works” to be seems a bit ignorant to the actual truth of the matter, that you cannot be saved in ignorance, but your good works. It is kind of like the WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets that are usually worn by people who think that accepting Jesus is all we have to do. I wish it were so, but it is not.

                So let us remember that it is not by FAITH ALONE that we are saved. (See James 2:26)