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Archive for the ‘Moses’ Category

The patriarchs, prophets and kings of the Old Testament constructed altars unto the Lord. Early altars were built from unhewn stone.

The altars were used for burnt sacrifices and offerings. They were also used for prayer, worship, covenants and as memorials unto the Lord.

* * *

And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 8:20

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And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Genesis 12:7

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And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it, The LORD is my banner:

Exodus 17:15

* * *

The Temple in Jerusalem had two altars. The first was the Altar of Burnt Offerings. The second was the Altar of Incense.

* * *

Jesus Christ gave his own life as the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.

We can construct our own “spiritual altars” unto the Lord by taking time each day to pray, study the scriptures and ponder His grace and mercy. Upon these same altars we can lay our offerings of service to the Lord and to our fellow man.

As David wrote:

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:7)

* * *

6) Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

7) Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

2 Nephi 2

* * *

The Prophet Joseph Smith described offering “your whole soul” as serving God with all your “heart, might, mind and strength” (Doctrine & Covenants 4:2). It is to put on the altar of God your time, talents, gifts and blessings, your willingness to serve, to do all that He asks.

– Elaine L. Jack, “A Small Stone,” April 1997

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– Tom Irvine

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The Children of Israel were required by Pharoah to work seven days per week when they were slaves in Egypt.

After they were liberated, the Lord commanded them:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

The Lord expected the Children of Israel to remember on the the following on Sabbath day.

* * *

God’s work in creation

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (Genesis 2:2)

* * *

Their liberation from Egyptian bondage

12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.

13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

Deuteronomy 5

* * *

Their need for personal refreshment

12 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.

14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 31

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– Tom Irvine

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God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
Amen.

The words “Lest We Forget” are form the refrain of Rudyard Kipling’s “Recessional.” The phrase offers a warning about the perils of pride and the inevitable decline of imperial power.

* * *

Presidents Ezra Taft Benson, Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson have often quoted excerpts from this poem in their conference talks.

See also:  “God of Our Fathers, Known of Old,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 80

* * *

Forgetting God has been a problem among His children since the world began. Think of the times of Moses, when God provided manna and in miraculous and visible ways led and protected His children. Still the prophet warned the people: “Take heed … lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

– President Henry B. Eyring, October 2007 General Conference

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To be a Nahshon

The following is from the Midrash, a collection of Jewish stories and teachings which expand upon the Torah.

When the Jews arrived at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian Army in hot pursuit from behind and the sea in front, there was an argument in the Heavenly Court if the Jews were worthy of being saved or not.

While Moses was praying to God for help, Nahshon ben Aminadav decided to take matters into his own hands and leaped into the sea.  Nahshon’s action tipped the scales in the Jews’ favor.

Then God said to Moses, “Stop praying already! Turn around and look at what your friend Nahshon has done. While you stand here praying he is taking some action!” Only then does God part the sea so that the Israelites can cross.

This is what Rebbe Nachman of Breslev calls azut d’kedusha, or boldness for holiness.

The popular Yiddish saying to be a Nahshon means to be an initiator.

* * *

Nahshon was appointed by Moses, upon God’s command, as prince of the Tribe of Judah.  He was, through Boaz, the ancestor of David.

Nahshon is mentioned several times in the Bible.

He brought forth an offering at the dedication of the Tabernacle.

And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah. (Number 7:12)

Nahshon’s name is also given in the New Testament in the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth. (Matthew 1:4 and Luke 3:32).

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I have been thinking lately about the power of words. Too often, people use harsh criticism against others. There may be instances where criticism is justified, but these should be very rare.

Critics may act out of pride, envy or fear. This is especially noticeable on Internet blogs and message boards where people often make personal attacks against others anonymously.

On the other hand, we have daily opportunities to give one another words of kindness and encouragement. When I walk around my neighborhood, people are very friendly. They wish me a good morning or good day.

I have assembled some scriptures and quotes on this topic which I hope you will enjoy.

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Just as healthy food and exercise gives physical strength to one’s body, hearing words of encouragement gives a boost of emotional and spiritual strength to one’s soul. This week’s Torah portion is the last one of the book of Genesis. There is an ancient custom to exclaim at the completion of one of the five books of Moses the following encouraging words, “Be strong, and may we be strengthened!” We can light up people’s lives and do a great act of kindness when we use our words to give them a boost of strength. (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

– Nesanel Yoel Safran

* * *

The Apostle Paul taught:

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

* * *

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
– Mother Teresa

* * *

Kind words don’t cost anything but they go far for the people receiving them. And, it feels good to say nice things.

– Daylle Deanna Schwartz

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Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years…..Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes….Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.

– Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
(April 2005 general conference, Ensign, May 2005, p. 26)

* * *

We sometimes sing a hymn in my church which has the following chorus:

Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live
And sunshine forever impart.
Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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The children of Israel traveled through the Sinai wilderness. The following story is given in Numbers 21.

[4] And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
[5] And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
[6] And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
[7] Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
[8] And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
[9] And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Jesus referenced this story in John 3.

[14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.

* * *

The Book of Mormon provides additional insight.

1 Nephi 17

[41] And he (The Lord) did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

2 Nephi 25

[20] And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.

Helaman 8

[14] Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
[15] And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.

* * *

Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross at Calvary. The serpent on Moses’ pole represented these sins. The pole symbolized Jesus’ cross.

The children of Israel got into trouble because they became discouraged and complained bitterly. The Lord had provided manna to them, but they were very ungrateful. The manna itself represented Jesus Christ who is the “Bread of Life.” (John 6:35)

Perhaps we are all like the complaining children of Israel sometimes. I admit my own guilt in this regard.

We must thank the Lord every day for the blessings that he has given us. We must confess and repent of our sins. Then the Lord will heal us from our wounds.

Remember his words:

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 45:22)

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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The Greek philosopher Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

There are far too many people in the world who are careless and who do not accept responsibility for their actions. And there are many who say “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” as the Apostle Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

But those of us who are trying to be disciples of Jesus Christ sometimes face a different problem. We may focus too much on our own faults to the point that we become discouraged. Our discouragement then becomes a wedge that separates us from Christ.

Even the prophets and apostles had weaknesses.

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Adam then blamed Eve who blamed the serpent. (Genesis 3)

Noah became drunk after he left the ark and had planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9)

Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah, each time claiming that Sarah was merely his sister. (Genesis 12 & 20)

Lot had an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. (Genesis 19)

Jacob played a trick on Isaac in order to get the birthright blessing. (Genesis 27)

Aaron built a golden calf for idol worship. (Exodus 32)

Miriam had a bout of leprosy as punishment for gossiping about Moses’ wife. (Numbers 12)

Moses was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land because he was disrespectful to the Lord when he drew water from the rock at Meribah. (Numbers 20:8-12)

Gideon made an “ephod” out of the gold won in battle, which caused the whole of Israel again to turn away from God. (Judges 8:26-27)

Jonah at first refused to go to Ninevah. So he was swallowed by a whale. (Jonah 1)

David sinned with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11)

Solomon worshiped the gods of his wives. (1 Kings 11)

Elijah was depressed and asked God to let him die. (1 Kings 19)

Job cursed his own birth. (Job 3)

King Hezekiah showed his treasures to the ambassadors from Babylon. Isaiah then prophesied: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 39)

Zacharias was struck dumb because he doubted the angel Gabriel’s message that he, Zacharias, would be the father of John the Baptist. (Luke 1)

Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons before Jesus cleansed her. (Luke 8:2)

Martha complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was unhelpful with housework. (Luke 10:38-42)

Peter denied knowing Christ three times. (Mark 14)

Nathaniel questioned: Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)

Thomas doubted that Jesus had been resurrected. (John 20)

Paul (Saul) held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen. (Acts 6)

John Mark left Paul and the other missionaries who were traveling to Asia Minor, and he returned to Jerusalem. This caused a break between Paul and Barnabas some time later. (Acts 13 & 15)

Paul confessed:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:15,19)

* * *

Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions, explains that God deliberately chooses human prophets whose mortal nature is apparent, so that
people will not ascribe the miracles they perform to themselves, but rather to
God.

* * *

We all have things in our lives that we must change. I need to be more forgiving and let go of memories of past adverse experiences.

But we must always remember that Jesus Christ loves us, and he is merciful unto us as we turn our hearts toward him.

Let us come before God and humbly acknowledge our weaknesses before him. He will then give us grace and lift us up. (James 4:6 & 10).

May the Lord bless you,
Tom

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