Week 49 is scheduled for study Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2022. The Old Testament demonstrates for us that the Lord is everlasting in His consistency when dealing with His children.

Day 1

You can study the scriptures for a lifetime and still find new insights. Don’t feel that you have to comprehend everything right now. Pray for help to recognize the messages you need today.

Nahum 1 – The Lord is both powerful and merciful.

Study note: Think about a movie you may have seen where they want to portray the destruction of a great city like Los Angeles or New York. The graphic artists go to great length to demonstrate visually the complete dissolution of the city. They show buildings being blasted and crumbling to the ground, crushing all who are still below them, the earth splitting in two and whole sections of the city falling into the abyss. They show the sea rising up and falling upon the coast of the city, inundating all living things and washing away the buildings and infrastructure. People everywhere are screaming and trying to flee to safety, only to be swallowed up, crushed, or buried by something far greater then themselves. Do you have a visual yet? Well these are the things the prophets are trying to convey to the people of their day, but without any pictures. Everything had to be imagined through graphic imagery portrayed through the written word. 

As you read through this week’s assigned reading, try to see in your mind the type of destruction the prophet is describing. Each of our three prophets are making an effort to convey the complete destruction of those who fight against God’s laws. God is indeed slow to anger, but once He reaches out to punish those who flaunt His laws, there is nothing anyone can do to protect themselves from the destruction that is to come. It is inexorable, inevitable, and unrelenting. 

In the Book of Nahum, the prophet may be describing the coming destruction of the city of Nineveh, but he still holds out the Lord’s promise that if the people will keep the commandments and worship in the temple, as instructed, He will protect them and prosper them. Remember the lesson from last week, that the Lord delights in mercy. His punishments are only brought upon the people by their determined disobedience. God doesn’t punish just because it is fun. If it was up to Him, He would bless us abundantly and always. We need to remember that all behaviors of the Lord toward us, His children, are based on the laws He set up before we were even given spirit bodies. Reason states that we were born into the plan of salvation that had already been established. It wasn’t something the Lord came up with one day after we had all wandered aimlessly through the cosmos for eons of time, wondering what it was we were supposed to accomplish in life.

It can be easy for us to forget that the purposes of the Lord have never altered or changed. Everything that happens on this planet leads us, in the end, to Christ’s second coming and his personal reign upon the earth for more than a thousand years. At the end of that time, and after the final battles of good and evil, all mortal accounts will be settled, rewards given, and eternal assignments made to the kingdoms in which we will have earned a place. The final destruction of the wicked is like the destructions of these wicked cities the prophets talk about. That destruction will be complete, total, and irreversible, for such places as wicked Nineveh or wicked Babylon, or wicked Jerusalem will not, and cannot exist in the eternities.

And what does the destruction of the wicked mean to those who are not wicked? It is like having a field of fruitful grain in which weeds are flourishing to the detriment of the desired grain. The grain struggles, because needed resources are being used up by things that hold little worth and value. When those weeds are removed, the grain can flourish, spread effortlessly, and grow tremendously. This is the freedom that will be the crowning blessing of the righteous. No longer will their righteousness be challenged, put in danger or harms way. The righteous will flourish unrestrained from the evil that held it in check, and encouraged by the love of God, like the soothing rains from heaven. If we would all just repent, this could be our lives now. But until that day of blessed peace and happiness, we will have to continue to individually, and as families, seek God and create peace on earth first within ourselves, and then within our family, or among our friends. The Lord will bless us and reward us just as liberally as He has always offered to bless the righteous, whether we are in a righteous society or a wicked one, for He always rewards people based on their individual behavior.

Day 2

You can study the scriptures for a lifetime and still find new insights. Don’t feel that you have to comprehend everything right now. Pray for help to recognize the messages you need today.

Habakkuk – I can trust the Lord’s will and His timing.

This seems like a good place for a refresher course in the personality and character of God, our Father.

  1. God is a planner then executioner. The plan of salvation is eternal. We were born into a family that was living the plan for our family’s exaltation and salvation. It is indeed the great plan of happiness. As we teach our children about the expectations of baptism, missions, and temple ordinances, so too were we raised being taught God’s all encompassing plan for our salvation. God has stated that anything that enters into his mind and heart to accomplish gets accomplished. Anything that He states will be, comes to pass. God plans then executes or follows through with His designs. Nothing God begins is abandoned part way through the process. He completes everything. This means that if, in mortality, He tells us that such and such will happen, it is as sure a thing as if it had already happened. That consistency is part and parcel with the personality and character of God. He is a sure thing, always. Anything He states as a fact can be lived and died by, because it is more certain than the rising of the sun each day. There is nothing that can countermand God. His is the final say in all things.
  2. The entire mortal experience was seen and cemented eons ago. God has seen the progress of the whole human experience from start to finish long before the world was even made. He already knows who will choose to be obedient, and who will be worthy of all the lesser glories. That never effects our agency. Our right and our ability to choose for ourselves is held in sacred trust with our Father. He allows no one to take the right to our moral agency from us. We can give it away of our own choosing, but no one can take it from us. God knows when something will happen. He knows when it is best that it happen. All things happen for the betterment of His children. For their blessing. For their advancement in the eternities. We are, after all, His work and His glory. More than anything else He wants to see us exalted and glorified in the eternities. So when things don’t happen when we think they should, we should remember that God has His own timing. In His wisdom that which needs to come to pass will, but not until He has decided when it is the best time, and the best way for it to take place.
  3. We need to remember that God is the author of our eternity and all that exists in the universe. His guidance and direction are eternal, always present. Satan is temporary, and just a distraction, something to pull against or fight against God’s influence in our lives during mortality. Satan was defeated in the premortal world, and sent here to continue what he started there. He is working tirelessly to divert us away from our Father’s desires for our happiness. And to the degree that he is successful in that diversion, Satan wins that battle. It is only through our personal choices to follow the Lord’s commandments, listen to the Spirit’s promptings, and through our personal efforts in behaving in Christlike ways that we overcome Satan and his temptations. Once we leave mortality and enter eternity (in this case I mean after the resurrection) Satan and his ability to make us suffer will not exist any longer. He will also have been judged and sent to his earned reward. We will never need to worry about having to deal with the misery and suffering he causes us today. In the eternities we will have unending happiness. It will be unending because there won’t be anyone to fight against God. That can only happen in a mortal state where we are already cut off from God, and are seeking to return to His presence. So Satan’s ability to be the kind of influence he currently is, is very short lived, and in the grand scope of things, very temporary.

All this is to show us that God’s timing is born of infinite wisdom, and the purest of love for His children. Life is chaotic, and rarely fair. We cannot trust life to do what is best for us. We can trust God. His will is all about our happiness. If there is misery, too often it is there because we have made poor choices. We have adopted habits and behaviors that need to be changed, repented of, and replaced with holier ones. Doing good, and keeping our eye on God’s servant, the living prophet, is a sure way to stay closer to God, and hence retain His love and support in all that we do. As the saying goes, “Follow the prophet. He knows the way.” In these things we can trust.

Day 3

You can study the scriptures for a lifetime and still find new insights. Don’t feel that you have to comprehend everything right now. Pray for help to recognize the messages you need today.

Zephaniah – Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth.

Sometimes we think of the evil God will punish as only represented in those who are actively promoting said wickedness. They are evil incarnate, because in their pride they only consider their own elevation and the destruction of all those who might threaten their personal glory or position. In today’s verses Zephaniah lists additional categories that have always earned the Lord’s ire as well. First he mentions pride. But he also includes those who worship anything but the Lord. Surprisingly, he also includes those who have turned away from the Lord. These are people who have just stopped trying to be good, to do good. They no longer try to better themselves. They have decided to do what makes them comfortable in the present. These people don’t hate God. They just don’t think about Him any more.

As I have watched Christmas movies on Hallmark, I have realized that in the bulk of their movies God no longer has anything to do with Christmas. They avoid saying anything about God or Christ. They try to stick to Christmas songs that avoid mention of God’s name or birth. The movies are written to portray life without any kind of God at all. To them, man is the ultimate authority in the universe. There is no absolute law given by God. When decisions have to be made, the answer is always the same – “Listen to your heart.” God, His commandments, or His Spirit is not sought or considered in these movies. As much as I enjoy the predictable plots, it is sad and troubling to see them dismiss God as even an option in their lives. These God also promises to destroy. Using the manual as your guide, see what other categories of people the Lord promises to destroy.

The captivity of Israel was a real thing. They were literally put in chains and hauled across the land to places of their captors’ choosing. They were taken from their homes and became second class citizens in the lands in which they were forced to live. Over the centuries the house of Israel became a hiss and a byword. They were hated, often because they were wealthy. The Lord set them up to survive. He knew they would spend centuries among other cultures, and they needed a way to survive. They became traders, merchants, and bankers. They became rich. And because of their power, the Christians among whom they lived often killed them or drove them away in order to take their money.

When the Lord promises Israel in the scriptures that He will reverse their captivity, that means a lot to those who experienced lives of uncertainty in countries where they were not wanted, but barely tolerated. Imagine living like that, but with the promise that someday the Lord will make for you a name that will be praised by all nations (Zephaniah 3:20). This is still a work in progress.

FHE/Personal Study

Habakkuk 3:17-19 – Hinds feet

Habakkuk 3:19

19 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Many years ago I read a book entitled “Hind’s Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. It is an allegorical tale about a young girl named Much Afraid, who lived in the Valley of Fear. She met the Good Shephard who promised to take her to the high places where she could leap as the hinds or deer. Great story. You can get it on Amazon or check it out from your library. 🙂

Verse 19 refers to two significant things I would like to mention. Hinds feet are sure. They don’t slip and trip among the rocks of the mountain slopes. They are steady and sure in their placement. And the high places are where the green grass grows. The valleys in the Old Testament were often dry and unable to sustain flocks, so they took them into the mountains to feed them. Mountain tops became the symbols of all that is refreshing and life sustaining. The mountain tops also were where the Lord would send His prophets for revelations. This is why verse 19 says that “the Lord God is my strength.”

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OT49-2022 – His Ways Are Everlasting

Week 49