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Promised Land

The Lord made certain covenants with the Israelites when He led them out of Egypt:

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:  And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I amthe Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord (Exodus 6:6-8).

There are five promises in these verses.  The Lord promised to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt; He promised to free them from slavery; He promised to redeem them — a vow that included making of them a priestly people and light unto the world; He promised to make them a covenant people, bound to Him; and He promised to lead them into the promised land of Canaan and give the land to them as an inheritance.  This final promise is a reiteration of the vow the Lord made to Abraham — that his descendants would one day possess the land in which Abraham only sojourned.

Lehi Nephi MormonA “promised” land does not necessarily have to be richly endowed with natural resources.  It need only be set aside by the Lord as a destination and inheritance for a group of covenant people.  The Lord has expectations for the behavior of a chosen people planted in a promised land, and that is that they continue to serve Him in righteousness.  The land is tied to that expectation.  It brings forth fruit when the people keep their covenants, and dries up and refuses to yield, when the people forget their God.  At the extreme, the very freedom of the people to rule themselves is attached to the covenant.  When wickedness reigns, the people are conquered, enslaved, or destroyed.  In Leviticus 26, these conditions are laid out.  For example:

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.  And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.  And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.  And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.  And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword” (Leviticus 26:3-8).

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, butthat ye break my covenant:  I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.  And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.  And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.  And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:  And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits”  (Leviticus 26:14-20).

This relationship between covenant-keeping and the peaceful and prosperous enjoyment of the land does not just pertain to the promised land of Israel.  In 600 B.C. a familyled by a prophet named Lehi was led out of Jerusalem before the Babylonians ravished the city.  They were led through Arabia and then across the sea, settling somewhere in the Americas.  Their story is recorded in the Book of Mormon.  The Lord made it clear to these chosen people that He would keep the continent hidden, only allowing those whom He chose to find it and settle it.  Here is what the Lord said:

And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained—how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem.  For, behold, said he, I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.  But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.

Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.  Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.
And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.  Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.
But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.
Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.  Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words (2 Nephi 1:3-12).
Thus, the prosperity and freedom of lands promised by the Lord are wholly dependent upon the performance of the people in keeping God’s commandments.  Breaking the Sabbath, committing sins forbidden in the Bible, and falling into disbelief are behaviors of people who have forgotten the Holy One of Israel and worship the creations of their own hands.  The Lord never makes warnings without following through with the promised blessings or cursings recorded by His prophets.

What Happened to Moses?

At the end of Deuteronomy it says, “And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.  And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (Deuteronomy 34:6, 7).  So here it sounds like Moses was still in prime health at the age of 120, and that he died, but no one knows where.  This is one of those situations clarified by the Book of Mormon prophets:

“And now, when Alma had said these words he blessed the church, yea, all those who should stand fast in the faith from that time henceforth.  And when Alma had done this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of.  Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial” (Alma 45:17 – 19).

This is the doctrine of “translation.”  Translated beings are those who are quickened to remain on the earth or sometimes taken elsewhere for the Lord’s purpose.  Translated beings cannot be injured, nor do they age.  They are protected until their mission is complete, and then they are resurrected without tasting death.  The people of the City of Enoch were translated.  John the Beloved was translated and enabled to tarry until the Second Coming of Christ.  Elijah was taken to heaven in what appeared to be a chariot of fire.  Moses and Elijah were more than prophets, they were heads of important dispensations in the religious history of the earth.  Moses was known as the lawgiver, but also held the keys of the gathering of Israel, and Elijah was known for the “sealing power.”  The sealing power seals in heaven those ordinances entered into on earth, which are performed by authority from God.  There are “keys” to these powers that can be passed on to men who need authority to perform certain tasks.  Thus, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the keys of past dispensations were passed on to Peter, James, and John with the approval of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount to bestow their keys upon these apostles.  However, remember that no one had been resurrected yet.  Christ was the first being ever to be resurrected in the history of the earth, and He was still living and ministering at this point.  Moses and Elijah needed physical bodies to perform their tasks on the Mount, but could not yet be resurrected.  Therefore, they were “translated,” and glorified.

Go to Joshua.

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