I was super excited about this lesson. Although, we only got through 1/3 of it before my time was up! So I thought it was super important to get it posted.
You can find the class member study guide here.
When we look at the word peculiar here, it does not mean strange or different. As Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that with the literal translation, peculiar broke down to mean, “valued treasure, made or selected by God.”
In 1944 David O. McKay told the following story:
“There is a story told that a company of botanists seeking some
special flowers up in the Canadian Rockies, came one day to a
very rare flower down on the side of a cliff. To reach it they
would have to retrace their steps and go back ten miles to come
up from the valley below. Someone suggested that if they had a
rope they could let a boy down to pick the specimens. That
suggestion was prompted by the fact that a little boy had been
following them for about an hour, watching them silently.
They got the rope and said:
Here, lad, we’ll give you $5 if you will put this rope around you
and permit us to let you down to get those flowers.
Without saying a word the lad scampered off. They thought they
had frightened him. He went to a house nearby and soon came
back with a man by his side. Then the little fellow answered:
You may put that rope around me, and I’ll get the flower, if you’ll
let my dad hold the rope” (Pres. David O. McKay, CR, Apr.
Having that story fresh in your mind, Imagine that you must make a journey into a wilderness where you have never been and that has not been mapped.
*How would you prepare for the Journey? You would want to have someone to show you the way. A guide of sorts.
*What qualifications would a guide need? The guide should know the area and be trustworthy.
In the following verses, the Lord was the guide for the children of Israel. He was trying to teach them how to trust Him to “hold up the rope.”
I love that we can each look at the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness and put that lesson toward our own journey through mortality.
The first lesson we should learn is to choose God as our guide through “the mists of darkness” in this telestial wilderness.
The Formula to becoming a holy nation.
1. Partake of the Lord’s spiritual bread and water.
“After the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea, the Lord instructed Moses to lead them to the promised land. But first the Lord tested the Israelites’ faith in the wilderness. Many of the people lacked faith, complaining to the Lord instead of turning to him. Nevertheless, the Lord provided water for their thirst and manna and quail for their hunger.”
The people were very thirsty in one of the hottest desserts in the world. There was no water to be found, and the complained continually to Moses. So the Lord provided water for them when he had Moses smite a rock, causing water to spring up out of it. This was the physical water that was provided. One thing that they were being taught through their afflictions was the importance of the “spiritual drink” that comes from the “spiritual Rock,” which is Christ the Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:4
“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that aRock was Christ.”
The spiritual water that flows from Christ is the love of God.
1 Nephi 11:25
“And it came to pass that I beheld that the arod of iron, which my father had seen, was the bword of God, which cled to the fountain of dliving waters, or to the etree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.”
How do we drink of the Living Waters of Christ? We keep the commandments!
Doctrine and Covenants 63:23
“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give theamysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living bwater, cspringing up unto everlasting life.”
Those who Drink of the Living Waters of Christ are “[given] the mysteries of [God’s] kingdom” (D&C 63:23). “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never athirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water bspringing up into ceverlasting life” (John 4:14).
While the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, they were in need of nourishment. The dessert did not have very many things to offer them for the purpose, so the Lord sent Manna.
Manna was somewhat a mystery. They didn’t really know what it was, but Moses told them it was bread provided by the Lord.
“Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain abread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain brate every day, that I may cprove them, whether they willd walk in my law, or no (Exodus 16:4).
Some of the other reasons that the Lord sent manna are as follows:
- It would show the Lord whether his people would obey him (Exodus 16:4, 16–31).
- It would give the people daily reminders of the Lord’s power and love (Exodus 16:12).
- It would teach the people that they do not live “by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
- It would humble the people and help them receive salvation (Deuteronomy 8:16).
Manna is a representation of Christ, because the Lord provided it miraculously for the physical nourishment. He provided the one thing that could sustain them for years (they wandered the wilderness for 40 years).
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the abread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never bthirst.”
But there is a difference between manna and Christ’s Living Bread.
48 I am that bread of life.
49 Your fathers did eat amanna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51 I am the living abread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bbread that I will give is my cflesh, which I will dgive for the elife of the world.
The difference between manna and Christ’s Living Bread is that the manna was nourishment for merely their physical bodies. It was a temporal salvation. The only Bread in which we can find Eternal Salvation is in the Living Bread. Heavenly Father sent Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer. To be the ONLY way back to Father. It was sent for the temporal AND the spiritual redemption of all mankind. This is the Living Bread.
How can we daily partake of Christ’s Living Bread? We partake of Christ’s Living Bread by praying daily. We remember Him daily, through our actions towards others. We study about Him and his teachings in the scriptures. We repent by turning toward Him and his sacrifice in the Garden of Eden. It is about having our lives centered on Christ. When we do this, we cannot help but partake of His Living Bread.
The Israelites needed to gather manna every day to maintain physical strength. If they tried to store it for the next day, it would grow worms and stink. It would be inedible. However, they were commanded by the Lord to not gather it on the Sabbath day, but to gather extra only on Saturday to prepare for the Sabbath. This was their first lesson in the importance of “keeping the sabbath day holy.”
Just like a person cannot run a race without first having hydrated themselves and having nourished their bodies the days before the race and expect to do well, or even refrain from getting sick, we cannot expect to not be partaking of the Living Water and Living Bread before a trial comes and expect to have the strength to endure it. We must prepare. We must be wise, and we must do better. Reading our scriptures, praying, attending our church meetings among many more of those spiritually nourishing activities are so important to prepare us for the marathon called “mortality.” I know I need to do better at Partaking of the Living Bread and Living Water like the trial is already upon me. This will keep us humble and teachable, and help us understand why we must go through that trial at that time.
Our trials are an important part of our mortal lives. Yes, they are a blessing, we have been taught that. But it is so much more than that. Our trials are a compassionate service from our Father in Heaven. He wants us to succeed gloriously, so he throws these obstacles in our path so that we can remain humble and close to Him. This is His way of helping us return to Him. He can’t force us to choose Him, but we can choose to grow from our challenges, to let Him mold us into the divine being that He knows we can be!
*******This is where my lesson ended due to lack of time*********
2. Sustain His chosen leaders.
The Amalekites warred with the children of Israel for many years, beginning in the time of Moses. Exodus 17:8-13
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “I am reminded how Moses up on the hill raised his arms for the victory of the armies of Israel. As long as his arms were raised, Israel prevailed, but when they dropped from weariness, then the enemy prevailed. And so Aaron and Hur ‘stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side,’ and Israel was victorious’ (Exodus 17:12). So will we be victorious as we hold up the arms of the Lord’s anointed servants.”
As I consider all of the ways in which we can hold up the arms of our prophets, I think of the basic things like: never speaking ill of them, by praying for them, and by listening to them. But then I am reminded of something a little deeper. When we follow the prophet. When we do what he counsels, and change and repent as we have been taught, then we are not only keeping the enemy at bay for us, but for the whole church. All it takes for the enemy to be victorious is for us to drop the hands of the prophets, and stop following their counsel.
Jethro noticed something about his son-in-law, Moses. He was greatly concerned about it. The people were coming to Moses about ever little thing that was going wrong in their lives. Moses counseled all of those people. Jethro told him that this was too much. He needed to appoint people to help with those things (Exodus 18:13-25). Today, we call them stake leadership, bishopric, relief society presidency, young men presidency, young women presidency, primary presidency, and Sunday school presidency. They all need our sustaining too. How can we hold up the arms of our local church leadership? Or sustain them? We can not speak ill of them, we can follow their inspired counsel, we can pray for them, and most importantly, we can serve in our own capacity to the best of our ability. We are each home teachers or visiting teachers. How are we doing in these capacities? How are we doing with our callings in the church? I know for me there is always tremendous room for improvement.
3. Obey His commandments.
Within three months of Israel’s entering the wilderness, the Lord wanted to establish his covenant with them (Exodus 19:5-6). As part of this covenant he revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.
5 Now therefore, if ye will aobey my voice indeed, and keep mybcovenant, then ye shall be a cpeculiar dtreasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6 And ye shall be unto me a akingdom of bpriests, and an cholydnation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
The Israelites camped at the base of Mount Sinai as Moses went up to speak with the Lord. The Lord wanted this to be a spiritual experience for the Israelites too. The Lord commanded them to wash and sanctify themselves. Moses was about to receive the Ten Commandments, and the Lord wanted to speak to them too.
Consider how you feel when going to the temple. Mount Sinai was a holy temple. How do you prepare to attend the temple? How do you feel while there?
It is somewhat ironic that the first four commandments in Exodus 20 teach the proper relationship between us and God. He commands us to not worship other gods or idols.
5 Thou shalt not abow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a bjealous God, cvisiting the diniquity of the efathers upon the fchildren unto the third and fourthgeneration of them that ghate me;
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in itthou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thyastranger that is within thy gates:
Old habits and patters of belief or behavior are hard to break. Even though the Israelites had left Egypt physically, they were still not spiritually free from its influences. After the Israelites had heard the voice of God proclaim the Ten Commandments from Sinai, they quickly broke the first two. It can be hard, but it is important to withstand peer pressure to join in sinful acts. Aaron gave in to the Israelites’ unrighteous desires to build the golden calf and worship it (Exodus 32).
Sometimes as leaders and parents we must say “no,” even at the risk of offending or alienating those whom they are responsible for.
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
“Idolatry is among the most serious of sins […] Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path of godhood […] intangible things make just as ready gods. Degrees and letters and titles can become idols […] Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first–and then they ‘cannot afford’ to pay tithing. Whom do they worship? Certainly not the Lord of heaven and earth […] Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings. Others have as their idols the games of sport, baseball, football, the bullfight, or golf […] Still another image men worship is that of power and prestige […] These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 40-42).
The following six Commandments are as follows:
13 Thou shalt not akill.
14 Thou shalt not commit aadultery.
15 Thou shalt not asteal.
After this, the Lord introduces the Law of Moses. The law of Moses did not replace the commandments, covenants, or principles of the gospel. Rather, it provided “a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him” (Mosiah 13:30). The law of Moses taught the people to confess their sins and make amends, to follow strict rules in offering animal sacrifices, to keep their bodies healthy, to give to support the Lord’s work, to give thanks, and to be reconciled to God.
If we set these 3 principles as our daily focus, we will be humble, teachable, and our Father in Heaven will see fit to make us part of a holy nation. We will be a peculiar treasure unto Him.
I created this little handout as a reminder of the things that we need to focus on daily. Feel free to download it and print it off for your own needs.
The Formula-Lesson 14
The material from this lesson was taken from the following resources:
Old Testament Teachers Manual for LDS Sunday School.
Exodus Chapters 15-20; 32-34
Ted L. Gibbons lesson plan.
Elder Russel M. Nelson video on “Peculiar People.”