Israel Camp, Mormon Pioneers, Latter Day Saints, and Quail
Today in sunday school we had a very good lesson about Moses and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. We spoke about how they kept ‘looking back’ to Egypt, even though they had been praying for generations to be freed and they finally were now they were upset they were gone and wanted to go back. We spoke about them wanting meat instead of eating only Manna the Lord freely gave them. The Lord finally gave them what they wanted by giving them quail but many of them got sick from it. As the lesson progressed I realized there were many similarities between the Israelites, the early ‘Mormon’ pioneers, and latter day saints today and possibly in the near future. I don’t think history repeats itself on accident many times and maybe we can learn a bit of what is coming by heeding what has happened to saints in past dispensations. Here area few specific examples:
Wanting to be free from bondage
1. Israelites – The Israelites were in physical bondage, hard labor, to Egypt. They were literally slaves and had many liberties and freedoms taken from them. They were praying for an escape or freedom from the bondage they were in. Moses came and freed them.
2. Early Saints/Pioneers – The early saints were persecuted more than any other religious group, in my opinion, in the history of the United States. As they were being driven from the United States by extermination orders, mobs, beatings, murders, etc. they were also praying for freedom. Although their bondage was not as a slave in some ways it was worse. Without notice they could have their home or crops burned down, tared and feathered, etc. This was a mix of physical and spiritual bondage. They were spiritually shunned and as a result of that suffered physical and temporal persecutions.
3. Latter Day Saints – Although I would not consider latter day saints in physical bondage or persecuted as such I do feel we are in a spiritual bondage. We have the charge to ‘live in the world but not of the world’. The world is becoming more and more segregated from the ways of the Lord. Being such we are often seen as old, traditional, and ‘not up with the modern world’. Societal, political, and cultural trends are moving us far from where we were as a society even a few years ago. If someone were to tell me within a decade or less that same-sex marriage, abortion, women holding the priesthood, legalization of ‘illegal’ drugs, general acceptance of degrading media, etc. would be prevalent and items we are facing I would have been surprised at how fast things could have changed. Many of these topics also have strong support from church members themselves and many are leaving the gospel because of a lack of testimony of revelation and believing that our church organization is not a democracy but rather led directly by the true and living God and that his will overpowers anything that society, science, or politics may throw our way.
Free from bondage, the journey, wishing they were back
1. Israelites – Moses was trying to do everything on his own without help and the burden was too great. The Lord instructed him to setup 70 elders of some of the strongest members of his troop to help delegate responsibilities. It is also very interesting to note the relationship of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. The two counselors to the prophet Moses. Another key point is that Moses was to divide up the camp into groups of 10, 100, 1,000 etc. at different points during the journey.
2. Early Saints/Pioneers -We see this as well, Joseph Smith set apart 70s to help with running the affairs of the early church, proselyte, and teach. When the saints moved west they did not go unorganized. They were divided up into treks with captains over 10 families, 100, etc. as did Moses.
3. Latter Day Saints – We still maintain the same organizations of Moses and the early saints, although on a much larger scale. The organization structure is magnificent in that it works for 1,000 people or a church of 15 million members! How great and full of wisdom is our God!
Free from bondage, the journey, wishing they were back
1. Israelites – Even before they crossed the red sea the Israelites were already complaining that they had made a mistake. They were looking back at Egypt wishing they were there. Having little faith they were fearing they had left a home of comfort, although a slave, to die in the wilderness. At one point they were complaining of food, saying they were sick of eating manna all the time that the Lord gave them plenty of and they wanted meat. The Lord answered their prayer; probably not too willing but did so in order to teach them a lesson. He sent quails to them and many that ate them became sick. Although many complained I am sure there were many that were righteous among them. When they were being smitten by serpents Moses lifted his staff and many did look and were healed, yet there were many that did not as well. During their 40 years in the wilderness a whole generation passed away before reaching the promised land.
2. Early Saints/Pioneers – The early saints finally decided to move as far West as possible to the middle of nowhere (Rocky Mountains) where no one would bug them. The trip was hard and many died along the way. There are numerous stories of early saints giving up the faith because they did not want to make the trip and were too comfortable in their homes; it was a hard thing to do. Even many of those that departed started regretting the decision before they arrived, saying it was a hard thing required of them to do so. Of course there are many many examples of those filled with faith who were true to all situations that life presented to them. Many have heard the story of saints leaving Nauvoo so quickly and having all their property/goods confiscated by the mob that they had little or no food. The Lord sent quails to them to feed them, scooping them up with their hands with more than enough.
3. Latter Day Saints – This is a point I do not feel we have fully reached yet but are in the process of happening now. We all know of prophecies of latter day events from major destructions, plagues, famines, earthquakes, fires, wars, etc. as well as promises of an outpouring of the spirit, miracles, faith, divine protection, and more. In addition to and surrounding all of these terrible and glorious events will be the foretold and prophesied event that every prophet has looked forward to thus far on the Earth and not been able to witness in the flesh. The establishment of Zion and the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I feel that too many of us, including myself at many times, view these events as something in the super distant future as well as events we do not look forward to with a reality that they WILL happen someday and we should live our lives to prepare for it whether it happens in our lifetime or not. The prophecies are clear and I could clearly see a future date in time when history repeats itself. We are finally freed from the world, Babylon and the Lord’s kingdom begin to separate but how will we react during the journey or transition time. Just as Israelites of old and Pioneers of the past we may find ourselves without a house to call home, no food but a nasty wheat to eat, driven to and fro by natural disasters and events of war or other destructions brought on by man. Will we then not wish that the second coming was not close, that the establishment of zion was farther away? Would we not then want to go back to Babylon to the comfort of our home, tv, pizza hut, and the local walmart that are now taken from us? Time will only tell but this thought stuck out to me, ‘for this is how to compare this to yourself, how will you react when you are in the same situation as my previous saints have been in?’ I for one hope I will be able to be strong and look forward with faith to the future knowing that no matter how bleak the moment seemed it is only the journey to something MUCH more glorious.
Arriving in the promised land
1. Israelites – Although it was a hard and long journey many lessons were learned on the way. Moses sent 12 spies to Canaan and only 2 of the 12 were true and faithful and had belief that God would assist them in taking the land and that it was truly a promised land. Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land during his lifetime.
2. Early Saints/Pioneers – Again, after a long and hard journey the early saints arrived in the Salt Lake valley. When they came it was just a wasteland desert and did not seem like a ‘promised land’. It was also full of native americans, some kind and some hostile. It must have taken great faith to believe the Lord could turn it into a blossoming rose, beautiful and full of vegetation and people as it sits today. It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith did not live to see the Salt Lake valley but prophesied of it before his martyrdom.
3. Latter Day Saints – Where is the next ‘promised land’? It must be Zion, meaning the New Jerusalem in Missouri. We have been ‘wandering’ in our wilderness for almost 200 years now not able to achieve a Zion society yet. I can only imagine though, after the many sure destructions that have prophesied to take place that the first group of latter day saints to arrive there will likely see a wasteland and will also need to exert much faith to trust in the Lord that he will be able to build that great much prophesied city up and that it will be like nothing we have seen on earth before, even similar to the city of Enoch which was taken away from the earth. Only the future will tell if the history of the Lord’s people repeats itself and another leader does not live to see it established but a succeeding prophet instead as in the two examples above.
Final ThoughtsThese are just a few of the similarities I thought of and there were actually more. How often does history repeat itself with the Lord’s people. If you look you will find NUMEROUS examples and in a way it is a way to know what to look for in the future. One I just copied below from Wikipedia about the similarities of Moses, Joshua, and Josiah. Other examples are Moses and Joseph Smith not being strong in speech but stronger in writing. Or another example of Joseph Smith and Joseph of Egypt bringing forth the the promises of Abraham. Or think about the many times the Lord has led his people away from the wicked before they are destroyed and the trials they have before the blessing arrive (Lehi, Jaredites, Alma the Younger, Moses, Mulekites, mormon pioneers, etc.) One thing is sure, there are many prophesied events that have not happened but must surely come to pass and many are at our doorsteps in my opinion. The better we can prepare now for them the better off we will be. If we are full of faith and prepared we will be able to trust in the Lord that he will come through and his purposes fulfilled.
Moses, Joshua and Josiah (comparisons from Wikipedia, another example)
The Deuteronomistic history draws parallels in proper leadership between Moses, Joshua and Josiah. God’s commission to Joshua in chapter 1 is framed as a royal installation, the people’s pledge of loyalty to Joshua as successor Moses recalls royal practices, the covenant-renewal ceremony led by Joshua was the prerogative of the kings of Judah, and God’s command to Joshua to meditate on the “book of the law” day and night parallels the description of Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25 as a king uniquely concerned with the study of the law — not to mention their identical territorial goals (Josiah died in 609 BCE while attempting to annex the former Israel to his own kingdom of Judah).
Some of the parallels with Moses can be seen in the following, and not exhaustive, list:
- Joshua sent spies to scout out the land near Jericho (2:1), just as Moses sent spies from the wilderness to scout out the Promised Land (Num. 13; Deut. 1:19–25).
- Joshua led the Israelites out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, crossing the Jordan River as if on dry ground (3:16), just as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea, which they crossed as if on dry land (Ex. 14:22).
- After crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites celebrated the Passover (5:10–12) just as they did immediately before the Exodus (Ex. 12).
- Joshua’s vision of the “commander of Yahweh’s army” (5:13–15) is reminiscent of the divine revelation to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:1–6).
- Joshua successfully intercedes on behalf of the Israelites when Yahweh is angry for their failure to fully observe the “ban” (herem), just as Moses frequently persuaded God not to punish the people (Ex. 32:11–14, Num. 11:2, 14:13–19).
- Joshua and the Israelites were able to defeat the people at Ai because Joshua followed the divine instruction to extend his sword (Josh 8:18), just as the people were able to defeat the Amalekites as long as Moses extended his hand that held “the staff of God” (Ex. 17:8–13).
- Joshua served as the mediator of the renewed covenant between Yahweh and Israel at Shechem (8:30–35; 24), just as Moses was the mediator of Yahweh’s covenant with the people at Mount Sinai/Mount Horeb.
- Before his death Joshua delivered a farewell address to the Israelites (23–24), just as Moses had delivered his farewell address (Deut. 32–33).