Hello, I’m Lynn Hilton Wilson, and I’m really excited to talk to you about the Book of Deuteronomy, especially in light of some of the things that the Book of Mormon teaches about it. I’ve done some research on this that I have never seen anywhere else, and I’m just excited to talk about especially Deuteronomy chapter six in light of what we find in the Book of Mormon. But just to give you a little overview about the Book of Deuteronomy, remember, they’ve finished their 40 years from the time they left Egypt, and the children of Israel are now just outside of the Jordan River at the top of the Dead Sea in the area of Bethubara, with Joshua ready to take them across. And Moses now gives them three last Mormons. One is extremely long.
Some people say there’s only two sermons and there’s a huge chunk in the middle of all the laws and the procedures. Some people say there are many sermons, but whatever it is, the old generation has died off. The new generation has been fortified. They’ve been living the gloves, they’ve learned the lessons, and they are ready to enter into the promised land. As we look at this structure, though, it’s significant that the laws are in the center.
Remember, in ancient Hebrewic texts, the central point is the most important and the point that the Editors of the Book of Deuteronomy have made want to point to this central point of the law. The word Deuteronomy is Greek for the idea of second law in the restored gospel. We believe that Joseph Smith actually was told in the Joseph Smith translation that the first law is not the same as the second law, that initially when we had the plates, the tablets given to Moses, it said something different. And I’ll read you what Joseph Smith changed this to read in Deuteronomy ten verse one, he says Heune other tablets similar to the ones that you broke, he says, and then added in the Joseph translation, save the words of the everlasting Covenant of the Holy priesthood. And that addition makes a huge difference to the fact that we now have a different law.
The other thing I wanted to emphasize about the Book of Deuteronomy, as we’re still taking this bird’s eye view, added that this first sermon gives an overview of the history. It shows the rebellion and it shows God’s Grace. And then the last sermon is parts of it are beautiful hymns. They’re like songs of Moses, but it includes the blessings and the cursings of the Lord. There are 14 blessings and 54 cursing.
The Lord says, I have tried to teach you, and I want you to realize that I’m the creator and that if you want to have it work, just follow the rules. And if you don’t, it’s going to be a disaster. In fact, it’s going to be horrific. And he goes into all this explanation, but this collection of the law has perked the attention of one of my favorite biblical scholars in the Old Testament, Margaret Barker. And she found that the Book of Deuteronomy is different than the other books of the Torah.
Genesis exists have a lot of references to the Lord God, Yahweh Elohim, and both are present and they are both working hand in hand. And then we have other references about the Tabernacle and the importance of the temple and the importance of God’s throne in relationship to the priesthood ordinances and the sacrifices pointing to the great sacrifice of God. And all of those are taken out of the Book of Deuteronomy. And the thing that becomes the most important and most central is the law. And Margaret Barker is research of her lifetime.
She’s an independent scholar at Cambridge University, but her faith tradition is a Methodist. She says that there was a group of people that she refers to as the Deuteronomist that came about the time of King Josiah. Now, this is very interesting to us because King Josiah is the same time that Lehigh was born and living. Josiah is a young child when he comes on the throne 640 BCE, his scribes and other people come in to try to take over the leadership, and they call it in the Scriptures what’s called the reforms at the time of Josiah. And they say it’s all for the good.
But the reforms are taking away the focus that was originally in the law of Moses, on the nature of God, on the nature of the Tabernacle, on the nature of vicarious sacrifice, of the pointing to God as both Elohim and Jehovah to now a focus on the law. It is the law that will save us. And we no longer have anyone but a monotheism. And this major change that occurred during the time of King Josiah helps us understand better the Book of Mormon, because this is why Lehigh is coming out and preaching the need for reform and change. And Lehi is joined, of course, by Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
Well, Daniel is already over in Babylon by the time we have Lehigh preaching, but it just brings this timing together that if the Deuteronomists are coming and they’re changing the law, they are setting their nation up for the Babylonians to come in and destroy it in just a few years. It’s interesting as we look at this specifically in light of Deuteronomy, chapter six. Deuteronomy six is one of the gems of the entire Old Testament. And the whole Jewish nation has taken this verses, Deuteronomy six from verse four to nine and combined them together and put them in a very sacred code. They recite them in the morning, they recite them at night.
They strap them on their hands and on their foreheads as Phalactories. They put them on their doorpost as mazuza. They take them extremely literally now. And at the time of the New Testament, I don’t know if that was intended by Moses when he was first giving this Shama or the Scriptures. But the word Shema comes from the first letters of the first few words, and it refers to listen and obey or hearken or hear.
And I’ll just read the text with you, Deuteronomy, six, four through nine. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart. I’m going to pause right here after verse six to just have you jog your memory. I’m sure you recognize these words as the words that our Savior responded.
Because when the Jewish Masters came up to him and said, Master, which is the greatest of all the Commandments in the law, the first thing he does is he points to the law that they knew better than any other law. At the time of the Second Temple, the Jews had combed through the Torah and counted out 613 Commandments and put them all together in a canonized form and then added 10,000 more laws to them. If you were a Pharisee to live, and they were all very important to them, and they put them in this block that had so many that was confusing which one was most important? And so when they asked Christ which is most important, he quotes the first one. He says, you touch it here, you touch it on your hands, you touch on your forehead.
It’s right here. Just love God. This is the most important. But the Shema continues on, and I’ll start again in verse seven. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when they’ll walk us by the way, and when thou lie us down, and when thou write us up, and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be in faultless between their eyes, and thou shalt write them upon the post of the house and the gates.
This is why I think they became so literally as Philadelphia and Mazoos is because the text says that. But I don’t know if that’s what Moses meant. He wants them to be internalized. He wants us to breathe this love of the Lord in all that we do. He wants us to become disciples of Christ.
He wants our homes to become places of Christ. He wants our hearts and our minds to be focused on it. But when our Savior answers this way, he is quoting Deuteronomy. And our Savior quoted Deuteronomy a lot of times. In fact, do you remember in The Temptations our Savior quotes Deuteronomy?
He quotes to Satan what the law is, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God and all those statements that he gives to the devil. He’s quoting Deuteronomy, those people who have gone through this very carefully say that there’s 44 direct quotes from Deuteronomy in the New Testament. And if we take innuendos or references there’s between 54 and some people come up with 80 as a number. But I want to focus now on which parts of this was changed. Then if Christ is quoting this, how does Dr.
Margaret Barker have what to say about the fact that this was changed? Why would our Savior be quoting false scripture? Well, it’s only changed a slight degree. It’s just changing the focus onto the law. And they asked Jesus, what’s the most important law?
And he turned love God, and, of course, the second to love your neighbor, which he takes out of Leviticus 1918. But as I look at the timing of these changes, if they did come to pass at the time of Josiah, that means the brass plates that Lehigh and Nephi took probably had already been written. And so I wanted to look at the Book of Mormon and say, the Shema is one of the most important scriptures in all of the five books of Moses. Can we find them in the Book of Mormon? And so I began looking.
I started out with this wonderful verse about teaching your children. I thought, we’ve got verses on teaching children. We’ve got Nephi saying, I’ve been born of goodly parents, and therefore I was taught. Does it refer to this Shema? I found second E 525, one verse that we quote often.
But look at the focus in the Book of Mormon compared to the focus in the Shema. The Shema is focused on the law and listen to it in the Book of Mormon, chapter 25, verse 26. In two, Nephi, we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach in Christ, we prophesy of Christ. We write, according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for emission of their sins. And then continuing on in verse 27, Wherefore we speak concerning the law, that our children may know to the deadness of the law, and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto the life which is in Christ.
Isn’t that amazing? It’s almost the opposite of the message of the Deuteronomic law. He’s saying, the law is nothing. We want to live in Christ. This is our focus.
So what about another phrase from the Shema? How about the phrase when you’re walking on the way, I want you to be thinking about the law and having it in your mind. Well, I looked under Walk in the Book of Mormon, and four times I found the phrase walk in the ways of the Lord. They changed the focus to the law away from our Savior. This is Mosaic six and 29 and Alma 25 and Ether ten.
My slides show all the verses as well, but I’m going to keep going in Deuteronomy in the Chamber, it talks about what you’re supposed to do when you rise in the morning, when you lay down at night. So I looked up those words in the Book of Mormon. Do we have evidence of these phrases in the Book of Mormon? And yes, we do it’s in Alma 37 37. But it again focuses on coming unto Christ.
Listen to what Alma teaches his son counsel of the Lord and all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good. Yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch Oliver you in your sleep. And when thou risest in the morning, let thy heart be full of thanks unto God. And if Ye do these things, Ye shall be lifted up in the last days. Now, knowing the law is wonderful and keeping the Commandments is what God asks us to do.
But if we lose the focus on our Savior and Redeemer, the laws are taking us in the wrong direction. And by the time Christ comes to Earth, he says, you guys are tithing a Mint and these little seeds and you’re forgetting the more weighty parts of the law. And that’s what the Book of Mormon has restored has kept for us in the ancient text. I want you to teach them diligently because they will focus you on Christ. One of the other things that’s significant about this Book of Deuteronomy as we look at in light of the Restoration is how the Joseph Smith translation added and helped us understand these verses.
And in Deuteronomy chapter two, we are talking about this King who hardens his heart and Joseph Smith changes that. Excuse me, we’re talking about a King who the Lord hardens his heart. And Joseph Smith changes that and says that the King hardened his heart, that the Lord thy God might deliver him into thy hands as he hath done this day. So again, the ability of taking responsibility for our own actions and allowing God to be the one who allows for agency, not the one who forces us. He is not a controlling God is very clear in the Josemith translation of that Deuteronomy chapter two.
Also at the end in Deuteronomy chapter 34, when the Moses dies, we are told that our dear God did not bury him but took him to heaven. And he is a translated being, and that’s why he was able to come at the end of time and not only at the Mount of Transfiguration, but also at the Kirtland temple in Deuteronomy 34 six, for the Lord took him into his Father’s, therefore no man north of his septica. These stories in the Old Testament are wonderful in their own right, but when we combine them with the truth in the second witness of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, they become all the more powerful and hope that your study of the Old Testament can be enriched as we look at the doctrines of the Restoration in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.