Broken Covenants; Unrepentant Sin; and Atonement

The gospel of Jesus Christ is full of individual responsibility, personal covenants, distinctive action, and one on one choice to follow the will of God. This holds the basis of Salvation: that each soul must choose for themselves whom they will serve. As Joshua so eloquently challenged: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Inharently in Joshua’s command is the individual choice to serve God. 

However, a handful of nations have gone above and beyond this command of individual worship and covenant. 

Israel had made the covenant with their foundation. Having rejected it, they spent years in chastising bondage. Before returning to their home, Joshua warned them that he covenant not be taken lightly, and they made it again:

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” 

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” 

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied. 

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 

On this continent, following a similar apostasy of the covenent people (who were a lost branch of the Israelites), the faithful leader Moroni called for a similar renewal of Godly covenent:

 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
Now this was the covenant which they made, and they cast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.

Here, a similar covenent was made after years of hardship, termoil, and oppression:

On May 15, 1776, shortly after the Continental Army’s initial arrival at New York, months before the British invasion, Washington prepared his men. Not only did he prepare them physically, but spiritually. He called them to the covenant. In a General Order, he declared:

“Instant to be observed [on Friday the 17th] as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the Arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America, upon a solid and lasting foundation.”
Then again on July 2, Washington in another General Order would remind his men that “the fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army…Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is.” Two days later, in Philadelphia, these same sentiments would be immortalized by the Continental Congress in the Declaration of Independence, which concludes, “And for support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Washington was so convinced of his utter dependence upon this covenant relationship with God that he would continue to extend reminders and calls to repentance. On July 9, Washington issued another General Order in which he called for chaplains in each regiment to ensure that the soldiers “attend carefully upon religious exercises.” The order concluded with the following: “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger-the General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a good Christian soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.

In each of these cases, and many others, the sincere covenent with God has lead to victory of His covenent people: militarily, economically, in peace, in happiness, and in liberty.

But in each of these cases, we can also see the consequence when the people in question have defied or broken their covenant with God:

The Israelites, turning from God, were chastened with millennia of torment at the hands of the Canaanites, Persians, and the Arabs. After the final rejection and crucifixion of their God, they were dispersed entirely spending nearly 2000 years in exile for their failure to uphold their covenant.

The Nephites spent the better part of the next 1000 years being reminded of their covenent by falling and returning to God; accepting defeat and victory according to their faith. Ultimately they were completely destroyed in a genocidal war because of their failure to return to the God who protected them.

The Americans failure to keep their promise to God, and provide liberty to their fellow men, became embroiled in a civil war that nearly cost the nation, and remains to be the single most deadly war in their history. The following generation saw a turn from God, until they wer chastened by two generations of war, and returned them to the faith of God. However, the current trend is the most blatant rejection of God in American history: no longer do we openly enslave people by race, but we have committed an evil sacrament to Satan which has resulted in the murder of over 50 million innocent children: and we have called that sacrament good. We have turned away from our covenant and called it evil. We have selected leaders to guide us that we know are evil and unrighteousness actors, and called it inevitable.

America, like Israel and the Land of Nephi before them (and others) is ripe for just destruction. We have openly defied the God whom we promised to serve. Ours is a nation that has fallen into the worship of Baal and the grove, just as completely as our predecessors. And the Godly covenant gives us our promised consequence: obliteration.

But there is hope now, as there always has been. Israel is restored: they have turned back to the God who made them, and they have defied all external enemies (see the 7 day war…. And every other Israelie conflict in modern history….) the United States need only return to her Father for the promise of redemption.

Atonement must be made. Christ has made it, but we must accept that atonement, or we will make it ourselves again. That road leads to destruction.

As Joshua, I call on my readers to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” The salvation of your individual soul depends upon your choice.

But as the Israelites, the Nephites, and the Americans before us, the return to God as a people; the restoration of our covenant; predicates our national security, our collective peace, our economic stability, and our cultural longevity. For the sake of our children, we must choose worthy leaders to lead and guide us. Like our spiritual ancestors, we must declare firmly that “We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

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Good Friday, the Road to Galgotha, and the Broken Law

Following His trials, which lasted the night, the Sinless One was scourged. They took a cat of nine tails, a brutal whip with nine ends, each laced with shards of bone or pottery, designed to tear the flesh, and break the spirit of those on the merciless receiving end. He was given 39 lashes, a process which frequently ended in death for the whipped.

While he was beaten, the Roman soldiers bet for his clothes, and when they were done brutalizing him, the gave him new raiment: they clothed him in a purple robe, symbolizing royalty, and a crown to mark his Kingship. But in the mocking fashion of the blasphemer, they had fashioned the crown of biting thorns. As the pressed the ring onto his forehead, it undoubtedly took flesh with it.

The Romans made their bleeding and broken Lord carry his cross through the streets to the hill of crucifixion. The streets were lined with a deriding mob, who shouted, and mocked and spit on their Redeemer. The very man who, just hours before, had taken their every sins upon himself. Mixed in the crowd were the meek and broken of spirit who wept as they watched their Master carry the burden that He had chosen but certainly did not deserve.

Jesus stumbled and fell under the weight of cross, unable to carry the weight any more.

The Romans forced another to pick up the cross and they continued on. I wonder what the man thought. Was he one of the bitter and angry crowd? Or was he one that the Healer had made whole? Did he resent the burden? Or did he weep knowing that he was helping the Man to his death?

The writers of the Gospels had few words to describe what happened next, because of the monstrous and barbaric act that followed, few words can describe the horror: “and they crucified him.”
They buried nails in his hands, wrists, and feet, and raised the cross on the hill of skulls, called Golgotha. Here men were left to die. It could take days as the men would die slowly, not of their wounds, but of starvation and thirst. The merciless Romans would give water to the dying to prolong their death. Of the few things the Innocent One said while on the cross, the first was a plead for drink, which was granted in the form of vinegar.

In his pain and agony, He prayed to the Father, asking for forgiveness for the Romans, who “…know not what they do”, as they crucified the Son of the Living God.

He asked John to care for His aging Mother.

He spoke to one of those dying with him.

And again alone, He cried “why has thou forsaken me?”
As 3:00 in the afternoon approached, the sky darkened and the ground shook. The veil separating the courtyard of the temple from the Holy of Holies was torn in two, as the Father rejected the the Covenant People in their wickedness, and the the Son of Man died as he uttered the words “it is finished.” The very earth recognized the death of its creator, and tore itself asunder, burying cities in the sea, and sinking valleys with the mountains. The whole of the New World was reformed, killing many. And darkness covered all the land for days.

The Romans were astounded by the speed of his death, and to confirm the death, stabbed him through the ribs right into his heart. It gushed water and blood; it was broken.

The Lord of all creation had died. The consequence of sin, the just reward of sin, is death; but the Sinless One had died unjustly: thus, the law was broken.

History has come to know this day as Good Friday. His death was unremarkable: the Romans had crucified countless before, and would crucify countless after. That He died was remarkable, because He, unlike any before him, or any after, was free from the need for death. Having never sinned, the law of death did not bind him, but He died anyway. The Atoning sacrifice that had begun in a garden was nearly complete.
The spirits of His disciples were as broken as His body. I imagine their voices to be hollow as they asked the Romans to bring him down so that they could bury him. With the Sabbath approaching, the apostles, Mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene, had to act quickly to prepare the spiritless and lifeless body for burial. Joseph of Arimathea, one of the Sanhedrin itself, offered his tomb for the burial of the Christ.
The day ended with the burial of the King of Kings. Fearing His body would be stolen, the Romans ordered his tomb to be sealed, and guards to watch it.

The hopes of countless Jews died with the Carpenter from Nazareth.

One other died this day. The traitorous coward Judas Iscariot, knowing his own sin, used the 30 pieces of silver to buy a plot of ground, where he hung himself from a tree.

This was the darkest day in human history. A day where the Covenant People killed their own God.

The faith of many died with Him.

And if the story ended here, hope should have died too.

But it doesn’t end here. Tomorrow is the Sabbath for the Jews, and tomorrow we will learn what the Savior of Mankind did millenia ago on that Sabbath.

As we remember the cross, as we remember the Holy Death, let us know why He died: he died as a sacrificial Lamb, making atonement with the Father on our behalf. He is the Lamb of God. He is Savior of mankind. He is the Redeemer.

As we prepare for Easter, who’s very name forgets the Master of All, let us never forget. Let us ponder His sacrifices in the Garden and on Golgotha. Let us remember as we have broken the law, the law was broken by Him.

Remember. Remember.