Lesson 14: “Ye Shall Be a Peculiar Treasure unto Me”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 62–67


Purpose

To encourage class members to partake of the Lord’s spiritual water and bread, sustain his chosen leaders, and obey his commandments so he can make of them a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Exodus 15:22–27; 16:1–31; 17:1–7. The children of Israel murmur because they are thirsty and hungry, and the Lord provides water, manna, and quail.

    2. b.

      Exodus 17:8–13; 18:13–26. Amalek comes to fight with Israel. Israel prevails while Moses holds up his hands, but Amalek prevails when Moses tires and lowers his hands. Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ hands, and Israel wins the battle (17:8–13). Moses follows Jethro’s counsel to appoint judges and delegate authority to them (18:13–26).

    3. c.

      Exodus 19–20. The Lord meets with Moses on Mount Sinai and gives Israel the Ten Commandments.

    4. d.

      Exodus 32–34. Moses receives stone tablets containing instructions from the Lord but breaks the tablets when he returns from Sinai and sees the people worshiping a golden calf (31:18; 32:1–24). The Lord takes the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood from Israel and gives them a lesser law, the law of Moses (Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 34:1–2). Moses hews new tablets of stone to replace those that he has broken, but the new tablets do not include “the words of the everlasting covenant of the holy priesthood” (34:1–5; Joseph Smith Translation, Deuteronomy 10:2). The people covenant to obey the law of Moses (34:10–35).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Psalm 78; 1 Corinthians 10:1–11; Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–27.

  3. 3.

    Bring to class several books or other heavy objects if you use the object lesson on pages 64–65.

  4. 4.

    If Old Testament Video Presentations (53224) is available, you may want to show “Modern Idolatry,” a seven-minute segment, as part of the lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

  • 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 this journey? (Answers may vary, but one helpful preparation would be to find a guide.)

  • What qualifications would you want in a guide who was leading you into a wilderness area? (Answers may vary, but the guide should know the area and be trustworthy.)

  • Who was the guide for Moses and the children of Israel after they had fled Egypt and entered the wilderness? (The Lord.)

Point out that the experiences of the Israelites while journeying in the wilderness can teach us important lessons as we journey through mortality. One important lesson is that we can trust God to guide and care for us as he did the Israelites.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles. Because it would be difficult to ask every question or cover every point in the lesson, prayerfully select those that will best meet class members’ needs.

1. The Lord provides water, manna, and quail for the children of Israel.

Teach and discuss Exodus 15:22–27; 16:1–31; and 17:1–7.

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.

  • What problem did the Israelites face in Exodus 15:22–24 and 17:1–3? How did Moses respond when the people murmured against him? (See Exodus 15:25; 17:4. He turned to the Lord for help.) What can we learn from Moses’ response? How did the Lord respond to Moses’ prayers for help? (See Exodus 15:25–26; 17:5–7.)

  • The Lord provided physical and spiritual water for the children of Israel. The physical water came from the rock that Moses smote; the “spiritual drink” came from the “spiritual Rock,” which is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). What is the spiritual water that flows from Christ? (See 1 Nephi 11:25.) How can we drink that water? What is promised to those who drink that water? (See John 4:14; D&C 63:23.)

  • What problem did the Israelites face in Exodus 16:2–3? How did the Lord respond? (See Exodus 16:4, 11–15.) In addition to satisfying the people’s hunger, what were some other purposes of sending manna?

    1. a.

      It would show the Lord whether his people would obey him (Exodus 16:4, 16–31).

    2. b.

      It would give the people daily reminders of the Lord’s power and love (Exodus 16:12).

    3. c.

      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).

    4. d.

      It would humble the people and help them receive salvation (Deuteronomy 8:16).

  • How do you think sending manna helped accomplish each of these purposes? How does the Lord accomplish each of these purposes in our lives?

  • How is manna a representation of Christ? (See John 6:35.) How does Christ’s living bread differ from manna? (See John 6:48–51.) How can we daily partake of Christ’s living bread?

  • The Israelites needed to gather manna every day to maintain physical strength. How can this be likened to what we must do to maintain spiritual strength? (Just as we need daily nourishment to maintain physical strength, we also need daily nourishment to maintain spiritual strength. We cannot expect to be nourished spiritually if we study the scriptures and pray only occasionally.)

  • What usually happened when the Israelites kept the manna overnight? (See Exodus 16:19–20.) What happened when they kept manna overnight in preparation for the Sabbath? (See Exodus 16:22–25.) How can we apply this principle to our weekly preparation for the Sabbath?

  • What would have happened to the Israelites if they had tried to journey through the wilderness without the Lord’s help? What will happen to us if we try to journey through mortality without the Lord’s help?

2. Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ hands so Israel prevails in battle against Amalek. Moses follows Jethro’s counsel to appoint judges and delegate authority to them.

Teach and discuss Exodus 17:8–13 and 18:13–26. Point out that both of these accounts teach us the importance of supporting and sustaining Church leaders.

  • The Amalekites warred with the children of Israel for many years, beginning in the time of Moses. How were the Israelites able to defeat Amalek’s people in the battle described in Exodus 17:8–13? (When Aaron and Hur sustained Moses by holding up his arms, Israel prevailed in battle.) What kinds of spiritual battles do we fight today? How does sustaining the prophet help us prevail in these battles?

    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” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 98; or Ensign, May 1986, 77).

  • What concerned Jethro when he saw the people coming to Moses all day and evening? (See Exodus 18:13–18.) What did Jethro counsel Moses to do? (See Exodus 18:19–23.)

  • What responsibilities of a prophet are mentioned in Exodus 18:16–20?

    You may want to have class members look for the responsibilities in these verses, then list the answers on the chalkboard. You may also want to use the following object lesson: Invite a class member to hold out his or her arms. As the first responsibility is identified, place a book or other heavy object in the class member’s hands. Add another book or heavy object as each other responsibility is identified.

    1. a.

      Be a judge for the people (Exodus 18:16).

    2. b.

      Represent the people before God (Exodus 18:19).

    3. c.

      “Teach them ordinances and laws” (Exodus 18:20).

    4. d.

      “[Show] them the way wherein they must walk” (Exodus 18:20).

    5. e.

      “[Show] them … the work that they must do” (Exodus 18:20).

  • How can we hold up the hands and ease the burdens of our prophet and apostles today? (See D&C 21:4–5; 107:22. As class members offer suggestions, take some of the books or other objects from the arms of the class member who is holding them.)

  • How can we support and sustain our local Church leaders? (Answers may include speaking well of them, serving diligently in our Church callings, and being good home teachers and visiting teachers.)

  • How have you been blessed as you have supported Church leaders? (You may want to use D&C 21:6 in this discussion.)

3. The Lord meets with Moses on Mount Sinai and gives Israel the Ten Commandments.

Teach and discuss Exodus 19–20.

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.

  • While the children of Israel were camped at Mount Sinai, what did the Lord promise if they would be obedient? (See Exodus 19:3–6. He would make them “a peculiar treasure, … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”) What do these promises mean? How do these promises apply to us today?

    These promises mean that Israel would become the Lord’s covenant people, favored above all others and chosen to bear the priesthood and the gospel to all people (see also Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:1–2; 1 Peter 2:9). Note that in this context, peculiar carries the meaning of “being the Lord’s own special people or treasure,” not the meaning of “odd or eccentric” (Bible Dictionary, “Peculiar,” 748).

  • What experience did the Lord want his people to have at Mount Sinai? (See Exodus 19:9, 11, 16–17; D&C 84:23.) What did the Lord require his people to do before they could meet with him? (See Exodus 19:10, 14.)

  • Mount Sinai was a holy place where the Lord wanted to speak to his people and show himself to them. What holy places has he provided where we can receive these same blessings? (Temples; see D&C 97:15–16; 109:12–13.) Invite class members to tell how the temple has helped them hear the Lord’s voice and feel his presence.

  • The first four commandments in Exodus 20 teach the proper relationship between us and God (Exodus 20:3–11). How is the commandment to worship the Lord and to have no other gods before him relevant today? What false gods do some people worship today? (See 1 Samuel 15:23; Ephesians 5:5; D&C 1:15–16.)

    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 to 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 [1969], 40–42).

  • What are some ways that people take God’s name in vain? Why is it important that we not take his name in vain?

  • Why is it important for us to keep the Sabbath day holy? (See Exodus 20:8; 31:16–17; Isaiah 58:13–14; D&C 59:9–10.) How should we decide what activities are appropriate for the Sabbath? How have you been blessed as you have kept this day holy?

  • Review the six commandments that concern our relationships with other people (Exodus 20:12–17). How does obeying these commandments improve our relationships with others? (You may want to focus on individual commandments, defining what they mean and discussing them as appropriate.)

4. The Lord introduces the law of Moses.

Teach and discuss Exodus 32–34.

When the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai, he revealed a law that included the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 84:19–23). However, the Israelites’ idolatrous behavior showed that they were not ready to live the fulness of the gospel (Exodus 32:1–9; D&C 84:24). Because they forgot the Lord so quickly, he withdrew the Melchizedek Priesthood from them and revealed a lesser law—the law of Moses (Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 34:1–2; D&C 84:25–27).

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 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.

  • Why did the Lord give the children of Israel the law of Moses? (See Galatians 3:23–24; Mosiah 13:29; Alma 25:15–16; D&C 84:19–27.) How would this law help make Israel holy and bring them to Christ? (See Mosiah 13:30; Alma 34:14–15.)

  • When was the law of Moses fulfilled? (See 3 Nephi 15:4–10.) Now that the Lord no longer requires animal sacrifices, which were an important part of the law of Moses, what sacrifice does he ask us to make? (See 3 Nephi 9:19–22.) What does it mean to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit?

    Elder M. Russell Ballard taught:

    “Although the law of Moses was fulfilled, the principles of the law of sacrifice continue to be a part of the doctrine of the Church.

    “While the primary purpose of the law of sacrifice continued to be that of testing and assisting us to come unto Christ, two adjustments were made after Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. First, the ordinance of the sacrament replaced the ordinance of [animal] sacrifice; and second, this change moved the focus of the sacrifice from a person’s animal to the person himself. In a sense, the sacrifice changed from the offering to the offerer. …

    “… After his mortal ministry, Christ elevated the law of sacrifice to a new level. … Instead of the Lord requiring a person’s animal or grain, now the Lord wants us to give up all that is ungodly. This is a higher practice of the law of sacrifice; it reaches into the inner soul of a person” (The Law of Sacrifice [address delivered at the Church Educational System Symposium, 13 Aug. 1996], 5).

Conclusion

Testify to class members that if they will partake of the Lord’s spiritual water and bread, sustain his chosen leaders, and obey his commandments, he will invite them to his holy mountain—the temple. There they can meet with him, receive his laws, behold his glory, and go forth inspired to be more like him.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. The Ten Commandments

Note that the Ten Commandments are repeated in Deuteronomy 5:5–21, Mosiah 12:33–36 and Mosiah 13:12–24, and D&C 42:18–27 and D&C 59:5–16. Review these passages for further insights into the Ten Commandments.

2. The golden calf

You may want to discuss the story of building and worshiping the golden calf as recorded in Exodus 32. Numerous principles can be drawn from this story, including the two below:

  1. a.

    Old habits and patterns 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.

  2. b.

    It is important to withstand negative peer pressure. Aaron gave in to the Israelites’ unrighteous desires. At times, leaders and parents must say “no,” even at the risk of offending or alienating those whom they are responsible for.