Groves in the Bible, and The “Sacred Grove” of Joseph Smith

09 April

Sacred GroveOn my entrance into Christianity, I was quickly made aware of God’s providence. The Sunday school class my church was offering at the time was on the life of early Israelites. Nowadays, I don’t recall what books were specifically used, however, I do remember learning about the trouble Israel kept finding itself in for hanging out on the hilltops in groves of trees.

During the 12 week lesson all I could think of was Joseph Smith in his grove of trees in Palmyra, NY. It was then I learned God was always ready to teach me something new!

The Israelites’ main problem wasn’t so much the trees themselves. Trees aren’t a bad thing in and of themselves, the issue was what the Israelites kept doing on the hilltops. They weren’t exactly going on Sunday picnics, or camping out like is the custom for many in recent times. They were purposefully hiking up the hills with their personal idol gods in tow to worship not only nature, but an array of gods and goddesses; one of which was Ashera.

Comparatively speaking, the LDS Church today has much the same problem. In the link above you can read how they purchased 100 acres of wooded property around Smith’s childhood home, and had no problem pointing out groves of trees are associated with fertility worship. It’s all rather telling considering Smith and family were avid practitioners of witchcraft.

You can glean more info about Smith’s grove of trees on HillCumorah.org which is filled with info for the LDS Visitor’s Center and Historic Sites in and around, Palmyra, NY. The website and its various links, as well as the physical properties they’ve accumulated, are all provided to commemorate Smith’s vision in a tree grove near his home. Obviously, there’s a heavy emphasis on what they believe is the importance of these groves.

On the HillCumorah.org site, you’ll also find numerous professional photos of a grove of trees they believe may have been the area where Joe prayed to God, and consequently received his 1st vision.

There are three major problems with this scenario –

1 – God is not a resurrected man – Numbers 23:19.

2 – God condemned the Israelites for giving too much credence to their landscape surroundings, making it doubtful He’d change His mind this late in the game.

3 – The story of an evil presence enveloping Smith, is a sure sign there’s something seriously wrong with his story! Take a look at what Smith claims took place on that fateful day –

Joseph Smith-History 1:14-15; “So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt…15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.”

Now, if Smith had truly been a devoted student of God’s word, surely he would’ve come across the many OT references where God chastised the Israelites for the idolatrous behavior.

The transliteration for the word ‘grove’ in the Bible is ‘ʾashērâ’. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines it as – ‘Asherah (or Astarte), a Phoenician goddess, also an image of the same, grove.’ It shows up in the Bible no less than 65 times which tells us that it’d be impossible for any student of the Bible not to come across it in some form or fashion. The proof they’re all well aware of its presence is found in our example above where the Church actually defined the meaning of Ashera.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Listed below are 30+ biblical references directly speaking to the trouble Israel kept finding herself in when she worshiped on the hilltops. One of the passages in Jeremiah was quite explicit when God told them they had prostituted the land by lifting their skirts in worshiping their false gods. I’ve not found another passage of scripture so graphic, and damning for the trouble they had incurred upon themselves.

Jeremiah 3:1-2 “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord. 2 Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.”

As you interact with your Mormon friends/loved ones, don’t miss the opportunity you have in the lesson God has shown us in His word. The wise King Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun, and proof of that is seen here today.

Most of all, don’t forget to pray for these dear people! We want to be sure our hearts are in the right place with the Lord, and we have love for them just as Christ Jesus.

With Love in Christ;

Michelle

1 Corinthians 1:18

Exodus 34:13-14 “But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: for thou shalt worship no other god…”

Deuteronomy 7:5ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”

Deuteronomy 12:2-3 “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods…3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire…”

Deuteronomy 16:21-22 “Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God…”

Judges 3:7 “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forget the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”

Judges 6:25-32 “… throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: …”

I Kings 15:13 “And also Maachah his mother (Asa’s), even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol…”

I Kings 14:15, 22, 23 “For the LORD shall smite Israel…because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. 22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD…23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.”

I Kings 16:33 “And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

II Kings 13:6 “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein…”

2 Kings 17:10, 16 “And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree 16 And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.”

2 Kings 18:4 “He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made…”

2 Kings 21:3, 7 “For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel…7 And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever.”

2 Kings 23:4 6, 7, 14, 15  “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest…to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove…6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron…7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites… 14 And he brake in pieces the images…15 Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam…who made Israel to sin…he brake down, and burned the high place..”

II Chronicles 14:3 “For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves.”

2 Chronicles 15:16 “And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.”

2 Chronicles 17:6 “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.”

2 Chronicles 19:3 “Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.”

2 Chronicles 24:18 “And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.”

2 Chronicles 31:1 “Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.”

2 Chronicles 33:3, 19 “For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim… 19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.”

2 Chronicles 34:3, 4, 7 “For in the eighth year of his reign…he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves… 4 And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them… 7 And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder…he returned to Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 17:8 “And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.”

Isaiah 27:9 “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged…”

Jeremiah 2:20 “For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.”

Jeremiah 17:1, 2, 3 “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron… 2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. 3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin…”

Ezekiel 6:13 “…ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars…and under every green tree…”

Ezekiel 20:28 “…then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices…”

Micah 5:14 “And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.”

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