I will walk among you, and will be your God

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A most sublime Scripture is: “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:12), or in Hebrew, וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי֙ בְּת֣וֹכְכֶ֔ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָכֶ֖ם לֵֽאלֹהִ֑ים וְאַתֶּ֖ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֥י לְעָֽם.

The context is related to the promises that the Holy One of Jacob, even the premortal Christ, offered Israel if she would do that which was right. Among all the wonderful promises offered in that chapter, my favorite is the one we quoted.   

Israel did not endure in doing that which was right. Nevertheless, the promise and invitation to follow Christ were reiterated with the last dispensation of the Gospel in mind, in relationship to the gathering of Israel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (Ezekiel 37:23, “so shall they be my people, and I will be their God”).

The expression “walk (בְּת֣וֹכְכֶ֔ם) among you,” or “in your midst,” points to God’s walking among His people. Hebrew has seven verbal constructions, one of them is called the Hitpael. Within this construct, the verbs with continual or iterative action are included.

Michael Williams, in speaking of the Hitpael observes: “In Job 1:7 and 2:2, when the Lord asks Satan where he has come from, Satan replies, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’ The phrase ‘going back and forth’ translates a Hitpael Infinitive Construct: הִתְהַלֵּךְ. This is the iterative sense of the Hitpael. It communicates the scary truth that Satan doesn’t just occasionally venture forth from his dark domain to see what damage he can do on the earth. No, his activity is continuous and relentless.”

Williams explains that the expression “and I will walk” in Leviticus 26:12 (וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי) makes use of precisely the same Hebrew root (הלך) we found in Job. In contrast, the Savior “assures us that God’s care and protection are as powerfully enduring as He is and more than a match for Satan’s malevolent iterative activity” (Williams, M. (2015). The Biblical Hebrew Companion for Bible Software Users: Grammatical Terms Explained for Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

If we can remain worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, this is yet another way in which God walks with us, or in our midst, in an iterative and constant way.

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Gregorio Billikopf belongs to the Llanquihue Branch, Puerto Montt Stake, in the south of Chile. He is the author of Isaiah Testifies of Christ and an emeritus academic of the University of California and professor of the University of Chile; author of Party-Directed Mediation: Facilitating Dialogue between Individuals and other books. Gregorio’s paternal grandparents are Lithuanian Jews and German Jews and on his mother’s side of the family he is Chilean. He found Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. You may contact him through bielikov2@yahoo.cl.

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