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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seeing Above the Trials

I thought I'd list a smattering of quotes that have had a deep impact on my life, particularly during difficult times.  I imagine others probably experience trials as well, so I hope something here will bring some sort of comfort or perspective to endure, persist, and triumph.  Trials are specifically calculated for our individual exaltation.  God is profoundly aware of you and me, His children.  He loves us infinitely and will bless us tremendously as we are faithful to Him.  I testify and witness (have personal knowledge of, give a firsthand account of something experienced) that this is true.  Enjoy!


"The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy." 

- Neal A. Maxwell


“As [you] endure rejection, loneliness, self-doubt, homesickness, exhaustion, and temptation, the refiner’s fire will purify [your] soul. [You] will increase in wisdom and grow up in the Lord, and, as [you] stay faithful, [your] confidence will wax strong in the presence of God.”

- Dieter F. Uchtdorf


"We prepare in the way the Lord has directed. We hold ourselves in readiness to act on the Lord's timing. He will tell us when the time is right to take the next step. For now, we simply concentrate on our own assignments and on what we have been asked to do today. In this we are also mindful of the Lord's assurance: 'I will hasten my work in its time' (D&C 88:73)."

 - Dallin H. Oaks


"Some of us neglect to develop multiple forces of satisfaction. When one of the wells upon which we draw dries up through death, loss or status, disaffection, or physical ailment, we then find ourselves very thirsty because, instead of having multiple sources of satisfaction in our lives, we have become too dependent upon this or upon that."

- Neal A. Maxwell


The odyssey to happiness lies in the dimension of the heart. Such a journey is made on stepping-stones of selflessness, wisdom, contentment, and faith. The enemies of progress and fulfillment are such things as self-doubt, a poor self-image, self-pity, bitterness, and despair. By substituting simple faith and humility for these enemies, we can move rapidly in our search for happiness."

- James E. Faust


“First of all, it is incumbent upon us as students, as Latter-day Saints, and as children of God to see the divine potential in ourselves, to believe in ourselves, to know that with God’s help there is quite literally nothing in righteousness that we cannot become.... We of all people should not be guilty of living under our moral capacity, or, as Brigham Young regularly phrased it, ‘living beneath our privilege.’
If you lack confidence or always sound apologetic or feel you have an inferiority complex, get over it. We all start humbly, we all start with feelings of inadequacy, we all think the fellow seated on our right and the woman seated on our left are more talented, more gifted, had wealthier beginnings than we do, and are going to do better in life than we will. Well, they aren’t and they don’t and they won’t! They are just like you.
I say shame on you if you do not see the wonderful blessings you have had…. no one should ever apologize for lack of opportunity, lack of possibility, lack of divine love to guide us, or lack of dreams to make us better than we ever thought we could be – because all those gifts are ours for the taking if we want them.
Take your dreams, your education, the love of a whole Church full of people, and go make something of yourself.” 

 -Jeffrey R. Holland


"We are in perilous times, but I do not feel the pangs of that terror. It is not upon me. I propose to live so that it will not rest upon me. I propose to live so that I shall be immune from the perils of the world. [I shall] live by obedience to the commandments of God and to his laws revealed for my guidance. No matter what may come to me, if I am in fellowship with God, if I am worthy of the fellowship of my brethren, if I can stand spotless before the world, what does it matter to me what may happen to me? I am always ready, if I am in this frame of understanding, mind and conduct. It does not matter at all. Therefore, I feel no pangs of fear."

-Joseph F. Smith

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tribe of Levi

Of all the tribes of Israel, why is Levi singled out as those assigned as priests in the temple?  Did they receive a land inheritance with the other tribes?  What are we to make of the sons of Levi offering up an offering in righteousness?

Levi and Simeon - two of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) - were rather impertinent individuals.  They were "instruments of cruelty," quick to anger, and murderers (Gen. 49:5-6).  As a result, they would be cursed and scattered within Israel.  Simeon received a land inheritance, but it was surrounded by Judah and eventually assimilated, never to be recognized individually again (Deut. 33).  In the great census of Moses (reason for the name of his book of Numbers), Levi is specifically excluded from the rest of the tribes (Num. 1:47-49).  The tribe of Levi was not given a land inheritance like the rest of the tribes, but was scattered throughout the area (Josh. 13:33).

Stratford pointing out parts of the Negev, portions of which were given to Simeon

During and after the Exodus, Aaron and his sons were chosen to minister in the priest's office (Num. 3:1-3).  However, Aaron's first two sons "died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children" (Num. 3:4).  Aaron had two other sons that ministered, but they required additional assistance.  The Lord told Moses to "bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.  And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. ... And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel" (Num. 3:6-9).

When the Lord delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, a sort of compensation was exacted: "For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself" (Num. 8:17).  As replacements, the Levites were given to Aaron as a gift "to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary" (Num. 8:19).

As a result of Aaron's presidency over the priesthood conferred here and of the Levite incorporation, this lesser priesthood is often referred to as the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood.  While the names are used pretty much interchangeably, differences did exist in the offices held (evident in later references to priests and Levites - John 1:19, 1 Kings 8:4).  Levites held the priesthood, but only sons of Aaron could hold the office of priest.  "The priests could offer sacrifices for the people, burn incense on the altar, and teach the law, whereas the other Levites were employed in more menial tasks, such as the housekeeping of the tabernacle, keepig oil in the lamps ... and related tasks in assisting the priests" (BD - Aaronic Priesthood).

Temple at Tel Arad, in the Negev

In the last days, the Levites must make an offering to the Lord in righteousness (Mal. 3:3, D&C 13).  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that sacrifice has always been connected to the duties of the priesthood, and that when the Temple of the Lord is built, the sons of Levi will be purified and help restore all things, including sacrifice.  This doesn't include restoring all the rites and ceremonies of the Law of Moses, but does include things existing before Moses' time, particularly sacrifice (Teachings, pp. 172-73).  President Joseph Fielding Smith further commented about our dispensation of the fullness of times where all things are to be gathered and restored: "It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation.  Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored.  The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fullness of the restoration in this dispensation.  Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character" (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:94).

So what does this have to do with me right now?  Good question...  I think we relate to the tribe of Levi in many ways.  They, like us, were compelled to leave the society of God, and as a result of their sins, they would be cursed and scattered forever.  However, the Lord had great mercy on them, and brought them back into His chosen people as they lived up to His requirements.  The Levites were not born into their callings initially, but were adopted in.  We are also adopted into the Lord's society, and as we make righteous offerings unto the Lord (specifically temple and missionary work), we will be given the Lord's power (including priesthood power and blessings) and fully accepted as heirs of God.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Relationships With Deity

One of the consummate truths restored by Joseph Smith is the individuality of the Godhead.  In his great theophany that spring morning of 1820, Joseph saw with his mortal - yet transfigured - eyes two separate Personages "whose brightness and glory defy all description" (JSH 1:17).  God, the Eternal Father - the Man of Holiness - and His Only Begotten in  the flesh, Jesus Christ, showed themselves to this young boy of 14.  In those few moments, Joseph learned more about God than had been known for centuries previous.

Jesus, Himself, taught that eternal life - the greatest of all the gifts of God (D&C 14:7) - is coming to know who God is: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent" (John 17:3).  Joseph Smith taught that "correct ideas of the character of God are necessary in order to the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation; and that without correct ideas of his character the minds of men could not have sufficient power with God to the exercise of faith necessary to the enjoyment of eternal life" (Lectures on Faith, p.45).

I'd like to suggest three relationships with deity that will help us come to know the Godhead and better connect with them in ways befitting their respective links.


Heavenly Father - A Paternal Relationship


Heavenly Father is just that - our Father.  Jesus told his close friend, Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17).  While on the cross, experiencing "all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane" again, Jesus called out to His Father (Bruce R. McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane).  "In that most burdensome moment of all human history with blood appearing at every pore and an anguished cry upon His lips, Christ sought Him whom He had always sought - His Father.  'Abba,' He cried, 'Papa,' or from the lips of a younger child, 'Daddy.'  This is such a personal moment it almost seems a sacrilege to cite it.  A Son in unrelieved pain, a Father His only true source of strength, both of them staying the course, making it through the night - together" (Jeffrey R. Holland, None Were With Him).

That same Father that the Savior - the most powerful One to walk the earth - turned to in His most difficult time is also the same Father we can turn to.  He literally is the Great Parent of the Universe, the Father of our spirits.  He knows His children perfectly, and His entire purpose is to help those children progress and grow up to become like Him.  His is the ultimate power to exalt and glorify.

Our relationship with Him is cultivated through direct communication; we speak with Him.  We worship Him through two-way communication: prayer (Alma 33:3).  "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instictive on our part (Matt. 7:7-11).  Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.  Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other" (BD, Prayer).


Jesus Christ - A Redemptive Relationship


We do not have the same relationship with Jesus Christ as we do with our Heavenly Father.  They are distinct Beings and have distinct roles in our lives.  Jesus Christ is our Redeemer.  He, our Elder Brother, has purchased us with His blood and our salvation comes through Him. 

Orson F. Whitney penned a majestic view of Christ's role in our lives:

"Go forth, thou Chosen of the Gods, 
Whose strength shall in thee dwell!
Go down betime and rescue earth,
Dethroning death and hell. 
On thee alone man's fate depends,
The fate of beings all.
Thou shalt not fail, though thou art free-
Free, but too great to fall.

"By arm divine, both mine and thine,
The lost thou shalt restore,
And man, redeemed, with God shall be,
As God forevermore.
Return, and to the parent fold
This wandering planet bring,
And earth shall hail thee Conqueror,
And heaven proclaim thee King."

Jesus reveals His identity to us over and over again in the scriptures: "I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.... In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name" (Ether 3:14).  We have so much information about the Savior, and ours is the responsibility to learn of Him and His example.  We come to know more about the characteristics and qualities of both Heavenly Father and His Son through studying the life of Jesus.

We do not worship Christ the same way we do the Father.  Bruce R. McConkie states that the scriptures referring to worship of Christ are speaking in "the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us" (Our Relationship with the Lord).  We do not pray to Christ, but rather approach our Father in His name.  Our relationship with Christ grows as we study about Him, obey His commandments, and recognize His importance in our lives.  He bought back our souls from destruction, and is our Lord, God, and King.


The Holy Ghost - A Revelatory Relationship


The Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, is an unembodied God.  He is a Revelator, Sanctifier, and Comforter.  His crowning role is to testify and bear record of the Father and the Son.  Through Him are spiritual gifts dispensed to the faithful.  While He is only in one place at a time, His power and influence may be manifest everywhere.  Nephi taught that angels work through this medium to assist in our lives (2 Ne. 32:3).  "Every person who knows or has ever known that Jesus is the Christ has received that witness from the Holy Ghost" (Marion G. Romney, The Holy Ghost).  

The Holy Ghost reveals to us the divinity of the Father and Son and also of gospel truths.  "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).  "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Mor. 10:5).  We pray frequently and partake of the Sacrament weekly for His companionship.

The Spirit of God is a master Teacher.  He will teach us what we should do & say, give us revelation, and uncover the mysteries of all things (Luke 12:11-12, John 14:16,26).  He is omniscient like the Father and Son, and has a knowledge of things past, present, and future (D&C 93:24).  He has been doing His job for a very long time and is expert at what He does.  There is no problem He hasn't dealt with, no struggle He hasn't seen, no answer he does not have, and no heartache He cannot soothe.  

All three members of the Godhead are closely interconnected with one another and make up one God or Godhead.  We pray to our Heavenly Father (paternal relation) in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ (redemptive relation), by the power of the Holy Ghost (revelatory relation).  Understanding and fostering our relationship with each member of the Godhead will allow us to realize our deepest desire - eternal life.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Small and Simple

We are all familiar with the scripture in Alma 37:6, where Alma points out to his son, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."  What is Alma even talking about when he says this?  Study the scriptures?  Pray often?  No, these may be excellent applications for us, but they are not what Alma was referring to originally.  I think the background of this statement brings illumination to why this principle is so powerful and the absolute essentiality of the "mundane" gospel requirements.

The great father figure Alma is having a little personal interview with each of his sons.  This was probably after a nice family home evening and before the next day when Helaman and his brothers would head out on missions to preach the gospel (Alma 43).  After delivering a beautifully prepared commentary on his conversion story (considering the precise parallel structure and chiasmus of Alma 36 compared to the original account in Mosiah 27, Alma obviously has great regard for this experience), Alma begins talking about his firstborn's responsibilities regarding the sacred records.


It would be quite an experience to be entrusted with the most valuable historical records of the United States (the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address, etc.) and then add to them under your own name.  In a sense, Helaman was given just that, but this set of records, at the time, had a history almost three times as long as the oldest U.S. documents and is the only copy to survive to modernity that we know of.  Cool heirloom.

Alma commands Helaman to continue authoring the record like he has done (Dad was a skilled, prolific writer and that alone would be a daunting assignment), explains the spiritual and historical importance of the records, and then gives an interesting imperative: "If [these records] are kept they must retain their brightness" (Alma 37:5).  The plates were made out of brass and other metals.  To survive, they had to be polished and kept nice or they would rust, become unreadable, and be utterly useless.  Alma doesn't even ask Helaman to remember to polish the plates.  He merely says, "they must retain their brightness."  And if Helaman didn't get it yet, he repeats himself a little more emphatically, "and they will retain their brightness" (Have your parents ever told you, "You will be back by midnight, and the car will be clean"?  It's not a question.  It will be done or else they lop your head right off the next morning).

Now we don't get to see Helaman's reactions in this exchange, but I imagine - like any young son given what seem like bizarre rules - he gave a little smirk or rolled his eyes.  He may have interrupted, "Oh Dad, do I really have to polish these every day?  They're still readable even if they're not bright.  Do I actually have to see my face in them?"  We know he had some sort of response like this because immediately his father says, "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me."  And then that legendary maxim, "But behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6).

Nephi and his family went to great lengths to retrieve the brass plates from Jerusalem

I bet Helaman polished those plates so he could see his face in their brightness every day of his life.  I hope we can value the scriptures so highly that we begin to see our own faces within the light of the pages.  Helaman may have never seen a need to polish the plates.  After all, they were always kept bright and never tarnished.  But he understood the seriousness of this task and performed it faithfully.  He knew that disobedience is a slippery slope, and missing one day's duties easily leads to another.  This assignment was of particular import, as the ramifications would last for millennia.

Polishing plates isn't fun (imagine vigorously buffing each page of your Book of Mormon).  It's mundane, intense, repetitive, and you don't really see results/benefits of doing it - the plates are still just bright.  However, because Helaman (and subsequent authors) obeyed the seemingly small commands of his Dad (the prophet), millions of others can read and enjoy the profound messages of the Book of Mormon.  The gospel requirements may seem to be mundane, intense, or repetitive, but as we follow zealously the counsel of the prophets - ancient and modern - we will richly bless many lives (including our own) and save them from complete disaster.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sacramental Symbols

I've been contemplating the sacrament lately and wanted to write a few thoughts I've been reflecting on.  I know I can increase the significance of the sacrament in my life, particularly when I think of Elder Oak's comment, "The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the church" (Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament, Oct. 2008).  A deeper understanding of the sacrament may give us a greater appreciation for it.

Gethsemane

Basic symbols include the clean white cloth covering the body and blood of Christ (like the linen covering His body in the tomb), the whole bread being torn and broken for us (as His body was), the wine/water we drink and make a part of us (the blood He shed in Gethsemane and the water that came from His side on the Cross [John 19:34]), and the sacrifices that this ordinance replaced (an unblemished, first-born, male lamb brought to the priest to be killed in your behalf).

Paul showed the vital impact of the sacrament by illustrating the "baptism" of the children of Israel (immersed through the Red Sea and subsequently watched over by God's Spirit in the cloud) and how they were fed by the meat and drink from the Lord afterwards (1 Cor. 10:1-4).  Their literal survival depended upon partaking of the flesh and water that were provided for them by Jehovah.

Isaiah understood the necessity of the Savior's cleansing power, and uses imagery surprisingly similar to our modern-day ordinance.  After declaring his distress at being unclean, he describes a seraph (angelic minister) coming to him with a live coal that he had taken from off the altar.  Isaiah received the coal in his mouth and was told, "thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged" (Isaiah 6:5-7).

A triclinium, the probable arrangement in the Upper Room

The sacrament is an ordinance where we renew, or revitalize, all the covenants we have made with God.  Elder Delbert L. Stapley said, "Another important purpose of the sacrament is to renew and keep in force the covenants and obligations which we have entered into with our God" (The Sacrament, 8 May 1956).  President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that we attend sacrament meeting to "renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. ... Each ordinance and requirement given to man for the purpose of bringing to pass his salvation and exaltation is a covenant" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:345-6).

The sacrament prayers themselves demonstrate this.  The prayer over the bread includes the wording, "that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son," while the prayer over the water assumes the partaker is willing and is actually doing so.  David A. Bednar taught that we show our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Christ at baptism, but that we fully take upon ourselves His name in the temple (Honorably Hold a Name and Standing, April 2009).  Thus, both prayers encapsulate our covenant making experiences here on earth, including those made in the temple and when receiving the priesthood.

One may ask, "Why does the water come after the bread?"  It's not just so we can wash it down...  As aforementioned, the two prayers are different and the discrepancies are meaningfully intended.  The prayer over the water reads, "that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them" (Mor. 5:2).  The "them" is referring back to the first prayer, to those who are His people, keeping His commandments as demonstrated by their partaking of the bread.  The willingness to take upon the name of Christ and keep His commandments is not repeated because that is now already expected and assumed if the participant is to gain access to the cleansing and enabling power of the blood of Christ.

The Garden Tomb

Perhaps my favorite symbolism of the sacrament is our ability to participate in the Lord's work and glory every week.  The bread is a symbol of Christ's body, which was resurrected, a reminder that all of us will obtain immortality.  The water is a symbol of the blood of the Lamb, His mercy and grace which redeems and perfects us so we may obtain eternal life.  "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).  Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch in the second century, called the broken bread, "the medicine of immortality" (To the Church at Ephesus, 20:2).  Moroni, two centuries later, declared that we are "sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot" (Mor. 10:33).

Bread = Resurrection = Immortality
Water = Blood of Christ = Eternal Life

The Lord's whole purpose for us is to obtain immortality and eternal life.  As we eat and drink the symbols of our Master (a custom Jews followed - eating with their teacher as a symbol of acceptance and digestion of their teachings), we will become more like Him.  Every week, as we partake of the sacrament worthily, we will make Him more a part of us.  The sacrament truly is the sacred culmination of church meetings and I hope we'll more seriously consider its importance as we personally engage in the work and glory of God.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Anti-

What really is an anti-Christ?  Are the Anti-Nephi-Lehies opposed to Nephi and Lehi?  And why is anti-Mormon material so destructive?

The Greek root for "anti" can mean not only "opposite of" and "against," but also "in place of."  A conglomeration of the two may suggest the definition, "opposed to, by being similar".  The Greek doesn't necessarily prove this definition, so instead of inductive, I'll use deductive reasoning to try to prove it.

Two quick examples:  First, anti-venom is created with actual venom from the poisonous animal.  That venom is injected into a big animal like a horse, which then creates antibodies for us to extract and use. Thus, the anti-venom is very similar to the actual venom, but has an opposite effect on the body.  Second, the star "Antares" is a red supergiant that got its name from the ancient Greeks.  The name means "anti-Ares" (Ares was the God of war, synonymous with the Roman Mars), so called because of it's very similar appearance to the planet Mars.

Let's apply this definition to "Antichrist.  I'd love to delve deeper into the ways the three antichrists in the Book of Mormon are opposed to Christ by being similar to Him (Sherem was a great leader who preached the law of Moses and sincerely tried to keep the people in the right way of God [Jacob 7:7].  Nehor taught that the Lord had created all men, had redeemed them, and that they should have eternal life [Alma 1:4].  Korihor's doctrine included empirical knowledge acquisition, and prospering according to your 'genius' [Alma 30: 15,17].  Much of their ideology was true, which made them enticing and popular, but they twisted key constituents that turned them against Christ), but that's for another day.


The ultimate Antichrist is Lucifer himself.  But even he doesn't approach us all with radical ideas that are diametrically opposed to Christ's doctrine.  If he did, he'd probably lose a lot of followers.  In the premortal councils, the "shining one" and "bringer of light" (makes me think of Abraham's metaphor for the noble and great ones as stars in the firmament) preached salvation for all, a guaranteed return to Heavenly Father.  The other option seemed to be the loss of billions of us, members of our family.  The ideas Lucifer taught sounded great, but we know of course that he always perverts pivotal points of the plan (the loss of agency renders us damned in the progression toward godhood).

One striking example of how Satan is opposite to Christ by being similar to Him is found in the Garden of Eden.  One may ask, why did Satan assume the image of a snake?  (I'm not going into the debate of whether he literally transformed into the configuration of a snake, took possession of an already created snake, or if there is some "form/sign of the snake" like the Holy Ghost's "form/sign of the dove." If you want a more informed opinion, read Genesis 3, Moses 4, and go to the temple...)

Many of us associate the snake with subtlety, craftiness, and deception.  Originally, however, I think the snake was a symbol for the Savior, a symbol of healing and renewing.  The snake's shedding of skin, for instance, is a great image of death & resurrection, leaving behind old ways, and renewed life.  Perhaps the most referenced event from the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon, Moses' brazen serpent is a powerful example of how the snake is a symbol of the Savior: "if we look, we shall live" (1 Ne. 17:41, 2 Ne. 25:20, Alma 33:19-22, Alma 37:46, Hel. 8:14-15).  Even John makes the connection for the symbol, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14-15).  Some scholars think the serpent was outstretched perpendicular to the pole Moses lifted it on (in motion, as Nephi says, as a "fiery flying serpent"), and made a cross-like appearance.

The "brass serpent" atop Mt. Nebo.

If Satan wanted to deceive Eve, he probably wouldn't want to appear as a seven-headed, ten-horned beast. Instead, he chose an animal that Eve may have recognized, one she could have been taught about in the premortal realms as a symbol for the Savior.  How much more wretched and evil Satan becomes when we think of him this way - taking that which is sacred and treading it under his feet (he's a spirit so he doesn't have literal feet, but you get the point).  It is interesting to note that the snake has emerged as a dual symbol for good and evil, poison and medicine (Asclepius' staff, now the symbol for modern medicine), death and life, and has been an object of veneration by people all over the world.

So, what about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies?  One explanation is that the second little hyphen was used incorrectly.  The original manuscripts of the Book of Mormon had very little punctuation, and while John H. Gilbert did his best to punctuate as he thought the author intended, it may not have been as critically attended to as the translation itself.  So, one postulation is that it should be rendered "Anti-Nephi Lehies," as in "not of Nephi, but of Lehi."  They were Lamanites politically and culturally, but were still descendants of Lehi, and now recognized that lineage - and more importantly returned to his religion and faith.  These people of Lehi were opposite of Nephi in lineage (they were descendants of Laman), but similar to him in faith.  Even if the hyphen should be attached, we could say that they were opposite of Nephi and Lehi in culture and politics, but similar to them in religion and faith.

Mounds in Ohio built by people dated to Book of Mormon times.

A quick reflection on anti-Mormon material.  I was walking around Temple Square some time ago and was given a lovely newsletter from a picketer outside the gates (after desperately trying to get the attention of anyone I could as a missionary for two years, I've become a little more sympathetic to any sort of activist).  As I read it, I was surprised to see that its contents were almost entirely what I believed.  Most of the "anti-Mormon" material was true, but was presented as utterly preposterous and mixed with distortions.

The father of lies is deceptive.  He perverts and contorts all that is good into hollow deceit.  That's what makes his temptations so enticing.  They look so much like the truth, but leave us with feelings of guilt, depression, and loneliness.  They are similar to what's right in appearance, but opposite in effect.  As we cultivate our conception of God, we will develop the perception to see and overcome the devil's deception.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Window in the Ark

In Genesis 6:14, the Lord instructs Noah, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood."  What in the world is gopher wood?  I don't know...  But the Greek Septuagint translates the phrase into xylon tetragonon ("squared timber"), and the Latin Vulgate renders lignis levigatis ("smoothed, possibly planed, wood").  As to the type of wood, suggestions include - among others - fir, cedar, and acacia.  Interesting that all three of these wood types were included in the building of temples (Ex. 26:15 - shittim wood for the tabernacle [probably acacia], 1 Kings 9:11 - Hiram of Tyre furnished Solomon with cedar and fir trees).  

Woods outside Jerusalem.

This leads to the idea of the ark itself being a type of temple.  The ark joins a unique group of structures that are specifically designed by the Lord Himself.  The dimensions of the ark are very similar to the dimensions of Moses' tabernacle and Solomon's temple (Gen. 6:15, 1 Kings 7:2, Ex. 27:18).  The ark was divided into three decks, similar to the three sections of the tabernacle and temple (Gen. 6:16, Ex. 26-27).  The word for Noah's ark in the Septuagint is kibotos, the same word used for the ark of the covenant in the temple.  Those who followed the prophet's teachings were given access to the ark/temple, and were able to be saved from the sinfulness of the world around them.  Listening and acting on our prophet's words will both figuratively and literally save our spiritual and physical lives.

Falling into the same temptation as Uzzah...

Did the ark have windows?

Genesis 6:16 reads, "A window shalt thou make to the ark," but the word for window is translated from the Hebrew tsohar.  "Some rabbis believed it was a precious stone that shone in the ark" (Gen. 6:16 footnote a).  Sound like anyone else you know who was in the business of building ships to save his family and was looking for light?

The Lord's answers to the brother of Jared's challenges fascinate me.  The Lord had given him most of the instruction he needed (just as we generally understand what we are to be doing in life).  However, the brother of Jared had difficulties just like us:  "... the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me"  (The Lord is very specific in the construction of the structures that save our souls).  He continues, "And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe ... therefore we shall perish" (Ether 2:18-19).  The Lord quickly gives the answer to one of the problems - make a hole in the top and bottom of the barge, and you'll be able to breathe.  But He does not give the answer to his other petition.  He doesn't say anything.  So the brother of Jared makes the holes and returns to ask again about the light issue.  The Lord then turns the question back on him, "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" (Ether 2:23).

That's a good question.  The Mediterranean is huge, not to mention the ocean...

Some may say that the brother of Jared came up with the "glowing stones" idea by personal revelation from God.  However, we don't explicitly see any sort of revelation (in fact a void of such next to the revelation about the holes).  Others may argue that he came up with it himself.  That may be true, but another possibility is that the Lord had already given the answer to another prophet, and he expected the brother of Jared to either ask the prophet or search the scriptures.  Noah and the brother of Jared very well could have been contemporaries.  Scholars date Noah's flood to around 2350 BC.  If Noah was 600 when it began and lived to be 950, his lifespan may have been around 2950 BC to 2000 BC.  The time frame for the beginning of the book of Ether is around 2100 BC.

Oftentimes the answers we seek may have already been given by the Lord to His prophets.  Personal revelation is absolutely necessary for our spiritual survival (the hole revelation allowed Jared's people to breathe), but the prophet receives revelations that are also necessary for us (Noah's "glowing stone" may have spurred the idea for the brother of Jared's sixteen "glowing stones").  Following the prophet is absolutely essential for our exaltation.  President Ezra Taft Benson said that "our salvation depends on [it]" (14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Ensign, June 1981).  May we follow the prophet's revelations and instructions into the safety of the temple and onward to eternal life.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Perfection


I think many of us fall victim to the fallacious idea that when we arrive at judgment day, we will stand before God as imperfect beings, full of sins that need to be cleansed, and then magically transformed into a perfected god-like individual.  From what I understand, in order to retain the presence of the Father (a wondrous and terrible gift that all receive, despite levels of righteousness [Hel. 14:16-18]), we must come as already perfected beings who have overcome all things through the Atonement of Christ.

Heavenly Father's laws are immutable, "But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God" (Nephi's use of chiasmus is ubiquitous and shows emphasis on particular principles of import) (1 Ne. 15:34).  In order to enjoy eternal life, the kind of life that God enjoys, we must be obedient to that law of heaven.  In other words, God's plan demands perfection and nothing short of it.

Of course, we are aware that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and Heavenly Father is aware of that too.  He is aware that our sinning damns us, so in His infinite knowledge He provided a Savior, whose Atonement has the unfathomable power to cleanse and perfect.  We are given a probationary period (one on probation does not evade the consequences of his actions but merely has them postponed, unless he is compliant with the conditions of the probation).  The Father, in great mercy, has given us time to become perfect.

The Savior commanded us to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).  The Greek word for perfect, telios, means complete, finished, or fully developed.  I find it interesting that He doesn't include Himself in this commandment here, but does when He gives it to the Nephites (3 Ne. 12:48).  Even the Savior, Himself, was not magically transformed overnight into a perfected, fully developed God.  Rather, John says "He received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness" (D&C 93:13).  So must our journey be.

Mount of Beatitudes, the setting for Christ's "Sermon on the Mount"

Some give a monetary metaphor for Christ's Atonement (e.g. "You give all you have and the Savior will make up the difference.").  While I think this is great for a basic understanding, I think it ultimately falls short.  Jesus Christ does not merely make up the difference.  Rather, He is the difference.  He doesn't just fill in what we can't do, but actually empowers us to have the capabilities to do it ourselves.  Elder Bednar describes these two powerful aspects of the Atonement: the redeeming power, and the enabling power: "I suspect that many Church members are much more familiar with the nature of the redeeming and cleansing power of the Atonement than they are with the strengthening and enabling power... The gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good.  And the Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good.  Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality - from bad to good to better and to change our very nature."

I think this is so critical.  God does not want us to be imperfect creatures who have simply been washed clean.  He wants our natures to change, for us to become, truly become, what we were designed to become:  "priests and kings, [priestesses and queens] who have received of his fulness, and of his glory... Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons [and daughters] of God" (D&C 76:56,58).

This may seem exhausting and even impossible.  I have a hard time studying the scriptures consistently or waking up early and this is what is expected of me?!  However, I know, like Nephi that "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men [including perfection], save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Ne. 3:7).  Did we get that?  "That they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."  We can achieve perfection and are ultimately responsible to do so.  We are utterly unable to do this on our own, but Christ has prepared a way! We can access the infinite redeeming and enabling powers of the Atonement through faithfulness to the covenants that bind us to Him.  We can do it!  The Savior wouldn't have given us the commandment if He didn't think we could.

The "City of David," the Jerusalem of Nephi and Lehi's time.

"Man's chief concern in life should not be the acquiring of gold or fame, or of material possessions.  It should not be the development of physical prowess, nor of intellectual strength, but his aim, the highest in life, should be the development of a Christlike character." -David O. Mckay

"The greatest and most important labor we have to perform is to cultivate ourselves." - Brigham Young

"Your greatest work, your most important creation, will be you." - Robert Jensen

God has given us time.  We are not expected to become perfect in this mortal existence, although the scriptures do give examples of individuals who achieved some sort of perfection while here: "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth" (Moses 8:27, Gen. 6:9); "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1); "He (Seth) was a perfect man" (D&C 107:43).

Perfection is a process, but one that we can and must work on.  "Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected" (D&C 67:13).  As we continue living our lives faithfully, we will come to realize that perfection is possible through Jesus Christ.  The Atonement is powerful enough to perfect us.

The ultimate realization of our perfection will be in our glorious resurrection.  Speaking of those who overcame all things by faith, the Lord said, "These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.  These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all" (D&C 76:69-70).  It is after this resurrection, after perfection, that we can be brought before our Heavenly Father, and enjoy His presence for eternity.  We can completely fulfill His demands for justice because of the mercy of His Son.  We can and must achieve perfection.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Three Fathers

We have three different fathers and are to develop & cultivate our relationship with each of them if we are to realize a celestial life with them.

Earthly Father



I was impressed, recently, with the way Joseph Smith recounts the fourth appearance of Moroni.  The angelic messenger from God "commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received" (JSH 1:49).  I think it interesting that Joseph hadn't told anyone about the previous night's experiences.  Joseph wasn't forbidden from talking about his experience, but still simply resumed his daily labors and worked right alongside his dad without mentioning a word.  This isn't unique to Joseph - and gives us insight into his personality as a youth - for after the glorious First Vision, his response to his mother's inquiries was "Never mind, all is well - I am well enough off."  These were definitely two of the most incredible experiences in the prophet's life, and he didn't share them with anyone.  At first.

I can relate to Joseph in this regard.  As a youth, I rarely discussed deep emotional or spiritual experiences with my parents.  Parents, in their brilliance, often know when something is troubling their children, and I often responded in effect, "Never mind, all is well - I am well enough off."  I may have thought I was independent enough to handle things on my own, or that if I talked about problems or questions I had, it would show imperfections in myself - and you can't let your parents think you're imperfect.

Whether Joseph had similar reasons or not, he had to be given a commandment by a heavenly messenger to open up to his dad and talk about what was going on in his life.  In a recent Priesthood Session, Elder Ballard gave similar instruction to trust your father, take an interest in his life, and ask him for advice.  In the past few years I have opened up so much more to both my father and mother, and I realized they actually know stuff!  They used to be young once (go figure), and they survived it.  They have a successful marriage and are happy.  They are righteous role models and always seem to know what to say or do to lift and inspire me.  All I had to do was ask.

Heavenly Father



Unique to all other creations, humans are offspring of their Creator, not simply nifty handiwork.  Our mouthpiece from God, Thomas Spencer (solid name) Monson declared, "I leave with you my witness [one who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced] and my testimony that God our Eternal Father lives and loves us. He is indeed our Father, and He is personal and real. May we realize and understand how close to us He is willing to come, how far He is willing to go to help us, how much He loves us, and how much He does and is willing to do for us. May He bless you. May His promised peace be with you now and always" (Until We Meet Again, Conference Report, Oct. 2011).

When we think of the Akedah, we are rightly impressed with Isaac's qualities as a type of Christ. However, the account focuses mostly on Abraham, and if Isaac is a type of Christ, Abraham must be a type of Heavenly Father.

It must have deeply grieved Abraham, the quintessential father figure, to watch his son Ishmael leave him.  In an effort to accomplish God's promise of endless seed on her own, Sarai offered Hagar to Abram.  She bore a son named Ishmael, who was surely the one in whom the promises would be fulfilled.  For 14 years Abraham groomed and nurtured Ishmael as his heir.  He must have taught him about the incredible blessings, priesthood, and promises he had received from the Lord, and probably told him that he would be the one who would help bring these to fruition for the world.  He scoffed the idea that Sarah could bear a child and prayed "unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!" (Gen. 17:18).  When Ishmael was caught doing something wrong, he was condemned to be cast out of the presence of his father.  This destined son was to be torn from his family, not to return for a long time (the next recorded time they were together is when Ishmael helped to bury his father Abraham - Gen 25:9).  Abraham woke up early that next morning, and carefully prepared Ishmael and his mother with bread and water to help them during the perilous journey (Gen. 21:14).  Over and over through this process, the Lord assures Abraham that his promised blessing would be fulfilled through Isaac, but in the very next chapter, Abraham is commanded to sacrifice this chosen son.  I wonder what doubts, confusion, and heartache Abraham must have been experiencing.

Tel Beersheva and the Negev - Abraham's stomping grounds.

The analogy continues, but let's compare what we have so far.  Our Heavenly Father carefully prepared us for our journey here in mortality:  He gave us the Gospel of Christ - the Bread of Life and Living Waters. It must have been a saddening experience to watch us leave, knowing that many of us wouldn't return permanently to Him, even those with potential to become His heirs.  Ultimately, He had to sacrifice His Only Begotten in order to open the possibility of His children returning (and unlike Abraham, He actually had to go through with it).  The love our Heavenly Father has for us must be unfathomable.

We pray directly to Him.  We need no intermediary for that (although we do approach Him in the name of His perfect Son, for if we were to approach in our own name, our prayers would be for naught).  Of all the interactions Heavenly Father leaves to Jesus Christ, one He reserved for Himself was prayer.  We must cultivate our relationship with God through this medium.  "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part" (BD - Prayer).  We can have a great relationship with our loving Father in Heaven.  He wants us to come to Him.  All we have to do is ask.

Jesus Christ, the Father


The scriptures are replete with examples of how Jesus Christ is the Father of those who covenant with Him.  King Benjamin's people promised to be obedient to all of God's commands and were told, "Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you."  He continues, "Ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters" (Mosiah 5:7).


A child inherits characteristics from his father.  Among other things, I inherited my dazzling good looks and strong mind from my earthly father, and a powerful spirit with godhood potential from my Heavenly Father.  I received physical life from my dad and spiritual life from God.  In the process of becoming children of Christ, we inherit characteristics of faith, forgiveness, and freedom.  We have died spiritually once, but through Christ, we are reborn spiritually.  We do not become His children unconditionally, however.  This truth is vividly taught by the Savior to the murderous Pharisees when He said, "Ye do the deeds of your father... Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8:41,44).

For Christ to be our Father, we must choose it.  We must do His works and covenant with Him.  "All mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people [so pretty much everyone], must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters."  We have all been born of Heavenly Father and of our earthly fathers, so who is the Lord telling us to be born of here?  Alma makes it clear that this is Christ: to be born again, we must be baptized and "have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world," and gives us a spiritual newness of life (Alma 7:14).

Children often have a father and a mother.  We know our earthly mother, and understand the sacred truth of our Heavenly Mother, but who is the mother of our spiritual rebirth, the metaphorical bride of the Savior for this process?  Paul taught, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church... Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:23,25).  Christ gives us renewed spiritual life, and the church (our spiritual mother) nurtures, directs, and instructs us throughout this new life.  Discussing the time before the Millennium, John teaches that "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7).  The church will be ready when Christ comes, and the question remains, will I be a part of it?  Will I be a child of Christ, a member of the church family that's ready to receive Him?  We can experience the rich blessings of being the sons and daughters of "the Father of heaven and earth" (Mos. 3:8).  We have to ask and we must do our all.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Purpose of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon


Why do Book of Mormon prophets quote 475 verses from Isaiah, a full 1/3 of his book?  Yes, the Savior did say that "great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Ne. 23:1), but Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, and Alma had already been using this prophet's words more than any other.  Yes, Isaiah was a relatively recent prophet for the early Nephites (about 100-150 years before Lehi), but Nephi reports "many prophets, prophesying unto the people" (1 Ne. 1:4) during his own time - Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, and Obadiah to name a few.  Yes, Isaiah points us to the Savior - no doubt about that - but how and why?  While scholars and students give many reasons for the presence of Isaiah, another reason has given me new insight into the inward struggles of the Nephites.

Nations throughout history - apologies for the anachronistic wording - often draw strength from a cultural narrative that defines their identity.  Rome battled their way through the Punic wars to greatness and preserved the Greek myths, both of which shaped the way they saw the world and their place in it.  The Jews identified themselves with the Exodus - God had promised them the southern Levant, and despite times of captivity to Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, or Persia, He always brought them back to their homeland.  The concept of a "territorial" god was rampant throughout this time - gods were intimately tied to the land, not necessarily over the whole earth or over a certain people.  If you lived in Babylon, you would worship Marduk, because he was the one who had power there.  If you lived in the land of Israel, you worshiped Jehovah (and many Assyrians who moved in during the 8th century BC did just that - we know them as the Samaritans, but that's for another day).

Lehi and Nephi, as Jews following the Law of Moses, grew up listening to the accounts of their great father leading the children of Israel back to their promised land.  They saw God as One who would allow scattering, but eventually bring them back home safely.  Their story turned out to be much different.  The Nephites never got to go back home to their home land and "home" god, and the prophets leading them understood that.

The Nephites have always asked, "Why were we scattered?"  Laman and Lemuel start the questioning, but it seems that every group of people in the Americas were worried that they had been cast off from God.  You can tell the issues the people are facing by the words the prophets are speaking to them (prophets speak to the needs of the people).  So when Moroni writes that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to "show that they are not cast off forever" (Title Page), it must have been a pressing concern.  Nephi recognizes that they are a "branch who have been broken off" (1 Ne. 19:24).  And Jacob exhorts his people to "not hang down [their] heads, for we are not cast off" (2 Ne. 10:20).

The Nephites leave Jerusalem, never to return, and settle in the promised land of the Americas.  It isn't long before the factions divide and the Lamanites push them out of their lands and up into the Land of Nephi.  After a time, the Lamanites invade the Land of Nephi, and the Nephites gather to Zarahemla.  From Zarahemla, they are pushed to Bountiful, and eventually out of Bountiful into the land northward.  Each time the Nephites are never brought back to their "home" land.  They are constantly scattered throughout the entirety of the Book of Mormon.


So why is Isaiah in the Book of Mormon?  One reason is that Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet that had a unique ability to talk about Jesus Christ as a Redeemer for all His people.  Of the 16 times that the word "Redeemer" is used in the O.T., 13 of them are by Isaiah.  "Redeem" means to buy back, or to restore.  Isaiah's words have great power in convincing the reader that despite where you are, how old you are, where you've been, how smart you are, what you've done, when you live, or whatever your situation, Jesus Christ - an all-powerful God - cares deeply about you.  He has purchased you with His blood and has the power to restore you to your true Home Land - the Celestial Kingdom.

Isaiah 52 is a prime example of this.  It is the most quoted chapter in the Book of Mormon, and used by Nephi, Jacob, Abinadi, Alma, Moroni, and even the Savior Himself.  I'd love to touch on them all, but I hope the Savior's use of Isaiah will be sufficient for now.  In 3 Nephi 20, the Savior adapts Isaiah's language to emphasize the covenant relationship with the Father.  Isaiah doesn't use the word "father," but Jesus uses it often to show that God will not forget His people, just as a father would not forget his child.  Jesus excludes verses 4 and 5 of Isaiah 52, possibly because they include the idea of the people's experience as a "sojourn," suggesting a temporary absence from home.  The Nephite scattering isn't temporary, so Jesus doesn't include it.  After teaching about the scattering of Israel, He specifically reminds them that "the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance" (3 Ne. 20:14, emphasis added).  "Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Father hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.  The Father hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father" (3. Ne. 20:34-35, emphasis added).  While the Nephites won't return to their initial homeland, their scattering helps fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant: "In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed" (3 Ne. 20:27).  Jesus exhorts that all should awake, put on their strength, and be clean (3 Ne. 30:36,41).  Most of this is quoted directly from Isaiah 52.

This is much longer than I thought I'd write, and the next posts will be shorter, I promise...  There is a theme of scattering in the Book of Mormon.  The Nephites were frightened of being cut off, and that terror reaches to our present day.  We may feel abandoned or distanced from God.  We may feel we cannot achieve what we know we should.  We may be scared of the future and think "If only I could go back to _______, where I was comfortable and happy."  We may feel our lives are scattered and we don't know the direction we should go.

Isaiah is used so much in the Book of Mormon to make sure we understand that there is a Redeemer who will succor us no matter where we are.  "They may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.  Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands" (1 Ne. 21:15-16 & Is. 49:15-16).  "Awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled" (Mor. 10:31 & Is. 52:1-2, 54:2,4).  "For the Lord shall comfort Zion.... The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away" (2 Ne. 8:3,11 & Is. 51:3,11).

I hope as you come to the glorious Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon, you'll be touched by all that God is doing to comfort us and bring us back to Him.  Isaiah is filled with it.  He is doing everything He can, and expects us to wake up, stand up, recognize our worth, and be what we are meant to be - children of God.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Scriptural Insights

Dews From Heaven

The purpose of this blog is to channel any glimpses I get of the divine world into a spiritual record:  my metaphorical small plates, if you will.  These are opinions I have formed from studies, classes, and experiences, and they don't necessarily represent conclusive doctrine.  I hope they are of some use to you in endeavoring to comprehend and master the enlightenment of God.

For His glory is intelligence (D&C 93:36): dropping as the rain and distilling as the dew when we give ear to His words (Deut. 32:2).