Posts Tagged 'unrighteousness'

Genesis Chapter 4

At this point in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve have fallen from the state of paradise in the Garden of Eden. They were cast out and into the world, where they were to experience death and the hardships and toils of life. The story of Adam and Eve continues:

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Cain and Able were among many sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. We learn from the book of Moses, that Able was a righteous son who followed the word of the Lord, but Cain was a follower of Satan. (see Moses 5) Able followed the commandment of the Lord to make an offering of the firstling of the flock. Cain made the choice to mock the commandment of the Lord, by offering fruit of the ground. Since the offering was meant to be in similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God, an offering of anything less then a perfect firstling of the flock was a complete mockery of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Cain had done this because of the influence of Satan in his life.

The Lord is ready, willing, and bound to give us blessings if we follow his commandments. It really is that simple. Cain could not see that he would find favor in the sight of the Lord, if he followed the commandments. Instead he was filled with anger towards his brother, because Able had the flocks which caused him to gain favor from the Lord. The Lord taught Cain that if he did not follow the commandments, he would be sinning and falling under the control of Satan. In his wrath, Cain lured Able and killed him.

9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

The Lord, who knows everything we do and feel, knew what Cain had done. He was given the opportunity to confess for himself, but he did not. Instead, he asked if he was his brother’s keeper. This feeling of not be responsible for having a care for those around us, especially our family, is complete selfishness. We do not need to be overbearing and controlling in the lives of others, but we are their keepers in the sense that we need to have enough charity to care for how they are doing and what their lives are like. Cain did not have charity towards others, but only cared for his own welfare.

We have a right to blessings from the Lord, when we follow His commandments. Likewise, we have a right to cursings from the Lord, when we do not follow His commandments. This is because He is the Lord and ruler of us all. We are in debt to Him for our very lives and existence. Our lives are more precious than any earthly gift, because they are a gift from the Lord. He is the creator and we are expected to follow His ways when we are made known of them. Cain had been taught by his parents, Adam and Eve. He used the gift of agency, which we all have been given, and chose to do that which was awful in the sight of God. Because of this thing, he was cursed. His curse would mean that he would not be able to continually work with the earth to produce his foods and such, but rather, he would be forced to be a vagabond and live without the many blessings he was enjoying. Cain complained to the Lord that the punishment was too much for him. In Moses, we read further that he also explained his falling into temptation of Satan because of wanting the flocks of his brother (see Moses 5 – linked above). This was his way of excusing his actions. This will never work to keep us from the punishments of the Lord.

The footnote of verse 13 says the words “My punishment is greater than I can bear” means “My iniquity is too great to be forgiven.” This tells me that Cain knew full well that what he had done was terrible and was aware of the unforgiving nature of committing the murder of another person. He knew that because he was being forced to suffer that others would fear and hate him. To keep others from suffering the fate of Cain because of their fear or hatred, Cain was marked to set him apart. This mark was a mark of their skin color. We learn this in Moses 7:22 which reads, “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” This marking kept Cain and his seed separated from the covenant and righteous people of the Lord.

16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Cain was separated physically and spiritually from the Lord, because of his sin. When we live lives of sin and iniquity, we are also separated from the Lord. Life will go on, but the blessings available for us, will be kept from us until we repent and turn to the Lord. Cain’s lineage continued. A footnote for verse 17 tells us that this Enoch is different from the righteous leader of Zion. It’s good to recognize that these were not the same people because there is a clear difference in righteousness between them. The descendants of Cain continued in sin and transgression, including Lamech who also killed a man and feared for his life.

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

On the other hand, Adams righteous lineage continued when he had another son named Seth and a grandson named Enos, who were both good men who relied on the Lord in their lives. I am very grateful for the knowledge that there is opposition in all things, as well as the gift of agency. I am glad that I can choose how to live, and glad to know that there are consequences, both good and bad, to my choices. There were people who lived lives of righteousness and those who did not, just as these two types exist today. I am so grateful to have so many influences for good in my life, and to have the gospel and a knowledge and love for the Savior.

The Postmortal Spirit World

Read the entire lesson here: The Postmortal Spirit World.

There are three big questions of life, where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? One of the best things about the gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that the answers are there. I’ve never had to wonder about these things, because the scriptures tell me exactly what I need to know. This lesson discusses that which happens after our mortal life.

What happens to us after we die?

When we die, our bodies and spirit separate from one another. The body is left in the mortal sphere, or the grave, while our spirits move on to the spirit world. We will each have the opportunity to work and learn in the spirit world. Those who did not have the chance to learn of the gospel in this life, will have that chance. Those who were covenant people of Christ in this life, will have the opportunity to serve and to teach others. At some point, we will all have the opportunity to be reunited with our bodies through the power and gift of the resurrection, which has been provided to all men by the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we are resurrected, we will never experience a physical death or a separation of our body and spirit again. In addition to experiencing resurrection, we will also be judged for our works in this life. Each of us will be brought before the judgement seat, to determine what glory we have earned for our choices in life. Then we will receive the reward that we have gained. We learn of life after death throughout the scriptures. In Alma 11 we read the following:

42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

There will be nothing unknown by God or ourselves and I believe that we will be completely reconciled with the reward we receive and will find our greatest joy no matter what that reward may be.

What comfort do you receive from your knowledge that there is life after death? How can we use our understanding of the postmortal spirit world to comfort others?

I think that the passing of our loved ones would be unbearable if we did not have a hope in life after death. Having the knowledge that there will be work to do, lessons to learn, blessings received, and mostly forever families, gives me the hope to live life the best I can. I know how to live here because I know what is in store for me there. There can be great comfort in the trials, hardships and losses of this life, when we know these things. Those of us who have an understanding of these things, can help bring comfort to others by teaching them. We can honestly support and love others through their difficult times even if they do not understand. Our hope and happiness can help to lift the most burdened souls if we are willing to share it. It is the duty of all people who have made the covenant of baptism with the Lord, to comfort those who are in need. In Mosiah 18 we read the following about this:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

We have the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should share that with others.

Where Is the Postmortal Spirit World?

It may be difficult for some to understand, but I believe that the spirit world is very near to us. There are countless experiences of people feeling the presence of their loved ones, and I believe that these experiences are real. I think that at times the veil which covers our minds and separates us from the truths of an eternal nature, can be very thin. I think that our loved ones are truly near us, and that even though they are probably hard at work, they are watching over us and even guiding us at times.

What Is the Nature of Our Spirits?

One of the understandings that I have gained about the nature of our spirits, is that we will continue to have the same appetites and desires after this life, as we have during this life. In Alma 34:34 we read, “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” For example, if we seek to gain power in this life and that is the desire which drives our actions, we will continue to seek that after this life. The difference is that everyone will have a full knowledge and those desires will not be able to be acted upon. I think that our own desires will bring our own torment and so we must attain to have righteous desires, which will be completely realized after this life.

Why is it important to know that our spirits will have the same attitudes in the spirit world that they have now?

This knowledge should lead us to live a righteous life. Our state in eternity, depends upon the attitudes that we gain here. If we have a knowledge given to us in this life, about what types of attitudes we should have, then we need to seek to gain those attitudes now.

What Are the Conditions in the Postmortal Spirit World?

Before we receive our reward, we will either go to spirit prison or spirit paradise. In Alma 40 we read:

11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

Paradise is a state of happiness. I think it comes from having an understanding of the plan of salvation which all will have at that point. The righteous will know that they have been seeking for those things that were right and good. In paradise, they will have happiness and find joy in working and serving God. This service will come through teaching others the gospel. Meanwhile, the unrighteous, will know that they have been living a life of little worth and will feel the torment of that in darkness. There is a difference between outer darkness and spirit prison. Spirit prison is for those who are damned because they did not accept Christ in this life, but who have the opportunity in the spirit world to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept him as their personal savior. In Moses 7:57 we read, “And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God; and the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.” The wisdom and mercy of God, is that we will continue to have the opportunity to progress after this life, as long as a physical being has performed the necessary ordinances in the flesh. Those who are not cast to outer darkness, may learn of the gospel and with the full truth in front of them, choose for themselves if they will accept it.

How are conditions in the spirit world similar to conditions in this life?

First of all, we will continue to have our agency. We will choose for ourselves, the reward which will bring us happiness knowing fully our own flaws and mistakes. Agency is an eternal principal and it will continue forever. Second, we will continue to learn and progress. In this life, we are constantly learning new things. These things are both religious and secular. Both are important in our overall knowledge. Our learning will continue after this life. The difference there is that truth will be plain. Something I read while studying said that our spirits will still have the ability to be persuaded towards good or evil, so that is also a condition that will continue which we know well today.

I am so grateful for the knowledge of what is to come after this life. I am glad that death of those I love, does not cripple me. I find joy in my loved ones moving on to work for the Lord on the other side of the veil. I know that death is a welcome part of our eternal life and the eternal plan of God. I look forward to meeting many who have gone before me and sharing my testimony and understanding of the gospel with them. I love knowing that God is so kind and merciful, and yet that he is consistent and stable in his plan. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I hope that I can live my life in a way that will make me a worthy spirit in the life to come, so that I can help further the work of the Lord.

D&C Section 84 (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of the previous post (D&C Section 84 Part 1).

Historical Background

The prophet, Joseph Smith, called this a revelation on priesthood. It was received through the prophet during a time when the elders started to return and report on their missions. In the previous post on this section, we learned about the building of a temple in the New Jerusalem, which will be in Missouri.

A Parenthetical Insertion

This section gives a priesthood line of authority, or a listing of the line in which the Holy Priesthood was passed down to Moses from Adam, the first man on the earth (v. 6-16). Because the priesthood is the power of God, it has no beginning or end to it (v. 17). The priesthood given to Moses was the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Lord also gave us the Aaronic Priesthood which is the lesser priesthood (v. 18 ).

The manual I am reading goes into greater detail by saying that the priesthood was given to Moses directly through his father-in-law, Jethro. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the priesthood was allowed to be given to Jethro because he was of the Midianites, who were Hebrew descendants of Abraham. Because they were Abraham’s descendants they were allowed to hold the priesthood. This is important to know when understanding the line of the priesthood and the proper authority being given. We learn from the scriptures that only those who have the authority of the priesthood, can pass it down through the generations.

“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God (v. 19). Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest (v. 20). . . . And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel (v. 26); Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (v. 27).” The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the key of “knowledge of God” and the Aaronic Preisthood holds the key of “ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel”. Those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, have the power and authority to give all people who have been baptized, the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the revelator of the truth and mysteries of God to those who are faithful to the covenants they have made at baptism. There is no other way for any of us to know of these things, then by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, it is through the Melchizedek Priesthood that we can receive the knowledge of God.

Ancient Israel did not get to see God or enter to His rest because they would not live righteously enough to make sacred covenants with God. “And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh (v. 21); For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live (v. 22). Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God (v. 23); But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory (v. 24). Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also (v. 25);”. Because of their unwillingness to live as the Lord wanted them to, the Mechizedek priesthood was taken from them. The law of Moses was left for them to practice and the Aaronic priesthood remained with them.

John the Baptist held the Aaronic priesthood that was passed down through the seed of Aaron in the House of Israel. “For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power (v. 28 ).” This priesthood power given to John, prepared the way for Jesus to come and minister to the Jews. He had been the power to prepare the way, or the calling to preach the gospel in preparation for Jesus, when he was an infant. (The manual I am studying points out that this did not say that the angel gave him the priesthood power as an infant. It goes on to explain that we learn from Luke that he was sent by God to do this great work.) Likewise, the restoration of the priesthood power on the earth in these modern times, is preparing the way for Jesus to come again. Our righteousness is necessary in order for the priesthood to remain with us and prepare us for the second coming, just as it was for those in the time of Moses. We must live righteously and make the covenants of the priesthood so that we can enjoy the blessings of seeing God again some day.

“Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed (v. 31)—And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church (v. 32).” The reason for this explanation of the priesthood power and where it came from, is to explain that those of the priesthood will offer a holy offering and sacrifice in the temple of the Lord. These things that are offered, can only be done by those who righteously honor their priesthood.

(This section is to be continued.)

D&C Section 36

Historical Background

Edward Partridge had come to Fayette along with Sidney Rigdon (see previous post). He was a righteous man who had heard the gospel when the missionaries were in Kirtland, Ohio. He was still investigating the church when he arrived in New York. He had gone to the neighbors of the Prophet and asked about this Joseph Smith. The neighbors had said he had been a good man up until the Book of Mormon, when they felt deceived by him. Instead of believing strictly what they had told him, He went ahead to where Joseph lived and seeing all that he and his family had done for their faith, he was ready to be baptized. Later, this section of revelation was given through the Prophet to Edward Partridge.

Christ Is the “Mighty One of Israel”

“THUS saith the Lord God, the Mighty One of Israel: (v. 1). . .”. The Mighty One of Israel is the Lord, Jesus Christ. He led His people from Egypt with his power.

Preach “As with the Voice of a Trump”

“. . . Behold, I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed, and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to preach my gospel as with the voice of a trump (v. 1);”. Brother Partridge was called by the Lord to be a missionary. A long time ago, trumpets were used to herald the coming of someone of greatness, such as the king, or to prepare for something of importance, such as a battle. The Lord called him to preach as with a voice of a trump, to bring the attention of the people to the gospel, which is something of greatness and importance for us all.

“I Will Lay My Hand upon You”

“And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom (v. 2);”. The Lord promised Edward that he would receive the Holy Ghost, which would teach him of the gospel. This is a gift that can only be received by the laying on of hands and through the authority of God, which is the priesthood. The Lord teaches us here that when we receive a blessing by the laying on of hands, it is the Lord’s blessing to us and those who lay their hands upon us our only servants of the Lord acting for Him, because He cannot physically lay His own hands on us.

What Are the “Peaceable Things of the Kingdom”?

Knowing the gospel brings a peace to the soul that no other thing can bring. I think that it comes from gaining an understanding of why we are living this life and a hope for what is to come. Those things that are true and good are the peaceable things of the kingdom.

What Does the Word Hosanna Mean?

“And you shall declare it with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna, blessed be the name of the most high God (v. 3).” I learned (during my study of section 19) that Hosanna means to “save now” and is like our way of pleading with the Lord to bring us the salvation we hope for. The Lord tells Edward that in his calling, he will look in hope to salvation and help others to turn to the Lord for their salvation as well.

What Is an “Untoward Generation”?

“And now this calling and commandment give I unto you concerning all men (v. 4)—That as many as shall come before my servants Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, Jun., embracing this calling and commandment, shall be ordained and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel among the nations (v. 5)—Crying repentance, saying: Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh (v. 6).”

Those who are rebellious and do not turn to Christ are part of an untoward generation. We can be a part of this generation if we choose rebellion or if we are rebellious and we do not know it. Telling the people to repent and teaching them gospel principles is the way to bring them out of this untoward generation.

What Does It Mean to “Come Forth out of the Fire, Hating Even the Garments Spotted with the Flesh”?

In Jude 1:23 we read, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” In the manual I am using it explains that in Biblical times, clothing worn by those with diseases was burnt so that the disease would not spread. The Lord is telling Edward Partridge that he should tell the people to avoid all that is unrighteous and to stop it from spreading by shunning it and destroying its power. We cannot allow sin and unrighteousness to spread in our lives.

What Does the Phrase “Gird Up Your Loins” Mean?

“And this commandment shall be given unto the elders of my church, that every man which will embrace it with singleness of heart may be ordained and sent forth, even as I have spoken (v. 7). I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen (v. 8 ).” Girding the loins in biblical times meant to wrap a sash around your clothes (which were tucked into the sash) to keep the limbs free to work or travel. It is a way of being prepared for the work that we must do. When the Lord says it, He is saying that we need to prepare ourselves to do His work. In the case of Edward Partridge, he needed to prepare himself to go out and declare the gospel to the people. We all need to gird up our loins for the work that the Lord has set aside for us personally. We prepare by prayer, scripture study, attending church, and learning as much about the gospel as we are able. When we are prepared, the Lord can use us as instruments in His hands and many wonderful things can be accomplished.

Moroni, Chapter 7

What is the setting and background of this chapter?

“And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship (v. 1).  And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time (v. 2).  Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven (v. 3).  And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men (v. 4).”

I know of several people that I would consider to be “peaceable follower[s] of Christ”.  I think that peaceable followers of Christ are those who truly believe the gospel of the Savior and who want to follow it in all they do.  Those who are not ashamed of the gospel and who want to bring the gospel of peace to others.  I think that my family is striving to be peaceable followers of Christ, but there is room for improvement.  As members of the church, we should be always striving to follow the Lord.  We should also have a great desire to share the gospel with others and bring them peace.  Mormon addresses his words here to those who are striving to do this.

What is good?

“For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good . . . (v. 6)”.  What is the good that Mormon is talking about here?  “For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also (v. 5).  For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing (v. 6).  For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness (v. 7).”  The good Mormon is talking about, is righteousness.  An evil man cannot do that which is righteous.  An evil man will not profit eternally from his works.

“For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God (v. 8 ).  And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such (v. 9).  Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift (v. 10).”  To do good is to give a gift to God with righteous intention, or to pray to God with real intent of heart.  Without the real intent, is not good or unrighteous.  One who chooses to do evil before the Lord, is considered evil to the Lord.  And one who is evil, cannot do good.

“For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil (v. 11).”  This scripture gives me comfort.  I am striving to follow Jesus Christ.  As long as I continue to strive to follow Him, I cannot be a servant of Satan.  If I find myself doing things that are good without the real intent, I know that I need to re-evaluate my attitude.  If I continually want to do good and have the intentions to follow the Savior, my works will be good and I will become what my Father in Heaven wants me to be.

How can we know and judge good from evil?

“Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil (v. 14).  For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night (v. 15).”  It is easy for most of us to see the difference between daylight and dark night.  Mormon tells us here, that judging between good and evil should be this easy.

“Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually (v. 12).  But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God (v. 13).”  The fact is that everything good is of God and anything else is of Satan.  Or in other words, everything that is righteous is of God and anything unrighteous is not.

“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God (v. 16).  But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him (v. 17).”  All men are give the spirit as a guide to know what is good and what is evil.  This is not specific to those who have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Because it is the Spirit of Christ, it can lead us to Him.  If we choose to follow the Spirit and choose that which is good, we will find ourselves drawn closer to Christ.

“And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged (v. 18 ).  Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ (v. 19).”  We need to use the light of Christ to judge righteously between good and evil.  Once we see the difference between what is good and evil, we are obligated to choose the good.  If we choose the things that are good we can “be a child of Christ”.

I am glad that I have the ability to feel what is good or what is evil.  It gives me strength and confidence to know that I have chosen the thing that is right.  I have been blessed to see the truth amid the lies in the world around me because I have prayed for help to see.  The light in the world today is becoming blurred by all of the many temptations of Satan and I am grateful that I have things in my life to keep me aware.  I am so grateful for the scriptures and words of the modern prophets, as well as constant prayer, which keep my eyes focused on the light.

How do we obtain faith?  What are the blessings of faith?

Faith is a Sunrise

Following the Spirit can be a lot like trying to hear a quite voice when a loud voice is guiding us away from our goal.  We can distiguish which voice is the right voice, by where it leads us.  If every time we followed it, we ended up running into a wall, we would learn quickly that it was not the voice to listen to.  The voice of the Spirit will never lead us into walls or anything like that.  As we come to trust in the voice of the Spirit, we will be able to hear it better.  In Alma 32:21 we read, “And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”  Also in Ether 12:6 we read, “And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”  Faith is learning to trust the Spirit even though you have not seen for yourself.

“And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing (v. 20)?  And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing (v. 21).”  Faith is an action word.  We exercise faith when we follow the spirit and trust that it will lead us to that which is good and righteous.  The more confidence we gain from exercising this faith, the more we can be led to other good and righteous things.

Moroni goes on to teach more wonderful things based on faith.  He teaches that God sent angels to show men that Christ would come (v. 22).  Moroni tells us that God told the prophets that Christ would come (v. 23).  He tells us that everything good comes from Christ and without Christ we would remain fallen (v. 24).  He teaches that by faith, the people prepared for the coming of Christ (v. 25).  He teaches that many were saved by faith even after Christ came and that we can be blessed by faith even now.  “. . . And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you (v. 26).”

Moroni teaches that miracles, even the ministering of angels, can still happen as long as we have faith in Christ (v. 27-29).  Ministering angels are to show themselves to those with great faith and to guide people to repent and do the Lord’s will.  They also declare the word of God to those who are chosen by God, so that they will testify to all people of God (v. 30-31).  Moroni teaches us that by these testimonies, we may all be able to have faith in Christ and by the power of the Holy Ghost, we can be led to make covenants with God (v. 32).  “And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me (v. 33).”  Faith in Christ and His power to save us, will lead to repentance and baptism (v. 34).

Moroni teaches us that because of faith, miracles have not ceased.  He teaches that God has not held the power of the Holy Ghost from us.  And he teaches us that as long as there is man to be saved, He will never withhold the power of the Holy Ghost from us.  Without the power of faith, this life would be in vain (v. 35-37).  “For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made (v. 38 ).  But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church  (v. 39).”

Without faith, there is no reason to do anything good in this life.  Faith in the saving power of the atonement and in a life after this life, makes everything we do valuable.  I am so glad that I have the gospel, which teaches me how to use faith in my life.

The gift of hope

Recently, I went through a trial that was difficult.  I received a priesthood blessing and came out with the feeling that the Lord would give me the strength to handle things whatever way it turned out.  I had faith that the Lord knew what would be best for me and if I needed a lesson I would learn from the experience.  I leaned greatly on my hope that things would all work out well in the end.  Because of the strength I received from the Lord, I took steps that were out of my comfort zone and I am sure it is because of these steps that things worked out well in the end.  “And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope (v. 40)?  And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise (v. 41).”  Mormon tells us that we should have hope that our faith in Jesus Christ will lead to our exaltation through the power of the atonement.

In Alma 22:15-18, we read of Aaron teaching Lamoni’s father.  The king asked Aaron what he should do so that he could be filled with the spirit of Christ and be saved.  “But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest (v. 16).”  The king prayed to God in faith, for forgiveness, and was struck as if he were dead.  Aaron told Lamoni that his desire to know how to be saved and have joy was a desire to have hope.  In order to gain this hope, Lamoni’s father acted in faith by praying and pleading for forgiveness.

“Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope (v. 42).  And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart (v. 43).”  According to Mormon, in order to obtain hope, we must first be meek and lowly of heart.  Then through faith, the hope will come.  We live in a time of great wickedness.  We have wicked leaders and a great amount of sin and wickedness around us.  The gift of hope is needed so much to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Those who are “peaceable followers of Christ” can receive the gift of hope as they faithfully obey the commandments and follow the prophets.

Charity

There are many righteous people who faithfully attend church each week, pay their tithing and magnify their callings.  It is difficult to consider those people “nothing”.  In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 we read, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (v. 1).  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing (v. 2).  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (v. 3).”  Without charity we are nothing.

“If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity (v. 44).”  We can live the best we know how, and do all that is asked of us, but without charity, it is in vain.  What does it mean to have charity?  “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things (v. 45).”  To have the pure love of Christ is to be long-suffering, kind, not envious or prideful, not greedy, not quick to be provoked, righteous minded, and to believe, hope in and endure all things that are given to you.  I can think of many people in my life who are examples of each of these things.  I am constantly working on these things in my own life and I hope to someday be able to say that I have mastered them.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail (v. 46)—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him (v. 47).”  I think that having Charity is something that we work on literally each day of our lives.  It does not come easy to have the pure love of Christ, but it is something that we should all be striving for.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen (v. 48 ).”  We can obtain charity, through sincere, heart-felt prayer to our Father in Heaven.  When we pray to be filled with the love of Christ, with the intent to show that love for others, we will have charity.

Helaman, Chapter 7

What does it mean to prophesy?

One of the things our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has counseled us to do, is to serve others more often.  He has promised us that as we serve others, we will be blessed in this difficult time for all and that if we do not serve others, we will be easier targets for the attacks of the adversary.  This is prophesying.  The prophets are prophesying, when they tell us how we need to live and how that will affect our lives and our salvation.

“Behold, now it came to pass in the sixty and ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of the Nephites, that Nephi, the son of Helaman, returned to the land of Zarahemla from the land northward (v. 1).  For he had been forth among the people who were in the land northward, and did preach the word of God unto them, and did prophesy many things unto them (v. 2); And they did reject all his words, insomuch that he could not stay among them, but returned again unto the land of his nativity (v. 3).”  While Nephi was in the land Northward, he preached and prophesied to the people.  Those who were there rejected his words and so he went back to his home.

He prophesied many things to the people in the land Northward, and then once he was home, he had the opportunity to prophesy many more.  “And it came to pass that he opened his mouth and said unto them: Behold, why have ye gathered yourselves together? That I may tell you of your iniquities (v. 13)?  Yea, because I have got upon my tower that I might pour out my soul unto my God, because of the exceeding sorrow of my heart, which is because of your iniquities (v. 14)!  And because of my mourning and lamentation ye have gathered yourselves together, and do marvel; yea, and ye have great need to marvel; yea, ye ought to marvel because ye are given away that the devil has got so great hold upon your hearts (v. 15).  Yea, how could you have given way to the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls down to everlasting misery and endless wo (v. 16)?”  First he tells the Nephites that he knows they have been sinning and have allowed Satan to entice them.

“O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God. Why has he forsaken you (v. 17)?  It is because you have hardened your hearts; yea, ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd; yea, ye have provoked him to anger against you (v. 18 ).  And behold, instead of gathering you, except ye will repent, behold, he shall scatter you forth that ye shall become meat for dogs and wild beasts (v. 19).”  He tells them to repent and remember God, or through his anger he would scatter them to be hunted by animals and destroyed.

“O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered you (v. 20)?  But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world, for the which ye do murder, and plunder, and steal, and bear false witness against your neighbor, and do all manner of iniquity (v. 21).  And for this cause wo shall come unto you except ye shall repent. For if ye will not repent, behold, this great city, and also all those great cities which are round about, which are in the land of our possession, shall be taken away that ye shall have no place in them; for behold, the Lord will not grant unto you strength, as he has hitherto done, to withstand against your enemies (v. 22).”  He prophesies to them that if they do not repent of forgetting God and committing all these awful sins, the city of Zarahemla and others near to it, will be taken from them and they will not be protected against their enemies.

“For behold, thus saith the Lord: I will not show unto the wicked of my strength, to one more than the other, save it be unto those who repent of their sins, and hearken unto my words. Now therefore, I would that ye should behold, my brethren, that it shall be better for the Lamanites than for you except ye shall repent (v.23).  For behold, they are more righteous than you, for they have not sinned against that great knowledge which ye have received; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them; yea, he will lengthen out their days and increase their seed, even when thou shalt be utterly destroyed except thou shalt repent (v. 24).”  He prophesies that because the Lamanites are more righteous then them, the Lamanites will be blessed with longer lives while they, the Nephites, will be destroyed for their sins.

“Yea, wo be unto you because of that great abomination which has come among you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea, to that secret band which was established by Gadianton (v. 25)!  Yea, wo shall come unto you because of that pride which ye have suffered to enter your hearts, which has lifted you up beyond that which is good because of your exceedingly great riches (v. 26)!  Yea, wo be unto you because of your wickedness and abominations (v. 27)!  And except ye repent ye shall perish; yea, even your lands shall be taken from you, and ye shall be destroyed from off the face of the earth (v. 28 ).”  He prophesied that if they do not repent, they will perish and destroyed.

“Behold now, I do not say that these things shall be, of myself, because it is not of myself that I know these things; but behold, I know that these things are true because the Lord God has made them known unto me, therefore I testify that they shall be (v. 29).”  Finally he tells them that he knows these things because the spirit has told him about them, not because he is making these things up.

Just as Nephi did in his day, our modern-day prophet preaches and prophesies to us.  We need to listen to his words and follow his counsel, just as the Nephites should have in that day.  The consequences of not listening, can be just as great.  We still have the promise of destruction, if not physically, then spiritually, if we do not follow the counsel of the prophet.  I am so grateful for our prophet today, and for those in the past.  Thomas S. Monson, has been chosen by God to lead us today, and his words and prophesies are specifically meant for us right now.  I hope that I will continue to listen to his counsel and truly apply it to my life so that I may be blessed.

How wicked had the Nephites become?

“And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men (v. 4); Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills (v. 5)—Now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites, in the space of not many years (v. 6)…”  There was great wickedness among the Nephites.  All that was righteous was treated as wrong, where all that was unrighteous was allowed as if it was right.  We may not have it quite this bad today, but there is still a lot of this going on.  We have many unrighteous leaders who are trying to take righteous things away from the people and saying that those things are wrong.

“… and when Nephi saw it, his heart was swollen with sorrow within his breast; and he did exclaim in the agony of his soul (v. 6):  Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord (v. 7)—Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren (v. 8 ).  But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren (v. 9).”  Nephi was sad that he could not have lived in a time where the Nephites were more righteous and they could have joy together.  He understood that it was his calling to live when he did even though it was a time where he was surrounded by great wickedness.

I have at times wondered what it would have been to live in a different time, when it was part of every day life to live righteously.  Instead, it feels like I am being looked down upon for trying to do what is right.  It is hard to be entirely happy when everything around us is mocking me for being religious and having faith.  But I understand, like Nephi did, that it is my calling in life to deal with the wickedness around me, and be a light in these difficult times.  It may be harder to live now than in other times, but we have blessings in our lives that others did not have.  I am grateful to live now, when I can see that many prophesies have come to pass and are coming to pass.  I am grateful for the challenges in life that make me stronger and bring wonderful blessings as well.

Nephi pours out his whole soul

“And behold, now it came to pass that it was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi, which was by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla; therefore, Nephi had bowed himself upon the tower which was in his garden, which tower was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway (v. 10).  And it came to pass that there were certain men passing by and saw Nephi as he was pouring out his soul unto God upon the tower; and they ran and told the people what they had seen, and the people came together in multitudes that they might know the cause of so great mourning for the wickedness of the people (v. 11).”

I think when it says that he poured out his soul unto God, that he gave the most sincere prayer he could.  I imagine that those who heard him, could feel him speaking as if he was at the feet of the Lord, pleading because of the wickedness around him.  My most sincere prayers are the most focused, full of gratitude, and usually have me in tears.  I was told once that a great way to make our prayers that sincere, is to picture us at the feet of the Lord when we pray.  What would we say to Him, if we were in that position?

In Enos 1:1-4 we read, “BEHOLD, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it (v. 1)—And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins (v. 2).  Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart (v. 3).  And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens (v. 4).”  Sometimes our prayers can be quick and repeat the typical phrases we use day-to-day, without meaning.  This is not how Enos (or Nephi) prayed.  He cried in mighty prayer all day and into the night.

My experience has been, that through the sincere prayers, I can truly feel blessed by the spirit.  I have strong memories of a prayer in my youth, when I begged for comfort from the feelings of sadness that I had.  I truly felt the arms of the comforter during my prayer, wrap around my shoulders and I was filled with a warm feeling of peace.  It is through my most sincere prayers that I have received the strongest feelings of inspiration.  It is because of these prayers that I know my Heavenly Father is listening to me and wants to help me endure in this life.  I am so grateful for prayer and that I have the opportunity at any time in my life, to stop and talk to my Father in Heaven for His guidance and love.

Why did the people gather around Nephi’s tower?

“And now, when Nephi arose he beheld the multitudes of people who had gathered together (v. 12).”  When Nephi was finished with his prayer, he realized that the people had gathered around the tower.  The key points he shared with the people were repentance and destruction – repentance of all the wicked things they were doing and destruction would come to them if they chose not to repent.  I think a good way to get people to think about the decisions in their own lives, is to ask questions like Nephi did.  His questions included the following:  Why did you come here?  Do you want me to tell you all you are doing wrong?  How could you choose to follow Satan?  Why do you choose death?  Why has God forsaken you?  How could you forget God, when he has saved you from the Lamanites (see v. 13-20 above)?  I’m not sure which of these would be the hardest for them to answer, but I imagine that asking them why God has forsaken them would take them a while.

Nephi tells the people that the reason they chose wickedness was because they had hard hearts and wanted to get gain (see v. 18, 21 above).  We too have the influence of Satan when we allow our hearts to be hardened and we seek to get gain in this life.  The need for repentance applies to all and is just as needed in our world today, as it was in the times of Nephi.  I think if he were speaking to the people today, the only things that would be different are his list of sins that are committed, because we have different things that trap us today, and their would not be a focus on the Lamanites, but perhaps different ways that the Lord has preserved us today.  We can still learn that repentance is the key to our salvation.  We can learn that we need to remember God, remember what He has done for us and what He can do to us if we choose to follow Satan instead.

Jarom, Chapter 1

What were the spiritual problems of the Nephites?

“Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land (v. 3).”  The Nephites have hardened their hearts, decided not to listen or open their minds to the gospel, and are stiff-necked.  These things stop us from hearing, learning and believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore they lead us away from God.

“And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith (v. 4).”  Even today, when so many are against the word of God, there are many who are striving to live the gospel.  As we strive to do what is right and through our faith, we will be blessed with personal revelation in our own lives.

Why did the Nephites prosper?

“And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict (v. 5).  And they were scattered upon much of the face of the land, and the Lamanites also. And they were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts (v. 6).  And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle. But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord; wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites and swept them away out of our lands, and began to fortify our cities, or whatsoever place of our inheritance (v. 7).  And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war (v. 8 ).  And thus being prepared to meet the Lamanites, they did not prosper against us. But the word of the Lord was verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land (v. 9).  And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land (v. 10).”

The Nephites prospered because they kept the commandments.  They kept the law of Moses, kept the sabbath day holy, did not use profanity, did not blaspheme the Lord, were exceedingly strict, had faithful leaders, taught each other the gospel, fortified there cities, multiplied, were industrious and self-reliant, and prepared themselves for protection against their enemies.  We will be blessed as well if we can also do these things.

How did the prophets keep the Nephites from being destroyed?

“Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them (v. 11).  And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance (v. 12).”  The prophets taught the Nephites to keep the commandments and to have faith in Christ.  I love that they were taught to believe in his coming as if he already had.  We need to believe in the second coming as if the Savior was already among us as well.  The prophets threatened the people that if they didn’t follow the commandments, they would not be saved.  They also labored diligently to teach the people, just as our leaders do today.  In Mosiah 2:41 we read, “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”  President Hinckley said, “No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to his commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard him and his word, there comes a decay which, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death.”  I live in a nation that has prospered and been blessed for living by the word of God, but now the people are not choosing His ways.  They have begun deciding that the ways of man are better for them then His ways.  This is sure to bring the destruction of this mighty nation and of those people who are choosing man over God.  I have faith in the blessings promised to those who try to live righteously.  I hope and pray that many can know of the gospel of Jesus Christ and turn to God, instead of to man.

2 Nephi, Chapter 15

(Isaiah 5)

What does the parable of the vineyard mean?

In the Bible Dictionary it says, “in parables divine truth is presented by comparison with material things.”  In Chapter 15, Isaiah uses a parable of the vineyard.  He uses the following representations:  Vineyard (of the Lord) – House of Israel (v. 7), the choicest vine (pleasant plant) – men of Judah (v. 7), grapes – righteousness, wild grapes – unrighteousness, and the hedge/wall – protection.

In this parable, God put up a fence, gathered stones, gathered the choicest vine, built a tower, and made a winepress to make sure the vineyard would flourish and produce good grapes.

“And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard—I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down (v. 5); And I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it (v. 6).” God would take away the protection of the Children of Israel and let them go without tending because of their unrighteousness.  Isaiah is using this parable to teach the people that there would be a falling away because their actions would be (were) unrighteous.  I think people choose wickedness over righteousness because it is easier.  It is a daily challenge to choose the right, it would be much easier to give into to temptations.

What sins in ancient Israel are found with us today?

Isaiah mentions many sins such as drinking and partying all day, ignoring the Lord’s work, meanness, vanity, thinking they make themselves wise, and justifying wickedness.  These sins still continue today.

The study guide quotes Understanding Isaiah by saying that “joining one house to another refers to building up great landed estates by oppressive means.”  Many people today “join house to house” by oppressing those they feel are beneath them, to get gain.  As a note, in the Bible dictionary it tells us that “bath” and “homer” are weights and measures.  An “ephah” is equal to 1 bath or about 8 gallons of dry substance or about 8 1/4 gallons of liquid.  A homer was about 10 ephahs (8 baths or 80 gallons of dry substance or 82 1/2 gallons of liquid).  Therefore, because of their sins,10 acres of land and the seed meant to produce 80 gallons would give only 8 gallons of substance.

“Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, and wine inflame them (v. 11)!  And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands (v. 12).”  There are many today who are more interested in parties, then in the Lord’s work.  As I find friends online through networking sites, I realize that many have posted pictures of drinking and partying all the time.  It’s very common to link socializing with drinking and parties.  These same people are those who have mocked me for standing up for what I believe.  Saying they still love me, but the think that believing in God and communicating with Him is foolish.  If only they would listen and see the larger picture, so that they might understand that life is not meant for partying and ignoring God.

Verse 13 reads, “Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…”  It is our responsibility as members of the true gospel, to tell others what is right.  Also, our future generations learn from us and when we teach them the wrong things they are kept in captivity because they have no knowledge of the right.

“Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope (v. 8 );”  Donkeys draw carts forward with ropes tied between them and the carts.  Many people are tied to their sins because of pride.  We all have the spirit as a conscience even if we have not received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We naturally know when we are not making the right choices, but we must be willing to listen to those feelings.  Many would not be willing to admit fault.

“That say: Let him make speed, hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it (v. 19).”  There are those who insist that truth must be based on facts and things that can be seen.  They choose not to believe based on faith.  This life is a test of our faith.  If we choose not to believe based on faith, we choose not to prove ourselves worthy to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence.

Verse 20 reads, “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  The words of the media are a great example of glorifying sin and making worth things out to be bad.  For example, exploring relationships outside of marriage between a man and wife is portrayed as brave and “honest”, while prayer and God in schools and other public areas are “bad”.

“Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight (v. 21)!  Wo unto the mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink (v. 22);  Who justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him (v. 23)!”  Those who are poor are often treated unfairly because they are poor, but there are also others treated unfairly because of their “classes” (other than poor) in society.  Many celebrities are treated differently because they have money and social standing. They get away with a lot more than the average person.  In an ideal world there wouldn’t be class separations and unfair treatments based on wealth.  We must remember, that to have wealth is not a bad thing, but to use it for our own gain and not to help those who are less fortunate, or to go without recognizing God’s hand in our success is the sin.

“Therefore, as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, their root shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust; because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel (v. 24).  Therefore, is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them; and the hills did tremble, and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still (v. 25).”  The Jews would be burned as stubble and destroyed because of their sins.  They were smitten and scattered just as Isaiah prophesied.  I believe those who commit these sins today, will also be destroyed, either in this life (as we draw nearer to the second coming) or in spirit prison.  Isaiah’s words are for our benefit and we must remember to avoid these sins, so that we can be saved.

What does it mean to “hiss” to the nations?

When I would play outside as a kid, my Dad would whistle if it was time for dinner or some other occasion.  We whistle to each other to get one another’s attention.  The footnote to Isaiah 5:26 (compare to 2 Nephi 15:26) says that “hiss” means whistle. “And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth; and behold, they shall come with speed swiftly; none shall be weary nor stumble among them (v. 26).”  The Lord will whistle to the nations and they will come with speed swiftly.  The “ensign” he raises is the church of Christ and the true gospel.  It has been raised to the nations and many are coming to the fold of his church.

Is it possible Isaiah say trains and planes?

The word “ensign” means a standard, flag or banner.  The Lord has raised the standard of his gospel to the nations.  We can be ensigns to those around us by standing for God, truths and righteousness and by being an example of Christ and helping others to hear the gospel.

Isaiah was referring to trains and planes bringing the people with speed swiftly. “Whose arrows shall be sharp, and all their bows bent, and their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind, their roaring like a lion (v. 28).  They shall roar like young lions; yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry away safe, and none shall deliver (v. 29).”  It’s awesome to know that Isaiah saw these things in his time.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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