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Friday, June 29, 2012

74: WHO ARE YOU?

Written by my friend and posted with his permission:
....

The message of repentance in the scriptures was often to a religious crowd who considered themselves the Lord's people and who thought they were righteous (Luke 18:9-14).  

One of the reasons we may feel the Book of Mormon's message of repentance doesn't apply to us as "faithful" Latter-day Saints is because our lives, by and large, are in harmony with the principles taught from our pulpits and in our Sunday schools.  We keep the commandments and fulfill our callings.  Although we acknowledge in word that the message of repentance still applies to us as much as anyone, we are often perplexed about what it is we must repent of.

Besides serious transgressions, one of the things we must repent of are our misconceptions, and false traditions; or, what the Book of Mormon calls "unbelief." 

God's prophets mourn our state of unbelief because it causes us to not "search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be" (2 Ne. 32:7).  Because of that unbelief and stiffneckedness the Spirit stops the utterance of prophets when they might otherwise desire to share more about God's plan (ibid.).

King Benjamin taught that unbelief is a result of failing to read and understand God's word (Mosiah 1:5).  Because men fail to search the scriptures they "dwindle in unbelief" and fail to believe the truth when it is taught to them "because of the traditions of their fathers" (ibid.).  Dwindling in unbelief disables men so that they cannot understand the word of God.  This lack of understanding hardens men's hearts (Mosiah 26:3).  

In order for us to repent of and conquer unbelief we must come into contact with the "light of the glory of God" (Alma 19:6).  This encounter will cast away unbelief and dispel the clouds of darkness (ibid.).  For the majority of Latter-day Saints this encounter will begin to occur as we search the scriptures, but particularly the scriptures of the restoration.  We can choose to have this encounter with light and truth and begin to peel away the dark scales of unbelief, or we can choose not to receive the light.  Those who choose not to receive the light will be deceived, for they will not have the light required to discern between true and false messengers.  They will not be prepared for the "test" that Heber C. Kimball prophesied would overcome us in our day.         

In order for you to begin to remove the condemnation under which you labor you must take the Book of Mormon seriously.  

In order for you to begin to take the Book of Mormon seriously (or to not "treat it lightly") you must understand its message.  

In order for you to begin to understand the message of the Book of Mormon, it is vital for you to dismiss false notions about who "My people, O House of Israel" are, and who "the Gentiles" are.  

The truth of the matter is disconcerting for many people when presented with it, and so they choose not to search out the matter.  They think that those who would voice an opinion contrary to their traditions are "mad" (Mosiah 13:4).  Why is it that when a prophet declares the truth about the scriptures the religious are angry with him?  Must a man be a false prophet because his message angers you?  Must a prophet's message make you feel good about yourself?   

A proud man will usually choose to remain blind even when presented with light and truth because it salves his conscience to retain a false identity.  Doing so allows him to retain his pride, and believe in the message that "all is well" (2 Ne. 28:21).  But the Lord has made it clear that we have to shed false traditions and become humble and accept truth if we will be saved (Alma 32:15-16). 

The Latter-day Saints are the Gentiles of the Book of Mormon, and the Gentiles to whom it was written.  It was written for those Gentiles who are its readers, not those who are not its readers.  It was written in clarity that the Gentiles might understand the mission we've been called to perform.  The book defines our role.

Joseph Smith knew he was the "Gentile" who was chosen to begin the latter-day work (Title Page).  He referred to the rest of the Saints as "Gentiles" in the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer, which he received by revelation (D&C 109:60).  Throughout the Book of Mormon the writers are persistent and consistent in their use of the term.

Without explaining the entire issue, it's important to be presented with the idea so that it may be searched out.  Those who look into the matter will begin to see it clearly.  From beginning to end, European descendants are the "Gentiles" of the Book of Mormon, nobody else.  Unless you are a Latter-day Saint who also happens to be Native American, you are not the "remnant" or the "House of Israel" spoken of in the Book of Mormon.      

Don't let prejudices, misunderstandings, and false traditions deter your search.  Never mind what you think your Patriarchal blessing tells you about the meaning of "the House of Israel" in the Book of Mormon.  Those first or last sentences about lineage in your blessing no more help you understand the Book of Mormon than does the term "High Priest," as we use it today, help us to understand Alma 13.  They're almost wholly different.  Those things will all become clear as you discard false traditions and put off unbelief.  It doesn't matter if you descend from the House of Israel way back when, you are a "Gentile" to the Book of Mormon writers.     

Once you can understand your identity, the prophecies and messages of the Book of Mormon will begin to become very real to you.  The Book, as a whole, will begin to make much more sense.  You will be able to see more clearly, in order that a more thorough repentance may begin to take place.  It will be a precious gift, opening up to your view the fulness of the Gospel.  But not until we can put off "unbelief."  If we fail to understand our identity and the message of the Book of Mormon, we are dwindling in unbelief.

Many of our ideas about the scriptures are correct, but misapplied.  Many of our precepts are true and scriptural, but misunderstood.  It is true that the repentant Gentiles will ultimately be numbered among "the House of Israel" (2 Ne. 10:18).  We've gotten too far ahead of the game, however, in assuming that we've already made it.  We haven't.  The House of Israel will very soon receive the Book of Mormon and the fulness of the Gospel.  They haven't received it yet, but they will soon.  It will be brought unto them by the kings and queens of the Gentiles, who will act as nursing fathers and mothers to them (2 Ne. 10:9).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

73: PARABLE OF THE SUMMER SOLSTICE HIKE

photos taken in the wilderness region in Southern California in June 2012

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Parable of the Summer Solstice Hike

A man planned to observe the first day of summer by arising early for a morning hike. However, he was woken up one hour earlier than he was prepared to at exactly 4:00 AM,. It was dark, cold and cloudy outside. Everyone was still comfortable in their beds fast asleep.  Because he was a traveler in a different land, he was not sure where to hike to escape the thick coastal clouds and fog in order to witness the sunrise. After praying for direction, he followed a prompting to drive to a wilderness area with the help of his used map. He filled his car with gas and drove about 40 miles on the main freeway. He then exited off the freeway and  drove up a narrow steep, one lane canyon road. He got out of his car near a road called the South Main Divide. He had finally reached an elevation which was above the clouds and fog and began hiking to reach the best unobstructed view to see the sun rise. However, after about 10 minutes, the clouds and fog rolled in, covering the sky once again. The man returned to his car and continued driving  to even higher ground. Time was running out, since the man could see that the sun was about to rise.  He pulled over once again after escaping the clouds and got out of the car. However, this second stop he felt was still not the correct place, but he could see on the distance ridge a white rock that he was to climb to. With not much time left, the man needed to reach this third location. It was painful journey through thick brush, steep terrain, and thorny weeds to reach the rock summit.  Cut and bleeding, he could not reach the top of this rock alone. Pleading for help, a way was opened up to him allowing him to ascend. He then  knelt upon the enormous solid white rock and witnessed the rising sun and the beauty of a new day dawning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

72: BURNED IN THE FIRE (Addendum)


 "As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire,
so shall it be in the end of this world, or the destruction of the wicked. "
JST Matthew 13:41

Below is a photo of the Mt. Pleasant Fire in Utah of homes that have been burnt to the ground.
Photo of the Colorado City fire where tens of thousands have been evacuted from their homes.

Just prior to the Lord coming to this promised land, we read in 3 Nephi 10:

And it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared—And they were spared and were not sunk and buried up in the earth; and they were not drowned in the depths of the sea; and they were not burned by fire, neither were they fallen upon and crushed to death; and they were not carried away in the whirlwind; neither were they overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness.

And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempest, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophecies of many of the holy prophets.

Behold, I say unto you, Yea, many have testified of these things at the coming of Christ, and were slain because they testified of these things.

..............

Sidenote:
Today is June 27... it is 168 years since the martrydom of the prophet Joseph Smith  and his brother Hyrum.  We read in D&C 135: 1:

"To seal the testimony of this book and the Book of Mormon, we announce the matrydom of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch. They were shot in Carthage jail, on the 27th of June, 1844, about five o’clock p.m., by an armed mob—painted black—of from 150 to 200 persons. Hyrum was shot first and fell calmly, exclaiming: I am a dead man! Joseph leaped from the window, and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming: dO Lord my God! They were both shot after they were dead, in a brutal manner, and both received four balls."


ADDENDUM:

This week, the mountain states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho and Montana are currently all experiencing devastating fires. It seems like this past year somewhere in the country at any given moment is experiencing either hailstorms, tornados, flooding, droughts, earthquakes, or hailstorms… an now FIRES.  

Where can we find safety?

In the new July 2012 Ensign, there is an article about finding safety, it is called “Take your Tents and Flee”. The last sentence of the article reads as follows:  

Thankfully, the Lord has provided us with wards and branches, stakes and districts to gather to and a broad gospel tent for spiritual shelter from the storm. Beneath this tent we can find the refuge we seek from the storms of life.”

However, Interesting story in the news this morning, a fire destroyed an LDS meeting house in Arizona.  A meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been reduced to a pile of rubble after an early morning fire broke out. The center of the roof in the chapel collapsed into the church, and firefighters said they were worried the front wall of the building could fall. Firefighters said the building was a total loss. The Fire Chief George Good said the fire began in the church sanctuary and spread to the attic

There is only one place of safety from the coming storms, and it may not be found where we think. We will be vulnerable if we think any physical structure, institutional organization, or our perceived righteousness of being the Lord’s chosen will save us.  It is only found in our repentance, turning our hearts back to the Lord and having complete reliance on Him.

Friday, June 22, 2012

71: TRANSFORMERS vs CONFORMERS

photo taken of the sunset of the Venus Transit on June 5,, 2012

I thought this was such a profound quote that is deserved it's own post without any commentary:

"But there's another reason why some believers steer away from this kind of worship [and authentic Christ-like life]: the consequences  may be dangerous. . . It's not likely that many of us will become martyrs, [!] but we may find ourselves suffering in other ways. It's my feeling that many Christians don't want a transforming experience of worship [real life in Christ] because life is comfortable the way it is. So, when transformed people show up in a crowd of conformers, people  are immediately threatened by their presence -- and this can lead to some  difficult situations in homes and churches. 'Transformers' don't create problems;  they reveal them." (Warren Wiersbe's "Real Worhip", p. 35)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

70: SUMMER SOLSTICE: avoid walking in darkness at noonday.

Today is the Summer Solstice. Today is a day of most sunlight. It begins summer. Here is an interesting chaism found in Thessalonians 5: 5
 
      Ye are all the children of light
          and the children of the day
            We are not of the night,
                    nor of darkness.
                    therefore let us not sleep,
             as do others;
           but let us watch
       and be sober.
 
The children of the light are sober. The children of day watch. Whereas, the children of darkness are asleep.  Isaiah warns us that in the latter days  "we stumble at noonday as in the night." Isaiah 59:10
How can we avoid being deceived, blind, asleep and walking in darkness at noonday?

SEEKING THE BEST GIFTS TO AVOID DECEPTION
 
"Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given.  Doctrine and Covenants 46:8
 
 We read in  I Corinthians 12: 31 and then I Corinthians 13
 
“But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
 
What are the best gifts?
  • Gift of prophecy?
  • Gift to understand all mysteries?
  • Gift to have all knowledge?
  • Gift to have faith to move mountains?
The best gift is to be possessed with Charity. And what is charity?
  • It Suffereth long
  • Is Kind
  • Envieth not
  • Vaunteth not itself
  • Not puffed up
  • Seeketh not her own
  • Not easily provoked Thinketh no evil
  • Beareth all things
  • Believeth all things
  • Hopeth all things
  • Endureth all things

Monday, June 18, 2012

69: WHY DID ABINADI WEAR A DISGUISE?


The following is notes from a conversation as well as an email that I recieved from a friend. Much of the symbols can be found in Tom Cryer's book, "Visual Testament: and the Israelite Indian"

"... Abinidi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not."
Mosiah 12:1


When we first read this, we assume that Abinidi is disguising himself so he would not be recognized, as though he was fearful of being caught. But the next sentence says that he tells the people his name. Why would he disguise himself if the very first thing he tells people is his name. Also, he wanted an audience with the king, that was his purpose, so it seems apparent that he disguised himself to gain audience with the king, not to avoid him.

The Native Americas use clothing or costumes to tell a story. Their clothing and associated props (feathers, sashes, pipes, head bands, ankle bands, wrist bands, head dress, masks ext) literally states their message that the people easily recognize, including of course illiterate people of whom most the ancient native people were.

In the 1820 English dictionary, one of the definitions of "disguise" was "To disfigure; to alter the form, and exhibit an unusual appearance." . Using this definition, we could say that Abinidi came among them wearing his message. He had the garb and symbols on his body, which was his unusual appearance or disguise, unlike his visit two years earlier (which is why they knew him not this time around). But his message was load and clear and understood by the people because of what he was wearing. And what could he have been wearing?

In the Mosiah 12: 3-. You will notice the vivid and symbolic language used. I will put into parenthesis the item that Abinidi may have been displaying to illustrate the word. "Thus saith the Lord, ...this generation...shall be brought into bondage (wrist bracelet illustrating bondage) and shall be smitten on the cheek (cheek markings) yea and shall be driven by men (whipping stick or prodding stick)...and the vultures of the air and the dogs (mouth mask of a vulture beak or dog's mouth -...shall devour their flesh...And the life of king Noah shall be valued as a garment in a hot furnace (red colored skirt strings or tropical bird feathers). And it shall come to pass that I will smite my people with sore afflictions, yea, with famine and with pestilence (old dirty skirt or cloth), and I will cause that they shall howl all the day long (hollow tube). I will cause that they shall have burdens lashed upon their backs (sack on back) and they shall be driven before like a dumb ass (whip or stick)...I will send forth hail among them and insects (head mask and horns) shall pester their land also and devour their grain."and it shall smite them (sash symbol or head dress or body paint), and they shall be smitten with the east wind (body paint)
His disguise was for the illiterate to understand, which they did and then took him before the king. His priest were educated and literate. Abinidi then quotes and reads the scriptures to them. He used their written language to condemn the priest. Abinidi spoke the words of the Lord in the language of his audience.

It's interesting to note that Alma ran off and wrote the words that Abinidi had spoken. How did he know so well the things that Abinidi spoke to the people when he wasn't even there? One my be quick to say it was because the people rehearsed what Abinidi had told them. But an easier explanation is that Abinidi still had his disguise on when he was brought before the king. Alma could read the message on his disguise as easily as the people could. The disguise would be much easier to remember than the words Abinidi spoke.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

68: ELEGANT AND SPACIOUS BUILDINGS


"And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper."
Mosiah 11:8

My family and I recently went on a tour of the LDS Conference Center. I learn some interesting facts from our tour guide. Some of the facts she mentioned:
  • The conference center is believed to be world's largest indoor auditorium.
  • Exterior walls are 1 1/2 inch thick granite (quartzite) quarried from Little Cottonwood Canyon and ashlar granite.
  • Cherry wood and Pear wood is used throughout.
  • Took 3 years to build with 1,100 employees on-site during peak construction schedule.
  • It is 1. 5 million square feet.
  • The roof is over 4 acres.
  • There are 1600 theatrical lights.
  • The building incorporates over 50,000 miles of wire--enough to encircle the globe twice.
  • The building and grounds cover 10 acres or one city block--the same area as all of Temple Square.
  • Seating capacity is 21,333 in comparision to the Madison Square Garden which seats around 20,000
  • The total cost is not released by the church.
But the most interesting thing that the tour guide mentioned was about the "Hinckley Pulpit" which was built from the walnut tree from President Hinckley's backyard. . He gave the Conference Center's first address in April 2000, sharing a personal story about a black walnut tree he had planted near his family home nearly four decades before the tree died the previous year.

He inquired about possibly using the walnut wood for the soon-to-be-completed building's pulpit; the tree provided just enough for the pulpit's thin veneer.

VENEER: from Websters Dictionary: a superficially valuable or pleasing appearance. To face or cover an object with any material that is more desirable as a surface material that the basic material of the object. A deceptive, superficial show, a fa├žade.

This is the story that President Gordon B. Hinckley's told during the Saturday morning session of LDS general conference on April 1, 2000
  • "Well, some 36 years ago, I planted a black walnut. It was in a crowded area where it grew straight and tall to get the sunlight. A year ago, for some reason it died. But walnut is a precious furniture wood. I called Brother Ben Banks of the Seventy, who, before giving his full time to the church, was in the business of hardwood lumber. He brought his two sons ... , one a bishop and the other recently released as a bishop and who now run the business, to look at the tree. From all they could tell it was solid, good and beautiful wood. One of them suggested that it would make a pulpit for this hall. The idea excited me. The tree was cut down and then cut into two heavy logs. Then followed the long process of drying. ... , first naturally and then kiln drying. The logs were cut into boards at a sawmill in Salem, Utah. The boards were then taken to Fetzer's woodworking plant, where expert craftsmen designed and built this magnificent pulpit. ... with that wood.  The end product is beautiful. I wish all of you could examine it closely.... It represents superb workmanship, and here I am speaking to you from the tree I grew in my back yard, where my children played and also grew. It is an emotional thing for me."

Now, I was always under the impression that the pulpit was made of solid walnut.

However, Come to find out the tree was already dead in the backyard, and there wasn't enough wood to build the pulpit. There was only enough to provide a thin veneer. The pulpit appears to be made of walnut, but it is actually is not.. it is made out of cherry wood, with a veneer of walnut. That is why the fire and water damage that occured at the conference center a few weeks ago was such a concern. When there is water damage, any veneer could possible warp, or come detached and expose the true material underneath.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

67: FAITH IN THE LORD, JESUS CHRIST

..............................
Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ;
teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart;
teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil,
with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Alma 37: 33
...............................


Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ...
VS. 
The Reliance on others and/or The Reliance on your own strength.


Last week my family and I watched the movie, 'Faith Like Potatoes'. I don't normally recommend movies or books to others unless I think they contain some value. I know some might have some criticisms of this movie, but I found it to be inspirational.   In our current fallen world, it is difficult to find people who have faith in God. The majority seem to boast in their own strength and/or rely on others for their salvation instead of Jesus Christ.

This is story of a broken, angry man who turns his life over to Christ and learns about the  importance of complete reliance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This movie is inspired by the true story of Angus Buchan, a Zambian farmer of Scottish heritage. I would recommend watching it with the English subtitles due to the strong accents (which is somewhat difficult to understand.) While the movie is somewhat a low-budget film and begins slow, it is a moving life journey of a man who, like his potatotoes, grows his faith in Jesus Christ, unseen until the harvest.

I also watched the special 55 minute featured interview on the DVD. I enjoyed listening to Angus Buchan tell his story in his own words. How this man lives with his wife and family shows one who is attempting to live with faith and closer to living in a Zion type society.

from DS blog:
"Zion will NOT be a intercontinental, multi-million member organization spread throughout the world. It will be small. It will be local. The Saints will be gathered from all the world into Zion. This is because once a messenger has delivered "the words which the Lord God hath commanded me," then we are responsible for how we react and whether or not we repent. If we repent, angels will gather us. If we do not, they will not gather us."

Friday, June 8, 2012

66: A GALA EVENT CELEBRATION

 


A gala event is planned for August to celebrate the 85th birthday of President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The masters of ceremonies duties for the celebration, called "Golden Days: A Celebration of Life," will be shared by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and Hall-of-Famer Steve Young and former network news anchor and author Jane Clayson Johnson. The event will feature Broadway and other musical selections performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square and notable guest artists, who have not yet been announced. Choir President Mac Christensen said, "I happen to know the songs being performed will delight President Monson."

The evening will also include a nostalgic look back at Pres. Monson's life, including his childhood, marriage, time in the Navy during World War II, and decades of service. He was called as a bishop of a congregation at age 22 and has served for nearly a half century as a general authority of the church.
A news release from Mormon Newsroom quotes Young as saying, "This celebration is a great way to let (Pres. Monson) know how much he is loved and appreciated. It's a privilege to play a small part in that recognition."

The event will be held at the Conference Center Friday, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m. .
.................................

Sidenote:
The past 8 eight posts have been about the Prophet Abinadi. Doubtful he was every thrown a lavious Birthday Party. I hope to write up similar posts about another prophet by the name of Samuel. The following is from a blog post.  http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2012/03/importance-of-scriptures.html

"This example from the Book of Mormon is a clear warning intended for our day. Christ's admonition to "Search the prophets" is just as important an admonition now as it was then. So the challenge remains to keep ourselves ready, and listen to the words of the Prophets. It is our common misconception, however, that there will never be another Samuel the Lamanite who is an outsider and without credentials to be given a message for us by the Lord. We expect that if there is a message for our day it will come from the head of the church, not some obscure outsider, like Samuel. We imagine it is always safe to disregard such characters. It is curious, however, that the Book of Mormon, which is the "most correct book" includes this odd departure as an example. It is odd the Nephites never figured out our system. It is so much better than theirs was. We really are a royal generation, the most blessed of all who have ever lived! We never face such a test, because we imagine we have an authorized source of truth, an institutional charisma that can never fail, and through which we can never be led astray. The Lord has made it so much easier for us in our day. It somehow makes sense to us, but leaves me wondering if the Lord ought not apologize to the Nephites for making it so much harder for them. Then there is that unfortunate recent announcement by the church a few days ago about church leaders speaking "in the absence of revelation" which complicates these questions.

It makes me wonder if our eternal salvation depends on sorting out the truth from error. Or, alternatively, if it matters in the more immediate unfolding history preliminary to the Second Coming and the whole earth being cursed if we get it wrong."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

65: THE PROPHET ABINADI: Part 4 (Conclusion)

This post concludes the series on King Noah and Abinadi written by a friend. I tried to include a different image that we normally don't see along with each post. Below is the last, but the most common depiction we are used to seeing, but I have made it abstact. Using shapes and colors we form a pictures in our mind....Sometimes we think we can see clearly, when we are actually blind. False assumptions and traditions handled down through the generations cause us err in truth. Hopefully after reading all eight parts has changed your paradigm on this very important story found in the Book of Mormon.


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The Prophet Abinadi, Part 4, Conclusion
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“Now the eyes of the people were blinded; therefore they hardened their hearts against the words of Abinadi, and they sought from that time forward to take him. And king Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent of his evil doings”
Mosiah 11:29.

King Noah chose not to repent after hearing the Lord’s invitation. Though he may have almost been persuaded, it is more difficult to do what is right when supported by “friends in iniquity” (Mosiah 17:11; 29:22-23). To trample under-foot the commandments of God is a fearful thing to undertake in solitude, so the coward seeks to be upheld by a support group.

The king and his people had at least a couple of years to think about Abinadi’s initial message (Mosiah 12:1). Because they “hardened their hearts against my words,” the Lord commanded Abinadi to return again and prophesy to the people (ibid).

God calls king Noah and his people “this my people” two times (vv. 1, 4). We tend not to think about them this way when we read and tell the story. What does it mean that the Lord called them “this my people?” Does it mean that they were chosen? What about the people of the kingdom under Zeniff? Were they a chosen people? If chosen, and if the Lord’s people, what lessons can we learn from them? The Lord has also called the latter-day saints “my people” throughout our revelations (D&C 105:6; 119:3; 124:92, and many more). What does it mean to be the Lord’s people?

The things covered in a short four-part series on Noah and then on Abinadi only begin to investigate the text in an honest way. There is much more to the story we have left unexamined.

Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15 are far more doctrinally rich than the few verses we’ve looked at in chapter 11. In chapter 12, Abinadi begins teaching them of Isaiah’s writings, and warns them about setting their hearts on riches. In 13 we see God’s messenger speak with “power and authority from God,” and how the hand of the Lord protects those who have a divine commission, or “keys,” to bring a message of repentance until they’ve done all that is asked of them. He teaches them of the Ten Commandments, because they need reminding on what it really means to live them. Chapters 14 and 15 are rich in Christological content.

On the whole, this story is a Godsend for us who inherit the book in the latter days. God desires “this my people” to understand how to come unto Christ and be saved. Christ warned us to “beware of false prophets,” and has given to us in the Book of Mormon tools by which we may discern true prophets (3 Ne. 14:15). They preach repentance, just as Christ invited all to repent and come unto him. Abinadi is a prototype prophet because he is a type of Christ. What is it that you can learn from him?

The people of king Noah’s kingdom had not applied their hearts to understanding, and therefore lacked wisdom (12:27). Shall we not apply our hearts to understanding the great message of the Book of Mormon?

Monday, June 4, 2012

64: THE PROPHET ABINADI: Part 3


The Prophet Abinadi, Part 3Continuing with Mosiah 11:21-25 .

Abinadi prophesies that Noah and his people will be destroyed. The Lord will “deliver them into the hands of their enemies,” and “they shall be brought into bondage,” and “I will suffer them that they be smitten by their enemies” (vv. 21-24). This was the prophecy given to him of the Lord to utter. It was easy to be understood by all who would hear. Whether or not they understood how it was to be accomplished, Abinadi’s prophecy made the king and his priests angry precisely because they clearly understood what the message was.
Prophecy is not always this clear or easy to interpret before the prophesied event actually occurs, but once the event has happened it is apparent that it had been foretold by prophecy. There is a reason for this. Despite a perfect knowledge of all that is, was, and ever will be, the Lord must preserve the agency of man, and not allow prophecy to control the event (D&C 130:7). “Therefore, having some difficulty in attaching specific meaning to the prophecy is exactly in keeping with prophecy's traditional way of communicating an event” (Snuffer).

When it comes to a message of repentance however, and in communicating the necessary consequences for rejecting such a message, the Lord, in mercy, will always be very clear.

The Lord has been clear with us in the last days, just as he has in the past. The Book of Mormon has provided us with clear prophecies for our own day. 3 Ne. 16 contains what Hugh Nibley called the “great warning” and “great prophecy” of the Book of Mormon. The scriptures to which he referred are rarely considered.

“But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles – for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;

“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fullness of my gospel from among them” (3 Ne 16:8, 10).

The Lord says that the Father commanded him to say these things. The prophets prophesy declaring “thus saith the Lord.” Here we have the Lord himself prophesying declaring thus “saith the Father.” The prophecy states that “when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel” (you can’t sin against the gospel unless you’ve got the gospel), “and shall reject the fullness of my gospel,” the “fullness” will be brought from among them. What does this mean? Has this prophecy uttered by Christ been fulfilled? If not, will it at some point be fulfilled? If not, why not? Is it because the Gentiles won’t be “filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy,” but with honesty, truth, and virtue? Take a look around.

The prophecy goes on to say:

“But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.

“And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.

“But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel” (vv. 13-15).

Whether or not this occurs is dependent upon the willingness of the Gentiles to “repent and return unto [Christ], saith the Father.” Though the word “if” appears, granting unto the Gentiles a choice in the matter, Christ goes on to say that it is only after the house of Israel (the seed of Lehi) has been given “this land for their inheritance” that the words of the Prophet Isaiah “shall be fulfilled” (vv. 16-17).

Now back to Abinadi. There were two major consequences the people would face if they rejected the message to repent. The first is what we’ve already covered: they would be brought into bondage and smitten by their enemies. The other consequence of their failure to repent is that “when they shall cry unto me I will be slow to hear their cries,” and “I will not hear their prayers.”

In another place the Lord uses slightly different words to clarify the same intended consequence of Israel failing to repent:

“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear” (Isa. 1:15).

Many books have been written, and many talks have been given in an attempt to help us all make some revelatory breakthrough. Too many of us are wondering why we can’t seem to get an answer from heaven, and think that if we eat more peas and shave every day it will do the trick. Good ideas are helpful, especially if based upon formulas given by the Lord in scripture (you might find a basis for eating peas in D&C 89, for example. You’ll have a harder time backing up modern Mormon culture with the scriptures, however). But unless you are willing to consider the reality of “your minds” being “darkened,” good ideas get you nowhere (D&C 84:54). The heavens will remain as brass over your head.

Are the revelations given to Joseph Smith about "the children of Zion" being “under condemnation” true (D&C 84:54-58)? That sounds serious. Is it serious? President Benson believed that revelation applied to the saints in his day. Can you prevail upon God for answers if your mind is darkened, or if you are under condemnation? Or “when ye spread forth your hands” will he hide his eyes from you? How might we first prevail upon God to remove the condemnation? Have you ever asked God if you are really under condemnation? Where much is given much is required (D&C 82:3).

The Holy Ghost can teach us the truth of all things (Moro. 10:5). Even the light of Christ, which has been given to all men, will guide you into all truth. We should follow that light back to His presence.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

63: THE PROPHET ABINADI: Part 2


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The Prophet Abinadi, Part 2

“And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God, behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies.  And it shall come to pass that they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people. And it shall come to pass that except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God. Yea, and it shall come to pass that when they shall cry unto me I will be slow to hear their cries; yea, and I will suffer them that they be smitten by their enemies. And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions; and thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me”
Mosiah 11:21-25.
Because God loves his children and desires to save them, the message of repentance has been sent from God from the beginning. Adam and his family were taught the gospel of repentance by the Lord and angels sent by Him (Moses 5:58; 6:1, 23, 57). All other righteous patriarchs and prophets received and taught the gospel of repentance (Moses 7:10-12; 8:19-20; Ezek. 14:6; 1 Ne. 1:4; Alma 5:32-33, among many others). The opposite of a message of repentance would be the message of flattery delivered by king Noah and his priests. Flattery is not borne of love, but of lies. It is the anti-Christ that will use flattery as a tool (Jacob 7:2).

Helaman 12 is an excellent sermon on the “unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men” (Hel. 1:1). The sermon is true of men and women from the beginning of the earth until the end. Men tend to “forget the Lord their God…and this is because of their ease, and their exceeding great prosperity” (v. 2). Things haven’t changed. We remain the same. While in this telestial world there is a persistent need to combat the decaying force of entropy that is ever-present. Men not only lose hair and muscle with the advance of time, but are always losing “light and truth” (D&C 93:39).

Consistent with that truth therefore, is that the message men need to hear has never changed. The message required to bring men to the Son of God 6000 years ago, was the same message required to bring men to the Son of God 2000 years ago, and is the same today. In a revelation given to the Prophet in 1833 this is verified:
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“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul
who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on me name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth me commandments, shall see my face and know that I am”
D&C 93:1.
In our day the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to share the message of repentance. Those who repent can be reconciled to Christ and “know that [He is]” while in the flesh.

In order to combat the constant decay of light and truth, prophets reveal and restore lost truths, and always preach repentance, pointing people to Christ. If the message “inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ” you may know “with a perfect knowledge it is of God” (Moro. 7:16).

Whether it is sooner or later, the Lord does visit “the iniquities of [His] people.” This he has spoken, and he excuses not himself. But before the house comes crashing down, the Lord always gives fair warning by the voice of “his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This is why Abinadi was sent to the people. It seems only one man received the message. Though wolves in sheep’s clothing will flatter you, prophets warn of God’s judgment. Look to the scriptures for the pattern. It is unmistakable. The only message that will not be compromised in the unfolding of the Lord’s “strange” work is the message of repentance (D&C 101:95).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

62: THE PROPHET ABINIDI: Part 1


The Prophet Abinadi, Part 1

“And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi;
and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying:
Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying,
Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord – Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms;
and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger”
Mosiah 11:20.

Implicit in the phrase “thus saith the Lord” is the idea that the words Abinadi gives the people in his message are not his own but the Lord’s. He had no need to form the message in his own mind, or to prepare his remarks, because the message was given to him. He was in fact “commanded” to say the things that he said. Notice in this verse that a part of the commandment that came from the Lord to Abinadi was that he use the phrase “thus saith the Lord. He commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord…”

This is a pattern that we see most prolifically in the Old Testament. The phrase is used there over 400 times by prophet-writers. Many of our revelations as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants use this phrase.

The prophets are conscientious and deliberate when attesting to the truthfulness of their message by invoking the name of the Lord. To use this phrase without authority and without an authentic message from God would be to take the name of the Lord in vain. This kind of authoritative message, spoken by a messenger who received that message directly from God, is the type of message to which the Lord was referring when he closed his “Preface” to the Doctrine and Covenants:

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

“It is the same” because his sent servants neither add to, nor do they take from the message that was given to them from the Lord, but deliver it according to the will of the Lord. We've superfluously applied this verse to mean the Lord will stand by anything that is spoken "in general conference," for instance, or anything that is in the Ensign magazine, or anything the Bishop said, for "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." This is wrong, and the Lord has never promised to stand by all such messages. The Lord "excuses not" himself. The philosophies of men, regardless of the calling or office of the man who utters them, and no matter how sincere he may be in his attempts to impart them, cannot save you and do not originate with the Lord. Any such message is not the same as His "own voice." God's voice is truth (D&C 88:66). The sent servant does not fear the consequences of delivering a message of truth because he knows the Lord, and is his friend. The servant understands that since the Lord excuses not himself, it is not his prerogative to excuse the Lord.

The Lord is very clear in his message to King Noah’s people that he has seen “their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms.” There is nothing that escapes his all-searching eye (Mosiah 27:31). Even the most secretive acts of men are not secret, and will all be revealed. You have a false sense of privacy that is only illusory. The day is soon coming when the secret acts of all men will be revealed (D&C 1:1-3).

In mercy, the Lord commissioned Abinadi to bring a message of repentance to the people. It was a message they were not accustomed to hearing. Noah’s people enjoyed hearing “flattering” words, because they were able to cloak themselves with a false security in their sinful lives. Because their minds and hearts were conditioned to believe that “vain and flattering words” were of God, they had a very difficult time recognizing the Lord’s messenger when he preached to them an authentic message. Because Abinadi preached repentance to them, telling them of their sins, the Spirit of the Lord struck their hearts with dread, being convicted under a consciousness of their guilt. To them, this feeling was not of God.

Friday, June 1, 2012

61: KING NOAH and HIS KINGDOM: Part 4



King Noah and His Kingdom, Part 4
(Conclusion to this chapter)

“For he put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts.

“Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.

“Yea, and they also because idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them”
(Mosiah 11:5-7).

Noah called and ordained priests to replace those priests who had been ordained by his righteous father, Zeniff. You see, Noah had priesthood; at least he thought he did. We would say he “held priesthood.” These new priests were lifted up in pride, were lazy, practiced idolatry, and indulged in the same whoredoms as Noah. They were men after his heart. Alma, about whom we read later in the story, was among them.

The leaders of the people quickly became victims of inappropriate adoration (though they themselves victimized the people), and whether or not it was something they sought after, it appears that they became quite comfortable in their positions of high status and even fed on the envious and adoring lay mass. This happens swiftly when the king decides to let incessant, man-worship go unchecked. Only a meek man can combat the temptation of the praise of men, especially those who fancy the idea of claiming a following. The leader then takes delight in that attention, and indulges in priestcraft (2 Ne. 26:29).

King Noah set himself up as a light to the people, instead of pointing to Christ who is the only true light. He and his priests had their own distinct seats that were “above all the other seats.” They built a comfortable breastwork from which they could speak lying and vain words to their people (Mosiah 11:11).

What kind of a message is chocked full of lies and vanity that a body of religious people is willing to accept? There is only one – the people love to hear that they are good, and that all is well. “Yea, Zion prospereth. All is well.”

Something that we ought to ask ourselves and wonder about is this: Was Noah “worthy” to consecrate new priests? At what point does somebody’s character or behavior disqualify them from ordaining others to the priesthood? We’ve already established that Noah was unable to please heaven. He had already forfeited the “rights of the priesthood” (D&C 121:36). But does a man from whom “the heavens withdraw” and who has “grieved the Spirit of the Lord” have authority to pass priesthood to others? If yes, then what about the children of those “others?” Can it be passed, as would a family heirloom, from one generation to the next by men who take no delight in “persuasion,” “longsuffering,” or “gentleness and meekness?” Who have not charity and whose thoughts are filled with many things beside that which is virtuous (ibid, v. 41)? At what point does this break down?

Sadly, this class of priests was supported in their persistent idolatry, laziness, and whoredoms by the money of the people of the kingdom. And thus, the lay population supported these leaders in their iniquity, so much that they too became idolatrous. This has been Satan’s plan from the beginning – he buys things with money. His disciples believe they can have anything in this world for it. They really believe it!

The root cause of this shift is pride, but also trusting in the arm of flesh. The gradual descent downhill was so insidious that nobody from top to bottom was able to clearly perceive their own wretched state.

Noah’s subjects are a great reminder to us of how quickly we tend to forget the messages of the prophets. Because they forgot, they thrived on vain and flattering words that were given to them by their new leaders. Though the scriptures taught that flattery was of the devil, they nevertheless loved to be praised in their present course, and trod down the path of iniquity, and idolatry.

“It is the mark of a false message that it relies on flattery.
(See Alma 46:5; 61:4; Jacob 7:4; Mosiah 27:8; 2 Ne. 28:22)

“It is the mark of a true message that it calls for repentance. (D&C 6:9; 11:9; Mosiah 18:20; 25:22)

“Christ's message is always to "repent" and then to "come to Him." (Moroni 7:34)

“If you only need to listen to the voices of praise, and adulation which speak to you that "all is well in Zion" then you can never recognize an authentic call from the Lord to repent. Instead, like Laman and Lemuel, you will erroneously think any message that condemns your misbehavior is "sharp" or "angry" (2 Nephi 1: 26). Yet Nephi's only intention was to seek "the eternal welfare" of Laman and Lemuel. (2 Nephi 1: 25)

“When we will only listen to vanity and praise, we are not much different than those who only wanted "smooth things" anciently. (Isa. 30: 10)

“The cure for some illness requires a knife to be used first before healing can begin. The purpose is not to injure, but only to heal” (Denver Snuffer).

The people became idolatrous. They were placing their trust in the arm of flesh, and therefore put men between them and God. This is a status wholly unacceptable to the Lord. Those who trust in men are damned (D&C 76:98-101).

Next we will look at the message that God had for Noah and his kingdom. God sent them a message of repentance by the mouth of Abinadi, his messenger. Hearing Abinadi’s word was the same as hearing God’s own word, for “it is the same” (D&C 1:38). He was a servant who came in the name of the Lord to declare repentance. He preached to Noah and his people during the time of Pentecost. Tonight begins Pentecost, over 2160 years later.