Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
In this chapter, the Isaiah first prophecies about the Savior, his coming in the flesh, his judging of the righteous and the wicked and his thousand year reign. He is the rod and stem that will come out of the root of Jesse or Ephraim. He will be given great power and have all knowledge. The root of Jesse in verse 10 is a descendent of Jesse to whom will be given the priesthood power in the last days. This is referring to Joseph Smith. This prophecy is being fulfilled in our day, even though it was given thousands of years ago. Through this prophet, God will erect an ensign to the nations that will unite Israel who will gather round it and not be divided anymore. The gentiles are the ones chosen to assist in this gathering and it will be done by the power of God just like when He led Moses and Israel out of Egypt.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah the king of Israel (northern half) want Ahaz to ally with them against Asssyria, the neighboring super power. Isaiah pleads with Ahaz to not do this but trust that the Lord will deliver them. Ahaz rejects Isaiah's counsel and tries to play both sides by also winning the support of the king of Assyria. Assyria then invades Israel and takes a number of cities captive. Because of this, Syria and Israel invade Judah slaying 120,000 soldiers and carry away 200,000 women and children.
Isaiah gave Ahaz a sign. The sign was a virgin will conceive and bare a son whose name will be Immanuel. This has a duel meaning because it not only prophesies that through Judah the Messiah will be born, but it is a sign for their time and refers to Isaiah's wife giving birth to their first son.
2 Nephi 14
After reading of the wickedness of Israel's men and women, Isaiah now prophecies of the restoration when they (Isaiah refers to Israel as daughters but I think you can infer all of the posterity, both men and women) desire to be called by the name of the Lord and wear the robes of the holy Priesthood. All of their wickedness is washed away meaning the atonement as cleansed them from all sin. The Lord will create a place of refuge for them where they will be safe from all that would harm them. This could be applied to any person who has sinned and changes their life. It shows how much the Lord is willing to restore them to a position of honor and glory in his sight. The Lord is quick to forgive and wants us to realize how much his love and mercy is ready to be extended to each of us.
2 Nephi 15
Israel is compared to a vineyard that was planted by the Lord in very fertile land. Even though everything was done to perfection, the vineyard failed to bring forth anything edible. The fruit was all wild meaning Israel only brings forth wickedness. Because of this wickedness, the vineyard will be destroyed. Isaiah says that because the people have no knowledge of the Lord, no spiritual knowledge, the people will be taken into captivity. In the midst of this destruction and being led away into captivity, Isaiah looks to a time when there will be a restoration, when an ensign will be lifted up. It will come not from Israel but from far away.
Isaiah gives a warning that is similar to Moroni's: "Wo unto them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness." That is so true of our world today. Sins, like adultery, pornography, abortion and are all put forth as acceptable. Television and movies are full of examples where destructive behaviors are put for as normal and acceptable. Adultery and fornication is often couched in humor or under the guise of being a true expression of love. No one seems to notice that the actors who live the same life style they portray in the media have failed relationships where love is not at the foundation. Politicians are prime examples of the hypocrisy of saying one thing but living and doing another. People, officials, and movements will put forth lies to establish their cause as truth. A close look will always show that money, position and power are always at the bottom of it. Isaiah, even though it's hundreds of years before Christ, and even though he can only describe it terms he is familiar with, is dead on in describing the sins of our day as describes the sins of his.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Isaiah then describes the wickedness in his times and there are parallels to the wickedness in our days. For example, rather than follow the Lord's commandments, the people listened to the false religions that came from other countries like Babylon, they were rich and had many weapons of war, but were morally weak easily lost the battles when invaded, they were worshipping idols, and were full of pride. The last part of the chapter talks about how the Lord will end these things and destroy the wickedness of his people. This was fulfilled in Isaiah's time and will apply to wickedness in our time als
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Lord's warning that the Jews will be killed and led into captivity, his condemnation of their wickedness, their sexual sins, their pride, their fixation with fashion and appearance, all of this must have given comfort to Nephi and his people and made them grateful to have escaped. It's also a good warning for our day. Sin is sin and no more acceptable today than any other time in history. The sins of mankind do not seem to every change. There is only one verse for the righteous in this chapter and the Lord says it will be well with them and they will see and enjoy the fruits of the righteousness.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The third thing Nephi delights in are the Lord's covenants, particularly the promise he will deliver us from physical and spiritual death. Nephi says this promise shows how great his grace, justice, power, and mercy is. The fourth thing is similar, it's Nephi's delight in proving that unless Christ came, there would be no deliverance from death. He uses good logic, if there is no Christ to redeem us from death, there is no God, and if there is no God, there would have been no creation. Our very existence is proof that there is a God. No one has ever been able to explain what the essence of life is, what makes things live, move and function. At death it would seem that this essence of life ceases to exist. But if it exists, it had to have been created. Of course, we know our existence goes way beyond this experience of mortality.
These four things that Nephi delights in are a testimony of Christ. I find that we experience a special spirit when we teach and testify of the Savior. If we open up our hearts and let us ourselves feel, we can know. At the end of second Nephi, he says, "when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. But behold, there are many who harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast away many things which are written and esteem them as things of naught." The Holy Ghost is there. We just need to open our hearts. If we don't let our minds wrestle with the detail, we will find that we can know without doubt. Once we have that foundation, then the details fall into place and we no longer have this battle going on in our minds. We reach a place of peace and assurance where our heart and our mind are at the same place. That enables us to see things more clearly and to understand more deeply the things of the gospel and of life. If we soften our hearts, we will feel.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Finally, Jacob lists some of the pitfalls and sins that can cause people to suffer the demands of the law of justice. They are:
1. Having the commandments but not keeping them
2. Wasting the our lives
3. Allowing the false wisdom and pride to rule over us
4. Being rich and persecuting and ignoring the poor
5. Being deaf and blind to the Spirit
6. Failure to be humble and recognize our weaknesses
7. Lying, murder, idol worship
He warns us not to die in our sins and that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life. I think that applies as much to this life as the next. I believe that when we are spiritually minded, we see more in life, we enjoy more in life and life has more purpose and meaning. When we are spiritually dead, we tend to only see the negative in life and in people, and life can become a drudgery. Jacob pleads with us to open our hearts and minds and be humble. That is when the great spiritual truths will be opened up to us.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
All Christian churches who believe in the fall, believe that Adam and Eve did a terrible thing because they not only brought death into the world, but their fall made everyone a born sinner. That is why they believe that unless they are baptized immediately, or confess Christ as their Savior, they will go to hell. Thankfully, the restoration of the gospel shows that it was not "original sin" that was committed by Adam and Eve, but a transgression of law. They chose to disobey a lower law to keep a higher law. When Susan and I were married in the temple, I chose the higher law of celestial marriage over a lower law of honoring my father and thy mother by supporting their being forbidden to witness my marriage since they weren't members and eligible to enter the temple.
There were two deaths brought into the world because of the fall, our personal death of the body and our personal separation from God, or spiritual death. These are obvious. We know everyone is going to die and we know we cannot see or hear God. Atheists don't believe because spiritual death has removed the intellectually obvious from them. The wicked people of the earth embrace spiritual death because they do not see an immortal consequence for their actions.
If there were no atonement, there would be no power that would enable us to live after death in any state except in a state of sin. Our sins would remain with us. Everything bad thing we have done in life, big and small, would stay with us. As Jacob teaches, if that were the case, we would be subject to Satan for eternity and exist as a spirit in misery and torment because there is no power to redeem us from this fallen state. It's the same with out bodies, without the resurrection, there is no power to resurrect a body into one that is immortal and perfect. No one possesses that power. Because of the atonement, all mankind will be resurrected. That is the free gift of Christ. The atonement is also a gift to all mankind because everyone will be resurrected to some state of glory conditional on their faithfulness and repentance. If there is no repentance, a person cannot be saved from spiritual death. There is no atonement for sin unless there is repentance. Those who don't repent will have to atone for their own sins before receiving whatever portion of glory they deserve.
When our spiritual and physical deaths become a reality to us, when we truly understand our situation, then we can begin to understand the greatness of the atonement. Jacob did. Look at the words he uses:
"O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way... "
"O how great the plan of our God!"
"O the greatness and the justice of our God!"
"O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel!"
"O how great the holiness of our God!"
Physical and spiritual death are undeniable. There is either no life before this or after death, or there is purpose to our creation and existence with a plan to bring us ultimate happiness. I believe in a God that loves us and will eventually make everything right, take care of every wrong, stop every suffering, heal every hurt, punish those who deserve it, and lift every person who is down. There is so much remarkable order in the universe, from the perfection of the smallest life form to the order of a universe so large it is beyond comprehension. Such perfection cannot be an accident or a coincidence. In all of this order, there is a perfect plan for each of us. He would not create such perfection without giving us purpose to our existence, without relationships that go beyond this life, and without the opportunity to continue to grow beyond our wildest dreams. O how great the plan of God!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
In the last part of the chapter, he refers to the two prophets talked about in Revelation who will be in Jerusalem prior to the second coming. They will be killed and their bodies will be left in the streets. Then they will be resurrected before the people. In the end of the chapter, the Lord pleads for all of Israel to awaken out of the spiritual stupor they are in and become righteous so they can be free.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
1. The Lord has shown Jacob the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem which is an historical fact and took place at the time Jacob is saying it did.
2. After this destruction of those at Jerusalem, the Jews will return again to that city.
3. The Savior will manifest himself to the Jews at Jerusalem and they will crucify him.
4. Because they crucify the Savior, the Jews will be hated, smitten and driven out of Jerusalem again.
5. When the day comes that Jews accept the Savior, he will be merciful to them and gather them back to their lands of inheritance.
6. The gentiles (all those who are not Israelites) who repent and do not align themselves with the great and abominable church (take part in the sins of the world) will also come to know the covenants the Lord has made with his people.
7. The people of the Lord who wait faithfully for his coming will not be conquered by their enemies.
8. The Lord will destroy the wicked, but manifest himself in great glory to his people and none who believe in him will be destroyed.
9. At the time of his second coming, all people will finally know that Jesus Christ is the Lord, the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Might One of Jacob. This last title is saying he is the Messiah was anciently prophesied of in Israel.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
We've come to the actual time that Nephi made the small plates. It's been thirty years since they left Jerusalem. By the end of the chapter, 40 years have passed away. Nephi is probably nearly 60 years of age.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I want to thank Nephi a thousand times for this chapter. He is one of the great prophets and he shows us that he has his own weaknesses he battles just like everyone else. He says temptations and sins easily beset him and his heart groans because of his sins. To me the key words are "nevertheless I know in whom I have trusted." Nephi's great message here is that sin doesn't have to turn us away from the Lord. When we fall, the Lord is still there to support and love us. In some ways, it's probably good to have a keen sense of our own weaknesses, but we have to be sure that we don't descend into continual self-condemnation without remembering why the atonement is there. The process Nephi goes through with this is a great guide for what we should do. He first remembers all of the blessings he's received from the Lord, and then asks himself three questions, "Why should I yield to sin? Why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry?" There is no doubt Nephi is upset with himself, just like we would be, but he doesn't stay there. It's like he's saying, "Wait a minute. Why am I wallowing in all of this guilt and self-condemnation?" He quits playing the mind games and tells himself to let his soul (heart) wake up and start rejoicing instead of condemning himself. Then in verses 30-35 we get his beautiful prayer.
We are always good people in spite of the wrong things we say or the misdeeds we do. We're not Lamans and Lemuels who are wicked, who seek wickedness and the destruction of those who are trying to live the best lives they can. We have our faults. We commit our sins. But we're still loved by the Lord. He is always there for us. He doesn't condemn us so why should we do that to ourselves? He doesn't limit us because of our weaknesses and we shouldn't limit ourselves either.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
All the prophets saw the day of the restoration and the Prophet Joseph Smith, but Joseph's prophecy is the most detailed. Joseph said this about Joseph Smith:
1. He would be highly esteemed by the posterity of Lehi.
2. He would bring the posterity of Lehi to a knowledge of the covenants the Lord made with there forefathers.
3. He would be great like Moses.
4. He would bring forth the gospel words written by the posterity of Lehi (Book of Mormon).
5. He would be called after Joseph's name and his father's name would be the same.
6. He shall write and speak other words that will go to the posterity of Lehi.
7. The scriptures that he will bring forth will prove the Bible true, will confound false doctrines and end contention, establish peace, bring the posterity of Lehi to a knowledge of their ancestry (Lehi's family), and bring them to a knowledge of the Lord's covenants. These scriptures will cry from the dust, or in other words, come from the ground.
While we revere Joseph Smith as a prophet, I think we will always fall short in realizing how a great a prophet he was and how important he is in sacred history. Only after this life when we finally see the big picture and have a complete understand of everything will we be able to really appreciate what he has done. When Doug Gibb appeared to his niece not long after his death, he said it would be a very long time before he would get to meet the prophet Joseph Smith because there were so many ahead of him. That says something about how he is thought of now in the spirit world.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Everyone has the great gift of being able to choose. I think it is very insightful what we really ultimate choose between. Lehi tells his sons they are choosing between eternal life and eternal death as we all do. But he also says that our choices either allow us to act for ourselves or to be acted upon. When we choose correctly, we gain more freedom to act and choose. When we make bad choices, we hem our lives in and outside influences control us and our lives. They act upon us and take away our freedom to choose. This is a natural law that Satan takes great advantage of. It is his chief tool in his efforts to bring us all down into captivity and have all "men be miserable like unto himself." He is still wanting to have the control and take agency away from everyone.
Lehi tells his sons that "all men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil" and men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man for them to be free to choose liberty and eternal life... or choose captivity and death." Those are the ultimate consequences of our choices. Somewhere in the middle is where most of us are. Lehi says that one choice is made "according to the will of the Spirit" and one choice is made by the "will of the flesh." Those two things are always at the basis of every important choice we make.
There is a lot about the fall of Adam in this chapter. I'm going to wait until chapter 9 to talk about that.