Thursday, April 30, 2009
Summary: Christ shall minister to the Nephites—Nephi foresees the destruction of his people—They shall speak from the dust—The gentiles shall build up false churches and secret combinations—The Lord forbids men to practice priestcrafts. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
Nephi speaks of the destruction of his evil and prideful people and it pangs his soul... but I love verse 7:
7 aO the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are bjust.
The part that scares me perhaps the most is verse 11:
11 For the Spirit of the Lord will not always astrive with man. And when the Spirit bceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul.
I think being separated from the spirit might be more intolerable than any physical destruction. Sin separates us from the spirit and we must constantly be setting ourselves back "at-one" with Him through repentance and the sacrament.
This makes me grateful for the Book of Mormon as another witness of Jesus Christ and of a people who experienced similar physical and spiritual burdens that we now face in the last days. It is our generation that Nephi is speaking of and for... and verse 16 provides some insightful comfort:
16 For those who shall be destroyed shall aspeak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
This verse helps provide one logical rationale (although none is necessary beyond my testimony and spiritual witness) as to why I read and study the Book of Mormon... because those who lived in it and who recorded it are a voice speaking to me to remind me and warn me daily to do and be better so as not to be destroyed at His Second Coming.
In closing Nephi gives an account of the faults/temptations of all people, both righteous and wicked and then reminds us of the goodness of God, of Jesus Christ's love and redemption and salvation; and that we must spread the truth of all things to all men, keep the commandments, come unto Him, and labor in Zion. I love his farewell comment in the last verse; a fitting reminder for our day:
...and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he ainviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he ddenieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile (v. 33).
What did you learn?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I love verse 4: "Behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn." Nephi is speaking, but I can just hear Heavenly Father saying the same thing to us, which I believe He essentially has, thru modern day prophets. How many of today's apostles and prophets throughout the years have encouraged us to continue learning, to be educated?
Verse 8 is great, as we just made it thru the Isaiah chapters: "I know that they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days...wherefore, for their good have I written them."
Verse 13 is amazing. It makes me love Nephi! He has such deep convictions and a great love for Christ. He says: "My heart doth magnify his holy name." Do we have Christ written in our hearts?
The bulk of this chapter is full of major prophecies, which would be great for everyone to study again.
Verse 23: "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do." This is a principle I have used a lot in my everyday life, especially with school. There is no way I could do anything alone. I feel so dependent on Heavenly Father. Of course, on a larger scale, we need to remember that, as hard as we try in this life, we will fall short. It is thru the grace of our Savior, who loves us so much, that we will be saved.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
This chapter has a lot of imagery! My favorite is in verse 5 "The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepters of the rulers."
Then it goes on to talk about Satan, and how he will be "cut down to the ground" or cast out of Heaven... and I like verse 16 "They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?".
This section about Satan made me think about how the wicked, or those who have chosen to "follow" Satan will be turned on. Satan doesn't care about those who follow him, and will just as soon destroy them. He is the ultimate liar and master of deceit. It's not like people expect to have their souls destroyed when they make bad decisions with eternal consequences - but in essence, that's how it goes. I think if we thought about it like that, we would do a lot of things differently.
Monday, April 27, 2009
SUMMARY: Destruction of Babylon is a type of destruction at Second Coming--It shall be a day of wrath and vengeance--Babylon (the world) shall fall forever--Compare Isaiah 13.
FYI: There is a dual fulfillment of this prophecy (the destruction of Babylon). During Nebudcadnezzar's reign (around 600 BC, or the time of Lehi), Babylon was one of the most glorious cities in the world. In 539 it fell to the Medes and the Persians. By the time of Christ, Babylon was inhabited by a few exiled Jews, and a hundred years later it was completely desolate (and has remained that way since). This must have been a very sobering prophecy for Nephi to read, since Babylon was so great during his lifetime.
I thought it was interesting that this chapter talks in such depth about the destruction of Babylon--that is, until I read the chapter summary and realized that the destruction of Babylon symbolizes the destruction preceding the Second Coming. Then boy, did I open my eyes and pay attention!
The whole time I was reading this chapter, I kept thinking about the Nephites and the destruction that happened before Christ came. Ezra Taft Benson points out that"The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 3; or Ensign, May 1987, 4). Since this is also what this chapter on the destruction of Babyon is portraying, I thought it was an interesting comparison.
Here is a table I found that is outlining the events occurring in the Book of Mormon. It is long but it was interesting, so I am including it. Feel free to skip it :).
Prophecies and Events Recorded in Helaman 13–16
Prophecy or Event
Signs and Events that Will Precede the Second Coming
Strong righteous minority
Spiritual outpourings and miracles
Rejection of the Lord’s prophets and their call to repentance
Conversion of many Lamanites
Prophecy of a night with no darkness
Zechariah 14:7; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 287
Prophecies of signs and wonders in the heavens
Denial of signs, wonders, and Christ’s coming
Prophecies of great storms and other natural destruction
Prophecy of the destruction of the wicked
Vs. 11: "I will punish the wicked for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay down the haughtiness of the terrible."
Vs. 12: "I will make a man more precious than fine gold. . ."
What does this mean? Why is this included in this chapter when all the rest deals so forcefully with the destruction of Babylon? Well, I did some research, and these are the thoughts I had.
We learn all through the scriptures and from our modern-day prophets that Heavenly Father often takes us through a "refiner's fire" to help us become the people He knows we can be. He knows the things that will turn our hearts to Him, and He knows what it will take for us to truly change.
Right after verse 12, Isaiah says this: "Therefore, I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger." (emphasis mine.) It made me realize that this is the Lord's way of giving us a last chance to repent and turn our hearts to Him. In a way it seems counter-intuitive,but this final act strikes me as an act of mercy and love.
What do you think? Is it hard to remember in the midst of trials that they are merciful events in our lives? It is hard for me. What do you do to keep eternal perspective and remember how Heavenly Father is caring for you and shaping you so perfectly?
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Since it is so short, I'll include all of the verses.
1 And in that day thou shalt say: O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedest me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.
-This second verse immediately made me think of the song "The Lord is My Light." This chapter, in fact, feels like a hymn of praise. It makes me want to join in and sing too!
3 Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
-With this verse, I was reminded of Isaiah 55:1, which says: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." We are all invited to come to the Savior and partake in the miracle of the Atonement. I love how it says that it is without money and without price. We don't need money to partake of the blessings of the Atonement, and it is certainly the most "priceless" thing we could partake of.
4 And in that day shall ye say: Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
-This verse made me think of missionary work. Sometimes I really wish I had gone on a mission. I would have been forced to open my mouth. I am so content to just live my life without much contact or friendships with non-members. The idea of missionary work makes me uncomfortable. The missionaries in our ward used to come over a lot and challenge us to do missionary work, but we always said, "We'll try, but we just moved here and don't know any of our neighbors or anyone else." Since then, I've tried to be a missionary while commenting on blogs or forums if I have the opportunity, but that's the extent of my missionary work. And almost a year later, I still don't know my neighbors or any non-members outside of Adam's coworkers. And we live in Pennsylvania, so that shows you how little I get out. I really want to "Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted," like this verse says.
5 Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth.
6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.
-These verses have more praise for the Lord. I finished this chapter feeling really bright and optimistic. It's a short chapter, but it's a wonderful hymn of praise to the Lord.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Summary: Stem of Jesse (Christ) shall judge in righteousness—The knowledge of God shall cover the earth in the Millennium—The Lord shall raise an ensign and gather Israel—Compare Isaiah 11. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
Verses 1-5: Stem of Jesse (Christ) shall judge in righteousness
Verses 6-9: The knowledge of God shall cover the earth in the Millennium
Verses 10-16: The Lord shall raise an ensign and gather Israel
So this is a shorter chapter and it's easily broken into three sections - the three points made in the summary. And then I got stuck. :) So I started looking things up in the topical guide, etc. Isaiah speaks with SO much symbolism. I bet it would take hours to disect this chapter, as would any chapter, that is.
I started with the first verse. Isn't it interesting that lineage is always refered to as a tree, or a root, or a branch, ect. This was not the first time that the scriptures had identified Christ and symbolized him as a plant. Another example of a well-known scripture refering to this is:
Isaiah 53:2 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
And then Christ shall judge a righteous judgement upon all people.
Next is the millenium where there will be peace! Can you imagine? Doesn't that sound wonderful? Even the animals will be at peace with all other creatures.
In verse 10 it goes on to say that Christ will be an Ensign to all people. I decided to look up the word, "Ensign." I found that it means a sign, token, banner, flag, or rank of power. Interesting. "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious." His rest? What is his rest? I found this interesting as well. His rest is "The Renewal of the Earth."
And then the house of Israel shall be gathered. I wonder what the verses mean that Ephraim is envious. I have a feeling there's a lot of meaning in these verses that might take a little bit more research for me to understand thm.
But what I thought neat at the end, is that the Lord will make the rivers coming from the Egyptain sea dry, so that there is a highway for the remnant of his people. Just like there was a highway back when THE Israel went out of Egypt. I bet that is incredible symbolism.
I searched "The Gathering of Israel" to see what prophets and apostles have said, and I ran into this great talk by Bruce R McKonkie. You can find it here, if you'd like.
He gives his "10 Keys to understanding Isaiah" and then what is really neat is that he has broken down each chapter in Isaiah with cross references and everything.
Isaiah: 2 Ne. 21. Restoration; gathering of Israel; millennial era. JS—H 1:40; D&C 101:26; D&C 113:1–6. Isa. 11:1–5 are messianic and apply also to the second coming. 2 Ne. 30:9–15.
And you know what makes me feel better? He even points out that Nephi said that Isaiah's words were even hard for HIS people to understand sometimes. But it is so good to study his words. Bruce R McKonkie said, "The risen Lord commanded the Nephites and all the house of Israel, including us, and, for that matter, all the nations of the gentiles, to “search … diligently … the words of Isaiah.....if his people “shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (Isa. 52:8); if these and a great host of other glorious truths were known to Isaiah and Nephi, should they be hidden from us? Why should either of these prophets know what we do not know? Is not the Lord Jehovah our God also?"
She said that her friend works in the office of the Mormon Tabernacle choir. On March 27th, she got a phone call from a relief society president in Southern Utah. This RS president told of a sister in her ward who was just diagnosed with cancer and only give 4-6 weeks to live. This RS president said that she had prayed and prayed about what she could do to provide comfort for this sister and finally felt to call the Mormon Tabernacle choir. She asked if the choir could possibly sing "Consider the Lillies of the Field," during conference, since this is the favorite song of her sister with cancer.
As she was telling her story and giving her request, the sister on the phone in the choir's office began thinking thoughts of, "There is no way the music can be changed now. Conference is next weekend! People just don't understand that all the music is chosen clear back in January and has to be approved by the Brethren. After that, there is quite a process to change anything." But as she listed to the RS president's story, she thought, "Wait, I think the choir IS singing 'Consider the Lillies.'" She told the relief society president her thought and asked her to hold. She checked the list of the music to be sung and conference, and lo and behold, "Consider the Lillies" was scheduled for the Saturday Morning session. She got back on the phone to a crying RS president and was able to tell her that the choir was planning on singing it in the first session. The RS president was so grateful and said that this was an answer to many, many prayers.
There is more to the story. Come to find out, "Consider the Lillies" was not orignally on the choir's program. Mack Wilburg had picked all the music clear back in January. But a couple of weeks after (remember, we are still in January, clear before this sister even knew she had cancer) he got a very strong feeling that he needed to change one of the songs to "Consider the Lillies." So he went through the process and got it changed. What incredible inspiration. What a wonderful blessing from the Lord. He truly cares about all of His children. Each and every ONE!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Summary: Destruction of Assyria is a type of destruction of wicked at the Second Coming—Few people shall be left after the Lord comes again—Remnant of Jacob shall return in that day—Compare Isaiah 10. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
Another interesting Isaiah chapter where the Lord compares the destruction of Assyria to the destruction of the wicked at the time of his Second Coming. The seed of Jacob will return and
The "WO's"/warnings to the wicked are: to those who make unrighteous decrees; to ignore the needy, poor, widowed, fatherless; to hypocritical nations; and the greedy and prideful leaders and armies.
The remnant of Jacob will be gathered, meaning the gathering of Israel or the righteous.... and they will not have to depend on their evil leaders, but the Holy One of Israel. The Lord tells the righteous to not be afraid of the wicked. The high and haughty leaders will be hewn down and humbled. That is a relief!
This chapter seemed to be a metaphor for the destruction of the wicked and a preservation of the righteous at the Second Coming... and although difficult to understand at times I find comfort in these words:
"The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is written in biblical language, the language of the prophets. For the most part, it is in easy-flowing New Testament language, with such words as spake for spoke, unto for to, with and it came to pass, with thus and thou and thine."
"You will not read many pages into it until you catch the cadence of that language and the narrative will be easy to understand. As a matter of fact, most teenagers readily understand the narrative of the Book of Mormon. Then, just as you settle in to move comfortably along, you will meet a barrier. The style of the language changes to Old Testament prophecy style. For, interspersed in the narrative, are chapters reciting the prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. They loom as a barrier, like a roadblock or a checkpoint beyond which the casual reader, one with idle curiosity, generally will not go."
"You, too, may be tempted to stop there, but do not do it! Do not stop reading! Move forward through those difficult-to-understand chapters of the Old Testament prophecy, even if you understand very little of it. Move on, if all you do is skim and merely glean an impression here and there. Move on, if all you do is look at the words..."
"... The Lord had a purpose in preserving the prophecies of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, notwithstanding they become a barrier to the casual reader. Those who never move beyond the Isaiah chapters miss the personal treasures to be gathered along the way" (Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 76-77; or Ensign, May 1986, 61; or Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Class Member Study Guide, p.6-7).
Despite my apparent lack of complete understanding I still get impressions and see the purpose of Isaiah's writings/prophecies. Someday I hope to have a more full understanding, but until I'm glad we're all plugging through together and I'm grateful for your thoughts and impressions.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Understanding Isaiah's terminology:
More grievously afflict (v. 1)—Trouble a lot more, torment
Spoil (v. 3)—Property taken from their enemies in war
Yoke (v. 4)—A wooden frame placed around the necks of animals or people so they can pull or carry heavy loads; here it symbolizes bondage or slavery
Staff, rod (v. 4)—Sticks used to correct or to beat animals or slaves and sometimes used for aid in walking
Zeal (v. 7)—Eager desire
Stoutness (v. 9)—Boldness or strength
Adversaries (v. 11)—Enemies
Hypocrite (v. 17)—A person who pretends to be what he or she really is not
Folly (v. 17)—Foolishness
Briers (v. 18)—A prickly plant or shrub
Verses 1-7: The northernmost part of Israel, near the sea of Galilee, was the area of Israel first attacked by enemies who came from the north (see the map on p. 48). When those conquering armies came, this area suffered the most destruction. Isaiah’s prophecy quoted in 2 Nephi 19:1–7 promised this area deliverance through a child, a descendant of David, who was also their “Mighty God.” This area of Galilee is where Jesus spent much of His mortal ministry. As recorded in 2 Nephi 19:5, He removed their captivity and burdens not with physical battle, but by the inner burnings of the Holy Ghost (see also D&C 19:31).(B of M student manual)
Verse 2: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." To me, this verse means that the Gospel will be spread across the earth. Those who have not yet experienced this joy will have the opportunity.
Verse 7: "Of the increase of government and peace there is no end." I can't help but think of the promises of the next life. We will be able to, because of what Christ did for us, create worlds without number and know the peace that we can only dream of now.
Verse 10: "The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars." No matter what obstacles or trials we face, there is a way to overcome them. We will find the solution. We will find peace. And will will find these things because of what Christ did for us.
Verse 17 & 21: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." I love this phrase! In the previous verses, we read of the numerous sins and abominations men will commit. The Lord will not take away the consequences of these actions. But He is there for us. The second we want to turn our hearts back to Him, He will be there waiting, with His hand outstretched. Can you imagine that kind of love? No matter how far we stray, the Lord will always be there, waiting for us. He will never give up on us. He will always love us. There will be times in our lives when we will question this very thing. But we must remember--His hand is stretched out still!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Read it HERE
The things that I found interesting in this chapter, starts at verse 16. Isaiah instructs us to "bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples". We have to solidify our testimonies (be learning about the gospel principles, and practicing them). Then, in verse 19,
20 To the alaw and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
I find this interesting because I think one of the most trying parts of life is making the right choices. But how do we even know what the right choice is? We have to learn so that we know. If we don't know how to tell evil from righteousness, we will rarely make the choices that bring us closer to our Savior. In the scriptures there are countless times that we are told how to discern evil from righteousness. These versus are one of these. Sorcery is not God's way. If we desire "for the living to hear from the dead", we should not seek the ways of the world (sorcery) we should seek God. simple. Now I am in no wise saying that we can expect to hear from the dead... it's simply an example of how to discern the right way to do things.
Yet, of all the times I have read the Book of Mormon, I have never really thought of it like that. Makes me wonder what else I miss!!!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Hi Everyone! We're working our way through the Isaiah chapters. I am really impressed--you're all so smart, and I am learning so much from reading what you have to say. In case you're feeling overwhelmed, or disappointed that you're not getting more out of the readings, here is a quote from Boyd K. Packer that might encourage you to continue (slog? muddle? wade?) on. Enjoy!
“The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is written in biblical language, the language of the prophets.
“For the most part, it is in easy-flowing New Testament language, with such words as spake for spoke, unto for to, with and it came to pass, with thus and thou and thine.
“You will not read many pages into it until you catch the cadence of that language and the narrative will be easy to understand. As a matter of fact, most teenagers readily understand the narrative of the Book of Mormon.
“Then, just as you settle in to move comfortably along, you will meet a barrier. The style of the language changes to Old Testament prophecy style. For, interspersed in the narrative, are chapters reciting the prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. They loom as a barrier, like a roadblock or a checkpoint beyond which the casual reader, one with idle curiosity, generally will not go.
“You, too, may be tempted to stop there, but do not do it! Do not stop reading! Move forward through those difficult-to-understand chapters of Old Testament prophecy, even if you understand very little of it. Move on, if all you do is skim and merely glean an impression here and there. Move on, if all you do is look at the words. …
“… The Lord had a purpose in preserving the prophecies of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, notwithstanding they become a barrier to the casual reader.
“Those who never move beyond the Isaiah chapters miss the personal treasures to be gathered along the way” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 76–77; or Ensign, May 1986, 61).
This chapter basically describes what will happen to Syria and Ephraim (Northern Israel) after they fail against Judah.
Isaiah named his two sons:
Maher-shalal-hash-baz: Hebrew for "to speed to the spoil, he hasteneth the prey", describing the events of the ten tribes of Israel, who were overrun by the Assyrians.
Shear-jashub: Hebrew for "the remnant shall return", a reference to the day when Israel will be gathered from her scattered condition.
OK. I always get turned around and confused by all the names and references in these chapters, so I did a chart for my reference, and I think I understand things better now. If I'm wrong about anything, let me know!
AHAZ ---> King of Judah/Jerusalem
REZIN ---> King of Syria
PEKAH ---> King of Ephraim (also referred to as "son of Remaliah"), which is what Northern Israel is called.
Rezin and Pekah are in alliance, and are plotting to defeat Judah by invading and placing another king there.v
Isaiah meets with Ahaz and his son, and tells them that the kings have little fire left (vs. 4), and that their plan will not come to fruition.
Ahaz learns that the only sign he needs to know is that Christ will be born (vs. 14).
After Christ comes, Ephraim/Northern Israel and Syria will be forsaken (vs. 16), and the Lord will call upon attacking forces (vs. 18). The land will be depopulated (vs. 20)--by a foreign invader--and only a few people will remain (vs. 21). What was once plenty will be forlorn and barren (vs. 22-24).
FYI, this is prophesied almost 600 years before Christ is even born.
Vs. 15 talks about how the Savior will eat butter and honey and thus will know to choose good from evil.
I learned a few things from this:
1) Butter and honey (curd and honey) is a poor man's food. Everyone has access to it.
2) In order to not only know what good is, but to also desire that good (choose it), you must build up an appetite for it. How do you truly build an appetite for something without ever having tasted it?
3) You do not need to immerse yourself in worldliness/evil to know good from evil. Focus on partaking of what is good, and you will be able to build the desire for more.
4) Mary must have fed this to Christ when he was young. Am I nourishing my children with what is good? Am I helping them build an appetite for good, for spirituality, for the gospel? If they are not exposed to these things, how will they know to desire them?
It really makes me think. Am I really doing enough to help my children know what good "tastes" like, and to help them desire more? What do you do (or plan to do) to help your children know and choose good? Please share! Give us all some ideas!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
In this chapter, Isaiah has an experience in which he learns that his sins are forgiven. We read about other prophets in the scriptures who have similar experiences (Enos, Alma the Younger, Joseph Smith), but this particular imagery is unique. Isaiah sees a heavenly seraph. The Bible Dictionary says this:
"Seraphim: Probably fiery beings.
Angelic beings mentioned in the account of Isaiah’s vision (Isa. 6: 2). They are represented as winged and partly human in form. They are attendants in Jehovah’s court, the ministers of the heavenly sanctuary, joining in adoration before the throne."
This heavenly being puts a hot coal on Isaiah's lips, which purges his sins. The image of that used to scare me as a kid, because I imagined his mouth getting burned. But I think that imagery now is actually pretty powerful to me--his sins were burned away. We all know that becoming clean and pure is sometimes more like a fiery ordeal than a peaceful cleansing!
In my scriptures, I wrote a few notes next to this chapter. I don't know if these were my own thoughts or from a lesson, though I suspect the latter. The notes liken the seraph and the coal unto the priesthood blessing and passing the sacrament. I like that thought--we have already had our sins washed away through baptism! And every week we have the opportunity to renew that covenant and become clean again when we partake of the sacrament.
Those are just a few thought. Have a great day!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Summary: The Lord’s vineyard (Israel) shall become desolate and his people shall be scattered—Woes shall come upon them in their apostate and scattered state—The Lord shall lift an ensign and gather Israel—Compare Isaiah 5. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
Well, I must admit that the "Compare Isaiah" chapters have always been a bit tricky for me. But I will do my best. I'm thinking I need to buy a manual to help me study.... soon!
There are a few parts of this chapter that really stood out to me.
Verses 1 - 7 talk about the Lord's vineyard. He did everything He could for His vineyard to prepare it to bring forth grapes, yet it brought forth wild grapes. So then He did not continue to tend, prune, or dig it. Briers and thorns also came up with the grapes. As the summary says, this is a comparison of Israel. The vineyard is Israel which soon becomes scattered and desolate. I know there is a lot to study in just these verses, but I am moving on.
A few verses later, we receive a warning about those who do not heed to the Word of Wisdom. So not only did Joseph Smith talk about this, but so did Isaiah. :) (Remember my post about how Isaiah is to Nephi, as Nephi is to us. Interesting.)
And then, a famous verse in verse 20. "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!"
Oh boy, aren't we seeing examples of this in our day? In fact, I gave a lesson in relief society where we talked about this for a while. How most people know the 10 commandments, yet, going against many of those commandments has become socially acceptable. A few examples:
-Taking the Lord's name if vain is accepted by the world. What's a sit-com if it doesn't take the name of the Lord in vain? Is it not a commandment anymore? People say it almost in passing, now. It's in kid's shows and G movies.
-Immorality is accepted by the world. Marriage counselors use pornography to "strengthen" marriages.
-It's recommended that boyfriends and girlfriends live together before they get married.
-It is not normal anymore to wait until marriage to have sexual relations.
-What about the Sabbath Day? Most do not "keep it holy"
Another thing I thought of is drinking is accepted by the world. The wealthy and high-class people are able to drink expensive wine. It is used to celebrate special occasions, etc. Drinking wine, is considered to be just fine, even a luxury.
Wo unto all these people! The anger of the Lord is kindled against these people (verse 25).....but I love that at the end of the verse he says, "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." Even in our sins, the Lord will never forsake us. He is always there if we will repent and change our ways. What a merciful and loving Lord.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Summary: Zion and her daughters shall be redeemed and cleansed in the millennial day—Compare Isaiah 4. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
In these 6 brief verses Isaiah is talking about the millennium. I find it very interesting and comforting that there is a specific chapter that speaks of the daughters of Zion- women, and how we will be redeemed and cleansed. Verse 1, as I interpreted it, speaks of those women who were single in this life. The Lord will not take away their independence and hard work, but will take away their reproach, shame, or the name of "old maid".
The women who are found in Zion will be called holy. They will then be washed (purged from blood of Jerusalem).
I think verse 5 is speaking of the temple and the way in which they will help cleanse the people, and stand as a beacon, symbol, and defense for the people. Verse 6 speaks of a tabernacle that will stand as a place of refuge from the elements... which could also be interpreted as the temple and the "elements" could be symbolic for spiritual and emotional storms that may rage.
Although brief I think it very poignant that the Lord includes this specific chapter in the Book of Mormon as a reminder to his daughters that he loves and cherishes them, is thinking of their every need, and knows their weaknesses and filth and wants to redeem and cleanse them anyway. I find huge comfort in that.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I needed some outside help on this chapter! But now it sort of makes sense for the first time in my life!
2 Nephi 13:1–12 is the continuation of Isaiah’s discussion of what would happen if the Israelites persisted in putting their trust in false religions. Isaiah called the Israelites the “daughters of Zion” (v. 16), which represents the idea that they are children of the covenant, and he likened them to a prideful woman who becomes humiliated. (B of M Student Manual)
In vs. 1, the punishment the Lord refers to is the "taking away of all of their support." (i.e. "The stay and the staff") (B of M student manual)
The other numerous symbols used in this chapter support the idea that the people of Israel have become completely worldly, only caring for worldly things. Since this was all I was able to glean from this chapter, I will focus my discussion on that. I found this thought in "The Latter Day Saint Woman." It says:
Our appetites and passions are like a spirited, powerful horse. If they are allowed to run wild, unharnessed and unbroken, they will take us where they please. They may take us to dangerous and harmful places. But we would not destroy a fine horse just because it is high-spirited. When bridled so that we become master, the horse can serve us well. Likewise, when we become master over our desires and feelings, we learn to redirect them within the bounds of the gospel. These feelings then become our servants. They can increase our ability to feel joy and love.
Here is another one:
Our kind, wise Heavenly Father gives us commandments because He loves us. He wants to protect us from unnecessary sorrow. He wants to help us gain self-mastery so that He can bless us. The law of fasting helps us learn to control our appetite for food. Then we can make our spirits masters over our bodies. The law of tithing helps us overcome our selfish desires. He gave us the Word of Wisdom partly to free us from the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. He gave us the law of chastity to help us control our physical desires.
With these thoughts in mind, I can't help but think how much I needed to learn more about this particular principle. I need to learn to control a lot of appetites in my daily life. Those include: sleep, eating, watching TV, and anger. I have been pondering this a lot lately. I literally feel like a slave to sleep, but I am not at all sure how to overcome that. The other one that has been threatening to enslave me is anger. There have been so many times lately where I have completely lost my temper in the heat of the moment. And I let little, insignificant things push me over the edge. I have been praying so hard to overcome this because it kind of scares me. What I have found that helps is to either walk away from the situation long enough for the anger to subside or find a way to laugh it off. I love the second quote--knowing that for all of the things that could enslave us and take our attentions away from the Spirit and our purpose in life, Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow to help us control these appetites. How well He knows us and loves us! What "appetities" do you need to work on to make sure you are not consumed by worldliness? To tie this back to the chapter, let us always remember to put our trust in the Lord and keep our pride in check so that we will not become enslaved by worldly desires.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Read Chapter 12 HERE
Isaiah sees the latter-day temple, gathering of Israel, and millennial judgment and peace—The proud and wicked shall be brought low at the Second Coming—Compare Isaiah 2.
This is an interesting chapter, but here are a few versus that stood out to me...
Verse 5, "...yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways." What are some of our "wicked ways"? I can think a few of my own (that I am working on. I'm not airing out my dirty laundry here!) and they are: losing patience with my children and husband, gossiping, not attending the Temple as often as I should/can, being idle, not sharing the gospel... to name a few. I think that self-evaluations are essential to our personal progress.
I found verse 8 very interesting, "Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made." I would not consider myself "crafty", though I do enjoy making things. But when I do make something that I am pleased with, I like to show it off! So, where do we cross the line between being pleased with our creations, and worshiping them? Just a thought. It also reminded me of this great blog I came across, called Create Studio. Right away, I was impressed by the purpose of her blog. Here's a little insert from her "about me", "I am not talented on my own. I was created in the image of a creative God and He has graciously given me every ounce of inspiration. My blog is a resource to bring Him glory." Isn't that wonderful?
Monday, April 13, 2009
Summary: Jacob saw his Redeemer—The law of Moses typifies Christ and proves he shall come. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
This is a short chapter but it has some really good things in it.
In verses 2-8, Nephi introduces the rest of his writings about Isaiah. He makes some important points:
Vs. 2-3: Nephi bears testimony of the reality of the Redeemer, and emphasizes the system of having three witnesses confirm a truth. The common scripture we hear about this is in Corinthians ("In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established) was written after Nephi's time.
Nephi also gives more reasons about why he quotes Isaiah. This table is found in the sunday school lesson on the subject, and I liked it (my mind works really well with tables) so I borrowed it!
WHY NEPHI QUOTED ISAIAH
To “more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord”
To provide another witness of Jesus Christ
To help us (his readers) rejoice
To reveal God’s judgments
One last thought; let's take a look at verse four:
4 Behold, my soul delighteth in aproving unto my people the truth of the bcoming of Christ; for, for this end hath the claw of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the dtypifying of him.
Nephi is teaching that the law of Moses was given by God to typify Christ. The term "type" has an interesting meaning--it indicates that an object or event carries spiritual significance as well as a literal meaning.
The law of Moses was profoundly symbolic.
We learn in Mosiah ch. 13 that this Law--a law of performances and ordinances--was given to help the people remember God and their duty toward him. BUT, it also says that because of the hardness of their hearts, the people did not understand the law. They did not understand that man can only be saved through the redemption of God; all they focused on was following the rules.
Remember the Anti-Nephi-Lehis? They are some of my favorite people in the Book of Mormon. Well, THEY understood. Take a look at Alma Ch. 25, vs. 15-16. They point out that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis followed the Law, while looking forward to the coming of Christ and understanding that the Law is a type of His coming. "Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses, but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ"--which helped them retain their hope.
So, after all that, this really makes me think about my reasons for keeping the commandments. We all know about the Saducees and the Pharisees and all the people in the New Testament who followed the rules but still didn't get it. Why do I follow the "rules"? Do I do it because I really have a testimony of the principle, or because I know I'm supposed to, or because I've always done it and that is just the way it is done?
It really makes me think. What about you? What "rules" have you gained a testimony of recently? How do you keep remembering what it is all about?
Saturday, April 11, 2009
In v.2, he reiterates what Nephi has said: that their descendants will fall away but later on come back. I just marvel at their faith. These men knew hundreds of years in advance that their posterity would fall away. They knew their brothers' posterity would destroy theirs. Wouldn't that seem so unfair to you? It reminds me a little bit of how Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration, didn't have any children or grandchildren be apart of the church. Only now are some of his descendants joining the church. But Hyrum (who, unlike the Lamanites, was righteous) had many of his descendants stand strong in the gospel, including several prophets. What makes the difference? To me, this just goes to show that we need to teach our children the right way, but ultimately, they have to make their own choices. And if you knew that in a few generations, all of your family would have fallen away, would that make you stronger or less strong in the gospel? I think it made Jacob and the other prophets even more determined to be as righteous as possible and to leave these records so that as many of their descendants as possible would be righteous too.
In the next verses Jacob states that no other nation would have crucified their God. I have always wondered about this. Of course, we can't know for sure, because Christ was among the Jews, and not any other nation. But I guess that it holds true for them the same as it does these days--the more righteous and blessed we are, the more wicked and hard-hearted we become when we fall from the right path.
In v. 14 the Lord says that there shouldn't be kings upon this land, or else they will perish. I pondered on the meaning of this a little while, because at this point, the Nephites have a king. They have one all the way until Mosiah. But in rereading that, it says the "whosoever will raise a king against me will perish." I think the key here is that the Nephites considered the Lord to be their king, so their monarchy was allowed. In the history of our country, we know the aversion that the Founders had to kings. However, the promised land spoken of in the Book of Mormon applies (I think) to all of North and South America. I don't think any of the countries are still monarchies. Does anyone else know whether that's true? I know that there are several countries with virtual dictatorships, like Venezuela, but history shows that those governments eventually fail. I think it's remarkable that the American continents really have stayed pretty free of monarchies. Though Canada is part of the British Commonwealth. It gets a little complicated when you try to analyze everything literally! That's why the Lord is in charge of judgments, not us!
I like how in v.21-22, Jacob tells them that the Lord has led away other parts of the House of Israel at various times throughout history. We know for sure about two other groups--the Mulekites and the Jaredites. I wonder who else?
My thoughts feel a little scatterbrained, but I hope they made some sense!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Summary:Jews shall be gathered in all their lands of promise—Atonement ransoms man from the fall—The bodies of the dead shall come forth from the grave, and their spirits from hell and from paradise—They shall be judged—Atonement saves from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment—The righteous to be saved in the kingdom of God—Penalties for sins set forth—The Holy One of Israel is the keeper of the gate. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
The Lord has made covenants with the House of Israel even that (verse 2) "That he has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down, from generation to generation, until the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God; when they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.
And why is this important to know? So they can lift up their head and rejoice in knowing their children will be blessed.
This next verse, verse 5 says, "5 Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.
As I read this verse, I thought of a song that I have sung many times, written by Jenny Phillips. I thought I would post her lyrics here.
As you mock Him, He is saving you.
Oh Jerusalem, it is Him, it is Him.
Why can't you see, can't you feel?
He is your king!
You will see those hands again, Oh Jerusalem.
Why can't you see, can't you feel?
He is your king!
You will see those hands again, Oh Jerusalem.
Oh Jerusalem, death could never conquer Him,
Oh Jerusalem, Oh Jerusalem.
To me this verse means tha we need to be very careful. The devil is cunning. He encourages us to think that we can take credit for things. When we are learned, or wise, or accomplished, we forget to give credit to the Lord. We start to think that we alone have done all these great things, when really, we need to humble ourselves and continue our counsel with God, and be grateful to Him and give him thanks for all things.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Summary: In the last days, the Lord shall comfort Zion and gather Israel—The redeemed shall come to Zion amid great joy—Compare Isaiah 51 and 52:1-2. Between 559 and 545 B.C.
Although difficult to understand, this chapter is applicable to US... our day and time. It begins by asking us (those who seek righteousness) to hearken and look to our Rock (our parents, our God, our Savior); also referring to the Abrahamic Covenant.
Knowing that we live in the last days, I find verse 3 rather comforting:
3 For the Lord shall acomfort bZion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her cwilderness like dEden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
With all the recent natural calamities we've witnessed (i.e.- earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, floods, famine, volcanic eruptions, ice storms, etc.) there is increasing evidence that we are indeed living in the last days. Coupled with the evil-doings of men we see constantly (i.e.- lying, cheating, stealing, murder, suicide, rape, hatred, selfishness, greed, wars, forgetting God, economic turmoil, etc., etc.) the world we live in is certainly in need of more righteous, God-fearing men and women. It's amazing to me that Jacob (and Isaiah) had a glimpse of what our lives would be like living among such disaster and ruin both in nature and in the hearts of men.
Several verses sound a warning voice and a comfort, in short telling us how to live in our day:
* Hearken unto God (v. 7)
* Fear not the hate of men (v. 7)
* His righteousness shall be forever, salvation for all generations (v. 8)
* Awake and put on STRENGTH! (v. 9)
* Redeemed will come singing unto Zion with everlasting joy and holiness without sorrow and mourning (v. 11)
* Don't be afraid of men who die, but follow him who comforts you (v. 12)
*Don't forget your Maker (v. 13)
* Don't fear the oppressor (v. 13)
* He will cover us in the shadow of His hand, we are His people (v.16)
* Awake and STAND UP, remembering the Atonement (v. 17)
* He has plead our cause (through the Atonement) so we don't have to suffer anymore if we remember Him and LIVE IN HIM! (v. 22)
* Awake and put on your GARMENTS! The Temple is re-established for those who are clean (v. 24)
* Go to the temple, sit down, and loose the bands off our necks.... "O captive daughter(s) of Zion" (v. 25)
I love how this chapter closes with that line... captive daughter of Zion. We choose to be captive in Zion as we make choices to live clean and righteously as they do in Zion. Although Isaiah speaks very poetically and symbolically this chapter seems comprehensible because of its contexts in and for our day.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
This chapter is not easy to understand! I will give it a shot tho.
Verse 1 is very powerful, and I think we can all relate to it. There are times in our lives when we feel alone--like the Lord has cut us off. But what He is saying here is that He has done no such thing. He would never abandon us. But perhaps, sometimes we make poor choices contrary to His will that cause us to lose the Spirit. But He will always be there, waiting for us to come back. I believe, in verse 2, when He says: "Wherefore, when I came, there was no man; when I called, yea, there was none to answer," God is saying that He tries to reach us when we stray, but sometimes we ignore Him. That is such a testimony of God's love for us. When we stray, God comes looking for us and hopes to pull us back in. Even, and perhaps, especially, in our darkest hour, He is there. We must never forget that. I learned something new in conference last weekend. I can't remember whose talk it was, but he said that, for a moment, Heavenly Father had to leave Christ totally alone while He suffered so that He might know what it felt like. I always thought that Christ felt alone, which idea itself is incredible to think that He could have felt alone. But the beauty of Christ suffering something so great, alone, is that He can be there for us. He understands what that feels like, so are we ever really left to suffer alone? Perhaps Christ suffered that so we, if we stay on the path of righteousness, never have to. We know we can turn to Him. Not everyone has the comfort of knowing this. We are so fortunate that we do.
In verses 4-7, I get the impression that Christ is speaking. He is telling us that He suffered pain and humiliation for us so that He could be a constant companion unto us. Everything that Christ suffered and accomplished on this earth was for our benefit. He came to this earth knowing that His life was not about Him--it was about us. It was about making the plan of salvation possible. Realizing this makes me realize how much I need to fix. I am a very selfish person. If only I could be strong enough and humble enough to be as selfless and steady as Christ.
Verse 11 is another great verse. To me, it is saying: Those of you who have the Gospel, and who have been blessed with the light of Christ, do not be afraid to embrace it and share it, that it may grow. Hope is one of the greatest gifts of the Gospel. We have hope for a better tomorrow and a glorious eternity, which hope gives our lives so much meaning. We need to share that hope, that light, with others. How great will be our joy when we see the joy the Gospel brings to others because we were not afraid to share?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Read it HERE
(1)The words of Jacob, the brother of Nephi, which he spake unto the people of Nephi.
Jacob is such a great leader. He is desirous for the welfare of [their] souls (v.3). He has exhorted the people with diligence (3). Taught them the words of the prophet, and from the scriptures (4). He is teaching them that they may learn and glorify the name of [their] God (v.4)
He goes on to tell the people "the Lord has shown me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried away captive (v8)."
Here, we learn that Lehi's prophecy has been fulfilled. How do you think Nephi's people, those who believed Lehi, felt in learning this? How do you think the Lamanites would feel if they had somehow received this revelation themselves? Just a thought.
Jacob quotes Isaiah when he teaches the people about the gathering of Israel both physically and spiritually.
versus 13-18 prophecy that those who "fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord", will ultimately be destroyed.
I know which Side I want to be on!
Monday, April 6, 2009
SUMMARY: The Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites, keep the law of Moses, and build a temple—Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites. Between 588 and 559 B.C.
This is a wonderful chapter, and Alicia must have been inspired in writing her post about the Temple, because this chapter is the one where the Nephites build a temple! Those were great thoughts, Alicia.
One thing that stood out to me in this chapter was the nature of Laman and Lemuel. I think they exhibit quite clearly our human nature--or the natural man--at its basest. There are many examples, but three were especially apparent to me in the first verses of this chapter:
1) THEY BLAMED OTHERS FOR THEIR PROBLEMS. When things got hard, the first thing they started doing was pointing fingers. I think they missed out on a lot of happiness because they were too concerned with who did what.
2) THEY ONLY CONSIDERED THE "NOW" (ie, if we kill Nephi, our problems will be solved!), or, they lose Eternal Perspective.
3) THEY WERE QUICK TO ANGER. Nephi experienced tremendous anguish because of their anger, and eventually the Lord told him to take his family and leave (vs. 5).
Number three was especially meaningful to me. I had an experience a few weeks ago when I was angry with my husband. The thought came into my mind "Charity [...] is not easily provoked" (Moroni 7:45). And I thought--wait! You mean, it is MY fault I'm upset? But this is so true. When I'm feeling the most charitable, I am feeling the least able to become angry.
Another thing that is notable about this chapter, and I think is also the basis for a lot of false doctrine, is the verses that talk about the curse.
"And behold, [the Lamanites] were cut off from His presence." (vs. 20)
"And [the Lord] caused a sore cursing to come upon [the Lamanites], yea, even a sore cursing because of their iniquities [. . .] Wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come up on them." (vs. 21)
I think some of the language is interesting. "white", "fair", and "delightsome" are used elsewhere in the scriptures when talking about faithful people. Consider this verse by Mormon (chapter 9), who was talking to those who did not believe in Christ:
"6 O then ye aunbelieving, bturn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, cpure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the dLamb, at that great and last day."
We can all think of these kinds of examples--"though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Nephi described Mary the mother of Jesus as being white and fair. I think these words signify much more than the physical appearance. So I think, in order to signify the curse of the Lamanites, which was to be cut off from Heavenly Father's presence, He created a way to very easily tell the difference between the two groups of people during a very hostile time. Nephi was fearing for his life, the life of his family, and maybe even the lives of his descendants.
I think the greatest evidence that the skin color was not the main curse is that the Lamanites who became righteous--even the Lamanites who were more righteous than the Nephites--still had darker skin.
AND, one last thought, because you all know how long-winded I am. The last thing that really stood out to me in this chapter was the way the Nephites responded to Lamanites, and how we can apply this to our response to Satan's influence:
1) LEAVE (vs. 6-7). Get out. Be like Joseph of Egypt and remove yourself from the situation. Sometimes for me this means I leave the room my kids are in before I do something I will regret.
2) BUILD A DEFENSE (vs. 14). Nephi began to make swords. They didn't just run; they prepared for the next attack.
3) FILL TIME WITH GOOD THINGS (vs. 10-11, 15). It is much harder to be tempted when you're busy doing good.
4) SACRIFICE TO GO TO THE TEMPLE (vs. 16). The Nephites didn't have a lot of finery, but the workmanship on the temple was "exceedingly fine". We may not have a lot of time, but we have enough, and the Lord will bless us with more.
5) REMEMBER (vs. 19-22). The Nephites remembered (for a time) why they had to leave and what happened to Laman and Lemuel. We need to remember our experiences and how we manage to commit the sins we are most easily tempted to commit.
1) What do you think of the cursing of the Lamanites and the blackness of their skin? Do you have any thoughts about this, or have you read any talks about this?
2) What do you do in your lives to remember to be like Nephi rather than like Laman and Lemuel? What are some of your stumbling blocks? How do you avoid being tempted?
3) What do you do to avoid being angry instead of keeping eternal perspective and charity?