Sunday, September 8, 2019

Lehi, White robes and Priestcraft

1 Nephi 8:1 - 10, NC 1 Nephi 2 pars. 7 - 8


And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the wilderness, he spake unto us, saying, Behold, I have dreamed a dream, or in other words, I have seen a vision. And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam; for I have reason to suppose that they and also many of their seed will be saved. But behold, Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly because of you. For behold, methought I saw in my dream a dark and dreary wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him, I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass, after I had prayed unto the Lord, I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof, and beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

I have read this part of the Book of Mormon more times than I can count but never, until as a small study group studying this part together, did I come to an understanding of something that is happening here.

I look back at this part of the Book of Mormon and confess that my personal preconceived notions and my traditions that I read into the Book of Mormon obscured a principle that upon fresh reconsideration screamed out at me.

Consider the first part of Lehi's vision.

For behold, methought I saw in my dream a dark and dreary wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him, I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.

What is going on right here in Lehi's vision?

Why is there particular mention made concerning this part of the vision?

Lehi sees, as the first thing in his vision, a dark and dreary wilderness.

What does this represent?

When we consider the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai do we conjure up images of fountains and rivers of water, cool temperatures, lush greenery and gardens and plentiful food or do we see in our mind's eyes desolation, dryness, heat, lack of food and water and tribulation?

During their sojourn in the wilderness were the children of Israel able to maintain themselves?

How about Adam and Eve?

They were in paradise, the Garden of Eden.

They were in a place with rivers of water where the earth sent forth fruits and flowers spontaneously.  There was no lack for those things which were good and delightsome and wholesome.

They were in a place of light because they were in the presence of God.

When they were cast out they were cast out into the dark and dreary world.

In both examples does darkness and a wilderness represent light and all things good or does it represent hardship and trial and a lacking in the things necessary for life and an absence of light?

Let's consider the symbolism of a dark and dreary wilderness compared to the statements of Christ concerning Himself.

His followers were not with him, but had left to buy food in the city and therefore he was alone. The Samaritan woman replied to him, I do not understand why a Jew would ask me as a Samaritan to give you a drink. Jews look down on us as unclean, so why would you ask me such a thing?  Jesus replied, I have been sent by God, and if you recognized who now asks you to give a drink of water, you would gladly do so and ask me in turn for the gift of living water. The woman responded to him, Sir, you have nothing to reach the water, and the well is deep, so how can you suggest you could offer living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, to whom God gave this well, who drank here with his children, and he watered his cattle from this source? Jesus answered her, Whoever drinks water from this well will thirst again, but whoever drinks from the living water which I shall give him shall live from eternity to eternity, for the Source in me will be the power to rise upward forever, worlds without end. (Teachings and Commandments section 171, Testimony of St. John 4 pars. 2 - 3)

Then they asked him, What do we need to do to enter God’s pathway of endless progress? Jesus answered and said, The pathway is before you in me, I teach and display what the Father wants you to witness and believe. They said in response, What sign will you give to us to confirm this pathway, so we can trust your message? What will you give to us? Our fathers were fed with manna in the desert for forty years. As the scripture states, He gave them bread from Heaven to eat. Feed us likewise.  Then Jesus said to them, In the name of Father Ahman I tell you the truth, Moses was not the one who gave bread, it was my Father who did that. But now my Father is offering true life-giving bread from Heaven, which is light and truth. For the Bread of God is sent from the Heavenly Council to give light and truth to the world. They responded, Master, feed us with this bread forever.  Jesus said bluntly to them, I am the bread that gives life; he that follows the path with me will never hunger for light; and any who believe on me shall never thirst for truth. Unfortunately, as I have already told you, even though you have seen me, you do not believe me. But my Father has provided some who will heed my words, and those who follow me I will safely keep. I am descended from above as a Messenger sent to follow Father Ahman’s plan. Father’s plan is that by completing my ascent I will have the power to rescue creation, losing nothing. Moreover, those who are here on this journey with me will be added upon for evermore if they have faith in me. They will rise up to likewise generate endless lives, worlds without end. (Teachings and Commandments section 171, Testimony of St. John 5 pars 14 - 16)

And consider John the Beloved's testimony concerning Christ.

In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made which was made. In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the world, and the world perceives it not. (Teachings and Commandments section 171, Testimony of St. John. 1 par. 1)

Christ is living water.  He is the bread of life.  He is the light of men.

Do these attributes of Christ counteract the conditions of a dark and dreary wilderness?

Then does the dark and dreary wilderness signify a lack of association with Christ?

In the vision Lehi finds himself beginning in this very condition.

What happens next?

And it came to pass that I saw a man and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me and bade me follow him.

What is the significance of a man dressed in a white robe?

Is there something that parallels our modern day in the symbol of a man dressed in a white robe bidding people to follow him?

We'll come back to all this but let's go on for the moment.

What happens when Lehi follows this man in a white robe?

And it came to pass that as I followed him, I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me according to the multitude of his tender mercies.

As Lehi follows this man, even though the man is dressed in white, he now finds himself in a dark and dreary waste.

Is a dark and dreary waste even worse than a dark and dreary wilderness?

Why is Lehi specific to use the word waste instead of wilderness?

One of the uses of the word waste as a noun listed in the Websters 1828 dictionary is "region ruined and deserted."

Lehi starts in a dark wilderness but by following this man in white he ends up in an even worse predicament being in a region that is dark, ruined and deserted.

It is only after Lehi repents of following this man for hours, by turning directly to God and pleading for His tender mercies, that Lehi is delivered from the dark and dreary waste.

Is it significant that Lehi, following his petitions to God, is not only delivered from the dark and dreary waste but also from the dark and dreary wilderness?

Where does Lehi immediately find himself by God's deliverance?

This is powerful symbolism that we ought to urgently consider in our day and age.

Let's go back to the man dressed in a white robe.

What do we usually associate the color white with?

Is it possible in this world to feign purity?

Is it possible for those things that come from the adversary to appear as though they are pure?

Does tradition have a role in confusing and making that which is from the adversary have the appearance of purity?

What did the Prophet Joseph have to say concerning false spirits and men?

If Satan should appear as one in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory, or what is the manner of his manifestation? Who can detect the spirit of the French prophets with their revelations and their visions, and power of manifestations? Or who can point out the spirit of the Irvingites, with their apostles and prophets, and visions and tongues, and interpretations, etc. Or who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God, so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pgs. 204 - 205)

The Prophet Joseph taught that priesthood is required in order to detect the spirit of the devil who can appear as an angel of light and appear to have a sanctified look and gesture and who can profess a Godly zeal and a godly appearance.

Remember that we have talked many times concerning priesthood; that true priesthood is a face to face association with Christ and God the Father.

Only by having an association with them can one detect the spirit of the devil and cast it out because God the Father and Christ can reveal the nature of the spirits that people encounter to individuals who have communion with God and Christ.I

Women and children as well as men can have this association with Christ and the Father.  3rd Nephi when the Lord appeared to the Nephites is just one example of this association and all the men women and children were present together.

Therefore all men women and children can posses priesthood.

The prophet Joseph declared that these false spirits and influences are even among the Latter-day Saints.

The prophet further declared,

A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence
and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is
a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think
they have the Spirit of God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 205)

Can an individual who follows a man, even if the man appears to be pure, find themselves under a soul-destroying hellish influence?

Is it possible for a man to be under a soul-destroying hellish influence and think he has the Spirit of God so he bids others to follow him?

What about that popular childrens' song taught in the primaries of the LDS Church; Follow the Prophet?

Is any prophet, even a true one, more than a man?

What happens if a prophet puts himself up for a light to be followed instead of Christ?

What about a statement "follow us for we cannot lead you astray?"

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world, but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity, they were nothing; wherefore, if they should have charity, they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion, for if they labor for money, they shall perish. (2 Nephi, NC 2 Nephi 11 par. 17)

Would setting oneself up as a light and receiving gain or money for their ministry to receive wild acclaim be considered as being under the influence of a false spirit?

Nephi declared that it was because of priestcraft that the Lord was crucified among the Jews.

The Jews felt that they had justly killed Christ to stop Him from blaspheming God.

Were they under the influence of a false spirit because of priestcraft?

Are there any parallels between what Lehi saw here and the spirit that may influence us today?

If we follow a man, any man, will we find ourself anywhere but in a dark and dreary waste?

Is there or has there been any man who has possessed or does possess the attributes of Christ that counteract the conditions of the dark and dreary wilderness we all find ourselves in at the beginning in this life as the veil is placed upon us?

What did the prophet Joseph say concerning those who were following him?

...righteous persons could only deliver their own souls—applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 238)

By following the man in a white robe was Lehi's experience a good symbol of departing from the Lord by depending on a Prophet?

Is the dark and dreary waste a good symbol of being darkened in our minds?

What are the duties devolving upon ourselves?

If we are presently following a man what can we do?

Can we repent like Lehi did in his dream?

What will happen if we turn to God like Lehi and pray for His mercy?

Will the God of Lehi love us the same as He loved Lehi and deliver us from our dark and dreary waste?

Do we each have a personal responsibility (a duty devolving upon us) to turn to Christ and follow Him and no one else?

Will God not only deliver us from the waste as we turn to Him, will He also deliver us from the wilderness as well like He did with Lehi?

Does this part of Lehi's dream give more meaning to what Nephi declared?

O Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee for ever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh, for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee. Yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the Rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall for ever ascend up unto thee, my Rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. (2 Nephi 4:34 - 35, NC 2 Nephi 3 par. 8)

Monday, September 2, 2019

Sacrifice and Seeds

1 Nephi 7:22 - 1 Nephi 8:1, NC 1 Nephi 2 pars. 5 - 6

And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father. And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God, and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him. And it came to pass that we had gathered together all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind and also of the seeds of fruits of every kind.

I am curious, what is going on here?

Why is Nephi so particular to mention these times when sacrifice and offerings are offered to the Lord?

And it came to pass that he (Lehi) built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God. (1 Nephi 2:7, NC 1 Nephi)

And it came to pass that they (Lehi and Sariah) did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel. (1 Nephi 5:9, NC 1 Nephi )

First it is Lehi offering sacrifice.

Then it is Lehi and Sariah offering sacrifice together.

Now Ishmael and his family are involved in the offering of sacrifice as well.

I readily confess that I am not familiar with the law of Moses, which I assume has much to do with what is going on here.

And now when I, Nephi, had heard these words I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that, Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.  Yea, I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.  And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass. (1 Nephi 4:14 - 16, NC 1 Nephi)

And we did observe to keep the judgements and the statutes and the commandments of the Lord in all things according to the law of Moses. (2 Nephi 5:10, NC 2 Nephi)

I have looked into the matter a little and have found a couple of things that might be of interest and important in understanding what is occurring first with Lehi and then with Lehi and Sariah together and then it appears the group generally.

As I was looking into the offerings contained in the law of Moses I came across a table created by an Edward J Brandt that categorized the different offerings present in the law of Moses.

Pulling from the book of Leviticus and the other scriptures including the Book of Mormon the chart was organized to show the name of the ordinance and type of offering, emblematic objects used for the ordinance, the purpose of the ordinance, and when administered.

One of the offerings of the law of Moses was called a peace offering.

And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer unto the Lord: If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole offering for a heave offering unto the Lord, and it shall be the priest’s that sprinkles the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day also the remainder of it shall be eaten. But the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned with fire. And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offers it. It shall be an abomination, and the soul that eats of it shall bear his iniquity. (Leviticus 7:11 - 18, OC Leviticus 2 par.6)

As I understand what I have read, there was a three fold purpose to the peace offering.

1) A thank offering given to thank God for all the blessings He had given.
2) A vow offering signifying the taking or renewing of a covenant or vow
3) A free-will offering signifying the voluntary reception of a covenant with all the attendant responsibilities and consequences.

I found an instance in the Old Testament of a group involved in a peace offering in 2 Chronicles 29, OC 2 Chronicles 16.

This is the reign of King Hezekiah.

Israel had been in a general state of apostasy and Hezekiah turned things around.

Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.  
He, in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, and said unto them, Hear me, you Levites; sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs. Also, they have shut up the doors of the porch and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Wherefore, the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as you see with your eyes; for behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.  
Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not now negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that you should minister unto him and burn incense.
Then the Levites arose: Mahath the son of Amasai and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; and of the sons of Merari: Kish the son of Abdi and Azariah the son of Jehallelel; and of the Gershonites: Joah the son of Zimmah and Eden the son of Joah; and of the sons of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel; and of the sons of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah; and of the sons of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel.
And they gathered their brethren and sanctified themselves, and came according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord. And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord, into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the Lord. So they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days, and in the sixteenth day of the first month, they made an end.
Then they went in to Hezekiah the king and said, We have cleansed all the house of the Lord, and the altar of burnt offering with all the vessels thereof, and the showbread table with all the vessels thereof. Moreover, all the vessels which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression have we prepared and sanctified, and behold, they are before the altar of the Lord.
Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city and went up to the house of the Lord. And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he-goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the Lord. So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. Likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. They killed also the lambs and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. And they brought forth the he-goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation, and they laid their hands upon them, and the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar to make an atonement for all Israel; for the king commanded the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.
And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet; for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began with the trumpets and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded until the burnt offering was finished.
And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves and worshipped. Moreover, Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord, with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now you have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord. Come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a free heart, burnt offerings. And the number of the burnt offerings which the congregation brought was seventy bullocks, a hundred rams, two hundred lambs — all these were for a burnt offering to the Lord. And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings. Wherefore, their brethren the Levites did help them until the work was ended, and until the priests had sanctified themselves (for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests). And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings and the drink offerings for every burnt offering.
So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order. And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people; for the thing was done suddenly. (2 Chronicles 29:1 - 36, OC 2 Chronicles 16 pars. 1 - 12)

As a group we have learned that we cannot make a covenant with God.  God can extend a covenant to us and we can choose to accept or reject that covenant.

I believe that God put it into the heart of Hezekiah that He, God, wanted to renew His covenant to Hezekiah and the people of Israel.

When the sacrifices were made Hezekiah made mention of sacrifices and thank offerings and it mentions that as many as were of a free heart brought these thank offerings in.

This would seem to imply to me that these folks were offering thanks to God and willingly taking upon themselves the covenant and responsibilities that God was extending at that time to them.

Is it possible that following this pattern of peace offerings in the law of Moses that Lehi first gave thanks and accepted a covenant from God and then Lehi and Sariah together so that Sariah becomes part of it as well and then Ishmael and his family along with all of Lehi's family also become part of this new covenant God extended?

Was God intending to make of Lehi a great nation through this action?

Was it important for a covenant to be extended and for all who were to be led out to voluntarily receive the covenant before their journey into the wilderness to the promised land?

Is this a record of the exact times when the covenant the Lord extended through Lehi was received by these several parties?

Was the peace offering the mechanism God established in the law of Moses for those under the law to accept and receive covenants He extended to them?

Is this same experience what happened with the people of King Benjamin?

And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them. And there were a great number, even so many that they did not number them, for they had multiplied exceedingly and waxed great in the land. And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses, and also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that thereby they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men. (Mosiah 2:1 - 4, NC Mosiah 1 par 5)

Were King Benjamin's people bringing peace offerings that included thank offerings to the temple, along with the burnt offerings, to sacrifice in order to thank God and accept a covenant?

We know from what King Benjamin had told his son Mosiah that a covenant was going to be extended (And I give unto them a name that shall never be blotted out, except it be through transgression)  and I would suppose that information was given out as the invitation to come to the temple was given.

Would it be important for such covenant receiving experiences to be "on record" so to speak?

King Benjamin thought it expedient to record the names of all who received the extended covenant at that time.

Is it possible that these references to these sacrifices with Lehi and Ishmael and their households is a record of such a covenantal event; to have on record those who voluntarily accepted it?

If this happens to be a correct appraisal of what is happening in these sections of 1 Nephi and the law of Moses has been fulfilled, what then would now be the mechanism, instead of offering peace offerings, to accept a bonafide covenant from God?

What would that all look like?

How would such a covenant come about?

There is so so so much that could be discussed and looked into concerning this matter and it is impossible to do more than just barely touch on the subject here.

It is another curiosity that Nephi who deliberately stated, And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God., would use space on the plates to record that they had gathered seeds.

What is the purpose of recording this?

Further on in the record we read that they used the seeds.

And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. (1 Nephi 18:24, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 33)

But why did they need to gather seeds to begin with?

Didn't the promised land have a nation on it right before that lasted thousands of years?

Wouldn't there already be seeds of fruit and grains and so forth?

Was the destruction of the Jaredites so complete that even new seeds were required to begin anew?

Interestingly the brother of Jared was commanded to do the same thing.

And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord according to that which had been spoken by the mouth of Jared. And it came to pass that the Lord did hear the brother of Jared and had compassion upon him, and said unto him, Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female of every kind, and also of the seed of the earth of every kind, and thy family, and also Jared thy brother and his family, and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families. (Ether 1:41, NC Ether 1 par. 3)

A question comes to mind.

Is there a symbol of the Lord's work in all the earth in these acts?

As one looks at what the Lord is doing with these folks is it a parallel of the Lord gathering seeds (people) of every kind and planting them in a new place to raise up seed (children worthy of preservation) to Himself?

This is what the Lord declared to the brother of Jared.

And when thou hast done this, thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward, and there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the land of the earth. And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me — of thy seed, and the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee — a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed upon all the face of the earth. And this I will do unto thee because this long time which ye have cried unto me.

It would appear that the brother of Jared became a Father of many nations after the order of the Son of God like unto Adam. He made of the brother of Jared a great nation.

Just as the Lord commanded the children of Israel to keep Him in remembrance in all that they did day by day wouldn't the gathered seeds in new ground growing up in abundance bring to the remembrance of those who had been gathered and led out that they had been led out by the Lord for that purpose; to bring forth children in abundant righteousness?

Do gathered seeds hold promise?

Does the Lord gather seed of the earth of every kind (people of every nation kindred and tongue) and lead them out to precious lands to plant them in the desire to obtain fruit?

By abundant fruit springing from the gathered seeds are the promises continued to the next generations?

If these exercises of gathering seeds are in the Book of Mormon for a symbol then they are a very powerful symbol indeed.




Sunday, August 25, 2019

Reproving Betimes with an Increase of Love and Priesthood

1 Nephi 7:16 - 21, NC 1 Nephi 2 par. 4


And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceeding wroth; and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts. But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren? Yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound? And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren and I spake unto them again. And it came to pass that they were angry with me again and sought to lay hands upon me. But behold, one of the daughters of Ishmael, yea, and also her mother, and one of the sons of Ishmael, did plead with my brethren, insomuch that they did soften their hearts and they did cease striving to take away my life. And it came to pass that they were sorrowful because of their wickedness, insomuch that they did bow down before me and did plead with me that I would forgive them of the thing that they had done against me. And it came to pass that I did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness. And it came to pass that they did so. And after they had done praying unto the Lord, we did again travel on our journey towards the tent of our father.

If we take the final statement from Nephi from the last post ...


And now if ye have choice, go up to the land and remember the words which I speak unto you, that if ye go, ye will also perish. For thus the spirit of the Lord constraineth me that I should speak.


... and we put it with the context of this post can we see a revealed principle in practical application?


No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood; only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul; without hypocrisy and without guile; reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the holy ghost, and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom you have reproved (lest he esteem you to be his enemy), that he may know that your faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death; (D&C 121:41 - 44, T&C 139 par 6)


Has Nephi at any time exerted any authority or power over Laman or Lemuel or anyone except for persuasion, long suffering, gentleness and meekness and love unfeigned?


When this event of rebellion arises when does Nephi speak?


Does he speak with sharpness?


Do his words still preserve the agency of those he is speaking to?


Could we reasonably state that Nephi is reproving with sharpness because he has been moved upon by the Holy Ghost?


We don't know everything that was involved in this rebellion but what makes this situation different from when Laman and Lemuel were beating Nephi and Sam while they were trying to retrieve the brass plates?


Did Nephi use sharpness then or did he use persuasion?


Why in this situation would it be the will of the Lord to constrain Nephi by His Spirit to reprove sharply when at the time of the beating the Lord sent an angel to stop Laman and Lemuel?


Does this show how important it is to speak by the influence of the Holy Ghost in order to speak in righteousness?


Do these recorded experiences show that Nephi was not on his own errand?


If Nephi had spoken sharply without being moved upon by the Holy Ghost would he have been taking the name of God in vain having spoken without authority?


How important is it that an individual speak in meekness; according to God's will?


Would it be very important for us to each individually consider very seriously our own motives before we give voice to something sharp?


Did Nephi have any personal motive for speaking sharply?


This would appear to be a very delicate matter, speaking sharply.


What about the increase of love that is to be shown afterwards?


As a group we believe that much of the time the cultural context of "love" that we impose on the word "love" in the revelations is misapplied.


For a much greater treatise of this matter we would recommend any searcher to review the transcript "Love Others as Yourself" at restorationarchives.com/library/snuffer.php.


In order to view Nephi's love in this matter we will quote from the above transcript.


 And then we move on to Nephi,and just as side note, I'm pretty sure Nephi did not love his brothers,k?  

just don't think he did.They were abusive; they were violent;and they were fratricidal, okay? But this is what he does
Nephi 2:4 ,And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me.
[Yes,so what's new?They were always angry with him.]        ...But it came to pass that prayed unto the Lord, saying, Lord, according to my faith which is in  thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren?And it came to pass that when said these words,behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands   and feet, and stood before my brethren and spake unto them again....And it came to pass that did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and did exhort them that they would pray unto the   Lord their God for forgiveness....And after they had done praying unto the Lord, we did again [a]   travel on our journey towards the tent of our father.(Nephi 2:4 RE, emphasis added) (Love Others as Yourself, Stephanie Snuffer, Restoration General Conference, Jul. 2019)

In the transcript Stephanie continues to talk about Joseph who was sold into Egypt and his brothers.


Then Stephanie makes the following statement.


The foregoing scriptures illustrate that forgiveness, intercession, and relationships do not have to be based on love, as we culturally define it here.(Love Others as Yourself, Stephanie Snuffer, Restoration General Conference, Jul. 2019)


In our cultural sense of the word love we agree that Nephi probably did not feel a strong attachment or feeling of joy with his brothers.

His love for his brothers was displayed in his frank forgiveness of them for what they had done in trying to kill him.


Would this be an increase of love towards them whom he had reproved?


Did this demonstrate that Nephi's love or forgiveness of and relationship with his brethren was stronger than the cords of death?


Can we learn from this experience what it means to properly reprove and then show forth afterwards an increase of love?


What does this event show us about our responsibility to forgive?


My disciples in days of old sought occasion against one another, and forgave not one another in their hearts, and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. Wherefore, I say unto you that you ought to forgive one another, for he that forgives not his brother his trespasses stands condemned before the Lord, for there remains in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And you ought to say in your hearts, Let God judge between me and you, and reward you according to your deeds. (D&C 64:8 - 11, T&C 51 par. 3)


Does the Lord often use extreme examples of principles to show that He intends that we apply those principles to the utmost?


Is Nephi forgiving his brothers for trying to murder him an extreme example of forgiveness?


Is this event meant to demonstrate to us just how serious the Lord is that we forgive each other our tresspasses?


Does Nephi derive any benefit from forgiving his brothers?



In one sense, it is not possible for us to satisfy justice by providing mercy for ourselves. But in another sense, we certainly can do so for others. We cannot atone for other's offenses. But, we can forgive other's trespasses against us. Christ provided the way for us all to be forgiven. But He also taught we should forgive others. He said, "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." (JST Matt. 6:13; taken from Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible, Original Manuscripts. Edited by Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson and Robert J. Matthews. Prove: Religious Studies Center Brigham Young University, 2004; p. 247.) 
Forgiving others is our duty. Our own forgiveness is dependent upon it. Within our limited capacities, we must also provide mercy to others just as Christ provided mercy to us all. We, in our sphere, must act just as Christ did in His much greater sphere.
Remember that we must become "types" of Him whom we follow. To do so we must mimic Him to acquire His attributes. When we have acquired His attributes, He has claim upon us as one of His own." (Second Comforter, Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil, Denver Snuffer, pgs. 272 - 273)

The Prophet Joseph taught,

I charged the Saints not to follow the example of the adversary in accusing the brethren,9 and
said, “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will
enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through
me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you.
If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth a multitude
of sins. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 193)

It is a true principle taught by Alma to Corianton that mercy begets mercy and if we send out mercy it will be returned to us because it will become our nature and we will be restored to it.

Another principle in action during this event is a sign from Heaven that shows that Nephi has Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek or sealing power.


Now Melchizedek was a man of faith who wrought righteousness. And when a child, he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire. And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained a high priest after the Order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, it being after the Order of the Son of God, which Order came not by man, nor the will of man, neither by father nor mother, neither by beginning of days nor end of years, but of God. And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.  For God, having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself that everyone being ordained after this Order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course, to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God, to do all things according to his will, according to his command subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this Order of God, were translated and taken up into Heaven. (JST Genesis 14:26 - 31, OC Genesis 1 pars. 17 - 18)


Does Nephi break his bands in this experience?


By who's will was he able to break the bands?

By this sign being given we can know of a certainty that Nephi does possess Priesthood that has been delivered unto him by the calling of God's own voice.

It was delivered to Nephi not by the will of man but by God's will.

It did not come to Nephi by father nor mother.

It is eternal. It is without beginning of days or end of years because God is without beginning of days or end of years.

It represents an oath or a covenant between Nephi and God; one that God cannot nor will not break.

Notice that all of the power given by faith is subject to the will of God.

When Nephi was later bound on the ship while traveling to the promised land was it the will of God that Nephi be able to break his bands?

Did Nephi understand that it was God's will that he remain bound by bands to the mast?

And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness. Nevertheless, the Lord suffered it, that he might shew forth his power unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked. And it came to pass that after they had bound me, insomuch that I could not move, the compass which had been prepared of the Lord did cease to work. Wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm — yea, a great and terrible tempest — and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days. And they began to be frightened exceedingly lest they should be drowned in the sea; nevertheless, they did not loose me. And on the fourth day which we had been driven back, the tempest began to be exceeding sore. And it came to pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea. And after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities. Wherefore, they came unto me and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold, they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long, and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions. (1 Nephi 18:11 - 16, NC 1 Nephi 5 par. 30)

Nephi understood that the Lord's wisdom was greater than his own.

Now my father Lehi had said many things unto them, and also unto the sons of Ishmael, but behold, they did breathe out much threatenings against anyone that should speak for me. And my parents, being stricken in years and having suffered much grief because of their children, they were brought down, yea, even upon their sickbeds. Because of their grief, and much sorrow, and the iniquity of my brethren, they were brought near even to be carried out of this time to meet their God. Yea, their grey hairs were about to be brought down to lie low in the dust, yea, even they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave. And Jacob and Joseph also being young, having need of much nourishment, were grieved because of the afflictions of their mother. And also my wife with her tears and prayers, and also my children, did not soften the hearts of my brethren that they would loose me. And there was nothing, save it were the power of God which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts. Wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea, they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me. (1 Nephi 18:17 - 20, NC 1 Nephi 5 par 31)

The Lord, knowing the hearts of Laman and Lemuel, knew what it would take for them to repent.

Is it possible that in the first instance the Lord was giving Laman and Lemuel a sign of Nephi's priesthood in order to persuade them to listen to their younger brother?

Then when the Lord saw that Laman and Lemuel would disregard the words of Nephi even though the Lord had shown a sign through Nephi He decided, in His wisdom, to take the matter into His own hands?

Does this show us how absolutely important it is that a person with such priesthood can be trusted by the Lord to do only His will?

Can this priesthood be passed willy nilly from man to man?

How important is it to look at ourselves and repent of our desires to do our own will?

How important is it for us to exercise faith?

Did Melchizedek, Nephi or any other possessor of this priesthood exercise faith unto mighty works before they received any "priesthood"?

Are these things that we all ought to seriously consider?