Monday, May 28, 2012

Blue Cross, Blue Shield (2 Nephi 9, part 2 of 3)

The Crosses of the World
Continuing in 2 Nephi 9, there's this verse that says that the righteous, or the saints of the Holy One of Israel, will inherit the Kingdom of God, and that they will have joy forever.  Sounds good.  The verse also goes so far as to define who the "righteous" are.

2 Nephi 9: 18
18.  But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.
So, the righteous, or saints of Christ, are they that do the following:

  • Endure the crosses of the world
  • Despise the shame of the world

So, the question is begged... 
What are the crosses of the world?  

What did the cross represent to Jesus?  Help me think of some...
  • Duty
  • Calling
  • Obligation
  • Sacrifice
  • Pain
  • Purpose
  • Death
  • Will of His Father
  • Love
  • Difficult
  • Offering
  • Your additions here
 And if we translate that to ourselves...
  • My duties
  • My callings
  • My obligations
  • My sacrifices
  • My pain
  • My purpose
  • My death
  • The will of my Father
  • My love
  • My difficulty
  • My offering
  • My accepting
  • My your additions here
Lehi's Dream -by Minerva Teichert. Don't you love her?
 And...                                What is the shame of the world?

Are you ready for this one?  I'm going to Isaiah for an insight into "shame"...

3 Nephi 22: 4 (see Isaiah 54: 4)
4.  Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
Isaiah is speaking to the house of Israel, how it will be they who crucify Him.  And he tells them that, when the time comes for the gathering of Israel, they will forget the shame of the past, and not remember the reproach of their early days.  The widowhood is referring to when the bride (Israel) puts her groom (Christ) to death and becomes a widow.

So, the shame of the world is the putting to death of their own Savior.  And we are to despise this shame, or not join in with the worldly men and women that did this to Him.  It may be silliness in me to suppose that we, or I, would be one of the ones who yelled out, "Crucify Him!!" if we would have been there, but in a way, each time we willfully commit an act of disobedience to God's commandments, if we have the knowledge to be held accountable, that's kind of what we're doing. 

And here's ya another few verses, but not very happy ones.  Just remember, I HIGHLY doubt this applies to you, but there is a principle there...

D&C 76: 35, 37-42
35.  Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified Him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.

37.  And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

38.  Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of The Lord, after the sufferings of His wrath.

Fenway Park, Boston Redsox
The Green Monster

I think I've told you before, I try to color code my scriptures as much as possible.  When it works, what you'll find in my BOM is that GREEN verses are bad.  GREEN usually means Wrath of God, Eternal Punishment stuff.  You don't want to be GREEN.  There are lots of GREEN verses in 2nd Nephi 9.

This is sort of mixed GREEN and RED...
2 Nephi 9: 14
14.  Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.

16.  And assuredly, as The Lord liveth, for The Lord God hath spoken it, and it is His eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.

The RED stuff:

"The righteous will have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment."  I like that a lot.
"They who are righteous shall be righteous still."  I like that a lot too.  If you've forgotten what you need to do to be righteous, go over the above list again.  And, this list doesn't say you can't have committed sin.  Repentance is the key.  A real attitude of repentance.

The GREEN stuff:

"We shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, ..our uncleanness, and our nakedness." 

  • Guilt:  A feeling of sorrow resulting from disobeying or displeasing our Heavenly Father.  Remedy?  Repent.

  • Uncleanness or filthiness:  Sins make us unclean, and "no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God."  Remedy?  Repent, and the Atonement will clean us up, but good.

  • Nakedness:  When Adam and Eve partook of that which they were forbidden to partake, in disobeying The Father's commandments, they discovered their nakedness.  What does disobedience have to do with all of the sudden realizing you don't have any clothes on?  Well, this is another way of saying that Adam and Eve saw that they were no longer innocent before The Lord.  How do you fix this one?  Well, we learn in Genesis and in the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price that, when Adam and Eve repented and promised to do good stuff, The Lord made coats of skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness.  Since this is symbolic, what does it symbolize?  I'm glad you asked.

In order to make a "coat of skins" for Adam and Eve, one of God's innocent creations had to give its life to cover their nakedness.  The symbolism is:  Christ, who was innocent above all, sacrificed himself to cover their (our) disobedience, and make them (us) once again innocent & clean.  How do we access this miracle?  Repent, and promise to do better.

The Blue Stuff:

The Best Color is BLUE

Blue is the color I chose for the Atonement, cuz blue's my favorite... 
2 Nephi 9: 20-21
20.  O how great the holiness of our God!  For He knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.

21.  And He cometh into the world that He may save all men if they will hearken unto His voice; for behold, He suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

 Perfect Faith in Christ

I'm not sure if it is possible to gain Perfect Faith in this life, at least for me.  So, what's up with this next verse?

2 Nephi 9: 23
23.  And He commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in His name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
Here's my take, for what it's worth...

Do what you may, try as you might, say what you want, work as hard as a rhino in Springtime, or flap your arms as hard as you can; ain't gonna do you no good without the saving Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We must rely on him completely, and know that we are NOTHING without HIM.  If we do, like the parachute above, He will open His arms and bring us home safe.  Without Him, nothing we could do would ever be enough to keep our guts from splattering all over the ground.  Robert Millet said it greatly when he wrote:

"Pray as if everything depended on The Lord, and work as if everything depended on The Lord."

I'll have to finish this stuff in part 3.  Too many steaks in this chapter.

Peace be with you...

Monday, May 21, 2012

It Behooved our Great Creator (2 Nephi 9, part 1)

-by Jared Barnes

Here is a painting by Jared Barnes showing Christ holding a cup.  Will He drink from the cup?  Will He ask His Father if He might not drink from the cup?  He does ask, but then He drinks it anyway, and it is awful; only He knows how awful.  Why did He drink it?  Because it behooved Him to do it.

2 Nephi 9: 5
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.
The word behoove means 'necessary to' or 'proper for'.  Jesus Christ drank that bitter cup because it was necessary.

Remember, Christ didn't ask the Father:  Do you mind if I don't do this?

Rather He asked:   Is there any other way to do this?

Matthew 26: 39, 42
39.  And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.

42.  He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.
Oh, how I love my Savior.  You know the song:  I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, that for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died. 

It has been called the cup of trembling.  The cup was filled with justice.  The only way to bring about His Father's plan of mercy was for Christ to drink from this cup and satisfy the demands of justice.
The Merciful Plan of the Great Creator
2 Nephi 9: 6
6.  For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfill the merciful plan of the Great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of The Lord.
We as a people, the posterity of Adam and Eve, were cut off from the presence of The Lord when Adam and Eve transgressed in the Garden of Eden.  This is what is called spiritual death, a separation from the Spirit of The Lord.  It also brought physical death into the world.  Death is a part of birth and life, as resurrection is a part of re-birth and Eternal Life.

2 Nephi 9: 10
10.  O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ will raise all of us up from our graves to live again.  The Atonement also has the power to bring us mercy in place of justice for any bad choices we may have made, or may yet make, in life.

Infinite Atonement

Why did Christ have to be the One to do this for us?  That's where the word "Infinite" comes in.  If there was a person on earth (other than The Savior) who was without sin, which there ain't, but if there was, that person could not have atoned for the sins of the world.  Even if he or she could have withstood the demands upon their body and spirit long enough to see it through until it was finished, this Plan required the sacrifice of One who was not subject to death.  Jesus Christ was the Son of Mary, a mortal woman, and the Son of God The Father, an Eternal Being, giving Jesus Christ the unique circumstance of being both able to die and to not die, according to His will.

Christ was an Infinite Being who allowed Himself to become subject unto man, or to become Finite.  His life was not taken from Him, but freely given.  This sacrifice makes it so all men may become subject unto him, or Infinite

Let me say that again:

An Infinite Being became Finite so that we finite beings might become Infinite.

2 Nephi 9: 7
7.  Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement -save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption.  Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration.  And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.
The first judgment was the edict to Adam and Eve and their posterity:  Get Out!

Because of the Merciful Plan of the Great Creator, and the coming of Jesus Christ, that edict became:
Come unto Me and partake of Eternal Life.

Tune in next time when we discuss how to have perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel.

Peace be with you...

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Covenant of Father Abraham (2 Nephi 8)

To prepare for this posting on 2 Nephi chapter 8 (compare Isaiah 51 and 52: 1-2) I read the chapter several times, and I still pretty much look like this...

Isaiah is just a difficult fellow to understand, and that's all there is toot.  This chapter is basically about The Lord's promises to Israel that, though they are being scattered at that time, and will continue to be, He is still mindful of them, and they will be redeemed and brought back into His presence where they will be happy.  I'll mention a couple verses, K?

2 Nephi 8: 2
2.  Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah, she that bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him.

3.  For The Lord shall comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of The Lord.  Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.

Abraham is very important to the house of Israel, as well as all people everywhere, the world over.  The wilderness and the desert are symbolic of apostasy, where the people are cut off from the word of their God.  The Garden of Eden was a place where Heavenly Father and Christ had a personal and face to face relationship with Adam and Eve.  Making the wilderness like Eden and her desert like the garden of The Lord is like unto returning from being a lost and wandering loser to that blessed state.  When Jesus Christ says in verse 1, "...for I called him alone, and blessed him," this is referring to the covenants that The Lord made with Abraham and his descendants.

The Abrahamic Covenant is of paramount importance in understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In a profoundly inadequate nutshell, this covenant is basically God's promise to Abraham that he would father a great nation, and that this nation, though they'll be kicked around a lot, will bring everlasting salvation to all of God's children.  This was (again, humungously dumbed down because I don't understand it well enough to explain it) and will be brought to pass through some of these things:

The Prophets of the Old Testament were descended from Abraham.

The Savior Jesus Christ was descended from Abraham.

The Apostles of Jesus Christ of the New Testament were descended from Abraham.

The Prophets of the Book of Mormon were descended from Abraham.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth after centuries of apostasy to a modern day prophet, Joseph Smith, who was a descendant of Abraham.

Part of the restoration of the Gospel was a restoration of the Priesthood to the earth.  The Priesthood is the authority to act in God's name, and is vital in administering the saving ordinances.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is now going forth to all nations.  Those who join The Church are either already part of the house of Israel and are being found and gathered back in, or they are not a part of the house of Israel and are being adopted into it.

That's me on the right in Danville, KY in 1987

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds Holy Temples, in which the work is done vicariously for those that are deceased, that they too may come unto Christ, or into the house of Israel. For the billions of folks who have lived on the earth and have passed on into the next realm of existence, they can learn of Jesus Christ and gain a testimony of His saving Atonement there, and then the necessary saving ordinances (baptism, endowment, eternal marriage) are done in their behalf here on earth.

The LDS Temple in Washington D.C.  It's my favorite.
Here's a passage from the Doctrine and Covenants about Priesthood, handed down from the days of Abraham until the Great Apostasy following the deaths of Christ's Apostles, and restored to Joseph Smith in 1830 by the Apostles Peter, James and John.

D & C 84: 19-22
19.  And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

20.  Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

21.  And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

22.  For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
Well, like my old pal Albert used to say...
So, I'll leave it at that.  Just know that Heavenly Father loves all of His children.  Here comes a

2 Nephi 8: 11
11.  Therefore, the redeemed of The Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

That's good enough for me.

Peace be with you...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For Sale: Buy Owner (2 Nephi 7)

We got a couple of Isaiah chapters here in 2 Nephi 7-8.  Chapter 7 happens to be one of those Isaiahs that I like to read. There's a couple things here that are definitely worth the effort of not skimming over, as I've been known to do when I read the dreaded words:  
-Compare Isaiah...

Compare Isaiah 50 in this case.  It says in the preamble (chapter heading) "Isaiah speaks Messianically."  There are a lot of Isaiah preambles that say that.  What's it mean?  Well, Isaiah has this sometimes confusing talent for speaking as himself, speaking as God, speaking as Christ, or speaking as the entire house of Isreal, etc., sometimes all at the same time.  And he'll change from one to the udder without any warning or commercial interruption.  So, as you begin 2 Nephi 7 (or Isaiah 50), you'll read "I did this" and "I said that" and whatever, and in this case, Isaiah is speaking as Christ, or Messianically.  But (and this is a big butt), that doesn't mean that Isaiah will stick to that policy all the way through the chapter, so you need to watch your P's and Cues.

2 Nephi 7: 1
1.  Yea, for thus saith The Lord: Have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever?  For thus saith The Lord: Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement?  To whom have I put thee away, or to which of my creditors have I sold you?  Yea, to whom have I sold you?  Behold for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.

Isaiah Metaphor #1:  Christ is the bridegroom; the house of Israel is His bride.  There's whole bunches of stuff in the law of Moses about divorces and stuff, but basically, this is talking about Israel's infidelity to Christ (apostasy), and Christ's promise of never letting go of them (us).

Here's a part I really love.  Remember what that verse said..? whom have I sold you?  For your iniquities have ye sold yourselves..."

I hate the idea that I have sold myself, but I make that a true statement every time I choose disobedience.  How much did I get for me?  Is the picture on the right suggestive enough, or do I need to get crude?

Here comes the miracle of  Christ's Atonement!!!!

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, by the incredible Carl Bloch

2 Nephi 7: 2
2.  Wherefore, when I came, there was no man; when I called, yea, there was none to answer.  O house of Israel, is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem, or have I no power to deliver?  Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make their rivers a wilderness and their fish to stink because the waters are dried up, and they all die because of thirst.

In my younger years you could return your pop bottles for a dime each.  That was cool, 'cause you could go on a big pop bottle hunt and maybe get some major cash flow, possibly even enough to buy another soda.  Why would I start talking about this in the middle of such a sacred subject?  Well, the word they used for turning in your pop bottles was "redeem".  You could redeem them at the local store (Safeway in my day), and they would buy them back for 10 cents.  That's what redeem means:  to buy back.  You see how that works there?

  • John is an idiot, so he sells himself for some fleeting, short lived satisfaction of some kind.
  • Jesus Christ loves John, so if John feels like he made a mistake and wants to come back, Jesus will buy him back.  
And what did it cost Him?

It cost Him everything.

There's this fellow at church, name of George.  No matter what the topic of the lesson he's teaching is, George will always bring Christ and His Atonement into it.  He has said the following many times:

"They spit on him!  That's the part that bugs me the most, they spit on him.  It's as if they spit on my Dad or my Mom.  Oooh, that really gets to me." (-George Beardall)

I commented to George once that there is something that bugs me even more than the spitting.  It's how they plucked out His beard.  He didn't know about that one.  I showed him the following verse.  His reaction was silence.

2 Nephi 7: 6
6.  I gave my back to the smiter, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair.  I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Light of lights

I'm in this choir thing right now.  It's called Because We Sing.  This year we're singing "Let all mortal flesh keep silence."  In her masterful way, our choir director, Merrilee Webb, painted for us a picture in our minds of approaching the throne of God when we sing this song.  There's a part in the song that refers to Jesus Christ as "The Light of lights."  There is such a profound feeling when we sing this.

Christ is the Light of the world.  He is the Light of all our light.  Part of His Light lives in all of us.  When we sell ourselves and decide to try and make it along the path on our own, that Light diminishes.  We can try to find light elsewhere, but this is folly.

2 Nephi 7: 11
11.  Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled.  This shall ye have of mine hand -ye shall lie down in sorrow.
If you've sold yourself, and you are without His light, let Him buy you back.  Is His hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?  Here's the good news:  He's already paid for you.

Redeemer of Israel, our only delight;
On whom for a blessing we call;
Our shadow by day, and our pillar by night;
Our King, our Deliverer, our All.

Peace be with you...

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Mighty One of Jacob (2 Nephi 6)

Jesus Christ ordaining one of His apostles
In all of the sacred records kept by prophets of God, the authority to act in The Name of The Lord has been given by the laying on of hands by one who is, himself, authorized to do so.  Pictured above is Christ ordaining one of His original Twelve Apostles.  That authority is called The Priesthood.  The higher Priesthood was referred to in the New Testament as the Priesthood of Melchizedec. 

After the death of Lehi, Nephi became The Lord's prophet to the people of that land.  When Nephi's little brother Jacob became of age, Nephi ordained him to The Priesthood.  Jacob calls it "...ordained after the manner of His holy order..."  And so it is.

Jacob was given an assignment by Nephi to address the people.  Some of us might have experienced some anxiety if we were in his shoes. 

2 Nephi 6: 1-2
1.  The words of Jacob, the brother of Nephi, which he spake unto the people of Nephi:

2.  Behold, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob, having been called of God, and ordained after the manner of His holy order, and having been consecrated by my brother Nephi, unto whom ye look as a king or a protector, and on whom ye depend for safety, behold ye know that I have spoken unto you exceedingly many things.
 Jacob seems pretty confident though.

 Actually, Jacob does experience anxiety, but anxiety of a different sort.  Let's read a little more...

2 Nephi 6: 3
3.  Nevertheless, I speak unto you again; for I am desirous for the welfare of your souls.  Yea, mine anxiety is great for you; and ye yourselves know that it ever has been.  For I have exhorted you with all diligence; and I have taught you the words of my father; and I have spoken unto you concerning all things which are written, from the creation of the world.
What a wonderful, caring Priesthood Leader.  Sounds like one of those people who I'd like to hear speak, but would be afraid of running into at Walmart.  

"Have you done any good in the world today?"
Jacob reads the people some Isaiah verses, located in 2 Nephi 6: 6-7.  I will resist the engulfing temptation to expound on Isaiah and just talk about Jacob in this chapter.  There's plenty of Isaiah coming...(insert painting of The Scream here...)

Basically, the Isaiah verses Jacob refers to in this chapter talk again about the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel, a very common, and therefore important, theme in the writings of Isaiah and many other prophets.  Jacob also expounds on the prophecies regarding Christ's Atonement, the mercy given to them that believe in His Name, and the judgment exercised against those who fight against His people.  Things like:

  • The Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, should manifest himself unto them in the flesh; and after He should manifest Himself they should scourge Him and crucify Him...
  • When they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance...
  • The Messiah will set himself again the second time to recover them; wherefore, He will manifest Himself unto them in power and great glory, unto the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in him...

  • For the Mighty God shall deliver His covenant people.  For thus saith The Lord: I will contend with them that contendeth with thee-
Exciting stuff.
Here's the ending

I like Jacob.  You can really tell, when the narrative of the BOM switches over from Nephi to Jacob, that it is a different speaker; related to the first, but different.  Like his brother, Jacob loves Isaiah.  The verses he quotes in this chapter seem to come from different parts of Isaiah.  I may be wrong. isn't real helpful with searches like this.  The last verse found in 2 Nephi 6 is a quoting of Isaiah 60: 16.  I like to picture in my mind how Jacob felt about his Savior, the power of his testimony, and how he must have connected with this verse.  Here it is...

 2 Nephi 6: 18
And I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Peace be with you...