Thursday, November 29, 2012

Painter of Light (2 Nephi 20)

Some books are harder to read than others.  Back in 1990-something I read my first book considered a classic.  It was Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper, for whom the city of Cooperstown, NY was named, which is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Anywayz, it was a hard read for me, & took me a few months.  I've read, or tried to read other classics since then.  Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Twain, Austen, Bronte, Cervantes, Dickens, Hugo, etc.  Les Miserables took me 6 months.

I was told A Tale of Two Cities was a very good book.  I got about 60 pages into it my first try, before I grew weary of the effort to stay awake.  I tried again the next year, and got over 100 pages in, but with the same result.  Third time's the charm, and I persevered to the end.  I really liked the last 20 pages or so.

Authors like these guys use language as an art form, and create paintings in the mind.  

Some paintings have a changing affect on my mind, on my mood.  Like these by Albert Bierstadt

There's something about the areas of sunshine and shade on the mountains that is familiar to me.  I have seen things like that in real life, and love to look at them.  The storm coming over the water nearly causes me to be able to feel the chilly breeze and smell the approach of rain. 

Of course, some paintings are pretty boring to look at, even priceless ones.  I've never had much use for Pablo Picasso.  I recognize that he had talent, and understand that my lack of interest doesn't mean his art is not interesting, just not to me.  This painting, The Head of a Woman, is valued at over $10,000,000.

No idea what I'm supposed to glean from this painting.  She looks like she oughtta be rushed to the hospital after what was obviously a serious car crash.

Nephi loved to read the words of Isaiah.  He knew they were of great worth to us, so he transcribed them on to the plates of Nephi.  Nephi admits, however, that his people had a hard time understanding Isaiah.  In 2 Nephi 25, to which it is my foremost goal in life to reach right now, Nephi says...

25.  Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written, which have been spoken by the mouth of Isaiah.  For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.
Isaiah is kind of like those artists and authors mentioned up there.  I know he's important, I know he writes truth, but there's so much that I don't understand, and I get bored.

2 Nephi 20 (compare Isaiah 10) is your basic "Israel's not doing what it oughtta, and so it will be scattered and lost, with the understanding that Israel will be gathered back in eventually."  Notwithstanding the difficulty of reading the entire chapter, a few verses stand out to me.  I'll hit them here, and say something dumb about them.

2 Nephi 20: 5-6
5.  O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is their indignation.

6.  I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

So, that's how The Lord plans to reek judgment on Israel, use its neighbor like an axe to knock 'em down a bit.

2 Nephi 20: 15
15.Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith?  Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?  As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!
This verse seems to be talking about Assyria thinking they're tough because they beat up on Israel, while in reality, they were just The Lord's instrument in Israel's consequences.  It seems to be talking about that, but it's not really.  It's really talking to me.  It's telling me that I can do nothing without Him.  It's telling me that all that I provide for myself and for my family through any means available to me, it is really The Lord that provides those things.  Right?

Hint hint, nudge nudge.
This one's about me too...

2 Nephi 20: 16
16.  Therefore shall The Lord, The Lord of Hosts, send among His fat ones, leanness; and under His glory He shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
Here's a fat one back in 1980. Still waiting for the leanness.
Sorry about that.  Sometimes I sacrifice a good spiritual feeling just to get a laugh or two.  When I interviewed for Supervisor at work, my wife told me to have confidence in myself, and not spout out goofy stuff just 'cause I'm nervous. "Now be serious and don't joke around with them."  So, I got clear thru the interview without one goofy remark, and then as I'm leaving I says, "I hope I did ok, my wife told me not to be funny."  Then I slugged myself all the way home.

OK, back to seriousness.  The end of verse 16 up there says, "His glory He shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire."  Then read on to verse 17...

17.  And the Light of Israel shall be for a fire, and His Holy One for a flame, and shall burn and shall devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
Always, always, always, the answer to life's darkness is The Light of Israel, His Holy One, Jesus Christ. Always.  And no matter how far we wander or how lost we become, we can follow that Light back to Israel, back to the promised land.

2 Nephi 20: 21
21.  The remnant shall return, yea, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
Peace be with you...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Washing dishes in the dark (2 Nephi 19)

Welcome to 2 Nephi 19 (Compare Isaiah 9).  In this chapter, Isaiah speaks Messianically.  What does Messianically mean?  The Blogger program that I'm writing this with uses a little, red, squiggley line to say that Messianically ain't a word (and ain't is?).


I'm not 100% sure what Messianically means, really.  Isaiah is either speaking as The Savior, to The Savior, about The Savior, or maybe a combination of these and other tricky Isaiah-type things. 

From Google...
Messianic [ˌmɛsɪˈænɪk]adj
1. (Christian Religious Writings / Bible) (sometimes capital) Bible
a.  of or relating to the Messiah, his awaited deliverance of the Jews, or the new age of peace expected to follow this
b.  of or relating to Jesus Christ or the salvation believed to have been brought by him
 Oh, OK.  That makes more sense.  Let's just look at a few verses and hope it works out...

Darkness into Light
My parents' house, looking from the kitchen toward the living room. About 2005.
So, I lived in my folks' house from 1999 to 2007.  I did so 'cause Ma was sick, and Dad needed help taking care of her.  She died in 2004, but by that time Dad was sick too.  He died in 2007.  Anywayz, look at how we lived.  I hated how dark it was all the time.  Mom & Dad had darkly painted walls (Ma had the inside of the kitchen cupboards painted black for goodness sakes), inadequate lighting, and some of those dark red drapes hiding the big front window.

From living room toward kitchen, with brother Irch, 2006.
2 Nephi 19: 2-4
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.

3.  Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased the joy -they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4.  For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor.
So, here we have Israel living in darkness.  In other words, living under the burden of oppression.  Darkness can come from sources outside of our control, but also from our own choices.  Living in sin is living in darkness.

In 2008 I remodeled the house.  So much difference.

From the kitchen into the living room in 2008.
From living room toward the kitchen, 2008.
My first day in the house after the remodeling was finished, I did about 3 hours worth of dishes.  I didn't even notice that it was getting dark outside and I hadn't turned any lights on yet.  It was AWESOME.

Whether we are in darkness because of our own actions or because we were acted upon, the remedy is the same.  It is the unspeakable gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

2 Nephi 19: 6
6.  For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His Name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

A big part of my testimony of The Savior had its beginnings in listening to Motab sing this song.  I got the cassette tape from my parents when I graduated from my high school seminary program.  It still gives me chills.

3 More things, or maybe 1 more.

2 Nephi 19: 12
12.  ...For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.
2 Nephi 19: 17
17.  ...For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.
2 Nephi 19: 21
21.  ...For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.
In other words, there is always mercy.

The Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives light to a dark world.  No matter what has made your world dark, remodel that house of yours, and let the Son shine in.

Peace be with you...