Monday, December 29, 2014

The Chosen People of the Lord (2 Nephi 30)

Do any of you (maybe I should cross out 'any of', since it implies that more than one person is reading this) remember this book or movie?  The Chosen -by Chaim Potok  I had to watch the movie for an assignment back in High School.  As I recall, it was a rich and rewarding film, and extraordinarily satisfying.

Did you catch my trickiness there?
Actually I don't remember it at all, except Robby Benson is in it, he had cool sideburns, and it's about Orthodox Jews in New York City.  The title The Chosen refers to God's chosen people.  Is there one chosen people or person?

Is it the Jews?

Is it Harry James Potter?

Is it Anakin Skywalker?
Maybe it's one of them, or Frodo Baggins?

The Old Testament has some verses that help us find out who The Lord's chosen people are.  One of them is this one from our old pal, Isaiah.

Isaiah 41: 8-9
While it is true that scriptural references to "The Chosen People", or in the case of 2 Nephi 30, the "Covenant People", refer to the house of Israel, don't let that go to your head & cause you undue pride (if you are of the House of Israel) or weigh you down with the everlasting chains of discombobulation (if you are not of the House of Israel).  Today's chapter deals with that difficulty.

2 Nephi 30: 2

So, there you have it.  Whether you're Jew or Gentile, Bond or Free, White, Black, Brown or Green, whether you're from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Antarctica or Mars, in order to become one of the Lord's covenant people, each of us needs to come to Jesus Christ; come to know Him; come to trust in Him; come and partake of His forgiving Atonement, and be healed in both body and spirit. 

In other words, in order to be part of the Lord's Chosen people, it ain't so much a question of He choosing us, as it is us choosing Him.  And those who have chosen Him, and become His Chosen, will experience real peace.  Apparently, someday, we'll even get to pal around with Lions and snakes and stuff, and not have to worry about their sliminess or razor sharp claws.  That'll be cool.

1 Nephi 30: 8, 12-15

If you're like me (and who wouldn't like me?), you can maybe figure out that an Asp is a snake, specifically, a cobra, like the ones on the crowns of the Pharaohs of Egypt.

Cockatrice is a little harder to figure out.  Wikipedia says a cockatrice is a 1/2 rooster, 1/2 dragon sort of creature (My "hoo-haw" bell just went off).  But, our good buddy Isaiah, in Isaiah 14:29, uses the word cockatrice in the same context as the fiery serpents that The Lord plagued the Israelites with.  Remember the story in Numbers 21: 5-9?  Because of the wickedness of the Chosen people of Israel, Moses was commanded to put up a big, brass bed serpent on a pole, and anyone who'd been bitten would die, unless they looked at the snake statue. 

Not to be confused with...

That's pretty cool, actually, So our sucking children will be able to play with poisonous snakes, and our weaned teeny boppers will not have to worry about any plagues sent by The Lord because of sinful behavior.

And key to it all...

Because the earth shall be full of the knowledge of The Lord, as the waters cover the sea.  

Peace be with you...

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Already Have a Bible (2 Nephi 29)

The Bible

There are those who believe that The Bible is the Word of God, there are those who do not believe The Bible is the Word of God, and there are those who don't know and/or care if it is or ain't His Word.  Count me in as one of them believers.  I believe The Bible contains the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is filled with historical and personal accounts of ancient prophets, apostles and believers, and their teachings and dealings with Heaven.  Well, I guess they're not all "believers".  An old Seminary Teacher I had once warned us that...

The Bible contains the words of God, men and the devil, so be sure you know who's speaking to you...
...or something like that anyway.  Good advice, I think.  There's an untrue story of a fella who needed to know what direction he should go in life, so he let his Bible fall open and looked at the first verse that his finger landed on...
And Judas went and hung himself
then flipped to another...

Go thou and do likewise

I have had the opportunity to teach Seminary and Sunday School classes on The Bible, and have had my heart touched and my testimony of Jesus Christ deepened and strengthened by doing so.  I love Isaiah's messages of the coming Messiah.  I love Paul's personal insight into the mercy and love of The Savior.  I love John's understanding of the Atonement when he said, "We love Him, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)  And I love reading of the life and miracles of The Savior in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Nowhere else can we actually walk where Jesus walked...


Sit with Him in His temple...


Listen at His feet as He teaches the Way, the Truth and the Life...

Even watch His agony while His Apostles slept...

We can be there at the tomb when it was discovered empty, and we can be there when the resurrected Christ says so affectionately to a chosen daughter of God, "Mary."

I do love The Bible, and I appreciate very much the sacrifices of the men and women who made it possible for me to have one, in English.  Lot of 'em died trying to get the Word of God into the hands of His people.  I watched a documentary on this subject a while back.  It was a tragic and heroic tale, and an important history to learn. It was called Fires of Faith.

This blog deals mainly with The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  The chapter I am on today is 2 Nephi 29, which talks about whether the BOM will be accepted by a people who already have The Bible.

Some people believe The Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.  Some people do not believe the BOM is the Word of God.  Others don't know or don't care if it is or ain't.  Count me in as one of them believers.  I believe The Book of Mormon contains the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is filled with historical and personal accounts of ancient prophets, apostles, believers and unbelievers, and their teachings and dealings with Heaven.

Both The Bible and the The Book of Mormon are recorded writings of ancient prophets, apostles and believers.  Some prophets from The Bible include Moses, Isaiah, Malachi, Peter, Matthew, Paul and Christ Himself.  Some of the prophets from the BOM include Lehi, Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, Mormon, Moroni, and Christ Himself when He visited the Nephites shortly after His death and resurrection.

Just a couple of verses from 2 Nephi 29 and I'll close up shop here.  Remember, Nephi is at death's door, and is giving a few last teachings before he buys the farm.  In speaking of the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, which he was writing this in at the time, Nephi warns that people will reject The Book of Mormon on the grounds that there can be only one book that contains the Word of God.

2 Nephi 29 
3.  And because My words shall hiss forth -many of the Gentiles shall say:  A Bible!  We have got a Bible, and there cannot be anymore Bible.

8.  Wherefore, murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of My word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another.  And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

12.  For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

13.  And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

14.  ... and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against My word and against My people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

The Bible and The Book of Mormon are the Word of God, and contain the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know this through the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Ghost, by whom The Book of Mormon testifies "we may know the truth of all things."

You can know for yourself.  Pray.  Ask Him.  Life doesn't have to be such a mystery...

The Book of Mormon; Moroni: 10: 3-5

Peace be with you...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Precept Upon Precept (2 Nephi 28)

So, anywayz, like I was saying....

The year is some time between 559 and 545 BC, and Nephi's life is coming to a close.  These last few chapters of 2nd Nephi (28 thru 33) contain Nephi's final teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before he passes the leadership of the Nephites on to his little brother, Jacob.

Remember Jacob?  He's that little fellow on the bottom left with the Schwarzenegger arms.  If the above picture was taken in approx 592 BC (they left Jerusalem in 600 BC and wandered around for 8 years before building their boat), in 545BC Nephi is right close to 70 years old or there abouts.  Seems like a young age to be at the end of your life, but remember, Nephi had just completed teaching his last of many Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi 27, and that could wear anyone out.

But as my good friend Matt always says when he does his impression of our other good friend Doug, aaaat any rate.

In 2nd Nephi 28, Nephi discusses Precepts.  Precepts are..., well, they're..., uh...

I don't really dig Google's definition of precept, it seems a little weak.  But look at the synonyms below:  Principle, Rule, Tenet, Canon, Doctrine, Command, Order, Decree...  That I can dig.

Nephi talks about 2 different kinds of precepts:  The precepts of Jesus Christ and the precepts of men.  One of these is true (can you guess which one?).  About the other, Nephi describes them with words like: FALSE, VAIN & FOOLISH.

Let's take a look at some foolish doctrine...

2 Ne 28: 5-6
5.  And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people:  Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precpet; for behold there is no God today, for The Lord and The Redeemer hath done His work, and He hath given His power unto men;

6.  Behold, hearken ye unto My precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the Hand of The Lord, believe it not; for this day He is not a God of miracles; He hath done His work.

And, how about this gem:

8.  And there shall also be many which shall say:  Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God -He will justify in committing a little sin, yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the Kingdom of God.

And my all-time favorite from he who must not be named:
22.  .... I am no devil, for there is none...
 Anyone who believes that bunch of horse wallop raise your hand...

The wise prophet Nephi says,

9.  Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from The Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

As we study the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in the scriptures and the words of His apostles and prophets, we will be blessed to know and understand the precepts, or doctrines of Christ, and have them confirmed to us by the power of the Holy Ghost.

30.  For behold, thus saith The Lord God:  I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto My precepts, and lend an ear unto My counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

32.  Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith The Lord God of Hosts!  For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny Me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith The Lord God, if they will repent and come unto Me; for Mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith The Lord God of Hosts.
"Precept upon precept; here a little and there a little." 

With the Savior's help, bit by bit, step by step, decade by decade, The Lord's living water will distil upon our souls like the dews from heaven D&C 121: 45).

"For Mine arm is lengthened out all the day long."

Peace be with you....