Sunday, April 29, 2012

The power to heal.

Today was the Sabbath day.

I hope you all enjoyed it, wherever you are and whatever the day brought you.

I taught a little about the priesthood today.  I teach the five and six year olds in Primary.

It seems that the topic of priesthood has been all around me recently.  Not just in Primary, but in drafting posts on recent Institute lessons, as well as conversation in the home and thoughts in my mind.

It really is hard to comprehend the power of the priesthood.  It is some intangible force, a massive power, by which everything (like you and me!) was created.  When God said "let their be light", it was through His priesthood power that that was done.  When Jesus healed the sick, it was through His priesthood power that that was done.

How wonderous.

Today in Primary we discussed being healed by the power of the priesthood.

At first we looked at some random first aid items you may have lying around your home.  I don't have a first aid kit (eek!) and I had to go rummaging around our packed boxes for anything relating to sickness or injury.  I gave them clues as to what I had in my bag, and they were pretty quick to guess.  We looked at the items one by one - the medicine, the bandage/wipe, the cream.  Yeah, that's all I could find.  I guess we don't even have band-aids.  We briefly talked about how these things can help people feel better.

Everybody gets sick now and then.  Sometimes we get hurt or injured.  The first aid kit can come in handy, but we usually need someone - parents, doctor, etc - to help us heal.  I then mentioned that there is another way we can be healed when sick.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He blessed many sick people.  He used the power of the priesthood to heal.

We looked at an example.  In almost all the four gospels in the New Testament, a story is recorded of faithful Jarius, who knew the Saviour could heal his daughter.  This is a story worth noting, because the daughter wasn't just ill.  She was believed dead.  People laughed at Jarius for thinking she was able to be healed, and they thought the Saviour shouldn't waste His time with the scenario.

But Jarius had great faith.  Which was key.  He truly believed that Jesus Christ could bless and heal his possibly dead daughter.  And that is what happened.  The Saviour, after shooing all the laughing people out, took the young girl's hand, and commanded her to arise.

Jarius' faith + Jesus' priesthood enabled the healing.

We then spoke about how it would have felt to be healed personally by Jesus, and that this is what still happens today.  It turned out that each of the kids in class had a father that held the priesthood.  One also had a brother that passes the sacrament each week.  We talked about the priesthood in the home, and their own experiences with it.  Because each of us can be healed just as if Jesus himself were here.

I also showed the class my husband's small bottle of consecrated oil.  It's oil that has been blessed for the specific purpose of blessing sick people.  We call it administering to the sick, being administered to.  Turns out the kids knew what it was ("Hey, my Dad has one like this!") and that was fun to pass around, reverently inspecting it one by one.

By the end of the class, with a few games and fun bits thrown in, these kids knew all about using the priesthood for healing people.  They understood that we believe in the gift of healing.

Have any of you been administered to, or blessed by the priesthood?  I'd love to hear about it. 

After church concluded, I was set apart for my two callings.  I had several men, who worthily hold the priesthood, confirm me to my church assignments in Primary and in Institute.  I'm now entitled to legitimate inspiration.
Not sure what I was acting on before ... ;)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Who was Abraham?

This is what we've studied thus far:

It is now that a man called Abram comes into the picture.
(if you're clueless as to what picture he comes into, scroll back to previous posts about our readings starting in Genesis)

Abram was born around the 2000 B.C. mark, and was the father of Isaac and the grandfather of Jacob (whose name was later changed to Israel). [1]

(Old Testament Student Manual)

Abram, the man destined to be known as Abraham, the Father of Many Nations, was a descendant of faithful Noah (we looked at him here).

The Lord spoke to Abram many times.

This is what the Lord told Abram early on in his story, as recorded in the book of Abraham:
Behold, I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee.
As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee; but through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever, for I am thy God.
(Abraham 1:18-19)

Such beautiful words.
But did you catch the main promise?  The Messiah is to be known forever through the ministry of Abram.

Hello.  Not a bad promise.

Abram was actually from Ur.  Ur was a town of the Chaldees people, and is identified nowadays with a town called Mugheir, in present-day Iraq.  So it was near Egypt.
And Abram travelled to Egypt.  He travelled quite a bit, in fact.  First to Haran, and then Canaan (see my timeline below), and then Egypt due to a famine (as recorded in Genesis 12).  The Lord protected him and his family by directing them where to go.

It's important to note the location of Ur.  Although the peoples of Chaldea and Egypt were separated geographically, it's almost certain that in Abram's day, the peoples shared many religious beliefs and practices.

And that's important to note because it explains the environment Abram grew up in.  And what state of mind his dad was in ... but we can look at that later.

Here is a brief timeline of Abraham's life for your studies.
I've put the keywords in bold.  I'm not really sure why.
Go ahead and start marking those scriptures of yours.  They're screaming for attention.

You can read more about Abram (Abraham) here, in the handy dandy Bible Dictionary.
It tells us that Abraham is regarded throughout the Old Testament as the founder of the covenant race, "which is personified in the house of Israel".

This is what I want to focus on today.  Because ...
“We are a covenant people.  That is, we are subject to covenants and obligations as members of the Church.  It has always been so.  The Lord established covenants with Adam in the beginning.  ... He made covenants with Enoch. ... He made a covenant with Noah, which resulted in the saving of Noah’s family and great promises being given to him in the flood.  Then Abraham received covenants – very definite and important covenants that concern us very materially today.” [2]
I belong to a way of life that requires covenants.  There are certain BIG covenants that I must make - some I have already. 
When I was eight years old, I was baptised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Which is a mouthful, but it was the right thing to do.  I like (and agree) that we baptise when the person is accountable for their decision, and understands the simple truths of Jesus' gospel, and can decide their beliefs accordingly.  That is, they are old enough to have a testimony.  A teeny tiny ounce of faith and belief.
No sprinkling or baptising babies.  We do it the way Christ showed us.  It's a covenant, after all, and the coventee needs to be aware of what they are getting themselves into.

I promised this:  to take upon the name of Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments.

It was a big deal.  And I renew that covenant each week as I take the sacrament.  Other than remembering the Saviour and His crucifial sacrifice for me, I am re-promising what I said I would do when I was eight year old.  That I would take the Saviour's name upon me, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. 
I renew that promise every week.

(Woah, check it out.  Me and my Dad, at my baptism.  My little sister is in the pink.  And that's a close friend on the right.)

More recently, I made another covenant.  I went to a holy place called a temple (read all about it and the difference between a church and a temple here and here) and married my best friend.  He was also the tallest man I could find.

In the temple, I promised this: to be sealed (united) to my spouse for my mortal life and all eternity.

Us.  On that day.  When we promised lots of things.

These are examples of covenants - two way promises with we make with God, where God sets the terms, and is bound when we keep our word.  Mm, hello blessings!
I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.
(Doctrine & Covenants 82:10)
But remember:  Broken covenants have no eternal or lasting value.

Getting back to Abram, God made a BIG covenant with him - and consequently us.
We call it the Abrahamic Covenant.  Clever.

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

(Taken from Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18, underline added)

My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

(Abraham 2:8-11)

Why are we looking at promises made to a guy many moons ago?
Because we are entitled to the same blessings.  Literally.



Specific promises (blessings) were made to Abraham and his seed.  (Told you so)
These blessings covered the spectrum of land, posterity, name, and blessing the nations of the world.

Since this affects us, take a closer look at these blessings, and read of their significance:


The land of Canaan (which is Palestine) was promised to Abraham and all his descendants.  Except .. he never actually personally possessed it.  He never received as much as a foot of it while he lived (Stephen in Acts).  Isn't that interesting.  Why on earth would the Lord then make such a promise?

This is why: "the time [will] eventually come, after the resurrection from the dead, when Abraham and his children who have been faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord, should possess that land, and they shall also spread forth as far as it is necessary for them to receive an inheritance." [3]

Looking further than that - eternally - this means that Abraham's righteous descendants will inherit the earth.
"...the poor and the meek - that is, the godfearing and the righteous - shall inherit the earth; it will become an abiding place for the Father and the Son, and celestial beings will possess it forever and ever." [4]

Not a bad inheritance.  Imagine reading that Will out.


Abraham had eight sons, in all.  Did you know that?  But you need to remember, of course, the fact that Abraham was one hundred years old before his covenant son was born.  I imagine the blessing of a posterity - a HUGE posterity that is numberless - would have been perplexing for Abraham to hear.  But God knows what He is doing.  From Issac came the covenant people.  From Ishmael came most of the Arab nations.  From his other sons came the Midianties and other tribes.

In fact, the vast population of the Arab, Moslem, and Israeli world all claim to be descendants of Abraham, and they would number approximately, oh, an easy one hundred million.  And that's just those around today - add that to their ancestors and their future posterities, plus other descendants "such as the past, present, and future members of the Nephite-Lamanite cultures, the lost ten tribes, and the Latter-day Saints" ... and you loose count.  And you realise Yes, God does know what He is doing.  He knew what He meant "concerning the innumberable and unmeasurable blessing of posterity." [5]

Literally, Abraham's posterity will have no end.  His name should be added to this hymn.


Well, the priesthood is kinda a big deal.  It's like electricity (I totally stole that from an upcoming Primary lesson I will be teaching) in that, it is a source of power.  God's power.  He used this power to create the Earth.  And you.  And me.  Jesus used this power to heal sick people, raise a few from death, and make several others tremble.  This power was also delegated to some, to act in God's name and represent Him.  So then they could heal the sick and make several people tremble.

I'm not just talking about the twelve apostles that followed Jesus immediately.  The priesthood was given to Adam.  And to Noah.  And most certainly to Abraham.  For these men were prophets and patriarchs.  Of course Abraham received the priesthood power, so he might bless others with it and the gospel teachings that go along with it.

And .. drum roll please .. this is where the mission of the covenant people comes in.  That's US, by the way.  We promise to serve the Lord by blessing others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some of you may have made covenants to that effect in the temple.

This is how the earth will be blessed.

Some descendants of Abraham have already bless the earth.  Moses.  Lehi.  Jesus Christ.  Joseph Smith.  [6]

And so, if WE "remain true and faithful to our charge to bless our own family and others with the blessings of the gospel, we will continue to do so throughout all eternity.  ...we will be heirs to all that the Father has through Christ."  (check that out in D&C 84:38-39)

Who are the children of Abraham who will be blessed with Him?
Who may receive the blessings of Abraham?

Paul tells us.  He knows. 

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

For as many of you as have been baptized unto Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. 
 (Galatians 3:7-9, 27-29 (underline added); also read Abraham 2:10) 

Everyone may receive the blessings of Abraham through baptism, even though they may not have been born into the church.  Those not born in the lineage of Abraham may obtain all these blessings through the law of adoption when they join the Church and embrace the covenants.

So why covenants?  Why does God give us covenants?
It is a unique and structured way of blessing us, really.  And we totally benefit by it.  Don't you think making and keeping sacred covenants strengthens us?  Stretches us?  Gives us purpose?

Let's take that thought even further.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught: "God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw purpose to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself."  [7]

You may need to read that a few times.  It is such a powerful principle.

"It is essential to the upward progress of man that he be given certain basic tools by which he can climb." [8]

Love that.
"In order to help His children become like Him, Father in Heaven admonishes them to observe certain gospel principles by means of covenants and ordinances.  The entire gospel itself is referred to in scripture as "a new and everlasting covenant".  That overall covenant includes a series of other covenants that, if observed, will make man like his divine parents.  Covenants, covenant making, and covenant keeping thus become the keys of exaltation, or the kind of life God enjoys." [9]
I am so thankful for the scriptures.  I am a descendant of Abraham (some way or another), but regardless of how, I am entitled to blessings under the Abrahamic Covenant.  And so are you.  AND we are the instruments for some of these blessings.  The scriptures give us so much insight on this!

And really, although this covenant-making process began with Adam and all those other patriarchs after him, it is through the Abrahamic Covenant that we get a fuller idea of what's involved in making and keeping covenants.

[1] See Bible Dictionary, “chronology,” 635–36
[2] Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, p.285
[3] ibid, 1:88
[4] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.211 - but you should read D&C 88:14-26, 111 first.
[5] Nyman, in Sperry Lecture Series, 1975, p.13 

[6] John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 20:224
[7] Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:312
[8] Old Testament student manual, p.61 - this enrichment section is gold.
[9] ibid

Monday, April 23, 2012

Empty chairs and empty tables.

... is a favourite song of mine from the musical Les Miserables.

Have you seen it?  I saw it in London about two years ago.  BRILLIANT stuff, I must say.  Very stirring stuff.

Good thing they're bringing out (yet another) movie version, for all you people adversely against the theatre.
Uncultured people.

Anne Hathaway has shorter-than-pixie hair.
Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen play the Thenardiers.
And then there's Hugh Jackman, The Drover.  Enough said.

So I'm sitting here, eating the last few frozen mint slices (yes, frozen).  Where is here, you ask?
Why, at my new dining room table and chairs, of course!

(source - because I can't be bothered to take photos just yet ..)

We have been enjoying eating our dinner on a table, not on our laps.  We no longer stoop over ourselves to eat.  Oh, what joy!  Although, we are sitting on plastic, as we have not scotch guarded the fancy chairs yet.  But we have our posture back!

And I have a table from which to blog.  And plan lessons.  And plan those other lessons.  And file them all away in my big white binders for posterity and dust.

( .. I'll get around to real photos of the house improvements soon ... ish.  Waitin' on some deliveries and some much needed extra time .. )

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Come, Follow Me.

Today I was called to teach in Primary.

I teach the five and six year olds.  They can be a bit rowdy and loud, but I was watching them during singing time.  Without even knowing their names, I watched each one and noticed them. 
At one time or another, they each tried to sing the songs and watch the mouths of others to get the right words.  It was a nice moment.

Today we discussed the phrase "Come, Follow Me".
And I told them of the disciples in the book of Matthew, who left their nets and ships to immediately follow the Saviour's call.  "I will make you fishers of men", he said.

We played 'follow the leader', some taking turns to lead and the rest of us attempting to follow their hopping or rolling.  We then talked of how to follow Jesus, how to follow his footsteps.

I ended up making a few footsteps, all saying "Come Follow Me", "Keep my commandments" and "Love one another".  They made a path to a picture of our Saviour.

I think the most successful part of the lesson (i.e. the part I had their rapt attention) was when I told them a story.  And then watched this:

It makes you think .. how can I follow in the Saviour's footsteps?
Such simple ways.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

God established a covenant.

I really do think the concept of the war in heaven continuing today is interesting.

Before you and I were here on Earth as we are today, we were together.  We hung out together, you and I, as spirit children of our Heavenly Father.  If you don't believe me, I promise you it's in the scriptures. 
And it makes sense.  This life of ours has a greater purpose than you suppose.

Anyway, I find it interesting that good and evil have been at battle since then.

Our loving Heavenly Father, God, proposed this glorious plan for us to come to Earth, to gain bodies, to learn, to have families, and to find our way by choosing for ourselves. 
Our elder brother volunteered to be our Saviour, because one would be needed.  And Lucifer threw a tantrum.

And the war in heaven began.
And the battle between choosing the right and being swayed to do evil continued.  It followed us down.  We are human, after all.

Adam and Eve are great role models for how parents should be, and how families can be.
That is, we want the best for our children, and we teach them all we can so they can choose good and reach their potential.

Cain didn't do so well with that.  But nonetheless, it's good to know families have been that way since forever.  No family is perfect.  Whatever perfect is.  No one has it all together.
The scriptures can assure us of that.

Read here for an example of righteousness in Adam's posterity.
Read here for an example of wickedness in Adam's posterity.

Before moving on to the next chunk in biblical history, I think it important to note the covenant that God made after the Flood.  Remember, the wicked had just been destroyed by flood, and only a remnant of mankind was preserved.

And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the
everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

(Genesis 9:8-17)

(source - some good thoughts about the rainbow here)

The rainbow was the token, or symbol, of the covenant made - that God would never again flood the Earth to destroy all living things.

I do recommend noting Joseph Smith's translation of this passage in Genesis here (JST, Genesis 9:17–25).
But the following may also shed more light on this token and the covenant it signifies:
“The Lord hath set the bow in the cloud for a sign that while it shall be seen, seed time and harvest, summer and winter shall not fail; but when it shall disappear, woe to that generation, for behold the end cometh quickly.”

“I have asked of the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, ‘In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year: but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant.’”  [1]
I find it curious that this event is not believed by some.
But hey, this was not believed by the great and wise people of Noah's day either ..

And just like that, the Earth was given another chance.  A clean state.

Hmm.  And then what happened ... ?
Some clever people decided to build a tower to get to heaven.

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 11:1-4)

Why on earth did they do that??
What were their motives?  How could they have gotten it so wrong?

Well hang on a tick .. let's look at what happened as a result of this silliness.
Do you remember what the consequences of their actions were?  Have a look in Genesis again:

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

(Genesis 11:5-9)

And so, people were scattered throughout the Earth, all talking gibberish.

This account, other than providing an explanation for all the languages people speak nowadays (Pig Latin and such probably not included), gosh we learn a lot about how quickly man forgot the lessons of the Flood and turned again from the Lord.

It is the Book of Mormon - the book we should be reading side by side with the Bible - that offers more detail about the confounding of languages, which may not have been so instantaneous.  I think so, because we read about Jared and his brother, who prayed to the Lord and asked that their language not be confounded.  And then he asked that his friends be spared the gibberish.  You can read all about it here, in the book of Ether.

[1] Smith, Teachings, p. 305, 340–41

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The righteousness in Seth's posterity.

I recently posted about Adam and Eve and their posterity.
I basically said that good and evil have been around since the beginning, and you can clearly see that from the beginning.
At least I hope you can.

In my Institute class, we briefly recapped some of the events in the book of Genesis, the events that show us the good and evil that perpetuated in Adam's posterity.

If you have no idea what I'm yakking on about, quickly look here.
And then look here to read about the wickedness in Cain's posterity.

Here is an example of the righteousness in Seth’s posterity:

Enoch was called to be a prophet, a leader for the people.  He taught the people of the truths of the Fall and of the gospel of the coming Jesus Christ, to inspire them to repent of their sins and wickedness, so they could be redeemed and brought back into the presence of God.

He felt quite inadequate, and he really didn't understand why the Lord would call him.
Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?

This is all from the book of Moses:
(You can compare this with the account in Genesis 5:21-24 .. and see what's missing .. )

And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.

And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice, testifying against their works; and all men were offended
[1] because of him.

And it came to pass when they heard him, no man laid hands on him; for fear came on all them that heard him; for he walked with God.

And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.

Not bad for a humble lad.

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion.

And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed.

And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever.

(Moses 6:31-32, 37, 39; 7:13, 18-21)

Remember all that extreme wickedness?
“Enoch, however, was faithful.   He “saw the Lord”, and talked with him “face to face” as one man speaks with another. (Moses 7:4)   The Lord sent him to cry repentance to the world, and commissioned him to “baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son, which is full of grace and truth, and of the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son.” (Moses 7:11)
Enoch made converts and assembled a congregation of true believers, all of whom became so faithful that “the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness,” and were blessed from on high.  “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were on one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” [2]

“Please note:  Zion is people; Zion is the saints of God; Zion is those who have been baptized; Zion is those who have received the Holy Ghost; Zion is those who keep the commandments; Zion is the righteous; or in other words, as our revelation recites: “This is Zion – the pure in heart.” (D&C 97:21).
“After the Lord called his people Zion, the scripture says that Enoch “built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even ZION”; that Zion “was taken up into heaven” where “God received it up into his own bosom”; and that “from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled.” (Moses 7:19, 21, 69) [3]

Note: the people were translated, not the city itself.  Just checking.

Read Moses 7:62-64.  It says that this same Zion which was taken up into heaven shall return during the Millennium, when the Lord brings again Zion; and its inhabitants shall join with the New Jerusalem which shall then be established.

So, Enoch and his people established a Zion during a period of extreme wickedness.
And the prophets in this dispensation – the last dispensation – have the same goal of establishing Zion.

In fact, OUR charge today is to overcome the wickedness of the world and become a people able to live the laws of Zion.

We need to establish a latter-day Zion in our time, because this is the time before the coming of Christ.  Well, we should establish it nonetheless, but even more so because this is the last dispensation!
AND, our latter-day Zion is to be united with Enoch’s Zion.  Yup.  It will be the Lord’s abode during the Millennium (read that in Moses 7:62-65).

So what will be required of the Saints to establish the latter-day Zion?
Or should I say .. what is required of you and me right this very now?

Well, a scripture in Doctrine & Covenants tell us:
“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself."  (D&C 105:5)

Brigham Young stated: “If the people neglect their duty, turn away from the holy commandments which God has given us, seek their own individual wealth, and neglect the interests of the kingdom of God, we may expect to be here quite a time – perhaps a period that will be far longer than we anticipate.” [4]

Unfortunately we live in a world that largely rejects the value of Zion.
Mormon, a Book of Mormon prophet, saw our day (poor guy) and said:

Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
  (Mormon 8:35, 37)

Babylon has not, and never will, comprehend Zion.
Our world today "stands in marked contrast to the Zion the Lord seeks to establish through his covenant people.   Zion can be built up only among those who are the pure in heart, not a people torn by covetousness or greed, but a pure and selfless people.   Not a people who are pure in appearance, rather a people who are pure in heart.  Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralysed by materialism.  No, Zion is not things of the lower, but of the higher order, things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart.” [5]

You know it's true.

Do you wish to bring about Zion?
Here are three fundamentals, so we may build Zion wherever we may be: [6]

First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind.”

Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other.  There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions.  … It the Spirit of the Lord is to magnify our labors, then this spirit of oneness and cooperation must be the prevailing spirit in all that we do.  … “Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27)”

Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord.  We being by offering a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.”   We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and callings.   We learn our duty and executed it fully.   Finally we consecrate our time, talents and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit.  … In the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all.

What are you thoughts on this?

[1] Note “offended” in footnote – see 1 Nephi 16:2 
[2] Bruce R. McConkie, “Come: Let Israel Build Zion”, Ensign, May 1977
[3] ibid
[4] Journal of Discourses, 11:102
[5] Spencer W. Kimball, “Becoming the Pure in Heart”, in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 122-24
[6] ibid

Friday, April 6, 2012

The wickedness in Cain's posterity.

I recently posted about Adam and Eve and their posterity.
I basically said that good and evil have been around since the beginning, and you can clearly see that from the beginning.

If you have no idea what I'm yakking on about, quickly look here.

In my Institute class, we briefly recapped some of the events in the book of Genesis, the events that show us the good and evil that perpetuated in Adam's posterity.

Here is an example of the wickedness in Cain’s posterity:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.  (Genesis 6)

By the way, the account in the book of Moses is slightly different.  Go ahead, have a look at Moses 8:14-20.
Some translators way back got the sons and daughters mixed up.
And note:  the 'sons of God' were those who made covenants with the Lord, and the 'sons of men' were those who would not make covenants, or obey their covenants, with the Lord.  And where it talks about selling themselves, it means they were married out of the covenant.

What does that have to do with the story of Noah?

Perhaps we really should understand what was going on in that day - what the conditions were in the time of Noah - for us to understand just how bad it got, and why the Lord decided a flood was necessary.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The fact was, as we see it revealed, that the daughters who had been born, evidently under the covenant, and were the daughters of the sons of God, that is to say of those who held the priesthood, were transgressing the commandment of the Lord and were marrying out of the Church.  Thus they were cutting themselves off from the blessings of the priesthood contrary to the teachings of Noah and the will of God.” [1]
The people in this time were foolish.  They were throwing away their covenants and promised blessings.

This is an interesting doctrine - to marry someone within the covenant, or within the Church today.  The apostle Paul told the Corinthians "Be ye not unequally yoked together..."
"Perhaps Paul wanted them to see that religious differences are fundamental differences.  Religious differences imply wider areas of conflict.  Church loyalties and family loyalties clash. Children’s lives are often frustrated.  The non-member may be equality brilliant, well trained and attractive, and he or she may have the most pleasing personality, but without a common faith, trouble lies ahead for the marriage.  There are some exceptions but the rule is harsh and unhappy one.  There is no bias nor prejudice in this doctrine.  It is a matter of following a certain program to read a definite goal.”  [2]
So what does this mean for us today?
Clearly I mean no offense for those who have married outside the Church, or who have parents or friends in that situation.  But you can see the counsel is sound.  There will be conflict in most cases, and there is alot more to it than a happy productive home life.  There are priesthood blessings that we are each entitled too, if we make sacred covenants.
You can read the Lord’s statements about the last days in Joseph Smith Matthew 1:41-43 (a better translation of Matthew 24:36-39).

So why did the Lord flood the earth?
President John Taylor suggested that the world was so wicked that children grew up with no choice but to be wicked.  At that point, when there was no chance to choose righteousness, sending innocent spirits from heaven to earth was no longer just.

“By taking away their earthly existence he prevent them from entailing their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them, and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness.” [3]

Did you know the scriptures speak of two separate times when the Lord will cleanse the earth of wickedness.  One, at the time of Noah.  Two, at the second coming.
And Joseph Smith Matthew tells us how those two time periods will be like each other.  The biggest difference is that the earth was cleansed by water in the days of Noah, and at the Second Coming it will be cleansed by fire.  These two events are a type of how we are cleansed by the baptism of water and the baptism of fire – the cleansing of the soul that occurs when we truly receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

It makes you think of what preparation we may need, and how we can not be like the people in Noah's time.  Did you see the people in the painting above?  People mocking the prophet, laughing at his warnings, ignoring them or just not taking them seriously.  How could it possible rain and rain and rain to flood the earth?  Think of the warnings and counsel we have received over the years from our modern-day Noah's.

An example of the preparation required was once spoken of by Elder Ezra Taft Benson: 
“The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.” [4] 

Preparation will be necessary for us to endure times of tribulation.

If we may preserve our physical lives by following the counsel of the prophets, how much more important is it to save ourselves from spiritual death by following the counsel of the prophets?

[1] Old Testament Student Manual, 4-8, bold added
[2] Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 238
[3] John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 19:158-59
[4] In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p.91

How to get distracted.

I have many posts, almost ready to go, summarising my last few Institute classes.
Great for you to follow along and study .. on Sundays, perhaps.

I also have a few posts on other things.  Because, you know, I have other things to say.

So stayed tuned to learn more about how the Earth got so bad it needed a flood, and how Enoch's people managed to be so good that they were translated, and what poor Abraham had to go through.
Ooh, and what I got out of Conference.  We haven't seen it here yet .. but it's inevitable that I'll get something out of it.

Hmm.  I have been distracted lately.

Would you like to be distracted?  Here is a very incomplete guide:

1.  Join Pinterest.  And just loose yourself in the handy dandy practice of electronic pins.  Follow me!  Follow me!  cough

2.  Get Instagram.  It just came out for android phones.  Woo!  Follow me!  Follow me!  dooooo it.

3.  Start a book club.  Ooooh I gotta tell you about it!

4.  Do all of the above, in addition to your already hectic and over-scheduled life.

Oh wait ...
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