I have compiled a list of parallel themes between Moses’ serpent and Lehi’s Liahona that occur in Alma 33:19-23 and Alma 37:38-47. I’ve been studying this for a little while now trying to figure out how many of these parallels there, what this might mean, and how I might explain it.
After staring at a marked-up comparison between these two sets of scriptures for some time, I thought I’d go through each theme, write some ideas, and then include excerpts from the scriptures. This turned out to be a worthwhile way for me to explore these various themes and I have each of them here to share.
The serpent and the Liahona were both considered to be a type; that which represents something else or a figure of something to come. This means that God caused them to be used for at least two reasons: 1. to solve an immediate problem and 2. to illustrate a greater meaning and truth. Alma is going to explain the details of all this for us.
|Serpent – Alma 33||Liahona – Alma 37|
|…a type was raised up…(vs.19)||…is there not a type in this thing? (vs.45)|
Nephi prophesied that in the last day groups would contend with one another and that they would be built up “not unto the Lord” (2 Nephi 28:3)
These groups have authorities that will “contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning.” (vs.4) They will say, “Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept;” (vs.5) and “Behold, hearken ye unto my precept;” (vs.6)
They will teach that God “will justify in committing a little sin…and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (vs.8)
“Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines” (vs.9) They will be corrupted “Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their [groups] have become corrupted, and their [groups] are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.” (vs.12)
From this point on, Nephi is speaking the words of the Lord who explains, “they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (vs.14) He warns, “O the wise, and the learned, …and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!” (vs.15)
Strong language.Read Full Post 0 Comments
Where does that idea come from? It is a question that doesn’t get asked often enough. Someone proclaims something and it sounds right, they even have reasoning that feels compelling, but where did that idea originate?
Ideas are essential and powerful; with them, one may create order or chaos. Today, we are surrounded with peddlers of ideas and there are many who stand ready to instantly adopt whatever feels right at the moment.
These words of Isaiah are wise:
Who among you fears Jehovah and heeds the voice of his servant, who, though he walk in the dark and have no light, trusts in the name of Jehovah and relies on his God?
But you are lighters of fires, all of you, who illuminate with mere sparks. Walk then by the light of your fires and by the sparks you have kindled.
This shall you have from my hand: you shall lie down in agony.Isaiah 50:10-11 (IIT)
Many walk by the light of their own fires, or the fires of popular voices around them. Even with this blog, I have to make sure that while I share my own insights, I try to give credit to the source.
On the path to the tree of life, there is an iron rod that passes through a mist of darkness; God intends for us to pass through it.
Whether in the darkness or not, the iron rod must be firmly gripped with both hands; Otherwise, we may find ourselves among the popular masses pointing a finger of scorn back to those on the path.
If you cannot trace the ideas being proclaimed around you to true doctrine, to the scriptures, to the divine patterns that repeat over and over again, we may want to re-examine the validity of the premise.
In Lehi’s vision, a man in a white robe leads him into a dark and dreary waste. Who was this man? We don’t know, but Lehi simply followed him anyway.
It wasn’t until Lehi cried out for help that he was presented with the vision of the tree, the rod, the path, the mist of darkness, and the multitude of voices seeking to shame those trying to get to the tree.
Imagine being on that path and holding the rod when you begin to approach that mist of darkness with all the uncertainty and fear that would accompany the loss of your vision and the inability to identify the myriad of voices that you would hear coming from all directions.
All of a sudden, you notice another path on your left. There, the sun is shining, and many people are escaping to avoid the mists. The trail features a spectrum of colorful flowers and wildlife and stands as a stark contrast to the bleak darkness ahead.
The new option immediately becomes desirable.
But which path would you encourage those behind you to take? One looks lovely, and the other fills the mind with terror. One looks like it will bring peace, and the other will bring challenges that may be too much to bear. One looks safe, and the other could undoubtedly cause one to become lost forever. Would you encourage anyone to hold onto the rod and venture into the mists of darkness?
Finally, you notice that there are no signs warning people not to take the sunny path, no warnings at all. It’s quite simple really, all you have to do is let go of the rod and step off the path.
The truth is that we must go through the mists and we cannot be afraid to encourage others to do the same. We cannot protect people from the trial of faith that requires them to choose to hold onto the rod of iron and step into the darkness; we cannot avoid this ourselves either.
When we trace ideas back to the source and discover the iron rod, we must hold fast to it. Even though the masses in the building point the finger, mock and deride, even though the mists of darkness blind our eyes and the voices in the mist beckon us to follow them to escape the darkness, we don’t let go.
As the pride of the great and spacious building surges and their voices grow louder, as the mists grow dense and the darkness deepens, we must make a concerted effort to feel the iron rod in our hands and tighten our grips.
This is the only way to the tree of life.1 Comment
- Good works are not substitutes for grace, they are expressions of obedience that foreshadow the disposition of the converted.
- “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;” – Ephesians 5:1 NASB
- Sunday is just another day of the week, the Sabbath must be created, a sign between us and God.
- Prayer is a union of minds, we can unite with God or others around us.
- Key terms from the sermon on the mount:
- Meek = mild = non-violent
- Blessed = happy and prosperous
- Merciful = compassionate = a heart easily moved by the suffering or distress of others
- Pure = clean = free from foreign matter
- Peace = freedom from conflict
- We come unto Christ by drawing near to him, not in physical, but dispositional proximity.
- The word brass in Hebrew is nachosheth which means copper.
- Brass items in scripture include:
- Moses’ serpent
- Laban’s plates
- Temple basin on the back of 12 oxen
- Solomon’s 2 pillars
- Brass items in scripture include:
- “If there were no Book of Mormon, the promised gathering of Israel would not occur.” – Pres. Nelson
- The meaning of the tree in Nephi’s vision (the love of God) was the same as what he already knew about God, that he “loveth his children.” The answer didn’t deliver new information in that regard, but it allowed him to see what he already knew in a greater context. (Knowing is one thing, understanding the meaning is another).
- Lehi: “[the fruit] was desirable above all other fruit” – 1 Ne. 8:12
- Nephi: [the tree] is the most desirable above all things.” – 1 Ne. 11:22
- “My joy is more full because of the success of my brethren.” – Alma 29:14
“Knowest thou the condescension of God?”
This question was posed to Nephi in a vision by one he refers to as the Spirit of the Lord. (1 Nephi 11:16) I’ve read this verse many, many times and I’ve often heard young people mispronounce it as “condensation” which always cracks me up.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately though as I’ve been hovering around the tree of life vision for several months now; I keep coming back to it and finding things that interest me.
The wording of this question always struck me as somewhat awkward, and what is being implied by the word “condescension” isn’t clear. In fact, in all of scripture, we only find it 5 times and all of those occurrences are in the first three books of the Book of Mormon.
Lately, I have been struck by how shocking this question may have initially been to Nephi. In the course of his vision, he is shown the same tree from his father’s vision, then a beautiful woman, and then he gets asked this question that at this point seems out of the blueRead Full Post1 Comment
Every covenant we make with God involves an ordinance and every ordinance involves a ceremony. These ceremonies use symbols to illustrate what the promised blessings are. Some ceremonies are long, some are short, and some will be missed if you blink.1 Comment
Nope, this post is not about Levi’s blue jeans, I didn’t realize that my last post was my 500th post here at oneClimbs.com so this one is post #501. I had plans to do something really special but nothing really materialized.
July 1st is a big milestone because it will mark 8 years since I started this blog back in 2010 so I’m glad I could sneak 500 in before the anniversary. It is staggering to think how much I have learned since then (well, to me at least) and will continue to learn in the decades to come; man, I just can’t wait! I have about 99 drafts still sitting unfinished and tons of other stuff sitting in my Evernote account and handwritten journals which is where a lot of posts originate.
With so much that I’d like to get done and so little time to do it, I think I understand a little why eternity will be so refreshing and why it is called “heaven.” Putting my thoughts into words and taking the time to try and explain my thoughts has helped me immensely. I highly recommend the practice of putting your thoughts down into words. The main reason I do it publicly is that it forces me to consider an audience.
oneClimbs.com doesn’t generate any revenue, I don’t promote it or seek traffic, it just is what it is and if anyone finds something useful then that’s fine; if not, no biggie. I do appreciate those that leave comments, there have been some great ones that have influenced and inspired me greatly.
Richard N. I love your humor and wit, Particle Man I appreciate your wisdom; a shout out to both of you. My favorite comment of all time was from “Rob” who said:
“This is a revelation that came to me in the midst of a trial I had that was of the caliber of Job’s trials: The Law of Sacrifice is the ‘Scale of Weights’ that measures Love. Love can only be measured when it is balanced in a scale against sacrifice.”
I’ve thought about that line for years, I’ve shared it, and it has taken me on an amazing journey of understanding, thanks, Rob.
Anyway, let’s see what kind of stuff I discover on the way to post #600 and beyond. Back to climbing…2 Comments
It’s a brief read and worth your time. While it doesn’t mention the Boy Scouts of America or their latest move to allow girls to join, the information in this article can be used to make the case that boys are the losers in this new system. That may sound like strong language but keep reading.
“The boy does not simply grow into manhood, for manhood is a cultural reality built on a biological foundation. Womanhood, by contrast, is a biological reality with cultural expression.
I must insist upon the distinction here. Saint Jose Maria de Escriva could understandably say to each of his male followers, Esto vir! Be a man, and we know what the exhortation implies. Even feminists know, and tremble. It implies that at any moment of a man’s life, his manhood is subject to trial, to be won, again and again, to be confirmed or to be canceled. A man can lose forever his right to stand beside other men. He can fall to being no man at all.”
G. over at Junior Ganymede disagreed with this last point of being no man at all, citing theRead Full Post2 Comments
These words from Joseph Fielding Smith have been a key guide to my own studies over the years:
“STANDARD WORKS JUDGE TEACHINGS OF ALL MEN. It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.
You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.
Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it.
If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3:203–204. italics in original)
Personally, I expand the scope of President Smith’s words here to include the writings, speeches, or ideologies of everyone out there and not just church authorities.
There are many philosophies and precepts of men (2 Nephi 28:14,26,30-31) that burst into our awareness through a variety of channels with cheerleaders that demand that these new ideas be recognized immediately by everyone as absolute truths.
Read Full Post
There are 3 things that Jesus taught that enable one to build upon what he called his “rock.”
Building upon his rock is critical to find safety from the floods and winds that cause one to fall and be received into “the gates of hell.” (3 Nephi 11:39-40,14:27,18:13)
The fact that Jesus mentions building upon his rock 3 times in his visit to the ancient American survivors soon after his resurrection should catch our attention. The number 3 is associated with themes such as divine influence or emphasis and structure. When things come in threes, take note because something important is being shared!
1. The Rock of His Doctrine
The first way to build upon the rock of Christ is mentioned in 3 Nephi 11 and is part of the first things that he taught the gathered survivors in Bountiful. Jesus expresses his concern about disputations and contention (3 Nephi 11:29-30) among the people and desires to abolish it by clearly defining what his doctrine is and mentions the phrase “my doctrine” 8 times and “this is my doctrine” 4 times.Read Full Post 0 Comments
Stefan Molyneux is someone that I enjoy listening to for his perspectives on various topics. This was an interesting conversation between Stefan and Dr. Duke Pesta where they are discussing the 10 Commandments and I thought that there were some really interesting points made that Latter-day Saints might find useful.
One of my favorite lines from the video: “When you get rid of the big rules we end up with the tyranny of little rules.”0 Comments
What is the priesthood? What is the power of the priesthood and how does that work? What is the difference between authority and power?
I come across questions like these regularly from friends, family, at church, and in online forums; I’ve asked myself similar questions throughout the years. After many years of gathering up pieces here and there, I’d like to share some of the things that I have learned thus far.
The answers that I have found are simple in principle, but therein lies the challenge.Read Full Post0 Comments
On December 31, 2019, the LDS Church will officially unplug from the Boy Scouts of America. Wow, this is pretty historic and something that I wholeheartedly endorse and I’m sure we all saw coming from miles away. I am an Eagle Scout myself and while I acknowledge the tremendous impact for good that the organization has had in the world, I’ve believed for a long time that we could do better for our own people.
Since the changing of the guard, we have the consolidation of the high priests and elders and the discarding Read Full Post0 Comments
The following is reposted from JRGanymede.com
The Lovely One brought up the idea that Jacob getting the birthright from Isaac by deception was a type of us and Christ. We inherit all that our father hath by assuming our older brother’s identity just like Isaac. Of course what Jacob did was squirrelly and we were discussing whether even the unsavory could be types of Christ. So I brought up Laban. He is a type of Christ too, though wicked.
Bing! The light bulb went on.Read Full Post0 Comments
One of the most annoying phrases I hear from my kids is “but I thought…” I don’t know where they get these crazy assumptions from like “but I thought we were going to stay up late and eat ice cream,” or “but I thought we were going to have pizza for dinner.” My wife and I usually respond with something like, “Well, why on earth would you think that?”
The sad reality is that I often think it’s like that with us and God. Here’s my favorite example of this “but I thought” mentality from the scriptures:
“Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:10-13)
Naaman had preconceived ideas that clouded his vision, so much so that he became angry and “went away in a rage.” Do we do the same kind of thing? How about when we pray, what do we expect? Or how about when receiving a blessing, or talking with the Bishop? What about when listening to General Conference talks or studying things past leaders have done/taught/said?
What do we expect? Where did that expectation come from? Is it legitimate or is there another way to see things? I think much of life’s purpose is wrestling with these ideas and finding that sweet spot where light and truth materialize in the most unlikely of places and in the most unlikely of ways; that’s where God seems to like to do his work.
Namaan’s attitude was way off base, but he did the right thing in the end by putting his own ideas aside and trusting God; we can do the same.4 Comments
I’ve always assumed that this covering of the mouth was referencing abstaining from food or drink. However, a recent reading of Isaiah 58 led me to another potential meaning that I think has important implications.
In Isaiah’s words, we discover God’s people desiring to draw close to him and say, “Why, when we fast, do you not notice? We afflict our bodies and you remain indifferent!” (vs.3*)
They assumed that making themselves hungry and thirsty would earn them God’s attention. Are we the same in that we feel like enduring a lack of food and water is pleasing to God in and of itself? While I do think that strength can be found in the denial of food and water for a time to help build the mind’s ability to subdue the natural man, I think there are other aspects of the principle that we may be ignoring.
The Lord continues: “Your present fasts are not such as to make your voice heard on high. Is this the manner of fasting I have required, just a time for men to torment themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and making one’s bed of sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day of Jehovah’s good graces?” (vs.5)
If your fasting is filled with sorrow and self-deprivation then the Lord seems to indicate that you’re doing it wrong. Read Full Post2 Comments
In Alma 37, Alma the Younger describes the meaning of certain relics to his son, Helaman who is about to come into possession of them.
The Liahona, Interpreters, and Gold Plates were among the items placed in Moroni’s box that was later unearthed by Joseph Smith. Missing from this list is the sword of Laban which I think the Nephites probably possessed their entire history up until Moroni. Why is it not mentioned? I’m not sure but this led me to wonder if the items that were listed had any significance or were related in any way.
Personally, I find Alma to be a very sharp individual and it isn’t uncommon to find many complex layers of meaning in his writings. He presents three particular kinds of relics to Helaman, three sets of metal plates, the Interpreters, and the Liahona. What I took from my latest reading of Alma 37 is the idea that these relics are representative of three essential elements that are necessary to make the best use of scripture: information, interpretation, and inclination.
In his list of items, the Liahona is key because it is a prime illustration of how our own inclinations determine the efficacy of scripture in our lives.
Alma had many records in his possession and he highlighted the plates of Nephi, the plates of brass, and the Jaredite record which consisted of 24 plates of gold. Alma emphasized that it was important to keep a general record of their people for a sacred and wise purpose. The brass plates contained their scripture and genealogy. Not only did the brass plates Read Full Post0 Comments
“If it hasn’t happened to you—it should.”  That’s what President Ezra Taft Benson had to say about the changing of the human heart and being born of God.
I would argue that if this has not happened in your life, then it should rise immediately to the top of your priority list. You may shrug this off thinking that you have been born of God, but have you? You may shrug this off because deep down you know you have not been but admitting it may make you feel foolish.
Maybe you have been an active member of the LDS church all of your life and you thought you had your bases covered because you’ve participated in all of the ordinances of the gospel. You take your covenant seriously and honestly seek to align your will with God’s.
“…behold, I ask of you, my brethren [and sisters] of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” 
I don’t ask this question to draw out doubts but to increase faith. I’ve observed my fellow saints for years and I have met many that have been born of God and many more who have not. I see people struggle with faith crisis and all manner of difficulties in this world that would be eased or erased if they had been born of God and known of his love and power.
The Lectures on Faith teach clearly that unless members of God’s church “…have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; … for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty is, there faith is not, nor can it be.” 
If you have not yet been born of God, then your sins have not been forgiven and you have no salvation; that’s not my opinion.Read Full Post3 Comments
“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
This is exactly how I feel about my study of the gospel. It typically goes: simplicity > complexity > simplicity, which I think also correlates with Fowler’s stages of faith, namely: stage 3 > stage 4 > stage 5. I’m thrilled now when I discover complexity because it means that there is something really cool along and at the end of that path. When your simple box falls apart into a complex jumble of pieces, don’t despair, you’ve discovered a path to treasure!
This happened last night when I realized that there were multiple connections between Alma 33 and 37. My brain started going nuts and I took down many notes. It was late though and so I reluctantly put it on hold because I knew I’d be there for hours, I needed my sleep, and because I’ve learned to not trust any of my decisions past 10 pm.
That will be a future blog post for sure – as soon as I navigate through all the complexity I’ve discovered; I can’t wait!0 Comments