Wrapping up Jacob 7 with understanding scriptures, the doctrine of Christ, hope, anointing our efforts, and inward transformation.
*Sorry for the background noise, there are new houses being built nearby and there is a lot of heavy equipment around.
I know that some of what I have to say here is controversial. I’m not an authority on anything except my own opinions. This is a massive topic and I do not address all of the views and perspectives. This is simply one person’s train of thought examining one facet. I encourage everyone to do their own prayerful research and consider all viewpoints.
The mind that seeks pornography would know something of the motivation driving the Nephites who were desiring many wives and concubines under Jacob’s ministry.
C.S. Lewis once wrote about the evils of keeping “a harem of imaginary brides” (Letter C. S. Lewis sent in 1956 to Keith Masson) and if that was evil, what about the abomination of an actual harem of brides?
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“…the people of Nephi, … began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.Jacob 1:15
I created this for our first Activity Days class. It was a bunch of 7 to 8-year-old rowdy boys and I realized all too late that I had over-prepared.
Feel free to use it for your own study or any lesson or activity that you would like; no attribution required. You can preview and download it down below.
Of all the things that I have ever done to hear the voice of the Lord, this has been the one thing that has made the biggest difference and I absolutely love doing it.
Joseph Smith once wrote that we believe in the Bible (and any other scripture, I’d imagine) as far as it is translated correctly.
For years, I have enjoyed the Isaiah Institute Translation of Isaiah which was created by Avraham Gileadi. You can read it for free at IsaiahExplained.com.
When I get to any Isaiah portions of the Book of Mormon, I look them up at Isaiah Explained and I feel like I get a much clearer reading. I don’t get any kickbacks for my recommendations, but now that we are getting into the Isaiah portions of Nephi’s record, it feels like a good time to point out this resource.
Here are some other posts I have made about Isaiah that some may find helpful:
I’ve noticed that pop culture has influenced us at church where we feel more inclined to walk on eggshells, afraid to offend others. True, we value kindness, but I think we err in thinking that it means that we must keep everyone happy around us at all times.
You cannot teach the truth without eventually offending others, not even if you are Jesus himself. (John 6:60-66)
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.1 Nephi 16:1-3
Nephi was not afraid to speak the truth, and he often suffered physical pain because of it. His brothers often hated so much what he had to say they sought to silence him by physical restraint or attempted murder.
Nephi “triggered” Laman and Lemuel, or rather, Laman and Lemuel chose to be “triggered” by what Nephi had to say. Whatever one’s opinion may be, the truth remains, no matter how we feel about it.Read Full Post
In the vision of the tree of life that Lehi and Nephi witnessed, a “great and spacious building,” prominently juxtaposed the righteous seeking to find their way to the tree of life.
The tree had a path and an iron rod, everything you needed to get there if you really wanted to. You just had to hold to the rod and keep moving, and anyone could get there.
The building, on the other hand, was less accessible, “it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” (vs.26) There was no clear path to get there, and those inside were too busy pointing their fingers and mocking to help others get where they were.
While the elite sat in their privileged positions, many perished down beneath them, and they didn’t even seem to notice.Read Full Post
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find an account of Jesus being tempted by the devil while fasting in the wilderness. The scene parallels, in at least two significant ways, Nephi’s vision of the tree of life.
Jesus is tempted by the devil, which correlates with the mists of darkness that Nephi saw in his vision. The only way through the mists of darkness, or these temptations, is to continually hold fast to the iron rod, or word of God.Read Full Post
There are a lot of changes happening in the Church today, and for some, it is refreshing, but for others, it is concerning.
I have heard some explain that various groups that have criticized the Church are happy with some recent changes because they think they are getting their way; some more conservative church members agree and are upset.
Some people out there might be hearing church critics patting themselves on the back saying:
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Ha! We have successfully forced the Church to change its policies because of the pressure we put on them. The Church is just a human-made organization that is losing members and money and will compromise its doctrine and principles to survive. Let’s see what else we can get them to compromise on next! #TOTALSCAM #WEKNEWIT
As I was pondering some scriptures today, the Spirit taught me something that caused a significant paradigm shift in my mind.
Two verses of scripture that are very meaningful to me revealed a blindspot in my perceptions of myself, others, and God. Let’s start with this verse:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.Ether 12:27
How does God show us our weakness? I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure there is a myriad of ways that he does this, but today a new idea hit me pretty hard.Read Full Post
I’m a big fan of the Book of Mormon so of course, I’m going to be interested in anything like this. It looks a little campy but trying to render scripture in film is probably an incredibly difficult challenge.
This makes me think of something Bill Watterson, the creator of my favorite comic Calvin and Hobbes, once said.
He was always really opposed to ever making a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon or movie and one reason had to do with the fact that everyone reads the characters with a voice they have created for them in their own minds.Read Full Post
…ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.Helaman 13:38
I was listening to the prophecy of Samuel today while driving in my car and this verse stuck out to me.
What struck me was the tragic idea of a person seeking all the days of their lives for something that would be ultimately unobtainable.
How many today are seeking for happiness in iniquity? But what is iniquity?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines iniquity as “a particular deviation from rectitude.” But now what is rectitude?Read Full Post
And now I say unto you,
all you that are desirous
to follow the voice of the good shepherd,
come ye out from the wicked,
and be ye separate,
and touch not their unclean things;
and behold, their names shall be blotted out,
that the names of the wicked
shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous,
that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith:
The names of the wicked
shall not be mingled
with the names of my people;
This verse reminds me of Jesus’ teaching about a man not being able to serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)
To follow the voice of the good shepherd, we have to “come out from the wicked”, “be separate”, and “touch not their unclean things.”
On the flip side, if we are touching unclean things, are not separate, and are hanging with the wicked, then no matter how much we may say we love Jesus, we are not following his voice.
What I love about the scriptures is the principles are so versatile. A million people could read these verses and find specific applications for their own lives.
A friend of mine who recently retired is building a home and called me recently to ask for my favorite scripture. He is collecting favorite scriptures from all of his friends and family and writing them on the beams throughout his home. Cool idea.
He’s going to make some kind of record of it so he can show you where in the home your scripture is when you come to visit.
I have a lot of favorite scriptures for various reasons but to only have ONE… I dreaded the task of narrowing it down. I had a list of top contenders and finally settled on Alma 26:16.
“Therefore, let us glory,
yea, we will glory in the Lord;
yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full;
yea, we will praise our God forever.
Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?
Yea, who can say too much of his great power,
and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?
Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”
I love the Book of Mormon for innumerable reasons and I love this verse, especially the final line. No words can really do justice to how we feel about God and what he means to us. All we can do is glory and rejoice and we can never over-do it.
Number two on my list was Revelation 7:17:
“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
In Zenos’ olive tree allegory quoted in Jacob 5 of the Book of Mormon, there are four particular things that the Lord of the vineyard and his servants do to nourish the tree so that it can bear tame fruit.
Instead of viewing the tree as the house of Israel, I would like to look at this allegory as if the tree represents us individually. How do these four things relate to how the Lord nourishes us personally?Read Full Post
The one component of Lehi’s vision that I have been thinking about for a while now is the mist of darkness. There have been many satisfying things I have learned from meditating upon this part of the vision and pondering what it means to our personal journies through life.
In Lehi’s vision, he sees “numberless concourses” of people seeking out the path which leads to the tree of life. This can be understood to potentially represent an individual’s journey to God by trying to discover a way to him.
But just as these people find the path, this mist of darkness arises.Read Full Post
Contention must be avoided at all costs. The entire media industry exists off of creating and distributing stories that stir people up into contention for the sole purpose of selling advertising or getting gain.
They are like Zeezrom and the lawyers that survived off of the chaos they helped create.
“Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek.”Alma 11:30
People who do this are evil, and we must cease to contribute to it. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5: 9) Guess who’s children those who cause contention are?
“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”3 Nephi 11:30
The Book of Momon teaches us what happens to societies that embrace, perpetuate, and celebrate contention.Read Full Post
“But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.”Helaman 13:27-28
I was listening to this chapter and what stood out to me first was “gold”, “silver” and “costly apparel.” I was immediately taken back to the vision of the tree of life and the parallel themes:
“And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.”1 Nephi 13:8
Wealth and fine clothing seem to go hand in hand. If we look at the clothing as a symbol, it can represent any physical display we put on to reveal our desires and ideologies to others. We can clothe not just our bodies, but our language and our actions to publicize our allegiances.Read Full Post
I’m not sure if anyone has made this connection before, but in studying Matthew 4, I noticed that there were some pretty striking similarities to what Jesus went through in the desert and the vision that Lehi and Nephi had.
Both accounts begin in the wilderness.
- Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness… (Matt 4:1)
- I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. (1 Nephi 8:4-5)
Hunger and Fruit
In the desert, Jesus has fasted for 40 days and nights while in Lehi’s vision, he tastes the fruit of the tree after several hours (not days). This contrast between extreme hunger and the vivid description of tasting the fruit is striking.Read Full Post
Lehi obtained an explicit promise from the Lord (2 Nephi 1:9) concerning his people, and in its concise form it reads:
Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments
ye shall prosper in the land;
but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments
ye shall be cut off from my presence.
– 2 Nephi 1:20
This promise is in the form of parallelism where the keeping or not keeping of the commandments brings prosperity or a state of being cut off from the presence of God.
You’ll notice that I have colored some particular words and phrases in each verse where I see some similar themes. The reward for keeping the commandments is prospering in the land, and earlier in verse 9 Lehi breaks down what this prosperity will entail:Read Full Post