Sunday, December 09, 2018

Abigail - Woman of Wisdom and Strength

I previously wrote about how uncommon it was for women to be mentioned in the scriptures. I am finding more instances of women than I thought there were.

The Old Testament has many amazing examples of strong, courageous, and virtuous women. In 1 Samuel 25, David sent ten of his men to Nabal, (David had previously shown his herdsmen and servants protection and good will) asking for provisions; Nabal was very rude and refused.

David was so put out by this he determined to kill Nabal and all in his household; however, when Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard what happened she took matters into her own hands.

18 ¶ Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.

Here, she is being very proactive.

19 And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.

And did this all on her own.

23 And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,

25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.

27 And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.

Here we see the power of a good, strong, and virtuous woman. David was on the way to kill Nabal and everyone in the household. Abigail proactively went to meet David and asked forgiveness of him for what her husband had done, took food and offerings to him and his men, and smoothed everything over.

Proverbs 31:10 surely is shown here:

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Just a bit later we see one of the great examples of “what goes around comes around” in the scriptures.

36 ¶ And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.

37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.

38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the Lord smote Nabal, that he died.

It gets better!

39 ¶ And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the Lord, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.

In the end, Nabal was struck dead and Abigail marries the king. Sounds almost like a fairy tale.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Rahab, Woman of Faith

Joshua 2
It isn't common to hear women mentioned in the scriptures, much less have stories told about them. Here is a story of a woman of faith, Rahab. Jacob sends in two spies to determine if they can take the city. Jericho is terrified of the Israelites and their God; their legend precedes them--and Rahab gives them refuge.

She asks for a “true token” (vs 12) that the Israelites will spare her family when they come to destroy Jericho, because of the kindness she has given these two spies. There are similarities in this token with what was required of the children of Israel to ward off the angel of death in Egypt.

Joshua 2:18-19
Children of Israel
Bind the line of scarlet thread in the window
Paint blood on lintels and posts of doors
Bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee
Stay inside but be prepared to leave, the angel of death will pass over
Whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head
Those who didn’t follow the instructions, wouldn’t be spared.

We know that Rahab and her family followed these instructions and that Joshua held up the part of the token made by the two spies. We read about this in Joshua 6.

17 ¶ And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
  22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
  23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
  25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Not only did he spare Rahab and her family, Joshua spared “all that she had.” This, to me, is a type of mercy the Lord has.

By being a woman of faith who believed in God, Rahab was able to save her family and “all that she had.” Her city faced utter destruction and she found the way to make it through. This is a powerful witness to us as we are living in the latter-days.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Easiness of the Way

In Numbers 21 "the Lord sent fiery (poisonous) serpents among the people; and much people of Israel died." (vs 6) 

Moses prayed, and the Lord told him to make a serpent on a pole at which the people only need look and be saved from the poisonous bite of the snakes. 

We learn more of this story from the Book of Mormon. 

Alma 33:19 "… a type was raised" (being symbolic of Jesus Christ) “… many did look and live." 

33:20 "...many were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them." 

Alma 37:46 "do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; ...if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever." 

Then in 3 Nephi 15:9 the Savior tells us what this means: 

"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life." 

This makes me think about what the prophets tell us to do today. How many things are we slothful in because of the "easiness of the way," or think it doesn't apply to me, or believe it won't heal us? 

I often joke that I know I was saved for the last days because I couldn't handle being a pioneer and crossing the plains. Sometimes I wonder if the "easiness of the way" will be a larger stumbling block for the latter-day saints than enduring enormous trials like the early saints did. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Children of Israel - 3 Principles

Reading this week about the children of Israel; after they are freed from the Egyptians, hear the word of God and accept it, then regress to worshipping a golden calf - three principles stood out to me. The first is overarching with the whole story and the other two are within. Those I have marked parenthetically after the example given.

Principle 1 - A latter-day warning: We aren't saved just by making covenants. 

The Lord, Jesus Christ, spoke the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai so that all the children of Israel heard.

Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

(Principle 2The Lord speaks to his children, but they have to be prepared to listen)

They were then given the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21), and covenanted with the Lord to keep the Mosaic Law.

Exodus 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
8 and Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

When Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the tablets, the children of Israel saw the glory of the Lord on the mountain.

Exodus 24:17: And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Moses is gone for 40 days; a little over a month. While still being able to see the glory of the Lord on the mountain, they become impatient, start murmuring that Moses hasn’t returned, and fall back on old habits.

The Lord tells Moses what is happening.

Exodus 32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.

(Principle 3 – We can’t hide sin from the Lord. He knows what we are doing even when he is engaged with something else. He knows us and is aware of us.)

Why, I wondered; would the children of Israel, after all the miracles they had witnessed and experienced; after being freed from hundreds of years of bondage; after accepting the gospel and covenanting with the Lord; would they – in less than 40 days – revert back to idol worship?

David Ridges has some interesting insight into this that helps me answer that question and apply the situation more to my life:

It seems [the children of Israel] were afflicted with what might be called the “re-deciding syndrome.” They had trouble with long-term loyalty to the Lord, and kept “re-deciding” whether or not to keep the covenants … Sometimes, members of the Church find themselves similarly afflicted. They keep “re-deciding” whether or not to attend church, pay tithing, keep the word of wisdom, and so forth. Such lack of complete commitment takes a heavy toll on spirituality and peace of mind.”[1]

Put in modern terms, it makes what the children of Israel did seem easier to understand and even sympathize with. It takes work to keep covenants we make with the Lord in order to maintain that complete commitment required.

[1] The Old Testament Made Easier, David J. Ridges, pg. 36

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reacting to Temptation and Choosing Righteousness

Genesis 39

In this chapter we see that doing the right thing doesn’t always bring about positive consequences when people who do evil are involved. However, by continually doing good, God will make up for any deficits.

In verse 12, Joseph shows how to react to temptation: he “fled, and got him out.”

12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

The result of this was Potiphar’s wife lied to save face and accused Joseph of coming after her. This resulted in Joseph being thrown in jail.

20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

Next, we see God blessing Joseph for his righteousness.

21 ¶ But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
  22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
  23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.

Being imprisoned eventually led to Joseph interpreting the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker, the chief butler finally tells Pharaoh about Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams, Joseph gives credit to God and interprets the dreams of the impending seven good years and seven lean years, and is made to be a leader in Egypt--second only to Pharaoh himself. In this position he is then able to save his family from starvation.

Joseph is richly rewarded for his righteousness. Sure, he had to endure some time in jail, but he had leadership while there and great leadership once released. It is always best to stay on the side of God and choose righteousness.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Summer Cottage in Babylon

 Genesis 19:26 ¶ But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie paraphrased those verses in these words: 
Look not back to Sodom and the wealth and luxury you are leaving. Stay not in the burning house, in the hope of salvaging your treasures, lest the flame destroy you; but flee, flee to the mountains. 
Seek temporal things and lose eternal life; sacrifice the things of this life and gain eternal life.” [1]

Elder Holland states that “it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.[2]

He equates the looking back “longingly” as not having faith that where the Lord was sending her was going to be as good as what she had.

When we look at the setting of this story, we identify Lot’s wife – a member of the church, one whom the Lord saw fit to save from the destruction of Sodom, living in a place so overcome with sin that the Lord could not find ten people within to save it. This is not a place conducive to the spirit and became nearly impossible to remain righteous while there. Having been sent out prior to the destruction by angels of the Lord, she was so affected by the place that she was unable to remove her heart and looked “longingly” back.

Elder Holland, quoting Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon.[3]

Do I have faith that what the Lord has in store for me is better than what I have now? I would like to think so.

This brings me to Lot’s daughters.

After fleeing Sodom for a small city Zoar, Lot and his two daughters end up living in a cave and this story takes another downturn.

 Genesis 19:31 And the firstborn (JST Gen. 19:37 … firstborn dealt wickedly, and said …) said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: 
  32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 
  33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 
  34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 
  35 And (JST Gen. 19:39 And they did wickedly, and made …) they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 

Is it possible upon witnessing the destruction of “brimstone and fire” being rained down from heaven, the daughters thought they were the last people living on earth?

Here is some interesting insight from David Ridges:

“In the culture of the day, there was a very strong desire to carry on one’s family line into the future. Lot’s wife had perished and all his married children and grandchildren had died also in the destruction of Sodom. Thus the family line of Lot was about to come to a close. This is apparently the thinking in the older daughter’s mind as she proposes an incestuous relationship with their father in order that they may have posterity that would carry on the family line.”[4]

My mind goes back to the “summer cottage in Babylon” comment. Is it possible, that by living in this city Sodom, so full of sin and ripe for destruction, these daughters became dulled to the wickedness of the act in which they participated? Had they been like Abraham and lived away from sin, would they have had this thought or followed through with it?

As quoted by President Monson, the Essay on Man by Alexander Pope:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.[5]

[1] The Old Testament Made Easier, David J. Ridges, p194
[2] Holland, The Best is Yet to Be, January 2010
[3] ibid
[4] The Old Testament Made Easier, David J. Ridges, p196
[5] Verse by Verse the Old Testament, Ogden & Skinner, p105

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Satan will not support his followers

The translation in Moses adds something, missing from the version in Genesis, very critical to this story:
Genesis 4:5
 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 

Moses 5:21
21 But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it pleased himAnd Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Satan will entice people to follow him and then be happy when they fall. Satan was happy with the fact that Cain’s offering received no respect from the Lord.

As it tells us in 2 Nephi 28:

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

This makes me think about how important commandments and sacred ordinances are. We must treat them with the respect and care they deserve - that of something coming from the Lord and that of something being presented to the Lord. 

I want to please the Lord and not Satan.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mother Earth and Enoch's Compassion

In reading Moses 7, I found the exchange of mother earth’s plaintive cry to God simply beautiful.   I also found it touching that Enoch was so moved as to weep and plead for her rest.

Here is the synopsis:
48 And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face? 
49 And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah? 
 58 And again Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest? 
60 And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah; 
64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. 

Mother Earth is a living, sentient being that needs to be cared for. If mother earth was that “pained” and “weary” then, just imagine how she must feel now. Could this be the cause for all the turmoil the earth is undergoing now – she is sick, in pain, and weary of sin.
I long for the time when our Savior comes, when she can finally rest.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How God Prepared Eve for Motherhood

Many people think that when God the Father is talking to Eve in this verse, he is being punitive. However, when you look at the Hebrew root of some words, we see that isn’t the case.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Multiply: HEB increase thy discomfort and thy size (i.e., in the condition and process of pregnancy).

Sorrow in this verse links to the Topical Guide: Sorrow. However, when you look at this same instance in Moses, sorrow references something else.
22 Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Sorrow: TG Pain

What God the Father is truly doing is preparing Eve for what will happen to her when she becomes pregnant and gives birth. He is saying to her: “I will greatly multiply your size and pain in conception” – she will get big and have pain. “in pain you will bring forth children” – giving birth will be painful.

These are the words of a loving father preparing his daughter for the role she will play in the creation of mortal bodies for his spirit children.

Bruce C. Hafen gives insight into the end of the verse regarding “rule over thee.”
in the Hebrew original of that verse, the letter beth (pronounced “bait”) may be translated as “with.” Thus, the Lord was advising Eve that Adam “shall rule with thee,” which perfectly corresponds to our doctrine and definition of exaltation in the celestial world.” (Verse by Verse the Old Testament).

Our Father in Heaven is loving. By better understanding the origin of some words, we will see that displayed time and again in the scriptures.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

An Inspired Constitution

In his address The Doctrine of and Inspired Constitution, Gary Marshall argues that it is easier to defend the inspired nature of the Constitution if we understand its supporting principles. I was asked to answer this question:

How does your understanding of the supporting principles enhance your ability to explain the "just and holy principles" embodied in the Constitution?

I have listed the six supporting principles which he discussed and a brief outline of what is included in each principle. My responses are in blue.

1.       The Supreme Law of the Land must be set forth in a Written Constitution
a.       The Rule of Law must be the underlying premise of the entire constitutional system.
b.       The power of government must be limited and constrained by a written constitution.
c.       Civil governments are ordained of God and instituted by Him for the benefit of all the people and for the protection of their basic, inalienable rights.
d.       The content of the Constitution must be subject to change by an amendment process.

If laws weren’t written, they would be unfixed and changeable based on people’s memory. They must be written to remain stable. If it is to be written, there must be guidelines detailed. This is what the supporting principles do—detail guidelines for the written law of the land. It must give power but limit it. It must be stable, but have the ability to be changed. It must protect freedoms and rights, so the rule of law is the only way that it will work.

2.       The power to make law and to govern in a civil society must arise from the popular will and sovereign power of the people. (popular sovereignty)
a.       A true understanding of man’s nature – of both man’s capacity for virtue and man’s natural propensity to vice and corruption – must be the foundation of a government which derives its power from the people.
b.       Popular government must generally follow the will of the majority.
c.       A republic is the best form of popular government.
d.       The people have the right to choose those who govern in open and fair elections.
e.       The terms of office for those who govern must be fixed and reasonable for the purposes of their offices.

People have the right to make and execute the laws to which they are subject. If you give the power to the people, you must understand their nature and plan for both virtue and vice. Allowing the people to elect those who will govern, with limitations on service, will keep the power with the people, but not so completely that their lesser natures will take over.

3.       Governments must secure and protect the basic, inalienable rights of the people.
a.       Freedom of conscience must be protected as the most inherent and inalienable right of man.
b.       The great rights of free speech, freedom of the press, and of assembling and petitioning the government must be secured and protected.
c.       Prosecutions, accusations of wrongdoing, and judgments against the people must be based on principles of fairness, equity, justice, and due process of law.

If the people vote leaders to govern them, the governance must protect the rights of the people. There are certain rights which are endowed to us by God and no government has the right to limit them.

4.       The legislative power (to make the law), the executive power (to administer and enforce the law), and the judicial power (to apply and interpret the law) must reside in separate branches or departments of the government.
a.       Each of the three branches of government must have some check on the power of the other branches.
b.       The legislative power, which tends to predominate in a republic, must be further divided.

To “help control the corrupting influence of power and the tendency to tyranny,” each of the three branches must be able to check the power of the other two. This way the government can still survive if the people and leaders don’t remain virtuous and it lessens the negative effect of “immediate passions and shortsighted interests of the people.”

5.       The powers to govern ought to be further divided by national and local interests.
a.       The powers given to any level of government should be based in moderation and justice, and should engender confidence and trust in the people.
b.       The powers given to the national government should be specifically delegated, enumerated, and limited.
c.       The state governments should exercise the powers to regulate the health, welfare, safety, education, and moral behavior of the people.

The governance of the people should stay close to the people. The national government should be limited in scope and handle higher level issues such as national security and defense. Things more related to individuals should stay at the local level.

6.       The principles of economic freedom should be preserved and protected.

Government should encourage hard work, commerce, frugality and virtue; promote science and the arts and invention. This will help preserve and protect the economic future of the people.

How Do We Change The World?

The knowledge of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and coming to have faith in him could change the world. 

In Mosiah chapter 4, King Benjamin tells us three simple things that if we do them, will bring about life changing benefits:

  •   Humble ourselves in humility
  •   Call on the Lord daily
  •   Be steadfast in faith

 “if [we] do this [we] shall always

  • Rejoice
  • Be filled with the love of God
  • Retain a remission of our sins
  • Grow in knowledge of God and of what is just and true
  • Have no thought to harm one another, but to live peaceably
  • Care for our children
  • Teach them to obey God’s laws and not fight and quarrel with each other
  • Teach them to walk in the ways of truth
  • Teach them to love one another
  • Succor those in need of succor
  • Give of our substance to those in need

It seems to me that if everyone would do those three simple things, just about every problem facing the world right now would end.

Be of Good Cheer

In Elder Oaks talk, He Heals the Heavy Laden, he references one of my very favorite scriptures:

 In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 
John 16:33

This is one of the key truths we learn in Article of Faith #3: The Atonement of Christ. We know that if we are obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, through the Atonement, we can be saved because He did literally overcome the world.

The Lord knew that life would be hard. He tells us we will have “tribulation.” The dictionary defines tribulation as “a cause of great trouble or suffering.” He knows just how great our trouble and suffering are and will be, because He has felt them personally.

He tells us to “be of good cheer.” How is it possible to be of good cheer if we know that we will have great trouble and suffering? This is the amazing thing about the Atonement. Not only has it redeemed us from death and given us a way to be exalted and have eternal life, it has also blessed us with the enabling power of the Atonement.

I have experienced this power while going to school at BYU-Idaho. I work full time, have school, and serve in the temple on Saturdays. I have been blessed, and a witness to miracles, with a literal expansion of time. I have had my abilities increased to learn more quickly and get things done in a shorter amount of time.

Because of the Atonement we have all the reason in the world to be of good cheer.

Have any of you experienced the enabling power of the Atonement?