General Conference, Oct 2022

Saturday Morning:

President Oaks – caring for the poor.

Sister Browning- quoting Pres. Nelson, nothing brings the spirit more strongly than focus on Jesus Christ.

Listening to Elders Pino and Montoya, feeling peaceful reassurance in the Gospel of Christ. The Spirit often felt in my mission, that I am now realizing that I did feel frequently on my mission.

Sunday Morning

Jeffery Holland – Bearing our personal crosses, including mental illness.

RS 1st Cnslr – a desire for love and be slowly realized can be like a tree that will eventually bring for delicious fruit abundantly.

Elder Gong offers two stories of families being healed in family history work.

The savior helps us heal our relationships with others .

Elder Sitati – Discipleship at home is the true crucible that becomes the foundation of everything else.

Bednar – Parables, and the parable of the rich king’s marriage feast.

Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

What does it mean to overcome the world? Resistance to sin will increase. Growing to love God and His Son more than anything else.

How to overcome the world?

Great quote from Pres. Benson.

Sunday Afternoon:

Eyeing: Ordinary people can attain such divine attributes. Christ would be the perfect example to emulate.

Study the many names of Jesus. What do these names mean to me?

Add the daily Holy habits of service to others. (This is something that can start in our home.)

Elder Eddy – drink deeply directly from the source.

Elder Stevenson – 5 points of I need to strengthen my testimony of Joseph Smith’s prophetic call.

Ask the Lord how to hear him better.

Quinten L. Cook – Testimony of Jesus Christ and this work. Alma’s concern was to his own children.

Bridle your passions that you may be filled with love.

Secret Combinations

Ether 8 (Éter 8); See also Moses 5:18-52

In the course of his Jaredite narrative, Moroni uses this chapter to expound upon the diabolical tactic of secret combinations. I have found in the footnotes in verse 9, multiple references to secret combinations throughout the scriptures, and how their author is the devil and the origin of such date back to the time of Cain, when he slew Abel.

Perhaps the saddest line in the account of Cain found in the book of Moses is the realization of Cain: “…for these things are not hid from the Lord.” (Moses 5:39)

Another truly sad point is the aftermath of the family dynamics of Akish, whom the daughter of Jared lured into this trap. I feel saddest for the daughter of Jared who believed the lie that she was getting gain or doing some great thing in helping her father to regain his throne.

I have a lot going through my mind this morning. First there is this prompt to make notes about organized wickedness. That is what the Lord, through Moroni is warning us about. What started in the heart of one women, was spread to her father, her soon-to-be husband, and then all his friends and family (see vs. 17). Organized wickedness involves others.

This chapter deals with secret combinations as they pertain to murder (the ending of life), but organized wickedness in sexuality (the creation of life) is not much further behind, and is also an organization that seeks to hide itself for the sake of power and gain.

And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.

Verse 16 (emphasis added)

People are kept in darkness under secret combinations, subjected to falsehoods and lies to the assistance of those who seek power. (I’m having a hard time not drawing strong parallels to our current political climate.)

An interesting side tangent to this is then the false notion that all organization is corrupt, including organized religion.

Secret combinations are a hot ticket to the immediate and swift end of civilized society. When an entire nation embraces them, then is that nation destroyed. There is no preserving force working in their behalf. The vengeance of God, in avenging the blood of the saints who have fallen prey to such as uphold these works, is upon them.

Verse 21 gives even heavier importance to the destructive nature of secret combinations, or organized wickedness: “And they have caused the destruction of [the] people.” It is not just wickedness, it’s the concerted effort of wickedness, organized so as to create a web of allegiances and networks. This is what destroys civilization: being sworn by covenants to associations with those that would promote the works of darkness and in demanding allegiance by penalty of death.

One of the most insidious consequences of secret combination, and the motivation behind those that support and endorse it, is to “overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries;” Why would the devil be so bent on destroying freedom? The obvious answer is that it limits an individual’s ability to choose. (Salvation can only be secured by choice.) In the context of secret combinations, as soon as someone is invited to enter into this pact, their freedom is taken from them. They have only the ability to accept it or suffer the consequence of death (which frankly seems the better option, because one exits mortality without the consequences of sin).

Coming to the end of this chapter, I am asking myself what is my obligation in recognizing and avoiding secret combinations? Two things come to mind: 1) be aware of the realities in the world that we live in. 2) Focus on the future and the day when satan will no longer have control over the hearts of the children of men. (see verse 26)

The Spirit of the Lord bids me to revisit this chapter once more before moving on. In verse 7, we read that Jared experienced great sorrow because of what he had allowed himself to do with his heart: “for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.”

This conditioning of the heart, this is something that is completely controlled by the individual.

Extending forgiveness can take tremendous courage and humility. It can also take time. It requires us to put our faith and trust in the Lord as we assume accountability for the condition of our hearts. Here lies the significance and power of our agency.

“Christ Heals That Which Is Broken,” Amy A. Wright, April 2022 General Conference (emphasis added)

Heart – Guide to the Scriptures

1 Samuel 13:14

2 Nephi 25:16

Proverbs 23:7 (all of the chapter is informative)

Matthew 5:8

I feel that all of this is God instructing me in what I must do to get to Him.

Another day spent focused on the key word “heart,” looking for ways in which it was addressed in the last General Conference has rendered a fruitful and meaningful search that I could spend more time than I have available for this morning.

President Nelson’s latest prophetic counsel “to end conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life” shows me that he understands enough to direct the issue squarely at the condition of our hearts. He continues, ” Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others—whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or a resentment for someone who has hurt you.”

Elder Dieter F. Utchdorf’s latest council also bids me to pay keen attention to the condition of my heart: “Our Heartfelt All.” (This is also a discussion on consecration.)

Family History is Personal

I don’t want to forget what I have learned today. So before we sit down for dinner, I am taking time to type up what has happened.

I have received my commission into family history in a most extraordinarily personal way. We are coming out of a weekend of stake conference and I’ve just recovered from another personal bout of mental sickness, but which also was nothing less than an afront of the adversary of my soul, perhaps one of the most powerful that I’ve received in recent history. But the revelation that has opened upon my mind and heart this afternoon is multifaceted and expansive.

As I was in the kitchen with my oldest son, Aaron, I stood musing with him about this state of mental illness that indeed has been a part of me for a very long time now. As I tried to explain this observed phenomenon to Aaron, Rachel came in and also began to contribute to the conversation. She aptly pointed out that there may be some inherent family trauma that is influencing this “illness”, “weakness” or whatever I want to call it.

It’s a field of study that is being developed that links family trauma to generations, past, present, and future. This idea of family trauma as an influencer of current behavioral challenges is a compelling argument for temple and family history work, because it allows me to both understand what is wrong in myself and affords me the opportunity to heal what has been broken in my past and in my family’s past.

So many eternal truth “puzzle pieces” started falling in place for me, once I realized that the gospel of Jesus Christ is an intimately, personal thing because family history is personal. This kind of rapid fire, personal revelation within a matter of moments seldom happens for me. But today, it came very fast and very clear. I feel as if I could expand upon this subject, or really any other gospel theme or topic ad hoc ad infinidum (when needed or as necessary, forever). The Spirit of the Lord is that strongly with me in this matter.

[They] Did Execute Judgment in Righteousness

Ether 7 (Éter 7)

In the first five verses of the chapter, we are three generations removed from Jared and his brother. That’s all it took for their children to be brought into captivity. It was the king who was brought into captivity. Perhaps this is why everyone except Orihah rejected the opportunity to be king, because there was an understanding that this curse would come upon the posterity of the king? And though Orihah spent his lifetime in executing his office in righteousness, it only took two generations after him (really just one) for rebellion to settle in.

There is not a lot of interaction in these verse between the Lord and those featured in these records. There is a verse that states the Lord sent prophets among the people to cry repentance. I find it curious that the king enacted laws to protect the prophets so that they could teach the people.

I have been praying about this particular chapter and am anticipating the upcoming chapters, and am wrestling with why this is important to me now.

The order of the kings that reigned area as follows:

  • Orihah – credited with executing judgment in righteousness all his days.
  • Kib – taken into captivity by his own son, Corihor.
  • Shule – restores kingdom to his father, and is subsequently appointed as king. Also credited with executing judgment in righteousness.

It is hard to understand the depth and development of a people with such a cursory overview. But this account does point out one universal similarity, and I think this is why this included here: “The people were brought unto repentance.”

How? Through prophets which came “prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land…” Their success was secured through the king “executing judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.”

(There is more for me to internalize/digest in verses 25-26. What assumptions about these records am I making that make the Lord look transactional? Does this not really mean that the people began to progress again in that they repented?)

My thoughts go in couple of different directions this morning as I contemplate, and have contemplated now for several days these accounts of the affairs of the kings and their family power struggles. The question in my head though is this: does God preserve a nation because of the righteousness of the king or because of the righteousness of the people over whom the king governs?

And the immediate answer that comes to mind is the dialog between the Lord and Abraham concerning the righteous inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorah:

23 ¶ And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Genesis 18:23-33

During the reign of Shule, there came prophets among the people. Some of the people reviled against the prophets and mocked them. Shule responded by executing judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.

I am intentionally paying very close attention to the wording that is being used and the assumptions that I am interpreting from what is written. What kind of judgments? It is not described. Was this verbal warnings, monetary fines, imprisonment? Was it not a penalty or punishment, but some other type of judgment? It doesn’t say that the people were punished, but rather that judgment was executed against those who did revile the prophets.

This judgment, whatever its nature, cleared the way that the prophets had access “go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance.” (vs. 25, emphasis added.)

At the end of my studies yesterday, I solicited my wife’s interpretation (which tends to be less justice/penalty oriented) on the phrase “execute judgement”. Another way of looking at this which leaves nothing hidden is to replace the word “judgment” with the word “decision.” And the word “execute,” aside from being associated with the death penalty in modern, American society, simply means “to carry out or put into effect”.

So we might safely say that a possible meaning of the latter end of verse 24 is simply “that king Shule did [put into effect a decision] against all those who did revile against the prophets.” And what was the decision? “He executed [or carried out] a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would.”

I appreciate this because there is thence forth nothing mysterious about what kind of judgment King Shule executed against the reviler of the prophets. He simply enacted a law that gave free speech to the prophets. That’s all he had to do, and consequently repentance was brought unto the people and peace was restored to the land.

And as a secondary point of validation on “execute judgment”, the translation in to Spanish is thus: “sometió a juicio”. It means to be put on trial, but it also literally means to submit or subject to judgment. The word “execute” and its harsh interpretation that I brought with it is no where to be found in the translation.

In the last verse of the chapter, King Shule is accredited with having no more wars during the remainder of his days, remembering “the great things the Lord had done for their fathers,” and again (at it is listed here a consequence of his capacity to remember), “executing judgment in righteousness all his days.”

This is a echo to both President Hinckley from my childhood who spoke often about the pioneers and their struggles, and also the words of Alma the Younger in Alma 5 (vs. 3-13) who spoke of the conversion of their parents just one generation earlier.

Stones to Shine in Darkness

Ether 6 (Éter 6)

I am struck by the profound significance and symbolism of verse 3:

And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.

This conjures up the symbolism or spiritual definition of Light in my mind. Also how important it is that men, women, and children all be brought to the light. The Lord has given us this earth and has given himself as the Light that we might not cross this mortal experience in darkness.

That’s the point. The Lord knew the Jaredites were about to embark in a difficult and long journey. He knew that without intervention they would be in darkness. Having light, having the ability to see, was extremely important to the Lord.

My mind has veered off into left field contemplating the time that they had in their barges. What did they do with the time that they had. There was eight barges, eight different experiences.

This reminds me of both recent and distant experiences that I have had working with groups of youth. One group in both my recent experience from manning a “pioneer games” activity and one group from my distant experience as a youth counselor had different, more elevated experiences than all the rest. Greater creativity, greater unity, just all-around better spirits. I cannot say what made the one group stand out from the majority. But I have had these experiences where I’ve witness successful community experiments work.

I’ve made a couple of notes in the actual scripture texts, but I think the thing that continues to resonate with me is how the brother of Jared and those that were with him didn’t loose sight of the Lord and his divine providence upon them. “…They did have light continually…” (vs. 10); “And they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.” (vs. 17) Earlier in the journey of the Jaredites, there was a season where the brother of Jared forgot to call upon the Lord, but by the time they came to build the barges and cross the ocean, there was no lacking in their faith from that point on.

Returning to this again on a new day, this act of providing the Jaredites with light in their barges is also to me an act of kindness from the Lord. I am reflecting in my own life about my acts of kindness to improve the conditions of living for my children and others around me.

In verse 12, the Jaredites arrive at the promised land and oh what gratitude and joy! What richness and abundance had just been handed to them from the Lord. It was hardly anything of their own labor or efforts, It was entirely a gift from God.

Walk Humbly before the Lord (vs. 17)

I am going through a series of self-imposed alignment exercises while I’m study this morning, standing at my work station and I am brought to consider the phrase “walk with God”. Notice that it is not “stand with God” rather we are to “walk with God”. Movement, in a forward direction, appears to be a part of the plan for our progression/salvation. We have to be willing to move with God. God is not a static being. Standing is not his natural state of being? We are designed to move and always being moving forward.

TG- Walking with God

At the end of this chapter, Jared and his brother have grown old. The brother of Jared desires to know of his people what they would do for them before they departed mortality. The people request to have a king anointed over them. This was “grevious unto them.”

I am struggling with my own weaknesses as a father this morning. Yet I cannot imagine being in the position of the Brother of Jared: having labored his whole life to follow God and to have secured a land of promise for his people, then for their final request to be subjection to a king — “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.” (vs. 23)

There is nothing in this record about how the Brother of Jared reconciled the people’s request within himself, or how it is that he sought council from the Lord in this matter. We only know that in the end, the brother of Jared conceded to the requests of the people.

The more that I am sitting with this final exchange, the more that it confuses me. The brother of Jared says that a king will bring the people into captivity, which is true. Yet the people want a king. Yet, none of the sons of the brother of Jared, nor any except for one of the sons of Jared would accept appointment to be king. What part of the people wanted a king if no one was willing to be a king? Did most share the same reservation that the brother of Jared had in establishing a king? Why were they refusing to be king? Were there no other precedents for alternative forms of government?

It was the youngest son of Jared who became king. “…For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” (Luke 9:48) I don’t have answers to this this morning, only observations.

In the Mouth of Three Witnesses

Ether 5 (Éter 5) — See also Doctrine and Covenants 17

This chapter provides instructions to the translator of the text regarding witnesses. A film entitled “A Day for the Eternities” addresses this time period in the translation process. I find the placement of this chapter interesting, because of the timeline of historical events and the timing in which Joseph Smith would have come across this set of instructions. He mostly likely was found with Oliver Cowdery in the Peter and Mary Whitmer home at Fayette, New York, as their guests.

In verse 1, Moroni reminds the reader and Joseph (the translator) that: “… I have told you the things which I have sealed up; therefore touch them not in order that ye may translate; for that thing is forbidden you, except by and by it shall be wisdom in God.”

The footnote on the verse goes back to the previous chapter and the most detailed description we have of the things that were revealed unto the Brother of Jared. And there is a promise as well:

6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

Ether 4:6-7 (emphasis added)

So even though there is a section of the Book of Mormon that is still sealed, Christ can show unto anyone these very same things to those that will exercise faith in seeking Him. Repentance is required. Becoming clean before the Lord is required.

The last two verse of this chapter re-emphasis the point of repentance. For a long time, I have misunderstood the essence of this principle. My efforts to repent were trite and more vain repetitions, which I sensed God did not want, but which I wrongly supposed that I had no need of repentance. Now I see it differently, and I cannot say what has changed in my approach. Only I know that I am in grave need of the refining influence of repentance, for I have much to change that I am powerless to do on my own.

How simple is this injunction though: “And if it so be that they repent and come unto the Father in the name of Jesus, they shall be received into the kingdom of God.” (vs. 6) There is no complicated list of qualifications for admission into the kingdom of God. Only two things are required: 1) repent and 2) come unto the Father in the name of Jesus.

The final verse of this chapter is one that demonstrates that Moroni is speaking from a position of clear knowledge of events as they pertain to the end of the world. “…for ye shall know that I have authority when ye shall see me, and we shall stand before God at the last day.” (vs. 6, emphasis added) This is not a conditional statement, but rather a future reality.

Moroni doesn’t have permission to reveal unto us anything of events that had been shown him of the last days or the end of times, but this statement is fact: that we shall stand before God and Moroni will be there as a witness of the truth.

I thought I was done with this chapter, but then I was brought to consider “the parable of the tares of the field” found in Matthew 13:36–43. Verse 41 has resonated with me since my morning prayers of yesterday: “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;” (emphasis added).

The feeling that I have as I contemplate this is one of complete peace. Why? Back to my prayers.

Strangely, I’ve found this obscure teaching from Joseph Smith that assimilates the work of the three witnesses to the parable of leaven found in this same chapter of Matthew, bringing this study full circle again. (Only the Spirit of the Lord can do something like this.)

It Persuadeth Men to Do Good

Ether 4 (Éter 4)

Faith is at the crux of all things. Without faith, we do not progress spiritually. Without faith, we do not fulfill our purpose. We do not understand who Christ is without faith.

Y para los fieles, hay grandes promesas si siguen fieles hasta el final.

These verses are a hidden treasure to me, on par with other more well know passages where the voice of our Lord is more readily known. Herein are several promises of faith, or a set of strong motivators to seek after faith. These promises have resonated deeply with me this morning. Partly because of the blessings that I have already received. Partly because of the hope of greater insights and blessings yet to be received.

The middle of this chapter is a long quotation that Moroni includes here of the word of the Lord Jesus Christ directly from the His mouth. I have to work to remind myself that this is Jesus speaking. He even addresses here this mortal tendency to doubt His words even though they be His words.

And he that believeth not my words believeth not my disciples; and if it so be that I do not speak, judge ye; for ye shall know that it is I that speaketh, at the last day…

…He that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me.

Verses 10 & 12

The thing that I am appreciating most about this obscure passage is how familiar His voice is in these passages: these are the words of Christ.

I have gone back to the beginning of the chapter and been caused to consider the revelation given to the brother of Jared that he was subsequently commanded to seal up and keep hidden from the world until the faith of the people should be sufficient to understand all these things, according to the will of God. There was a period of time wherein the Nephites, after Christ’s personal ministry to them, were given this revelation, but then it was taken away.

The only way to get the Lord to give this knowledge back to us is to, as a group, increase in our faith. It is not a solo enterprise.

Back in this long quoted passage which comes straight from the mouth of the Lord:

But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.

Verse 11 (emphasis added)

If these are not the words of Christ, these words exhorts us to judge for ourselves. But if they are the words of Christ (and I believe they are ), then this is of momentous importance. Furthermore, this verse 11 resonates so deeply with me, because of my personal experience with the Book of Mormon over now many, many years. I believe the things which Christ has spoken, and I have been visited time and again with the manifestations of the Spirit, and because of this reality (this is my lived reality), I know its true.

I stood in a testimony meeting recently in a distant city, and testified of the Christ. It seemed strange to me how simple and strong that witness came to me, and with such clarity. Yet, this verse 11 offers to me an explanation of why that happened the way that it did, and why it was so. I know this is true.

I need to sit with the comparison that is found in verse 12, and my interpretation of this precept, many times erroneous.

“And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for agood cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good;”

Elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, we can read similar passages that offer even more of a comparison between Christ and the devil:

  • “…For there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” – Omni 1:25
  • “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.” – Alma 5:40
  • Moroni 7:12-17 offers the most detailed insights on the topic.

I am now returning from a weekend at youth conference. The verses I read today talk about the mysteries of God being revealed to those who have faith sufficient to believe.

This chapter ends with the words of Christ telling us, telling me that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and my faith in the Christ will bring me to understand that the Father hath made covenants with our fathers long ago which impact me today. We are witnessing the fulfillment of promises made by God millennia ago. We are a part of the time that John saw in revelations and which are being now fulfilled. The time has already come and the work is already commenced. Those that now believe and are baptized shall be saved in the Kingdom of God.

These final verses ARE the words of Christ. This is His voice telling me what I must know to return to him. And because these things are not logical, tangible, nor able to be proven with scientific means of observation (exclusively), they will always be discounted by the world. And yet this is where the truth IS.

And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.

Vs. 19

Redeemed from the Fall

Ether 3 (Éter 3)

Understanding the exchange that is recorded in this chapter is pivotal to conversion and life itself.

The Lord is allowing the Brother of Jared to call the shots in finding a way to light the vessels within the ships that they have built to conduct themselves to the promised land. What then follows is such a significant exchange, and such a revelation of faith that it was actually kept from the people prior to the Savior’s mortal ministry. (See Ether 4:1)

The Brother of Jared sees the Lord’s finger as an answer to his inquiry, and that sends him hiding out of fear that the Lord would smite him. Though the Lord had nurtured him along up until this point, the natural tendency was to fear (or be afraid of) God.

The Lord sees the Brother of Jared’s fear and asks why he had done this. His response was that he thought the Lord would respond violently with him, but the even greater surprise was that the Lord had a body of flesh and blood. (Or at least, this is was the Brother of Jared perceived to be flesh and blood.)

All this leads up to an explanation of the power of the faith of the Brother of Jared. No one prior to the Brother of Jared had exhibited such faith in the Lord that he was permitted to see the Lord as He touched the stones with His finger. (Had no one else seen the Lord prior to this? I wonder about the context of this statement, but I can let it stand.)

The Lord continues to ask questions: “Sawest thou more than this?”

To which the Brother of Jared is overcome with desire: “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.”

Then the Lord asks another question, and this one catches me off guard: “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

On Sat, Jun 18, 2022, I added a noted to my scriptures:

Such an important question! Do you believe that I, your God, am telling you the truth? When we violate a commandment of God is it not always on the premise of faith? If we don’t follow God, it is because we doubt that what He has told us is true. We are assuming that some how God is lying to us. 

Or is it that we assume that we could know better than God? What motivation would God have in not telling us the truth? Why would God need to lie?

There are three sets of doctrine that correspond and work with each other here. They are as follows:

  • Faith vs. Doubt
  • Truth vs. Lies
  • Redeemed vs. Fallen

Faith vs. Doubt

In verse 11, after the Brother of Jared asks to see the Lord, the question of belief is placed before him. Do you believe all the words that the Lord shall speak? (future tense) So the first pillar of this argument is faith. And to more fully appreciate it, I juxtapose this to doubt.

In what individuals and institutions do I doubt their truthfulness; in what individuals and institutions do I place my faith in? “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…” “Doubt not only be believing…” Faith is the integral first step. If I don’t believe that the Lord can show me truth, why would I show up to talk with Him? And that leads me to the next consideration.

Truth vs. Lies

What we choose to believe makes all the difference. Do we believe in lies or do we believe in truth. Conversely, do we doubt the truth, or do we doubt the lies? Doubt lies, believe the truth.

This all sounds extremely simple, but the reality is that we spend the majority of our mortality caught up in this very thing, expending large amounts of energy every day either in believing lies or believing truth. Our belief structure dictates everything about what we do with our time. It is where we place our energies and how we choose to work.

There is a matrix that may help us to visualize this better.

ChristWe doubt that Christ is telling us the truth. We believe that God is lying to us. We believe that Christ is telling us the truth. We believe that God is a God of truth and cannot lie.
LuciferWe doubt the lies, snares, and false information that the adversary tries to present to us. We see lies for what they really are. We believe the lies, snares, misinformation presented by the adversary and mistake it for truth or reality.

Obviously, a diagonal line from bottom left to top right is the desired position of alignment along this matrix, but the reality is that we are usually not that well aligned. However, such a position of alignment where we believe God and doubt the devil (and the institutions that support such) is precisely the orientation that will lead us back into God’s presence.

What makes the Brother of Jared’s position so powerful is it is riveted by conviction and testimony: “I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.” (vs. 12)

This absolute knowledge that the Lord allows the Brother of Jared to express as an answer to a question is the ticket back into the presence of the Lord.

Redeemed vs. Fallen

(I am sitting at the gate for this last point, but realizing that this doctrinal progression doesn’t exactly fit what I’ve observed and learned from the scriptures.) So the underlying doctrine that is supporting this progression is testimony. It is the knowledge or testimony that the Brother of Jared has of God as a being that tells the truth which propels him forward back into the presence of the Lord.

Of course that knowledge first came of belief. And this process of growth from belief to sure knowledge is not documented in the Brother of Jared’s account. We come to this record with the Brother of Jared already in full conversion for three chapters now, having received direction and specific communications with the Lord all along the way.

So in verse 13, when the Lord shows himself to the Brother of Jared, the Lord then reiterates to him the impact of his testimony upon his life:

  • Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall;
  • therefore ye are brought back into my presence;
  • therefore I show myself unto you.

What are the implication of redemption? Being redeemed from the fall? My mind goes to scriptures that discuss the fallen condition of the world in general, the bondage of sin, and the very real weight that this places upon people. Being delivered from this fallen state is significant and huge.

Why? Because the cares of the fallen world are not the cares or the concerns of the redeemed. It is not to say that we lead a carefree life or lifestyle (far from it), but our energies and our concerns are focused on different priorities. Correct knowledge and life education can be obtained in ways that are liberating and empowering to engage in the real work of mortality.

The cares of a fallen world typically revolve around self-preservation, usually through deceptive means. The carees of the redeemed are more exalted, looking outward to the needs of others. They are concerned with doing God’s will, not their own.

In verse 13, the Lord tells the brother of Jared that he (the Lord) will show himself unto the brother of Jared. Then in verse 14, we have the words that the Lord uses to describe himself as he is physically revealing himself to the brother of Jared.

  • “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people.”
    This thought has impressed me for several weeks now, since Father’s Day, that Christ had to be prepared to accomplish the mission that was set before him. This reality, coupled with many other examples, show me that a child can be trained up in the way that they should go. We can prepare our children to do great things.
    (I see many successful latter-day saint families preparing their children in this regard, even if my own efforts have not quite materialized in such a fashion.)
  • “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.
    There is so much to take away from these two simple statements. He identifies himself ante-mortally as Jesus Christ, where he was otherwise known as Jehovah before his birth. That his titles as both Father and Son are then given here is also significant. Admittedly, this does add a little confusion to understanding the roles of the Godhead, but it is more importantly an accurate statement for Christ to state that he is both Father and Son. (I will not study this further here, though I could easily add more).
  • “In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name;”

I’ve jumped ahead to the next two verses. Never had Christ showed himself before to man whom he had created. Therefore, Christ has the power to reveal himself unto man. What’s harder for me to comprehend, though it must be true as Christ has said it, “this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit.” So our spiritual bodies are in the express image of a physical body. Or actually, it is the other way around. Our physical bodies are created in the image of our spiritual bodies.

I end my study today with a lot of questions about the nature of spiritual bodies and how they differ from a physical body. And the Spirit seems to suggest that this is a correct mode of thinking, or rather that I should continue to pursue this line of thought and discussion.

In verse 16, it states Christ created man after the man of his spiritual body. So what was first? Christ in the body of his spirit was first. As an exclusively spirit body, Christ proceeds to create the physical bodies of man and woman after his own image. Image of what? Image of his spirit body.

In the next few verses, Moroni steps in as editor to explain the parallel between this visit of the Lord and his visit to the Nephites after his resurrection. The demonstration of his body, though only in the spirit was similar in manner to the way that Christ showed himself to the Nephites. This is a striking observation, which really causes me to consider differently the nature of spiritual bodies. (We know nothing of this reality.) The other parallel, and arguably the more important one is the ministry of Christ. Moroni points out that Christ ministered unto this man in the same manner as he did to the Nephites. “and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.” (vs. 18)

I don’t know what it is about this particular chapter, but it is rich in significant doctrine. The footnotes are expansive in instruction. Today, I find myself consumed in verse 19 following the footnotes for both “knowledge” and “veil”.

The doctrine of the “veil” I find to be particularly curious because that it is clearly a part of our understanding of the the plan of salvation, but that plan is not really laid out anywhere biblical, and it is really only through the narratives of modern apostles and prophets that we have crafted such a detailed blueprint of what this plan looks like, with the veil playing such a central role at birth and throughout mortality.

Continuing along in verse 20, we’re back to the point that the Brother of Jared could not be kept from seeing Christ because of his faith. And the wording of this verse seems to suggests that the Lord was bound because of the exceptional or exceedingly strong faith of the Brother of Jared: “Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil;” The footnote leads to chapter 12, a much deeper discussion on faith that corroborates this point. (See Ether 12:19–21)

The second point that is presented for consideration is that the Brother of Jared did see Jesus Christ. With his physical eyes he was brought to visually see the ante-mortal Lord. The reality is that we do have actual witnesses of our Lord, both ancient and present.

The Brother of Jared is commanded not to reveal publicly the things which he both saw and heard. Rather he was commanded to treasure these things which were given him.

The word of the Lord is recorded verbatim in verses 21-24. This instruction pertains to sealing up the things which were shown unto the brother of Jared until such a time as the Lord decreed should be appropriate for their coming forth.

In verse 25, the Lord shows the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth, all “which had been, and also all that would be;” Verse 26 explains further that it was the Lord that initiated this action by telling the brother of Jared “that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him;”

The significance of this set of events is simply this: The Lord had given him prior instruction. These verses explain the realization of this instruction received “in times before.” It is the result of the brother of Jared’s faith in the word of the Lord that he had previously received.

This chapter ends with a set of instructions from the Lord to “write these things and seal them up.” The Lord wanted a record made of what had transpired, yet he didn’t want it immediately available until such a time as the Lord saw it fit to make these things available: that is our time.

The Lord Did Go Before Them

Ether 2 (Éter 2)

This chapter is resonating deeply with me this morning. It is how closely the Lord stood with them as he directed them along the way to where they needed to go, and how far they needed to go before they reached their destination. How many barges He had them build and abandon.

The land of the Americas is set forth as a free land here in these verses. Moroni takes pains to explain the decrees of God upon the Americas which have been ever since the days of the Jaredites, and which continue to be even until this time now.

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ…

Verse 12

Continuing down through the rest of this chapter, I am impressed by the manner in which the Lord chooses to communicate with the brother of Jared. Or rather, the focus of this record is not a history of the people of Jared and his brother, but rather to report on key events (many of them being communications) between the Lord and his servants. Four years had passed with their people camped along the seashore. The brother of Jared forgot to call upon the Lord and was reprimanded for not doing so in a communication that lasted 3 hours.

I also appreciate how, after following his instructions to build barges, the Lord is able to reason with the brother of Jared about the nature of their travels and is really challenging the brother of Jared to think differently about the challenge in front of them. (See verses 23-25)

Porque Me Has Suplicado Todo Este Largo Tiempo

Ether 1 (Éter 1)

El enfoque de mi estudio en esta mañana es en como el Señor relata con su pueblo. Siento que esto es el enfoque de Moroni también.

Primordialmente, este libro es para mostrar como el mano del Señor termino o destruyo el pueblo de Jared. Pensamos como humanos que somos encargados de nuestro propio destino. Fue el Señor que confundió la lenguaje del pueblo que empeñaban a construir un torre para llegar al cielo. Fue el Señor que también dio permiso al hermano de Jared para mantener su lenguaje, y el lenguaje de sus familiares para que pudiera continuar como pueblo, un pueblo que esforzaron a seguir al Señor.

He rayado en este capítulo toda las acciones del Señor. Son muchos, y con este enfoque se muestra que este relato es tanto como el Señor actúa con su hijos como un relato de las caracteres principales.

De la Biblia, veamos en el relato del gran torre un Dios que se enoja de gran manera con sus hijos. –[El Señor] juró en su ira que serían dispersados.– (vs. 33) Pero aquí veamos que también había un hombre con quien el Señor se compadeció. (vs. 35)

Al final del capítulo, muestra que el Señor escuchó, se compadeció, y habló con el hermano de Jared. Le dio instrucciones para seguir y bendecir a los que estaban dispuestos a seguirlo.