Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Malachi Prepares Us For Christ's Coming (Part 5) Serve God Without Complaint

Mal 3:13-14
13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken [so much] against thee?
14 Ye have said, It [is] vain to serve God: and what profit [is it] that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?

Through the Prophet Malachi the Lord charges Israel with speaking harshly against him.
He says that they feel that it is useless to serve God, to keep his commandments and to walk humbly.

Mal 3:15
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, [they that] tempt God are even delivered.

Here God accuses them of having become cynical in their service because they feel like it is the proud and wicked of the earth that are really happy and evil doers and those who challenge God even prosper.

Mal 3:16-18
16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (emphasis added)

The Lord answers them back by reminding them that he is watching all that they do and recording the names of those who fear and serve the Lord and speak to each other about him. These will be the blessed ones at his second coming and he will use them to make up his jewels. The "jewels" reference appears to be referring to the jeweled breast plate that the High Priest wore. Each jewel had the name of one of the tribes of Israel engraved on it. In a sense the High Priest, as a type of Christ, was carrying Israel on his shoulders and next to his heart. This is the group that will be spared at his coming because of their service to him.

In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord explains how he will make intercession for this group that is spared:

D&C 45:3-5
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him--
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (emphasis added)

Here we see that the Savior only draws to the attention of the Father, his works of the atonement, and asks the Father to spare those who have served him. Their personal service to God showed their good faith in him and his Son, their Savior, and was an indicator that they truly believed in him therefore, he is willing to use his atonement to cover their sins and spare them.

These verses should give us courage and spur us on to magnifying our callings which will show the Lord our good faith in him and his atonement. Our works are a token of our love and respect for him. As he said in John 14:15, "If ye love me keep my commandments."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Malachi Prepares Us For Christ's Coming (Part 4) An Offering In Righteousness

There are several aspects and ways to view Malachi 3:3 which refers to the sons of Levi giving an offering in righteousness. As mentioned in a previous post, the priests were offering up sick and lame animals to Jehovah. The first instance in the scriptures that we are aware of an unacceptable offering is that of Cain in the Old Testament. The Prophet Joseph Smith had this to say about Cain and Abel's offerings to the Lord:

By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood was no remission; and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin. But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts. Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type, or explanation of what was to be offered through the gift of God Himself; and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins. But however various may have been, and may be at the present time, the opinions of men respecting the conduct of Abel, and the knowledge which he had on the subject of atonement, it is evident in our minds, that he was instructed more fully in the plan than what the Bible speaks of, for how could he offer a sacrifice in faith, looking to God for a remission of his sins in the power of the great atonement, without having been previously instructed in that plan? And further, if he was accepted of God, what were the ordinances performed further than the offering of the firstlings of the flock? (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.58)

Here the Prophet teaches that an acceptable sacrifice or offering in righteousness must be done in faith, looking to Christ and his atonement. According to Oliver Cowdery and his recollection of the appearance of John the Baptist, the wording of John's message was as follows, "Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!" (emphasis added)
Joseph Smith History - Oliver Cowdery Footnote (JS - History)

The space above the ancient temple altar was considered sacred and was viewed as a conduit that went straight into heaven. After Solomon's Temple was dedicated, Israel prayed facing the temple as if their prayers traversed the land until they arrived at the temple altar and there they would ascend to heaven as an acceptable offering. That concept may be viewed even today as all covenants in the temple are made at an altar including marriage. These covenants are an offering in righteousness to the Lord. Omni 1:26, we learn that we are to offer up our whole souls to God. Both our whole souls and our marriages are offered to the Lord at the sacred altars.

Isaiah suggests that latter-day converts to Christ are to be brought to the temple as an offering to the Lord.

Isa 66:20
20 And they shall bring all your brethren [for] an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. (emphasis added)

Finally, in the Doctrine and Covenants section 128 the Prophet teaches that we are to bring the names of our dead ancestors to the temple as an offering in righteousness,

D&C 128:24
24 Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation. (emphasis added)

From the above, we can see that there are at least four major offerings in righteousness that each of us can make in the temple of God: 1. our whole souls 2. our converts to Christ 3. our ancestors who have passed on and 4. our marriages. Thus we fulfill the Lord's commands that he requires the heart and a willing mind (D&C 64:34).

Each covenant member of the Church along with their converts and dead ancestors are brought to the altars of the temple where each can offer up their whole souls to God with a commitment to establish his righteousness on the earth (D&C 1:16).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Malachi Prepares Us For Christ's Coming (Part 3)

(Draper Temple pictured above)
As we are reviewing Malachi's promise that the Lord will suddenly come to his temple, I am reminded of special occasions that are associated with temples and for which we need special spiritual preparation. One such occasion is Solemn Assemblies. The first Solemn Assembly held in the Kirtland Temple was an occasion where some of those present beheld the Savior and others saw angels. Solemn Assemblies are held for various reasons, however, the very title points our minds to the fact that something special is taking place. For those who are interested click here for an article on Solemn Assemblies that I wrote for the Ensign in 1988. Also, associated with temples is the sacred Hosanna Shout. The first Hosanna Shout was also performed in the Kirtland Temple. Some of us were privileged, last Sunday, to attend the dedicatory services of the new Draper Temple and participated in the spiritual experience of the Hosanna Shout. Every time I participate in this holy event it brings tears to my eyes as I give praise to my God and the Savior. Click here for more information on this sacred event. President Uchtdorf gave a short summary of the Hosanna Shout as he was demonstrating how to perform the shout properly.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Malachi Prepares Us For Christ's Coming (Part 2)

Mal 3:1-5
1 BEHOLD, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
3 And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in [his] wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger [from his right], and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. (emphasis added)

Malachi promises that the Lord whom we seek will suddenly come to his temple after his messenger, John the Baptist, has prepared the way. The Lord reiterates this promise two more times in latter day revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

D&C 36:8
8 I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen.

D&C 42:36
36 That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people.

The statement in Malachi may be read in the context of the temple that is yet to stand in Jerusalem. The two statements to the Prophet Joseph Smith can be read in the context of the temple that is to be built in the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri. Some even see the Lord's appearance in the Kirtland Temple as a partial fulfillment of these prophecies. There is more that we have yet to learn about these scriptures and their fulfillment.

The Sons of Levi had been offering up sick and lame animals on the temple altar and was an affront to Jehovah. In preparation for the second coming of Christ the Sons of Levi need to be purged so that they will offer and acceptable, righteous, offering to the Lord. This is also a clear warning to all of us who hold the priesthood that we need to make sure that our service to the Lord is worthy of his acceptation by magnifying our priesthood responsibilities. Notice that the Lord is coming to purge and to purify so that his priesthood is acceptable to him.

So, obviously, one of the things that we need to do to be prepared for the coming of the Lord is to make sure our service to him is up to his standard by magnifying our callings. He requires that our service is to be with all of our heart, mind, and strength.

We must all ask ourselves as Malachi asks, "who may abide the day of his coming?" Will I be allowed to stay during the Millennial reign of Christ or am I to be swept off the earth. In other words, am I the problem or the solution to the problems that plague the earth.

Malachi warns of six sins that one cannot be participating in and still be acceptable to the Lord when he comes. Those sins are:

1. Sorcery
2. Adultery
3. False Swearers
4. Those who oppress the weak and vulnerable
5. Those who take advantage of strangers who are not part of the culture
6. Those who do not fear the Lord (have respect and love for him as he warns, "For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in the last days" (D&C 63:58).

Most of these sins are self-apparent and speak for themselves. We must remember that this message is aimed at covenant Israel. My understanding of sorcery in that context is using anything to guide your life that is not authorized by God, such as, astrology, witchcraft, drugs, and the dark arts, etc. Those that are acceptable to the Lord are, the Light of Christ, Holy Ghost, prophets, priesthood leaders, righteous parents, scriptures, etc.

These are important warnings for those who want to live in the Millennium in peace.

Two Good Blogs

There are two young LDS scholars that have websites that you might be interested in. One is David J. Larsen in a MA program in Theology at Marquette University. He has some great posts and good insights. He also has some wonderful links from his site. The other scholar is David Bokovoy. He is working on his PhD at Brandeis University. These scholars help to keep us current with the latest research and thinking in the world of religion. They are bright and have some very good insights. Check out their sites by going to "Good Sites To Visit" to the right of this blog.

You can also click here to visit David J. Larsen's blog and click here to visit David Bokovoy's blog.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Malachi Prepares Us For Christ's Coming (Part 1)

Malachi chapters three and four are of particular interest to Latter-day Saints. When the Savior visited the Nephites he quoted Malachi 3 and 4 (see 3 Nephi 24 & 25) and said that these verses were for future generations (3 Nephi 26:2). When Moroni met for the first time with the Prophet Joseph Smith, the first scriptures that he quoted were from Malachi 3 & 4. So we have three witnesses as to the importance of these two chapters in Malachi, 1. Malachi 3 & 4, 2. 3 Nephi 24 & 25, and 3. Moroni's quoting from them to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

A closer look at these two chapters reveals several important insights. They were given to Israel who were temple worshippers but had become lax in their service to God. This was a community that was served by the priesthood who were no longer giving offerings in righteousness. These people were complaining about the requirements to serve their maker and they aped for the things of this world.

Malachi's message is to the House of Israel in particular, and is a warning and a list of things needed to be prepared for the Lord's visit to the earth. In his message can be found the "bookends" of keys necessary for the restoration of the gospel. He promises that a messenger will be sent to prepare the way of the Lord (Malachi 3:1). The same messenger prepares the way for both the first and second comings of Christ - John The Baptist (see Matth. 11:10; Mark 1:2). He also foretells of the coming of Elijah and his keys, which we know have the power to seal all things together using the holy priesthood. So, Malachi teaches us who will bring the first keys to preach the gospel of Christ into all of the world and also who will bring some of the last keys to seal all things together.

Malachi may have universal application to all people, nevertheless, his message has particular application to the Saints who have both the temple and the priesthood. In our next post we will list all of the things that Malachi mentions are necessary for members to be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ. Note, this is not a list for perfection or dwelling in the Celestial Kingdom, but only a list to be worthy to live in the Millennium when we will concentrate on losing all of our Telestial traits and prepare the earth for Celestial glory.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Open The Windows Of Heaven

The Sabbath Day can be like a mini Millennium in our life where one day in seven is set apart to make our final preparations to dwell forever with God, just as the Millennium is one day out of seven for the earth to make all the final preparations for exaltation. The blessings for keeping the Sabbath are tantamount to the blessings of the Millennium. So also is fasting in some ways equivalent to Millennial life where the total focus is on spiritual growth and development. Again we saw blessings that equate to Millennial life associated with fasting.

Because the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, (Psalms 24:1) tithing is an interesting commandment. Looking at it from the Lord's point of view, he is saying, "I will let you keep 90% of my things, just leave me 10% to help build my kingdom which you will inherit." From that point of view we appear to be being dealt with as little children. The Lord tells us as much in the Doctrine and Covenants:

D&C 78:17
17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

And then when we do keep such a simple commandment the rewards are almost unbelievable for letting the Lord keep only 10% of his own belongings. Like the blessings for keeping the Sabbath Day holy, the Lord promises the tithe payer that he will open the windows of heaven to them and pour out blessings upon them that there will not be room enough to receive them (Malachi 3:8-12). The Lord promises the tithe payer that their lands will be productive and they will be blessed with plenty.

When it is all added up, only one conclusion can be reached. God is loving and generous and those who keep these three commandments as outlined in the scriptures will have their wants and needs supplied even in times of famine, Elijah the prophet being a type. The Lord will abundantly take care of them both temporally and spiritually. As we learn from the Brother of Jared, he is the God of truth and cannot lie (Ether 3:12).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fasting And Its Attendant Blessings

There are few commandments that bring greater attendant blessings than fasting. Fasting is a sign to the Lord that we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness and the things of his kingdom. It is a powerful element in conforming us to the image of Christ. One of the best scriptures that outlines fasting is Isaiah 58. It explains the kind of fast that the Lord does not want and then outlines a true fast and the blessings that will follow.

The scene opens in Isaiah 58:3 with Israel complaining that God is not giving heed to their fasting. The Lord answers back in verses 3-4, that they have not made their fast different than any other day of the week. In verse 5, the Lord points out that fasting is more than going through the motions of a fast by bowing their heads and sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

The Lord through Isaiah then begins to point out the elements of a true fast:

1. Loose the bands of wickedness (repent) (vs. 6)
2. Undo heavy burdens - giving of yourself spiritually and temporally to others (vs. 6)
3. Let the oppressed go free and break every yoke - kindness and support to those in need (vs. 6)
4. Give food to the hungry (vs. 7)
5. Clothe the naked (vs. 7)
6. Extend your generosity to those of your own family (vs. 7)

The blessing for a true fast are now outlined:

1. Your light will break forth - God's love and blessings are considered light (vs. 8).
2. Your health will increase (vs. 8).
3. You will have a reputation of being righteous (vs. 8).
4. The glory of the Lord will be your rereward or rearguard (vs. 8). Anciently marching armies were often attacked in the rear because that is where the sick and wounded were kept. A rearguard had to be placed there to protect them from the attackers. This appears to be one of the greatest blessings for fasting as the Lord himself promises to guard and protect us where we are the most vulnerable.
5. When you call on the Lord he will answer, if we refrain from being an accusatory type of a person (vs. 9)
6. Your light will rise and be as bright as noonday - no shadow or darkness (vs. 10) Those thus blessed are ready for the presence of God (see D&C 88:67-68)
7. The Lord will guide you continually (vs. 11)
8. Even in a famine you will be fed and watered (vs. 11) - this inference appears to be both physically and spiritually.
9. You will be numbered with those who rebuild Zion and the breaches created by the wickedness of previous generations (vs 12).

The Lord through Isaiah then reminds Israel that keeping the Sabbath holy is also a part of the requirement for receiving the blessings of fasting (vs. 12-14).

President Marion G. Romney gave this counsel:

If we will double our fast offerings, we shall increase our own prosperity, both spiritually and temporally. This the Lord has promised, and this has been recorded. ("Basics of Church Welfare," address to the Priesthood Board, March 6, 1974, p. 10) found in Rulon T. Burton, We Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Millennial Type Blessings

As we appear to be heading into economic trying times, it is a good time to review what the Lord has given his people to be secure during times of hardship and all times. There are three major commandments that the Lord has given to bless his people not only spiritually but also temporally. Millennial type blessings are promised for those who properly keep these commandments. Those three commandments are: 1. Tithing, 2. Keeping the Sabbath holy, and 3. Fasting. In today's post we will examine the Sabbath Day.

One of the best scriptures that outlines proper Sabbath worship and its attendant blessings is D&C 59. It was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith during his first visit to the promised land, Jackson County Missouri. The revelation was given on a Sunday, August 7, 1831. The Lord referred to this day as "this, the Lord's day" (vs. 12) thus confirming the concept that the Sabbath was to be on Sunday rather than Saturday.

One of the major purposes of the Sabbath was to more fully keep unspotted from the world and to go to the house of prayer and offer up sacraments (vs. 9). Sacraments refer to those things that contain sacred elements. As great and beautiful as the outdoors may be and in nature one may feel close to God, the commandment is to go to his house and not his wilderness. It is a day of rest and to pay devotions (vs. 10). A devotion is a profound dedication or attachment to something, in this case it is directed to God. The Sabbath is a day to offer up vows (vs. 11). A vow is a solemn promise, in this case it would be our baptismal covenants, agreements when we took upon ourselves the priesthood, and temple covenants. It is a day to offer up oblations and to confess sins (vs. 12) Oblations are offerings made to deity.

According to the Lord the Sabbath is also a day of fasting, so our food should be prepared with singleness of heart (vs. 13). The whole Sabbath is a day of fasting or doing without the things of this world and working only for the things that pertain to the Kingdom of God. So, from the Lord's point of view, every Sunday is a fast day of not doing our pleasure on His Holy Day (Isaiah 58:13). On the first Sunday of the month we also add to our fasting going without food and water.

It is important to note that the Lord's list of keeping the Sabbath holy only includes what we are to bring to his house of worship and not what we take away when it is over. We have all heard some complain that the Sacrament talks are not always great, or our Sunday School teacher is boring, or they do not get very much out of going to Church. The Lord's list focuses on what each of us are to contribute to Sabbath worship and not what we take away from it. Sometimes we become so egocentrically oriented that we forget what our responsibilities are.

Now let's focus on the blessing that come to those who properly keep the Sabbath holy.

1. The fullness of the earth will be given (vs. 16).
2. The good things that can be used for food, clothing, and housing (vs. 17).
3. The earth will be beautiful and please the eye and gladden the heart (vs. 18-39).
4. Food and clothing will be provided for, taste and smell will enhance life and the soul will be enlived (vs. 19).

Finally we are to recognize the hand of God in all things and obey his commandments (vs. 21).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Satan Is Destroying Our Agency

In the above video, President Benson recommended a book by Gary Allen, None Dare Call It Conspiracy. You can read that book online here.

Copy and paste the above site address in your address window of your search engine.

This book helps the reader to understand the basis for the many machinations which we are now reading in the headlines and also on the news.

I also strongly suggest the book, Five Thousand Year Leap, by W. Cleon Skousen. This book will help the reader to understand the very basics of our nation and the Constitution of the United States and how far we are departing from our origins.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Liahona - Directions From Christ (Sacred Sites Part 14)

Six Hundred B.C. was a water shed in history for the House of Israel. Because of their rebellion against the Lord and their wickedness, they were losing their promised land, their king and their temple. On the other hand, because of his righteousness, Lehi was called of the Lord to locate a new promised land where they would establish a new king and build a new temple to the Lord.

The Lord wanted them to know that it was by him that they were led:

1 Ne 17:13 13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

The Lord gave them the Liahona as their guide. Jonathan Curci suggests that the etymology of the word "Liahona" contains three Hebrew elements - L = to; iaho = Jehovah; and ona = whither or direction. In the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 16, number 2, 2007, pp. 66-67, Curci concludes:

As Elder David A. Bednar explained, "The primary purposes of the Liahona were to provide both direction and instruction during a long and demanding journey. The director was a physical instrument that served as an outward indicator of their inner spiritual standing before God."16 It worked according to the principles of "faith and diligence" (1 Nephi 16:28). In this way, the Liahona not only indicated the geographical direction whither they should go in the wilderness but also directed the Lehites to the Lord. This meaning would be in harmony with the appellation director inscribed by Alma in 37:38: "our fathers call [it] a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord [Yahweh] prepared it." After having specified that the interpretation was ball or compass, Alma associates the term compass with the fact that the Lord prepared it. Retranslating the verse in Hebrew, we would have the concept of direction Ężona, and the director, or Yahweh the Lord, side-by-side, thus composing the name Liahona

According to Alma, there were qualities in the Liahona that point us to the Light of Christ or the words of Christ that are in each of us (D&C 84:44-46). In other words we all have a Liahona (The Light of Christ) to give us direction for our lives so that we end up in a "far better land of promise" (Alma 37:45).

Alma suggests that the Liahona was easy to use. Even though it did require faith, all they had to do was believe that it would point the way and it did. It worked by such "small means" that they all became slouthful and forgot to exercise faith. Here we see that even good people like Lehi and Nephi took the Liahona for granted and ignored it from time to time just as we do the light of Christ (Alma 37:40-41).

They spent much more time than needed in their difficult situations and afflictions because of their slothfulness. When they "forgot" to exercise faith they did not travel in a direct course and the many daily miracles ceased in their lives. So it is with us when we ignore the Light of Christ in us (Alma 37:42-43).

Alma draws this conclusion for the reader:

Alma 37:44-46 44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. 45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. 46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that 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.

In a sense the Lord took the Light of Christ and made a model out of it so that we could see how it works. Lehi and his exodus became a model for us and our quest for the Celestial Kingdom and our use of the Light of Christ in our exodus out of the world. Nephi made this clear in 1 Nephi 1:20 when he said, "... I, Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nephi and the Exodus (Sacred Sites Part 13)

The exodus pattern became the opening motif of the Book of Mormon drama. Nephi saw parallels between their journey to the promised land and the exodus of Israel out of Egypt. He also took courage from the events of the exodus that strengthened him for his roll in the Lehite exodus. The April, 1987, Ensign pp. 64-65, published 24 parallels between the two journeys:

"...several researchers, George Tate, John W. Welch, and Avraham Gileadi, have noted that one of the most important of all Hebrew motifs, the exodus cycle, is woven throughout 1 Nephi."

"The overall pattern of Lehi and his people’s exodus is a story of deliverance through a divinely led departure, in which Nephi emphasizes their encounters with God just as Moses does in Exodus. The people of Judah are in bondage to Babylon and in danger of being utterly destroyed. The Lord leads a partially rebellious remnant from Jerusalem and nurtures them through mighty miracles and the giving of laws so they can inherit a promised land."

"Since an exodus cycle deals with how events fit the pattern of deliverance, the order of events is relatively unimportant. Hence, Nephi’s account does not always follow the sequence Moses used in his writings, but it does share numerous motifs of the Exodus, some of which are listed in the accompanying chart. (The list is a sampling only; it is incomplete and represents no attempt to order the significance of the parallels.) The instances of similarity are many, and the result is the same: after the people have arrived in the promised land, they know that the Lord is God and that he delivered them from destruction."

Parallels between 1 Nephi and Exodus

1 Nephi


Motifs Common to Both Accounts

1 Ne. 1:6; 1 Ne. 16:16

Ex. 13:21

Lord’s guidance

1 Ne. 1:20

Ex. 1:11–16

oppressive conditions

1 Ne. 2:2

Ex. 3:7–18

Lord’s command to depart

1 Ne. 2:6–7

Ex. 3:18; Ex. 15:22; Ex. 20:25

sacrifice to the Lord after three days’ journey

1 Ne. 2:11–12; 1 Ne. 5:2; 1 Ne. 16:20

Ex. 15:24; Ex. 16:2–3

murmuring against the Lord

1 Ne. 2:15; 1 Ne. 3:9; 1 Ne. 10:16

Ex. 18:7; Ex. 33:8

dwelling in tents

1 Ne. 2:20

Ex. 3:17

promise of a new land of inheritance

1 Ne. 4:12

Ex. 17:8–13

victory over enemies

1 Ne. 7:6–7

Ex. 14:12

rebellious desire to return

1 Ne. 9:1–4

Ex. 17:14

a record of the journey

1 Ne. 11:1–14:27

Ex. 19:19–31:18

instruction from a heavenly being on a high mountain

1 Ne. 15:6–16:5

Ex. 19:3–25

prophet who teaches the people after divine instruction

1 Ne. 16:10

Ex. 7:9–21; Ex. 8:16; Ex. 14:16

miraculous physical object (rod and liahona)

1 Ne. 17:3–5

Ex. 16:11–18

Lord’s provision of food

1 Ne. 17:4

Ex. 16:35; Deut. 8:2

prolonged wandering in the wilderness

1 Ne. 17:6

Ex. 16:3; Ex. 17:1

afflictions in the wilderness

1 Ne. 17:26; 1 Ne. 18:8–23

Ex. 14:21–22, 29; Ex. 15:19

crossing the sea

1 Ne. 17:55

Ex. 14:31; Ex. 20:12

acknowledgment of the Lord’s power

1 Ne. 18:7

Ex. 18:3–4

two sons born in the wilderness

1 Ne. 18:8

Ex. 14:21

Lord’s providential wind

1 Ne. 18:9

Ex. 32:18–19

wicked revelry

1 Ne. 18:20

Ex. 32:10

death threats from the Lord

1 Ne. 18:23–25

Josh. 11:23

inheritance of a promised land

1 Ne. 19:11

Ex. 20:18

thunderings and lightnings

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Exodus and Exaltation (Sacred Sites Part 12)

Just as both the Tabernacle/Temple and Mount Sinai are patterns of the divine plan of progressing the earth and man towards exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, so also is the Exodus lead by Moses (a type of the Only Begotten) designed to teach the same principle of progression. Egypt, with all of its false gods, can be seen as a representation of the mortal Telestial World in which we live. Pharaoh's opposition to Moses may be seen as Satan and his opposition to Christ's plan of redemption. The ten plagues which cleanses Egypt of her false gods can be seen as the Savior's cleansing of the earth of all wickedness at His second coming. The last plague which was the death of the firstborn to effect the release of the children of Israel from bondage can be seen as pointing to Christ, the firstborn, who dies and sheds his blood to save us all from the bondage of sin.

The children of Israel were spared from this plague because they had sacrificed a lamb and put the blood of the lamb on their doorpost, thus being saved by the blood of the lamb. This was all done at the Telestial level. Israel is now ready to move ahead and exit the Telestial World. They follow Moses and the Cloud to the Red Sea. At this point Pharaoh has changed his mind and is now coming to take them back captive again. The Red Sea parts for the Israelites who are a type of the firstborn of God:

Ex 4:22-23
22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel [is] my son, [even] my firstborn:
23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, [even] thy firstborn.

Here it is clear that even though there are thousands of Israelites, the Lord is dealing with them as if they are all one person, his Firstborn Son. The Exodus pattern is designed to conform Israel to the image of the Son.

As Israel goes through the Red Sea with the light shinning over them, Paul the apostle interprets this as a type of their baptism water and the Spirit:

1 Cor 10:1-4
1 MOREOVER, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Pharaoh and his army followed Israel into the Red Sea on the highway that was cast up in the deep, and were drowned as the water covered them up, just as the waters of baptism wash away those things which have held us bound. Israel is now ready to be led into the Terrestrial World.

They proceed to Mount Sinai to meet with Christ as a type of the second coming. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord refers to the trump that announces his coming along with the shaking and quaking of the earth as like what happened at Mount Sinai :

D&C 29:13
13 For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth--yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one.

When they leave Mount Sinai they now have no laws but the Lord's laws as the Savior described for his second coming,

D&C 38:22
22 Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver, and what can stay my hand?

Israel will now build the Tabernacle to be the center of their attention for the next forty years. Judah will always camp on the east of the Tabernacle and Ephraim and Manasseh will always camp on the west. This may be seen as pointing to the Millennium when Judah builds a capital and temple in the east (Jerusalem) and Ephraim/Manasseh build a capital and temple in the west (Jackson County, Missouri).

There were other items that pointed to the Millennium in the Exodus such as, their clothes and shoes never wore out, thus they were clothed without labor as in Eden. They ate manna, thus feasting on the bread of life as the righteous will feast on the words of Christ in the Millennium and enjoy His presence (D&C 101:32-35). All of the rebellious died off during the forty year journey, thus they became a new creature in Christ having conformed to the image of the Son by focusing on the Tabernacle and the Laws of God. Just as the Millennium is designed for us to lose all of our Telestial nature and become worthy to dwell in the presence of God.

Israel is now ready for the final step. They will follow Joshua (his name means Jesus) through the Jordan River as it parts for them (like a veil) and they move into the promised land (Celestial Kingdom).

There are many more types in this Exodus, however, this is sufficient to point out that each of us is on an Exodus and our baptism is our first step to leaving the Telestial World and puts us on a path to dwell in the presence of God in the Celestial Kingdom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mountain of the Lord's House (Sacred Sites Part 11)

Mount Sinai was a model of the Lord's House or Mountain of The Lord's House or the Lord's Tabernacle. Just as the Tabernacle was a model of the Universe so was Mount Sinai. At the base of the mountain the children of Israel gathered and camped and built an altar. This may be seen as the Telestial level or the world that we live in. Just as Christ came to the Telestial level to be sacrificed, so the Israelites were commanded to offer sacrifices at this level. However a boundry was created at the base of the mountain and they were commanded to not pass that boundry upon the threat of death.

Ex 19:12-13
12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, [that ye] go [not] up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether [it be] beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

In order to proceed further up the mountain they had to be purified by having the blood of the covenant sprinkled on them.

Ex 24:8-11
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.
9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
10 And they saw the God of Israel: and [there was] under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in [his] clearness.
11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

Here we see that seventy four men were now allowed to proceed part way up the mountain where they saw the God of Israel and did eat and drink. This may be seen as entering to a Terrestrial level where the Lord comes to dwell during the Millennium (see Moses 7:62-64).

Moses now proceeds further up the mountain into the midst of the cloud which covered the top of the mountain and spent 40 days and nights communing with God and receiving the law. This appears to be the equivalent of entering into Celestial space where God dwells. Both the Tabernacle and Mount Sinai appear to be models of the Universe which is the Lord's Tabernacle.

Paul speaks of this heavenly tabernacle made by God:

Heb 8:1-5
1 NOW of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore [it is] of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

When the Tabernacle was completed and then later the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant that contained the Law, was kept in the Holy of Holies (Celestial space) as a type pointing out that living the Law will bring us back to God to live in Celestial glory. The Ark became a constant reminder that the Law that was given in Celestial space was designed to bring us back to God's presence.

Both the Tabernacle and the Temple can be seen as the Mountain of the Lord's House.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Plan Built Into The Universe (Sacred Sites Part 10)

On the far left of the above illustration we can see the universe as it is divided up into Telestial space, Terrestrial space and Celestial space. The Universe is the Tabernacle of the Lord through which the earth (The Lord's Temple) traverses as she makes her way to becoming a Celestial Kingdom. We see this explained in the following scripture:

D&C 101:23
23 And prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.

Here the Lord declares that his temple, the earth, is covered by a veil which shall be lifted. The next several verses 24-35 describe the Terrestrial order that is created by lifting the veil which moves mother earth into Terrestrial space of his tabernacle.

At the end of the Millennium, mother earth dies and is then resurrected as a Celestial Kingdom as explained in the following verses:

D&C 88:25-26
25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law--
26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.

Our previous blogs have shown how the Tabernacle is a model of this process of both man the the earth progressing through the atonement of Christ to becoming Celestial beings.

Using the illustration at the top of this posting it will be shown how Mount Sinai, and Exodus are also models of this same plan in the next postings.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Holy of Holies (Sacred Sites Part 9)

On leaving the Holy Place, one pierces the veil to enter the Holy of Holies, which represents the presence of God in the the Celestial Kingdom. The only article in the Holy of Holies is the Ark of the Covenant. The covering for the Ark is the Mercy Seat upon which two angles are perched with their wings touching. This is where God met with Moses. Everything pertaining to the Ark points to Christ. The Mercy Seat points us to the fact that it is because of Christ's atonement that God can have mercy on us and our sins. His atonement allows us to meet with God in his glorious presence. In a sense, Christ is the place where man and God are allowed to meet (see Old Testament Student Manual p. 148).

Inside the Ark is the pot of manna (pointing to Christ as the bread of life). There are the two stone tablets upon which is written the law. Christ is the stone of Israel who stood in front of the Nephites and declared, "... I am the law..." (3 Nephi 15:9). Also in the Ark was Aaron's rod that budded also making it a branch. Christ is the Branch (Zechariah 3:8; 6:12) and the Rod (Psalms 110:2). Moses himself, who was a type of the Only Begotten, and a representation of the law, was taken from an Ark as a type and shadow of Christ.

We can see in the Tabernacle/Temple the means of becoming conformed to the image of the Son (The Anointed One). We may view the way through the tabernacle as the strait and narrow path of covenants and learning of Christ. Christ is the "Way" and the "Door" back to the presence of God. He is the means of reconciling man and God so that they may once again meet face to face and embrace each other in reconciliation. The breach created between man and God by the Fall of Adam has now been closed.

There are many other interpretations for each item in the Tabernacle/Temple. These postings are simply skimming the surface of symbolism using as a guide Nephi's revelation that all things given by God to man from the beginning of the world typify Christ (2 Nephi 11:4).

The following depicts every aspect of the tabernacle/temple as pointing to Christ:

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We Pray In The Name Of Christ (Sacred Sites Part 8)

The Alar Of Incense that stood before the veil of the tabernacle/temple represented the prayers of Israel ascending into heaven. It is a type of Christ inasmuch as we pray unto the Father in the name of the Son. He is also our intercessor with the Father. This is the location where the Angel Gabriel met with Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) to tell him that his prayers and the prayers of Israel would be answered.

The Institute Student Manual p. 153 states:
The third piece of furniture found in the holy place along with the sacred candlestick and the table of shewbread was the altar of incense. It stood directly in front of the veil (see v. 6). Like the ark of the covenant and the table of shewbread, it was made of shittim wood covered with gold and had rings and staves for carrying. Hot coals were placed on the altar, and each morning and evening (see vv. 7–8) the high priest would burn incense. This ritual seems to signify that one can approach the presence of God only through prayer, for scriptures elsewhere indicate that incense is a symbol of prayer (see Revelation 5:8; 8:3–4; Psalm 141:2).

After the Altar Of Incense came the veil of the temple which had angels portrayed on it. Paul the apostle refers to the veil as the flesh of Christ (Hebrews 10:20). The Savior declares that his is the door in John 10:9. We must enter into the presence of the Father through him. Also, the sacred vestments of the High Priest was made of the same materials as the veil of the tabernacle/temple. In some ways, when he dressed in his sacred vestments he was putting on Christ.

The Institute Student Manual for the Old Testament gives this insight:
Both on the veil, separating the holy place from the most holy, and on the lid of the ark were cherubim, or angels. This use of angels provides a beautiful representation of the concept taught in latter-day scripture that one passes by the angels on his way to exaltation (see D&C 132:19).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Christ Is The Light Of The World (Sacred Sites Part 7)

As we leave the outer court of the tabernacle, having sacrificed our whole soul, and having sacrificed a broken heart and contrite spirit, and also having been cleansed in the pure waters of life, we are prepared to enter the Holy Place. We go from the Telestial world into the Terrestrial world. Our attention is immediately drawn to the Menorah, the only thing giving light in this Holy Place. Some feel that it is a representation of the burning bush where Moses met Christ (Jehovah). Others see in it the Tree of Life. In the Book of Mormon we see that the Tree of Life is associated with Christ and his great atonement (1 Nephi 11). We have truly entered a paradisiacal estate where Christ comes to be the Light and to reveal all things (D&C 101:32-36).

The Old Testament Student Manual p. 150 also states:
Other scriptures indicate that olive oil represents the Holy Spirit, probably because it provided fire, heat, and light when burned in the lamps (see D&C 45:56–57). Thus, the sacred menorah was a type or symbol of the true source of spiritual light, namely the Holy Ghost as He bears witness of the Father and the Son.

Opposite the menorah is the Table of Shewbread. It represents the goodness of the Lord to the House of Israel.

Again, the Institute Manual explains that there is a possible representation of the emblems of the sacrament on this table (p. 149)

Most scholars and old Jewish traditions agree that wine was also placed on the table along with the bread, although it is not mentioned specifically in the biblical account. The spoons were actually vessels or cups, rather than spoons as they are known today, and were probably the containers for the liquid. (See Fallows, Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. “shewbread,” 3:1576; Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “shewbread,” p. 847.) Thus, the items placed on the table of shewbread have distinct parallels in the emblems of the sacrament.

Nephi seems to be portraying a person or the High Priest going through the Temple in 2 Nephi 31:17-21. The person enters the gate and comes to the altar of sacrifice and repents of their sins, then they are cleansed by the waters of baptism represented by the laver. They are now on the strait and narrow path that now leads them into the Holy Place where they stand between the Holy Lamp Stand and the Shew Bread Table. There, they have a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men (standing before light of the Lamp Stand). They also feast on the words of Christ at the Shew Bread Table. They then press forward until they are at the end (The Veil) where they enter into eternal life or the presence of the Father in the Celestial World.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Savior Is The Pure Waters Of Life Who Cleanses Us (Sacred Sites Part 6)

Above is a model of the Laver of Water that was in Solomon's Temple. The laver of water in the old Tabernacle made by Moses was much smaller. It is a type of our being cleansed by baptism through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Again, we can see the rule given by Nephi in 2 Nephi 11:4, that all things given by God to man typify Christ.

Here is what the the Old Testament Institute Manual page 155 says about the Laver:

Directly in line next in the courtyard was the laver, or basin of water, which was used for washing and cleansing (see Exodus 30:19–20). As was mentioned, when Solomon built a permanent temple, he placed the laver on the backs of twelve oxen (see 1 Kings 7:25), a symbolism carried on in modern temples and clearly related to baptism. Since the baptismal font itself is a “similitude of the grave” (D&C 128:13), where the “old man” of sin is buried (Romans 6:1–6), the symbolism of the laver seems clear. Once the “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19) is sacrificed (put to death through a broken heart, or sincere and deep repentance), he is cleansed by both the waters of baptism and the fires of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 31:17). Once this cleansing is done, he is prepared to leave the world, or a telestial way of living, and “be born” (John 3:5) into a higher state of spiritual life.