Sunday, January 17, 2016

Isaiah Portions in the Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 20 (Compare Isaiah 48)

Isaiah Portions in the Book of Mormon
1 Nephi 20 (Compare Isaiah 48)

Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.

Who are “they,” -- this last-days group of people -- who come out of the waters of baptism?
“They” include people who are literal descendents of Israel (the house of Jacob), and “they” are called in some context by the name of Israel. Do they call themselves “modern day Israel?” In any event, this group is worthy of some condemnation because “they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.”

 Nevertheless, they call themselves of the holy city, but they do not stay themselves upon the God of Israel, who is the Lord of Hosts; yea, the Lord of Hosts is his name.

Again, “they” call themselves something special (of the holy city), but apparently “they” are not truly grounded upon the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel – whose name is Jehovah.

Behold, I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them. I did show them suddenly.

Think of historical examples: a prophesy that Jerusalem would be destroyed, etc., and then, suddenly, the declaration is fulfilled. The inhabitants are carried away captive. From the beginning of time, this has been the pattern.  “My mouth,” a servant of the Lord, declared these things in advance, and then I (Jehovah) showed them; that is, I caused them to happen very suddenly.

And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;

I (Jehovah) know that you people have difficulty believing prophesy about future cataclysmic events, because typically you expect that tomorrow will be the same as today.

 And I have even from the beginning declared to thee; before it came to pass I showed them thee; and I showed them for fear lest thou shouldst say—Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them.

I (Jehovah) showed these events in advance (by declarations “out of my mouth” (my mouthpiece, one of my servants) so that you would understand how it works when the Spirit is present with my servant(s); so that you would not say these events were due to natural causes; more particularly, due to the influences of man, i.e., a result of “fracking,” or due to man-made climate change -- that is, attribute the cause to man.

Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them?
And that I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

You have seen and heard all these past historical examples; you know how it works; it’s a proven process. Why will you not now declare the new things – the “hidden things” that have not happened yet?

They are created now, and not from the beginning, even before the day when thou heardest them not they were declared unto thee, lest thou shouldst say—Behold I knew them.

Things now coming into being, things you have not heard of before (1), were actually declared to you -- in this Isaiah text and elsewhere -- but you would not hear them (“thou heardest them not.”)

Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time thine ear was not opened; for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

Your (spiritual) ears were not open to hear; therefore, you didn’t know of the future events. We are all transgressors from the womb; but there seems to be so called treachery involved here, by not declaring the “hidden things,” when the whole vision of the end-times-scenario has been foretold, and is available to know -- for those who do have ears to hear.

Nevertheless, for my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from thee, that I cut thee not off.
10 For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
11 For mine own sake, yea, for mine own sake will I do this, for I will not suffer my name to be polluted, and I will not give my glory unto another.

I (Jehovah) will not cut you off – that is, I will not cut you off completely – as I have chosen you to be refined in the furnace of affliction.

12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called, for I am he; I am the first, and I am also the last.

The Lord Jehovah identifies himself, unequivocally, and says listen to me on this subject:

13 Mine hand hath also laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens. I call unto them and they stand up together.

I (Jehovah) identify my “hand,” “my right hand,” -- a pseudonym for my servant, my hand of deliverance -- and qualify him as one who participated in laying the foundation of the earth; (one of the noble and great ones seen by Abraham?) When I (Jehovah) call them (my servant specifically, and my servants in general) they respond and stand together to accomplish my work in the in-times.

 14 All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; who among them hath declared these things unto them? The Lord hath loved him; yea, and he will fulfill his word which he hath declared by them; and he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall come upon the Chaldeans.

Get together and listen (hear with Spiritual ears); who among them -- its “they,” “them” again -- who has declared the meaning of these things -- the significant messages in Isaiah. Who? Him whom the Lord Jehovah has loved (his servant in the last days) and the Lord Jehovah will fulfill his (the servant’s) words which he (the servant) has declared by them (declared by the ancient prophets, the Servant specifically, and his last-day servants generally;) he (the Lord Jehovah) will do his pleasure on Babylon (the material world), through his arm (his left-hand in this case -- the destroyer) shall come upon the Chaldeans (the people of Babylon; more specifically -- the false prognosticators; the astronomers, the magicians, for example, called to interpret dreams, who have no spiritual gift.

 15 Also, saith the Lord; I the Lord, yea, I have spoken; yea, I have called him to declare, I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.

I (the Lord Jehovah) have called him (the servant in the last days) to declare these things.
I (the Lord Jehovah) have brought him (the servant in the last days) and he (the servant himself, or possibly another last-days character) shall make his (the servant’s) way prosperous.

16 Come ye near unto me; I have not spoken in secret; from the beginning, from the time that it was declared have I spoken; and the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

The servant is speaking here: Come near. I’ve not spoken in secret; the Lord God Jehovah, and his Spirit, have sent me (the servant), to declare these things from the beginning.

17 And thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I have sent him, the Lord thy God who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go, hath done it.

Thus saith the Lord Jehovah (your Redeemer): I have sent him (the servant); I have done it!

 18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.
 19 Thy seed also had been as the sand; the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.

O that thou (you, as a member of "they, them") had listened to my (the Lord Jehovah’s) commandments; his (the servant’s) name should not have been cut out of the scriptures.

 20 Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter to the end of the earth; say ye: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
21 And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.

The servant is speaking here: Leave Babylon behind; flee from the people who are caught up in the material world. Declare this message with joy (singing): The Lord Jehovah will redeem his chosen people. Just as his people (Jacob, Israel) were delivered from bondage in Egypt, they will be redeemed again in the last days; delivered from impending destruction.

 22 And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.

1 Nephi 21 (Compare Isaiah 49)

1 Nephi 21 (Compare Isaiah 49)

And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel, all ye that are broken off and are driven out because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people; yea, all ye that are broken off, that are scattered abroad, who are of my people, O house of Israel. Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken ye people from far; the Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

 The servant is speaking: the literal decedents of Israel are scattered all over the world. Listen, all of you that are scattered afar off (O isles): Listen, the Lord (Jehovah) has called me (the servant) from the womb. Long before I was born in the flesh, the sacred scriptures testify of my name (the servant) and my work in gathering and delivering all the righteous remnants of the house of Israel the last days.

And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;

The servant is speaking: he (the Lord Jehovah) has made my mouth (the servant) like a sharp sword (to divide Zion from Babylon); in the shadow of his (the Lord, Jehovah’s) hand hath he hid me (the servant), and made me (the servant) a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he (the Lord Jehovah) hid me (the servant.)

And said unto me: Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

The servant is speaking: he (the Lord Jehovah) said unto me (the servant): you are my servant, O Israel, (the servant specifically, and the 144,000 servants generally, and all the remnants of the House of Israel who return to the Lord’s covenat) in whom I will be glorified.

 Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain; surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.

The servant is speaking: I (the servant) have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain. (For a lifetime, no one pays attention to the servant; but the servant  remains faithful to his mission, even when it appears that his bodily strength is almost all expended; apparently for naught.)

And now, saith the Lord—that formed me from the womb that I should be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him—though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.

The servant is speaking: the Lord Jehovah -- that formed me form the womb that I should be his servant, to gather Jacob again in the last days – though Israel be not gathered (not yet), I (the servant) shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord Jehovah, and my God shall be my strength.

 And he said: It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.

And he (the Lord Jehovah) said: Is it a little thing that you will be my servant to raise (gather) the dispersed tribes of Jacob, and to restore the remnant of Israel that has been preserved?
I (the Lord Jehovah) give you (the servant) for a light to the Gentiles (Ephraim dispersed among the gentiles), that you (my servant) may administer the covenants of salvation (Jehovah) to all the righteous of the earth.

Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nations abhorreth, to servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful.

The servant is quoting the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel: his Holy One (the servant) whom men despise, the servant of rulers: Kings shall (probably not earthly, but in the spiritual sense) see and arise, princes (future kings in the temple sense) also shall worship Jehovah’s Holy One (the servant), because the Lord Jehovah is faithful and will carry out all that has been foretold.

Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, O isles of the sea, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee my servant for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
 That thou mayest say to the prisoners: Go forth; to them that sit in darkness: Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

In an acceptable time, (after much refining and then supplication, calling upon the Lord Jehovah for deliverance from severe bondage) I the Lord Jehovah will preserve all of you who are dispersed upon the isles of the sea; and give you my servant to reestablish and fulfill the ancient covenants; to accomplish a new deliverance from bondage, like unto Moses.
They (the remnant of Israel) shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; for he {the servant(s)} that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
12 And then, O house of Israel, behold, these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.

The servant is speaking: I will supervise the gathering of the house of Israel from all nations; from the four corners of the earth.

13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

The nations (mountains) shall be smitten no more; (because the nations are badly smitten by the left-hand of the Lord Jehovah – the destroyer). Break forth into singing, for the Lord Jehovah (through his servant) has comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted (those who are awaiting deliverance, calling upon the Lord Jehovah.)

14 But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.
 15 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Zion is typically a code name for the righteous remnant among the Latter day saints, who, after some period of chastisement (3 years?) will not be forgotten, and will be gathered to the house of Israel.  I (the Lord Jehovah) will not forget you (even though in some context you have forgotten me -- until you are in dire bondage and cry for redress and for deliverance.)

17 Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers; and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee.

The children of the covenant – those who are faithful, and continue to call upon the Lord Jehovah for deliverance – shall eventually make haste against the destroyers – the left-hand of the Lord, elsewhere known as the King of Assyria.

18 Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on even as a bride.

This is the good news; after the destruction of nations and the bondage of people (accomplished by the tyrant-king), the servant(s) will rescue “these” from bondage, gathering them together.

 19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants; and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away.
 20 The children whom thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the first, shall again in thine ears say: The place is too strait for me; give place to me that I may dwell.
 21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where have they been?

After all your land and people have been destroyed (seeing I have lost my children); after I (zion) was seemingly left alone, the Lord Jehovah, through my servant(s,) I will gather so many new inhabitants, that the place will be crowded again, inhabited by a righteous remnant.

22 Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
 23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.

Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will lift up my hand (the servant) to the Gentiles (Ephraim among the gentiles).  (The kings and queens are in the temple covenant sense, not earthly kings and queens.) All they who are gathered shall bow down to these; and you-all shall know that I am the Lord Jehovah; none shall be ashamed that wait for me.

24 For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives delivered?
 25 But thus saith the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away (from the destroyer), and the prey of the terrible (one(s)) shall be delivered (from sore bondage).  I the Lord Jehovah will save my children (after the wicked slay the wicked, and the remnants have been refined as by fire.)

26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

I the Lord Jehovah (through my servant(s)) will feed the oppressors (left-hand of the Lord, the King of Assyria, along with his million-man army) with their own flesh. The things they caused you to suffer, I will cause them to suffer. All flesh shall know that I, the Lord Jehovah, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob (mighty unto deliverance.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Signs of the Times

Last January 27 was witness to a macabre incident. In an episode worthy of Alfred Hitchcock, as the Pope’s entourage released two white doves, they were violently set upon by a black crow and a seagull, to the horror of onlookers.
Last Sunday, Pope Francis approached the window of the Apostolic Palace accompanied by a boy and a girl belonging to two different Roman parishes, but when the moment came for the traditional launch of the doves, balloons were released instead of the birds.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Asleep in the church, more or less?

Why is everyone asleep in the Church? Sharing a testimony in our church meetings is like trying to wake the dead. It seems as if the audience is bored to tears; even the babies are to bored to cry.

Why?  There are two reason;:

One is the cultural belief in the inevitable success of the Church as an institution.  Stay on the Good Ship Zion, all is well.  There is someone in charge up at headquarters and everything has been planned, and correlated, and its all under control. In fact, Jesus himself is watching the store, so there's no reason to be concerned about the Church.

Second is the cultural belief that my salvation (exultation) is, more or less, assured as long as I stay on the Lord's team and Choose the Right; perform my duties; fulfill my calling, do my home teaching; attend the temple; pray, read the scriptures; be kind, true, chaste, benevolent.

There's no real good reason to pay close attention, or to be very excite, or very depressed, because my salvation is, more or less, assured, and the Church is on course; inevitably heading to its divine destiny, with me and my family on board.  (Except for my neighbors; we need to get them on board; and that't worth getting excites about, we are told.)

Unfortunately, the faith promoting rumor that the church cannot go astray is probably not exactly completely true. That God will not allow the Church to falter, is not exactly supported by the scriptural record.  That perspective is just not scriptural; in fact, the opposite is more likely to be supported in the sacred text.

True, Joseph Smith did talk about the rock cut out of the mountain without hands that rolls forth, breaking up all other kingdoms to fill the whole earth in the last days. Ok, I believe that prophesy; but that's no guarantee for the modern Church at all; not in the sense that the current self-selected leadership team will be standing in holy places to blow the trump and usher in the new millennium.

I think the Wilfred Woodruff issued one of the early statements that has caused a lot of confusion; after changing the direction of the church -- away from practicing polygamy -- Brother Woodruff was obviously trying his best to assure the Saints that everything was still OK; that God was still ruling in the heavens, and the Church was still on track (in his day, as far as he knew.) And he asserted as forcefully as he could that it was not in Gods's plan for the Church to go astray. That message has been repeated again and again in many different forms so that the message has become part of our cultural tradition.

You know the joke: "Catholics teach that the Pope is infallible, but the people don't believe it. Mormons teach that the Prophet is fallible, but the people don't believe it."  Unfortunately, the joke isn't that funny because there's not enough hidden truth in it. Mormons do teach that the leaders are, more or less, infallible.  And that's one big reason why the people are asleep at the wheel.  We are told that someone in authority is in charge, and everything is under control. Stay on the Good Ship Zion; all is well.

That is a sure formula for creating disinterest in the rank and file membership of the church -- by taking away personable responsibility. The prophet is in charge; I will get my marching orders at the next conference; and until then, what is there to think about of any real significance?

A problem is the sense that we are on the Lord's team; and our team is going to the great Super Bowl in the sky; and as long as I do my duty, lift where I stand, I will be fine. In this day and  age, there is no need to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.  I made the right choice by combining with the Saints; all is well for me, and for my team.  Another formula guaranteed to put every member to sleep.

Too bad that Isaiah does not share the same optimism for the future of the Church or for the guarantee of exultation of the members. Unfortunately, Ephraim among the Gentiles has to endure severe chastening first.  In fact, if you look closely at church doctrine, the church as an institution, does not really promise salvation; not if you look very closely at the fine print; which is surprising, because there is an implied guarantee.  I'm not sure what  a court of law would rule; I think the fine print would exonerate the church; but the cultural assurance is everywhere palpable. Mormons are a happy people; and why not; we have salvation in hand. So why not be sleepy at the wheel; someone else is guiding the ship for me, more or less.

I can't wake up anyone. I've tried. The whole mass of humanity within the church is soundly sleeping, while Isaiah (and the minor prophets) are screaming from the grave -- "What the crap?"

Line upon line, precept upon precept.  Repeat the talks given by the general authorities, etc.
Don't worry about the need (imperative) to become a prophet (or prophetess) in your own right.

I weep for Zion. Well, I would weep for Zion, if we had Zion; but there is no zion today, and therefore, the Good Ship Zion is a complete misnomer.

If anything, every individual should be wide awake; listening for every wind of doctrine that will bring the individual closer to achieving personal salvation. Yes, work out your salvation -- with fear and trembling.  As for the Church, infallibility is what's not in the plan.  Good intentions are not the same as a divine promise of good results.

I would be happy if the concept was taught that the Church only open the door to salvation; that you have to walk through the door your self, and walk on through on your own steam; that the church teaches the introductory message, introducing the individual to the straight and narrow path.

Again, in the fine print, I think a person will find this to be true. But the problem is that the cultural understanding has become something else; and that something else is creeping into the institution; the idea that the church delivers the saving ordinances and the saving doctrines; nothing else is needed.

If only that were true; then I could sleep soundly too.