Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO STEADY THE ARK?



The cry of “Steadying the Ark” is a  phrase that is often used by people and religious leaders alike to silence people who ask questions or suggest, “ALL IS NOT WELL IN ZION.” In doing do they cite the episode involving King David and a man by the name of Uzzah that occurred when King David set his hand to move the Ark of the Covenant from its temporary resting place to Jerusalem.

It is normal for those involved in group or community dynamics to want to maintain a state of equilibrium--i.e. the status quo.  Like the voice of an innocent child who vocalizes clearly what others know to be true but are often too afraid to say anything, sometimes, the emperor really does have no clothes on. But, what if I told you though that the ark was meant to be steadied? What if I told you that Uzzah was the victim of a Priesthood lax in the adherence to God’s commandments?

In 2 Samuel 6, we read the account of a man named Uzzah, and the inappropriate handling of the Ark of the Covenant:

"David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. 3 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, 4 with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark. 5 And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household."

The Ark of the Covenant can and should be steadied in the way God had outlined to the Levites. They were to carry the Ark on their shoulders as is specified in Exodus 25:12-15 and Numbers 7:9. It was never to be placed in a cart pulled by oxen. Instead of the priesthood upholding God’s law and enacting his instructions they treated that which is most holy as common and profane. The story is a description and warning not to Uzzah who was an innocent and well intentioned bystander, but to the Leaders and the Priesthood of God’s people. To an Israelite the message is clear, the laws and ordinances of God can never be altered or changed by the position of the king (Leaders in Zion) or the Priesthood (those who were charged to steady the ark according the law and pattern God had set). In truth Uzzah was a victim of a King (even King David) who did not know the law in this instance and a priesthood that should have known to uphold and adhere strictly to God’s commandments. Ignorance is no excuse for mishandling such things, and is in fact inexcusable under God’s law.

When the ox stumbled Uzzah instinctively reached out to steady the Ark and was struck down. While we may consider this severe, the problem was not simply that he had touched the Ark. The problem was that the Priesthood charged with the care and handling of holy things had grown sloppy and lax. Three months later after consulting other priests, inquiring of the Lord, and consulting the scriptures King David finally figured out that this incident occurred because the Ark had not been steadied according to the commandments of God.

This story was committed to Israel as a warning that God’s commandments and ordinances cannot be changed or abrogated by anyone’s “good intentions” whether it be king, priest, or lay member. The principle of covenant being communicated is a message that had the leaders and the priesthood steaded the Ark of the Covenant according to the commandments and instructions of God, disaster would have been averted.

This story has nothing to do with not questioning leaders or informing leaders about disobedience and failure to adhere to God’s commandments. In fact it is really just the opposite, it is a charge to all of us to study and know God’s commandments and ordinances so that when leaders and Priesthood fail to uphold and follow God’s word that we stand up and inform them and the people of Gods commandments and statutes so that other disaster may be averted.  While it is still the leaders' and the priesthood's responsibility to carry out God's instructions in exactness, it is also our responsibility to know what God's commandments say and to speak up when those instructions may not be considered or are being clearly disregarded.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Importance of the Book of Mormon and the Covenant it Establishes

The Book of Mormon as a covenant establishes the foundation  upon which we can dwell together in peace if we unitedly adopt and establish these principles set forth by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, as the sure foundation and rock upon which all brothers and sisters can establish their hearts, homes, and communities as Holiness to the Lord.

Even as in times past God has given his commandment to be one and to Love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength those who take upon them the yoke of Christ will uphold the Ten Commandments and the Sermon at the Temple as enumerated by the Book of Mormon to be the foundation and constitution upon which all hearts may come together in oneness and all communities can establish themselves in covenant peace forever heeding the words of God and the prophets, “Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise..” (1 Nephi 2:20)

But now Abinadi said unto them: I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved; yea, if ye keep the commandments which the Lord delivered unto Moses in the mount of Sinai, saying:

1. I am the Lord thy God, who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other God before me.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing in heaven above, or things which are in the earth beneath.

3. And now, ye remember that I said unto you: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of things which are in heaven above, or which are in the earth beneath, or which are in the water under the earth.

4. And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me;And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

5. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

6. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

7. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

8. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

9. Thou shalt not kill.

10. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.

11. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

12. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

The Book of Mormon renews the covenant relationship for those dwelling in the land.  The Heart of the Covenant is the Sermon at the Temple with the Chief and Corner Stone Being the Doctrine of Christ:

"Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.

And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them. And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning….” (3 Nephi 11)

Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.

“And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.” ( 3 Nephi 11)

The Book of Mormon provides the necessary witnesses to both Jew and Gentile- indeed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people who come upon this land to receive it as a Land of Promise and  the ordinances contained therein are the ordained instructions to establish this covenant in the land.
The importance of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated because through it man may connect with God and establish Heaven even Zion on Earth.  Taking this as our foundation we can then commence in walking in the way of peace with greater truths still yet to be revealed. Is it any wonder the articles of faith state in summary, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (Articles of Faith)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

God's Commandments! His Instructions to Dwell in Righteousness




For a people to be Zion they must dwell in righteousness. This expression contains a two fold meaning that gives us additional information on how to be Zion. If this characteristic was important enough to be used in Moses’ description of Enoch’s Zion then perhaps it would help us to understand what righteousness is and what it means to dwell in righteousness.
In describing Enoch’s Zion Moses stated:

“And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness. The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish. And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. (Moses 7: 16-18)

The phrase “dwelt in righteousness” although simple is packed with meaning. To understand what it means to dwell in righteousness we must understand what righteousness is from a Hebraic point of view.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word. Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law (Torah).” (Psalms 119: 5-9)

To an Israelite his walk with God is the path.  Just as the Hebrew word resha (wicked) carries the meaning of departing from God’s path, the Hebrew word tzadik (righteous) carries of the meaning of walking in God’s path.  God’s commandments and instructions are the path of righteousness.  To uphold, correctly interpret, protect, and carry out God’s commandments is righteousness.

Righteousness is not some mystical state of bliss but a condition of being where people establish and carry out God’s commandments or laws amongst them.  In describing who would dwell in the holy hill and in the presence of God’s tabernacle, King David demonstrates God’s definition of righteousness as condition, attitude, and most importantly actions:

 “[[A Psalm of David.]] LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” (Psalms 15)

When we hear the word Law images of police cars, handcuffs, and swirling red and blue lights come to mind. When many Mormons read their Israelite scriptures their approach is that of western protestant Christianity that is based upon a Greek-Gentile Mindset and culture. They read Hebraic expressions such as “I have come to fulfill the law” from a gentile paradigm.

“2 And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.
3 And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new. 4 Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses. 5 Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end. 6 Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled. 7 And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come. 8 For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me. (3 Nephi 15)

Verse 2-3: Old and New-- The word for new finds its root in the Hebrew word Chodesh. The word Chodesh that is translated "new" relates to the idea of the NEW MOON. It draws upon the picture of a cycle. The moon goes through its phases from Dark to light to back to darkness. What we call the New moon is actually a RE-NEWAL OF THE MOON every month. So for old things to become new in a Hebrew concept draws from the idea of a cycle of birth-maturity-death and then birth again, but in the end while we call it a "new moon" it is actually the same MOON Reborn. The Law God gave to Moses had its birth and through the applying of traditions and apostasy it matured and waned but through the Messiah it is re-newed just as our Moon is renewed every month. Same law in its original state and intent or as Mormons might understand it-- IT WAS RESTORED.

4-5 Fulfilled- From a Gentile point of view fulfilled means it literally has an end, i.e so we don't have to follow it anymore. As such that means I get to worship other Gods, disrespect my parents, steal, murder, and sleep with your wife, etc as the law is fulfilled and done away. To FULFILL the Torah to a Jew means to PROPERLY INTERPRET AND PERFORM THE TORAH. So when the Messiah says he comes to FULFILL the LAW he means that he comes to give us the correct Interpretation and performance of the commandments he gave to Moses at Sinai.

The part that trips us up is the "it hath an end" part. Hebraic thought is rooted in cycles-- what we in the LDS world might call an eternal round. In Greek culture and though to have an end is similar to the idea of crossing the finish line in a race-- it is done and you finished the race. In Hebraic thought "the end" is the purpose for which something is Given. Hebrew is rooted in function. Like a cycle of the Moon we go through a cycle but in the end it is still the same moon. To accomplish the "end" of something is to accomplish it's purpose. The section of scripture above is part of a poetic structure and if you will notice the Messiah himself tells you what the end or purpose of the law, "but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me." In other words the law given to Moses is to bring us to the Messiah. That is it's purpose. There is one path, one way, one Messiah

Just like the United State of America has a Constitution to govern its people and to establish unity or oneness so does God’s Constitution Found in the Scriptures provides us with the foundation for unity or Oneness.  The ultimate expression of this is found in the greatest law as expressed by the Savior:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5, The Shema) The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (quoting Leviticus 19:18)’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Mark 12:28-33)

To dwell in Righteousness we must dwell in Love. The Love that permeates Zion is no fleeting emotion or new age touchy feely rehashing of the doctrines perpetrated by the Greek love god.  The Love of Zion is a covenant love based upon God’s definition of love as taught in his instructions to his children:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments… Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(John 14: 14,21)

The Master did not leave us without instructions.  Following classic Israelite style he gave the Sermon on the Mount as his “HOW TO” Manual to fulfill the commandments he gave at Mount Sinai. Lay the foundation of Zion.  Start by embracing the Ten Commandments as your covenant boundaries and the Sermon on the Mount as the Messiahs instructions on how to interpret and correctly perform those commandments.  In doing so, we will see the literal fulfillment of Nephi’s words:

“And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth. (1 Nephi 22:26)

Without God’s laws we live in a state of iniquity (lawlessness).  “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked (1 John 2:3-6)

Re-Revealing the Law:



On February 9th and 23rd of 1831 the Prophet Joseph Smith received several revelations which now comprise Doctrine and Covenants 42.  In this section God's Law was given to the Saints in fulfillment of his promise to them that the law would be given in Ohio, "And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless—Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high;  And from thence, whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand." (D&C 38:32-33)

So that the people could escape the power of the enemy and be gathered as a righteous people, God was going to reveal unto them his law so that in addition to being delivered they would be enabled and endowed with power from on high in preparation for the great work to be accomplished and so that all Israel would be saved.

So what Law was revealed?  What commandments did the Lord give us so that we can escape the power of the enemy and be gathered as a righteous people without spot and blameless?

 "18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.

 19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die.

 20 Thou shalt not steal; and he that stealeth and will not repent shall be cast out.

 21 Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.

 22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

 23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.

 24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.

 25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive;

 26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.

 27 Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm.

 28 Thou knowest my laws concerning these things are given in my scriptures; he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out.

 29 If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments." (D&C 42)

God's Law - One Eternal Pattern



The same Law that God gave to Israel through Moses was reiterated to Joseph Smith.  The Lord begins to enumerate the same Law given to Moses. It is the same Law found within the Book of Mormon.  The very SAME LAW now revealed anew to Joseph Smith to us to escape the power of the enemy and be gathered as a righteous people.

What is interesting is that rather than give an entire complete rundown of all the laws he refers the people back to the scriptures they had--The Bible and the Book of Mormon. Of even further interest he reiterates the same instructions for the care of the poor and the needy by consecration as found in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

To achieve the oneness needed to establish Zion we must embrace Jesus Christ and his law.  Without it we will find ourselves upon a sandy foundation so that when the winds and rains beat upon us we will find ourselves washed away.

If we are truly seeking Zion we must remember what was prophesied about Zion,"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3)

Our current condition is a mystery of iniquity (lawlessness) in that the word of God is present before us like a light shining in a dark place, but the people choose the darkness.  Should we embrace God's commandments then there is an amazing promise in store:


"“In the future (latter-days), when you experience all these blessings and curses I have listed for you, and when you are living among the nations to which the LORD your God has exiled you, take to heart all these instructions.If at that time you and your children return to the LORD your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today,then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy on you and gather you back from all the nations where he has scattered you. Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth, the LORD your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The LORD your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again. Then he will make you even more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors! The LORD your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live! ...

The LORD your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’

It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’

No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.... (Deuteronomy 30).

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105)

The mark of false prophets is that they lead people away from keeping God's commandments. Beware the wolves in sheep's clothing!


Monday, March 27, 2017

Walking in Covenant




God having revealed himself to the Fathers and establishing his sovereignty over all things establishes the covenant relationship.  We are then presented with a choice. Will we accept his rule and pledge our loyalty to him as the center of our faith or will we walk after the will of our own heart?  Having gone down into the waters of baptism we make a formal declaration of our loyalty and our intent to obey the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.  Having made a declaration of our acceptance of him and our loyalty to him, we must then search diligently in the records of the Fathers to identify the promises God made to them and us as the recipients of their record.  

Once we have identified the promises made, the journey really begins. We must lay hold upon the promises-- or in other words we must make a claim for the promises.  God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him. (Acts 10:43) As a covenant relationship is bound by legal terms, we must also make legal requests under the covenant. In other words, we have to ask for the promises to be fulfilled. 

Every year during the Fall Feast of Israel called Sukkot or The Feast of Tabernacles the body of people were called in a solemn assembly at an appointed place.  During this assembly the covenant of God (Torah) from the scriptures was read out loud in the ears of all Israel.  The purpose was so that no year went by where the word of God would not be heard in the ears of all the people.  It was a time when his covenant was rehearsed and the people presented themselves before God to honor him with an affirmation of obedience. 

During this time the priests would literally pray the promises.  Like a servant supplicating to a King or a child to a Father, they acknowledged the Sovereignty of God and requested a fulfillment of his promises to them based on the covenant God made with the Fathers.  In all requests, though, they submitted themselves to his will and authority, "Not my will but they will be done."  They did not ask frivolous items or demonstrations of special effects of God's powers.  Everything was requested to do one thing; to become one (echad) with God and to establish his Kingdom according to his will on earth. 

Making a covenant request or asking God to fulfill his promises is not only possible, but it is commanded.  Consider the Brother of Jared, "O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires." (Ether 3:2)

 As individuals and people, we must ask under the terms he sets out in that relationship.  The first term being that He is God and He is Sovereign.  We can then make a covenant request for his promises or to make promises to us under that relationship.  We uphold his righteous dominion in our submission to him-"Not my will but thy will be done!" We ask in the name of Christ or as it is understood in Hebraic terms, we ask to fulfill his commandments, to establish his kingdom, and to conform our hearts to his image. 

In The Book of Mosiah we see God declaring himself again through his Messenger to King Benjamin who is the servant King to the people in the Land of Zarahemla during a Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) (Mosiah 3:2-3).  His reign and words are reminiscent of Moses and are a type and shadow of Christ who was yet to come. In King Benjamin’s address he confirms the covenant hierarchy and mediation through the Son of God. In Mosiah 3 the covenant hierarchy is established with the Son of God being declared as the Ruler and Mediator of the Covenant.  The people are to consider themselves one like unto another-brothers and sisters and all beggars before the Lord. King Benjamin establishes the people as a covenant people like Moses did with the Children of Israel.  We are shown the opposite example of a righteous body in the story of the corrupt King Noah and his system of priestcraft as a comparison to God’s righteous system through King Benjamin. 

Like the incident of the Golden Calf we are given various accounts of covenant rebellion and restoration to covenant. In the accounts of the Sons of Mosiah, Alma the Younger, Korihor, Nehor, the Zoramites, etc we are shown the rebellion of the people as they attempt to establish and maintain their counterfeit systems as opposed to the society established by God's covenant.   Like ancient Israel who sought to establish their own order through a a golden medium, we are shown similar forms of rebellion and idolatry whether it be priest-craft, lawyer-craft, or king-craft.  Following the inclination of the natural man, the people wanted a god they could manipulate, control, and form after their own image. 

The sin of the Golden Calf occurred when the people took it upon themselves to worship God in a Manner he had not appointed. "behold tomorrow is a feast to YHVH", but God had not declared such a thing at that time. They approached God after the manner of worship in Egypt. The Golden Calf was meant to represent God who had delivered them from Egypt. By engaging in their own self styled manner of worship they expected God to honor it. The sad reality was that they were breaking the covenant and as such were kept out of the presence of God. The tabernacle was taken out of their midst and they were left with the Aaronic priesthood.  This type of idolatry is alive and well today both in and outside the Church.  Like the ancient Israelites many may have good  "intentions" but making an offering to God of that which he has not appointed is engaging in a new form of Golden Calf Worship.

How can you help people who are led only by their emotions and senses and proclaim it to be of God? The Golden Calf and the self styled system of worship was ground to powder in the end and then drunk by those who engaged in the worship. The symbolism is that of a idolatrous/Gentile system being destroyed and drunk by those Israelites who engaged in it. The effects were sickening and deadly to those who engaged in it.

There are many who lift up mortal men such as prophets, apostles, general authorities, Stake presidents, etc and place their words above God and his word.  They erroneously assume that every word from a leader with a title and office is the voice of God himself. In doing so, these same people set aside the revealed word of God being unable to discern between the precepts men and real revelation from the Most High.  In doing so, they are creating a new calf and a new system and then saying behold God this is for you! Accept our self created worship that you have not appointed. 

There are also those who are of the mindset that every fleeting thought and emotion that they have is God telling them what to do.  Like a ship without a rudder these people are tossed to and fro by fickle emotions and deceiving spirits.  Rather than establish themselves upon the Rock of God's word they create their own revelations and then supplant the legitimate word of God with things that are contrary to God's commandments. Those who throw away or belittle God's commandments in light of a spiritual apparition, impression, warm fuzzy, or other manifestation are not only engaging in Golden Calf worship they are placing themselves and their families at risk.

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20 NKJV

The Spirit of God will not instruct or testify to anyone to break the commandments of God. Not all people engage in this kind of behavior, but then again not all people engaged in the worship of the Golden Calf. Our loyalty and faith should be to God and his commandments. The epic of the Golden Calf and the resulting judgments that followed upon Israel left cultural scars that are still present to this day.  The generation that engaged in this "good intention" idolatry died in the wilderness and leaving only two men of that generation to step foot in the promised land.

When we are talking of covenants and entering into covenant with God it is a serious matter.  It is a matter not to be taken lightly.  It is a matter of deep prayer, study, and contemplation.  The seriousness of covenant is far beyond the pathetic definition given by some as a "strong promise".  A covenant with God is a covenant of life with penalties of death for those who enter and then break it.  The ramifications go far beyond the individual even as far reaching as a thousand generations.  Zeal is not enough!  Emotional Warm Fuzzies are not enough! Going along with "the body" is not enough!  Every man and woman of accountability must have a witness from God of the truthfulness of these things. We must test everything.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

WHY THE APPOINTED TIMES OF GOD?

For many of us who call ourselves Mormons, we seldom think about Biblical Holidays as anything more than a Jewish tradition. But these specific days were actually ordained by God and given to ALL of the House of Israel as perpetual ordinances. It is in these Appointed Times that we find the root of our tradition to engage in General Conference. One of the things we are to remember during the Holy Days are the covenants and promises of God's loving kindness, mercy and grace in history and the fulfillment in Jesus Christ. These set apart days point to God’s plan for all of mankind in regard to salvation and having a relationship with Him.

Q.        When were the Appointed Times Revealed?

A.        The appointed times were revealed by God to Adam in the Genesis of Creation, “Then Elohim said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons (moed), and for days and years;'” - Genesis 1:14
The Hebrew word translated here as “seasons” is the word moed or moedim (plural). The word itself means: properly an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand): - appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed). (Strongs Condcordance From H3259)
Woven into the creation of the world God used the stars and planets to mark times and seasons.  The movement of the sun, moon and stars were provided not only for the calculation of time but for setting the appointed times when God was to meet with his people.  With this in mind, God designed an original science of astronomy to be used as prophetic markers that could not be altered by the hand of men.  His appointed times were part of his plan for man even before man himself was placed in the Garden. 

Q.        What are the Appointed times?

A.        Each week when we observe the Sabbath Day we are observing an Appointed Time.  The Feasts (or Appointed Times) of Israel are what are termed ‘High Sabbaths’.  Like the weekly Sabbath they are days specifically set apart by God for all his people to observe, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” – (Leviticus 23:2-4)
The keeping or remembering (to both say and to do) the Appointed times falls under the commandment, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”- (Exodus 20:8-11)

Q.        What is the purpose of Sabbaths or Appointed Times?

A.        Besides fulfilling the commandment to ‘remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy’ the observance of God’s appointed times served as times for his people to come, appear before him, and call upon his name. In many ways the modern Mormon events of General Conferences and Solemn Assemblies echo back to the observance of these divine appointments.  Examples of the observance of God’s appointed times can be seen with Adam at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai, Jacob and the Nephites at the Day of Atonement, King Benjamin at the Feast of Tabernacles, Christ at Passover, Christ at the Temple in Bountiful, Joseph Smith and the receipt of the plates at the Feast of Trumpets, Passover at the Kirtland Temple Dedication, among many others.

Q.        What are the specific Appointed times?

A.        Besides the weekly Sabbath and the new moon of each month there are 7 High Holy Days appointed for all Israel to be observed through all their generations.
There are Seven specifically appointed times divided into Three Seasons of Observance:

Appointed Times of Observance:
(Spring)

1. Passover (Pesach)
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Ha Matzah)
3. First Fruits (Ha Bikkurim)

4. Pentecost (Shavuot)

(Fall)
5. Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
6. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
7. Tabernacles (Sukkot)

Q.  These appointed times or feasts are in the Law of Moses.  I thought Christ Fulfilled the Law of Moses?

A.        As we have previously shown the appointed times did not originate with Moses but were given in the creation to Adam and all his descendants.  Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. In Israelite culture to fulfill the law (Torah) is to observe God's commandments as given by God to Israel and to correctly interpret them. In addition, he also warned his disciples not to annul a commandment or to dissuade others from observing the commandments.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)

Q.        The Book of Mormon specifically says that after Christ came they, “did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.” 4 Nephi 1:12).  If they did not follow any more after the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses why then should we observe the appointed times?

A.        The statement ‘performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses’ can be a little misleading to those not familiar with Israelite Law.  To an Israelite the Performances (ma-asim- performances or deeds of rabbis, prophets, teachers, elders, etc) and Ordinances (takanot- legislative enactments) would be comparative to our modern case law including city and state ordinances on how to carry out certain laws.  So if you were to compare the Covenant God made with Israel with the US Constitution then the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses would be equivalent to our 2 million case laws as well as local and state ordinances on how to carry out the intent of the Constitution.  By saying that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses the Israelite writers of the Bible and Book of Mormon mean that he brought them back to the proper interpretation and performance of the Covenant and commandments he made with all Israel. By saying that they followed no more after the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses they are stating that they no longer carried out God’s commandments according to the man made legal rulings and traditions that developed over hundreds of years.  The Appointed times are not the legal enactments or traditions of men, but direct commands from God to be observed through all our generations.

Q.        How do the Appointed Times figure in with Prophecy?

A.        The appointed times are prophetic pictures that teach about the Messiah!  The set-apart times are cycles that foretell the redemptive acts which Messiah was to perform for his people.  This is why all Israel gathered together at the temple or other appointed place to present themselves for and participate in divine rehearsals of those things which came before in preparation for those things which will come again.  From the Book of Mormon to the Book of Revelation, God uses the cycles of the appointed times and the instructions for carrying them out to prepare his people for their deliverance from bondage, his deliverance of the covenant, and his establishment of his reign over all the earth.

Q.        What would be the purpose in observing the Appointed Times now?

A.        Besides honoring God and fulfilling his commandments, the Lord warns his people of pending judgment soon to be poured out upon our nation and gives them instructions regarding his appointed times.  The Lord commands his people to call your solemn assemblies:

Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you— The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you. For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.
Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry-go ye out from Babylon, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord. (D&C 133:1-6)

Through the mouth of his Servant Joseph Smith, God has declared a curse of judgment upon the nations that forget God and upon all the ungodly. As a result the eyes of ungodly Nations and peoples shall see the revelation of  the arm of the Lord in the experiencing of these judgments to their destruction to their salvation.  Oh, The Greatness and the Mercy of our God, for even in the midst of judgment and calamities, he remembers his people both Gentile, Remnant, and Jews in giving them divine instructions to prepare them for the days ahead:

1. Set yourselves apart by gathering together
2. Be clean
3. Call our solemn assemblies
4. Speak often to one another

5. Call upon the name of the Lord

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 A YEAR OF MAKING IT REAL






And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, 
not only to say, but to do 
according to that which I have written
That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:56-58)

Even as we have turned a page on our calendar to declare a New Year-2017- there rests a condemnation upon the People of the Word - Even the Book of Mormon.  Our minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because we have treated lightly the things we have received.  Indeed it appears we have the "SAYING" part of the Book of Mormon down.  We attend our conferences, our sacrament meetings, our firesides, etc,, but have we, like ancient Israel, missed the mark as well as we conform our worship of God to firesides, sacrament meetings, meetings in general, conferences, etc?  Is the giving of intellectual or inspirational talks (while they do have their place) the acceptable worship that God desires?

ARE WE CONFINING OUR WORSHIP TO THE "SAYING"?


Alma's description of the Zoramites gives us a key insight into the "SAYING" engaged in by a group of people who went to church on the "Day of the Lord" and engaged in continual "SAYING":

"Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them. But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses. Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them.

Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld; For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person.

Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:

Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.

Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure. For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.

Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner" ( Alma 31:8-23)

CONFERENCES, TALKS, AND YADA YADA YADA!


While there is a place for going to conferences and other meetings, if we find ourselves engaging in routine conferences, meetings, or talks for the sake of intellectual or social stimulation or public affirmations of faith, then perhaps the account of the Zoramites may hit a little too close to home. How often have we engaged in conferences, firesides, meetings, and the current Mormon Fad Movement only to find that once we have heard the many talks the people give each other loving hugs, the chairs get put away, and then the lights go out.  The "SAYING" part being thus done the people then go to their homes and we wonder, "Will I ever have a relationship with God like Nephi?  Will I ever have the privilege of hearing the voice from Heaven, "Behold, My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorfied my name, HEAR YE HIM?"

When does it become us instead of the Nephites at the temple in Bountiful?  When does it become us instead of the Children of Israel at Sinai?  When does the Kingdom Of God, his word, and his presence become real for me?


WHERE THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD-- THE DOING


Actions of Faith are based upon the promises and commandments of God. God  revealed himself to the Fathers and established his sovereignty over all things through a covenant relationship.  For us and in the Land of America, our covenant relationship is governed by our covenant treaty and land grant--THE BOOK OF MORMON. We are then presented with a choice will we accept God's rule and pledge our loyalty to him as the center of our faith?  As we go down into the waters of baptism we make a formal declaration of our loyalty and our intent to obey the God of our Fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos). Having made a declaration of our acceptance of him and our loyalty to him, we must then search diligently in record of the Fathers to identify the promises God made to them and then takes actions of faith to manifest the fruit of those promises.

Once we have identified the promises made, the journey really begins. We must lay hold upon the promises-- or in other words we must make a claim for the promises.  God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him. (Acts 10:43) As a covenant relationship is bound by legal terms, we must also make legal requests under the covenant.  In other words, we have to ask for the promises to be fulfilled.   The fruits that God desires are based upon us taking real action to fulfill those commandments:

"And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay." (D&C 84:58-59)

THE "DOING" of the Book of Mormon goes far beyond motivational or intellectual talks.  It involves taking real covenant action by a group of people to stand up and be counted, to present themselves before the throne of God, and to call upon the God for the mercy, grace, and wisdom we so desperately need.  Are you ready to make 2017 real by doing that which has been commanded by God?  Do you desire to call upon the name of the Lord like the Fathers of old? Are we an assembly of people (i.e. church, community, etc) that builds itself upon the covenant works of God or the works of men?"

"Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.

But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you." (3 Nephi 27:9-12)

LET US MAKE 2017 REAL BY REMEMBERING THE BOOK OF MORMON--NOT ONLY TO SAY BUT TO DO! THAT WE MAY BRING FORTH THE FRUIT THE FATHER TRULY DESIRES!







Friday, December 23, 2016

God's Appointed Times- Now is the Time for Men to Prepare to Meet God





Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you— The Lord who shall suddenly come to his temple; the Lord who shall come down upon the world with a curse to judgment; yea, upon all the nations that forget God, and upon all the ungodly among you. For he shall make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of their God.

Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry-go ye out from Babylon, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord. (D&C 133:1-6)

Through the mouth of his Servant Joseph Smith, God has declared a curse of judgment upon the nations that forget God and upon all the ungodly. As a result the eyes of ungodly Nations and peoples shall see the revelation of  the arm of the Lord in the experiencing of these judgments to their destruction to their salvation.  Oh, The Greatness and the Mercy of our God, for even in the midst of judgment and calamities, he remembers his people both Gentile, Remnant, and Jews in giving them divine instructions to prepare them for the days ahead:

1. Set yourselves apart by gathering together
2. Be clean
3. Call our solemn assemblies
4. Speak often to one another
5. Call upon the name of the Lord


OUR CONDITION IS DIRE!


This revelation is especially significant to us as it is a prophetic instruction and fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Joel.  The prophet Joseph Smith recorded that when visited by the Angel Moroni it was declared, " He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in...." (JSH 1:41)  The words of Joel as found in the second chapter from the 28th verse to the last speak of the day are specifically significant:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls."

The Lord is making a specific promise that he will pour out his Spirit on all flesh before the awful an dreadful Day of Judgment, but like his words to Joseph Smith a prophetic promise is given, "...and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls."

Using an ancient pattern of teaching among the Israelites, Moroni draws upon the portion of words of the Prophet Joel to point us to the greater words of Joel that precede his quotation to fill in the greater things that describe the predicament of the Lord's people and his instructions on how to prepare for The Day of the Lord.


THE GREATER PICTURE!


Like ancient Israel, our days are numbered. In the true prophetic call to repentance Joseph Smith fulfilled the prophecy of Joel in declaring this warning to both Leader and lay member:

"Hear this, you leaders of the people.
Listen, all who live in the land.
In all your history, has anything like this happened before?

Tell your children about it in the years to come,
and let your children tell their children.
Pass the story down from generation to generation."


A VOICE OF WARNING!


"What the cutting locust left,
the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
the destroying locust has eaten.

Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine,
for it is cut off from your mouth.

For a nation has come up against my land,
powerful and beyond number;
its teeth are lions’ teeth,
and it has the fangs of a lioness.

It has laid waste my vine
and splintered my fig tree;
it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
their branches are made white."

A day of consumption has been decreed upon the covenant Land of Promise. Here the Prophet Joel draws upon Isaiah as a warning has been issued to the drunkards, "Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley of those overcome with wine!

Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest,
like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters, he casts down to the land with his hand.

The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden underfoot;and the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is on the head of the rich valley, will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer:
when someone sees it, he swallows it as soon as it is in his hand." (Isaiah 28:1-4)


CALLING UPON THE NAME OF GOD- THE CURSES DECLARED AND OUR INSTRUCTIONS FOR REPENTANCE


Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth
for the bridegroom of her youth.

(We like Israel are called to be the bride of Christ- his called out assembly. In utter humility and submission, let us offer our sorrow and desire for our Messiah. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.)

The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
from the house of the LORD.
The priests mourn,
the ministers of the LORD.

(We have or will be cut off from the ordinances (sacrament/temple ordinances) of the House of the Lord. Let the priesthood mourn- And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.)

The fields are destroyed,
the ground mourns,
because the grain is destroyed,
the wine dries up,
the oil languishes.

(The people of the land are destroyed, the land mourns, The Prosperity of the Land of Promise Dries up.  The desire for righteousness dries up and the spirit of the Lord pines with longing and desire.  And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.)


The Husbandmen of the field will dry up and be ashamed ;
Wail, O vine dressers,
for the wheat and the barley,
because the harvest of the field has perished.

The vine dries up;
the fig tree languishes.
Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
all the trees of the field are dried up,
and gladness (joy) dries up
from the children of man.

(Those leaders who were called to nourish and oversee of the people are dried up and will be ashamed. The first fruits of the latter-day harvest are dead, the tree that brought forth the figs grows feeble and weak, all the fruits and people of the field dry up in that the oil of gladness (the spirit of God) dries up from the children of men. And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.)

Dress yourselves in burlap and weep, you priests!
Wail, you who serve before the altar!
Come, spend the night in burlap,
you ministers of my God.
For there is no grain or wine
to offer at the Temple of your God.

(There is no harvest offering of people presented at the Temple of your God.)

Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the LORD your God,
and cry out to the LORD.

(Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, upon the land of Zion, all you that have not been commanded to tarry-go ye out from Babylon, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, call your solemn assemblies, and speak often one to another. And let every man call upon the name of the Lord.)

Alas for the day!
For the day of the LORD is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.


(And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;for ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted?)

Like Isaiah and Joel, The Prophet Joseph Smith declared a voice of warning and promise to those of us in these Latter-days.  Our situation is a sad one:

"Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world? Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?" (Mormon 8: 35-39)

THE SOLEMN DAYS OF OUR GOD

While everyday should be observed in remembrance of God and his commandments, God has appointed solemn days for his people to present themselves as an offering of grain and wine before his Throne.  At these appointed times, his people were commanded to present themselves and call upon his name.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

“These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations (solemn assembly), which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them....And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation (set apart assembly). You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations." (Leviticus 23 1-4, 21)

There are Seven specifically appointed times divided into Three Seasons of Observance:

Appointed Times of Observance:

(Spring)

1. Passover (Pesach)
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Ha Matzah)
3. First Fruits (Ha Bikkurim)

4. Pentecost (Shavuot)

(Fall)
5. Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
6. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
7. Tabernacles (Sukkot)


Erroneously, many label these appointed times as the "Jewish Feasts", but these appointed times were given to all Israel including the gentiles who were numbered among the House of Israel.  non-Jewish Bible believers understand the festivals to be exclusively Jewish feasts. (Deuteronomy 16:10-11, 14-16).  These are the appointed time where in the King of Israel is the host of the assembly and where we are invited to present ourselves before him as his invited guests.  They are divine appointments and covenant rehearsals before God wherein we set ourselves apart, become clean in the waters of baptism and purified by the Holy Ghost, and call upon the name of God.  This same pattern is also displayed in the Book of Mormon by King Benjamin's people and the Solemn Assembly at the Temple in the Land of Bountiful in 3 Nephi.


CALLING UPON THE NAME OF GOD


 As we read the scriptures and hear sacred words quoted in our temples we hear the command given to “call (qara) upon the name of the Lord”.   When we hear these words spoken the first thing that usually comes to mind is to pray (palel).    In fact, the phrase “calling upon the name of the Lord” is best understood as covenant language that can be likened to a subject calling upon (or appealing to) the King who is the owner and ruler of everything.  Like Job who makes his appeal to God and the Court of Heaven, we are dealing with a covenant concept that has more in common with our modern court room and legal proceedings than our nightly dinner with Dad.

In Ancient Israel salvation is seen as drawing near or coming back into the presence of God from where we have fallen.  Because of our fallen state we cannot enter directly back into the presence of God because no unclean thing can reside in his presence.  In his mercy God is continually inviting us to come (boh) unto him by creating a place for him to come to. Calling upon the name of the Lord is similar to making a covenant/legal appeal to the throne of heaven. In calling upon his name we acknowledge our guilt before him and request his mercy and our desire to be one with him.

What is called the Mercy Seat or the Ark of the Covenant is literally the throne of God where his presence sits.  The Holy Place where the menorah, the horned altar, and the table of shew bread sits is his Throne room where the High Priest goes to offer up  appeals to Heaven and to inquire for further light and knowledge (instruction) from God to carry out his laws or to seek judgments and dispensations from the King of Kings based upon the needs of the people, the laws, and the terms of his covenant.  In fact words such as the “way”, the “truth”, and the “life, as well as the “gate”, etc. are all terms that draw upon this imagery of God’s throne room/ courtroom.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR MEN TO PREPARE TO MEET GOD


Has it ever occurred to you to take God at his word? If then God has commanded us to "Prepare Ye! Prepare Ye! by:


1. Set yourselves apart by gathering together
2. Be clean
3. Call our solemn assemblies
4. Speak often to one another
5. Call upon the name of the Lord

Then perhaps it is time we do not procrastinate the day of our repentance and fulfill the word of God by DOING exactly what he has commanded in preparation for the Day of Judgment to come.

"Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." (Alma 34:31-32)