Saturday, September 26, 2020

THE HIDDEN MEANING OF NEPHI'S PRAYER: THE JOURNEY OF THE SOUL


 

"The soul has a hidden journey.  Its' trodden path we are meant to take.  It's first step commences with faith.  It's wilderness is endured with Hope. It's strength is renewed in pure love even as its fulfillment is found in the knowledge of YHVH." 

Over the years there have been many disputes from various groups as to the location where the Book of Mormon took place. For some the American Heartland fulfills the setting of this ancient record.  For others, the speculation of a Meso-American setting satisfies their requirements.  And yet for a few, the true setting of The Book of Mormon is fulfilled in the dimension of the soul. For whatever landscape we choose to embrace, the ultimate landscape of The Book of Mormon is experienced in the ancient Israelite Journey of the soul.

"For I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to his word; for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death; many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates; for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.

And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children." (2 Nephi 4: 14-16)

The Book of Mormon while often considered a historical record by some believers actually falls into the category of Jewish Sacred Writing.  Sacred Writing is not a linear account of day by day activities enumerating the various events that went on in a nation.  It is writing that draws upon historical events but written in a way to communicate multi-dimensional teachings.  In other words, rather than serving as a comprehensive historical account the record is actually meant to draw upon historical figures and events to communicate divine truths to the souls who read the various accounts.

This truth is established in the writings of the Prophet Nephi where he expresses that he had written the "more history part" upon other plates, but on these plates he wrote the things of his soul. In these verses we find a beautiful Hebrew poetic structure and play on words subtly communicated. The word for soul in Hebrew is the word Nephesh (Nun-Peh-Shin) which shares the same parent root as Nephi's own name (Nun-Peh).  We see this concept demonstrated even as God breathed into Adam the breath of life:

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Nephesh)." (Genesis 2:7)

So if we stand back from the words to view the tapestry being painted, Nephi is writing the things of the Nephesh (soul).  Considering this teachings we then prophetically approach the Books of Nephi not only as the account of his journey from Jerusalem to the Land of Promise, but also as The Soul's Journey from from Jerusalem to the Land of Promise- or the journey back into the presence of God.


Nephi's Prayer and the Five Stages of The Soul


In Hebrew there are five stages of the soul or nephesh. In ascending order they are nephesh, ruach, neshama, chaya and yechida.  Expressed together they are called NaRaNHaY.  In fact if you look very closely at the expression you will notice the expression of consonants in the word NRNHY or as expressed in English by a very famous author- NARNIA.  Perhaps C.S. Lewis books entitled The Chronicles of Narnia are not just a child's story but something much more profound- The Chronicles of The Journey of The Soul?


Stage 1- Nephesh


The word nephesh means life as in life force.  It is actually the lowest part of ourselves that we would identify as the natural man/woman or the ego.  This is our outward conscious mind. Our personalities as Robert, Mary, Tom, Elizabeth, Harry, or Harriet.  This is the experience of the natural man in our fallen world. 

This stage is expressed in Nephi's prayer of lament:

"O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily abeset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins..." (2 Nephi 4:17-19)

 

Stage 2- Ruach

Ruach means wind or spirit.  We see this expressed in words such as the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) or Ruach Elohiym (Spirit of God). The Ruach is connected with emotion which like wind blows and slows and is in constant motion. It is a person true feelings and motivations of the heart. This is what is referred to in Jewish literature as "the toil of the heart" where one comes to love God with all their heart. 

We see this stage of the Soul in Nephi's Lament as follows:

"nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me." (2 Nephi 4:19-21)


Stage 3- Neshama


The Neshama is one's spirit body or higher self that is eternally connected to and in the presence of God.  It is the place where the spirit within man ascends every night during sleep and returns with light and knowledge to aid in one's journey here on earth.

This stage is expressed in Nephi's Lament as follows:

"Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time."  (2 Nephi 4:23)


Stage 4- Chaya


Chaya means life. It is the stage of the soul that represents something beyond our intellectual comprehension of principles and the things of the spirit. It is the place of the Heavenly Eden where stand many orders and concourses of angels. 

"And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me."  (2 Nephi 4:24)


Stage 5- Yechida


Yechida is the essence of the soul or condition of oneness or unity. It is the condition of those who ascend to the Mountain of the Lord and whose experience cannot be communicated to the intellect or thru the five senses.  Indeed it must be experienced to be understood. A person in this stage comes to a truth of all things.

This stage is expressed in Nephi's Lament as follows:

"And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them."

(To be continued)




Saturday, August 22, 2020

Seers, Seer Stones and The Mystery of Gazelem

The topic of seers and seer stones is one of much debate between Mormons and Christians.  Because of ignorance, cultural, and religious bias many gentile Christians and some Mormons relegate the idea of a seer stone to the realms of witchcraft, the occult, or satanism. This bias is unfortunate because it does not take into account the tradition and presence of seers, seer stones, the Ephod (a breastplate of 12 stones) and the Urim and Thummim in Israelite History and Culture. 

The idea of sacred tools and implements seems to be relegated to the "Magic World View" by many Gentiles, but to Jews they are part of the Israelite "Prophetic World View" and are assigned an exalted position. In fact in Jewish history there have been many "seers":

Samuel The Prophet (1 Samuel 9:19)

Zadok the priest (2 Samuel 15:27)

The prophet Gad, David's seer (2 Samuel 24:11)

Heman the king's seer (1 Chronicles 25:5)

Hanani the seer (2 Chronicles 16:7)

Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, the Seer of Lublin

(and the list could go on and on)

There are even Jewish traditions that relate that the Prophets Daniel, Ezekiel, and the 3 Hebrew Men carried stones with them from the destroyed altar in Jerusalem whereby they obtained revelations-the stone being a link between Aaronic/Levitical Priestly link to the altar in Israel and the men during their captivity in Babylon.  Whether the traditions are true or not we cannot say, but that there is precedent in Israelite history and culture should give us pause to consider that if these things existed among Israel of old then is it not possible they would also play a role in the restoration of Modern Israel?

THE EXPERIENCE OF SACRED IMPLEMENTS:

There are many in Mormonism who find themselves in a crisis of faith when they discover that Joseph Smith used a Urim and Thummim as well as a seer stone to translate The Book of Mormon.  Their modern greek mindsets explode in cognitive dissonance as they discover Joseph translated the plates through the use of a stone instead of just a mechanical character to word translation.  "Why would he even need the plates?", "Why not just give him the stones?" etc.  The western/linear gentile mind, however, is far removed from the multi-dimensional mind of the Israelite Prophetic tradition. 

When people hear the word translate they often think of the mechanical translation from one language to another.  For example Stone in English is translated from Eben in Hebrew. Seems simple enough, but this form of mechanical translation comprises only one dimension of the Israelite methods of interpretation.  While there is the literal (peshat) level of interpretation there is also remez (metaphors, allegories, etc), drash (philosphical/historical teachings), and the Sod (the mysteries or things related to the upper worlds).  The Book of Mormon as an Israelite record is meant to be read and comprehended on ALL of these levels of interpretation.  There is just one problem.  While teachings and keys can be communicated regarding the lower levels of interpretation and to direct people to the Sod level of interpretation- The Sod level is meant to be experienced-thus the reason for sacred implements (rods, seer stones, ephod, urim and thummim, etc).

In the Israelite prophetic tradition, the translation process not only comprises the mechanical but it must be experienced.  Utilizing the prophetic practices involving sacred implements and objects facilitated the experiential part of the process.  In other words, Joseph Smith not only mechanically viewed the characters he also had to experience the prophetic dimensions those characters contained. As one works in the prophetic traditions, their Nephesh or (spirit/soul) is expanded and they experience the things of the upper worlds. Unlike a common translator who provided a mechanical translation, Joseph Smith as a seer would see the characters and then experience the dimensions those characters were meant to communicate. 

Many ask, "How do we know such things?"  Because in the Israelite Schools of the prophetic the practice and operations of sacred instruments such as the Ephod and the Urim and Thummim (among others) not only contained the mechanical letters as well as the physical stones and frames, but they also lifted and linked the soul to the gates of Wisdom by which revelation is delivered from Heaven and by which the soul ascends to experience the upper worlds- like Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. 

The resulting translation not only contains a mechanical aspect but also an interpretive dimension that requires the reader to follow in the same path of the seer to ultimately comprehend and experience The Book of Mormon and other sacred records.

GAZELEM AND THE STONE:

The word Gazelem has been discussed and debated in many circles of Mormonism. There are those critics of The Book of Mormon who maintain that many of the words of unknown origin we either made up by Joseph Smith or copied from an unknown source document or documents.  By examining the Hebrew origins of these words we begin to discover that the Jewish Prophet writers of the Book of Mormon display an intricate knowledge and expertise in the Hebrew language, culture, scribal laws, and Israelite prophetic tradition.

There are many words which appear in The Book of Mormon which cause much speculation and debate. I have always maintained that many of the words that appear "strange" to us in the record of The Book of Mormon are actually Hebrew word constructs. The Prophet Alma records: 

"And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover (reveal) unto my people who serve me, that I may discover (reveal) unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. 

And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying: I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land." (Alma 37:23-25)

In this passage of scripture, Alma presents the word Gazelem and then proceeds to craft his account to reveal the inner literal, metaphorical, prophetic, and SOD definitions of the word Gazelem. In order to appreciate the intricate Hebrew word picture being painted, it is necessary to examine the various parts of the word using interpretive keys of ancient Israel.

The word Gazelem can be broken down in the following Hebrew words

Gaz - A destroyer

Here the concept of destroyer is not the English idea of one who comes to conquer, but word Gaz is related to the idea of a destroyer as a near kinsman avenger who comes to redeem his brethren.

Elem- young man, something kept hidden or out of sight

The word Elem constitutes the definition of a young man but also someone who is kept hidden or out of sight.

Distilled Meaning:  A Hidden Redeemer- or A Young Man who has been kept out of sight to come forth as a redeemer of his brethren. 

The parent letters and roots may also give us insight into other things as well as we combine the Hebrew Letters to form additional elements of the picture:

GZL: To take off something or someone by force through cutting off

Gimel - Lamed = Something round, a pile of rocks, or stones (I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone)

Gimel - Zayin = to shear, stones that are sheered, to reveal/discover, destroyer (I will destroy them from off the face of the earth)

Zayin- Lamed= to shake/vibrate, to shake out something

Gimel Mem = To gather as in to gather a group of people, ideas, or things.  (...that I may discover (reveal) unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations....I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations)

Relational Meanings:

In addition to concrete and abstract meanings there are also relational meanings that are derived from the numeric value of the word:

Gimel=     03

Zayin=      07

Lamed=    30

Total =      40

The number 40 has great significance throughout the Torah . The number 40 represents transition or change; the concept of renewal or a new beginning. The number 40 also represents a shift from a lower spiritual state to a higher spiritual state. In examining the numerical meanings we find that the numerical meaning of the three letter roots we find the following relations:

gazaz / shear, destroy, cut off, destroyer 

ga'al / redeem

Yehudiy / Jew

kabowd / glory

chabal / destroy

By examining the Hebrew elements of the word Gazelem we can see the picturesque language of the Book of Mormon drawing on its' Hebrew/Jewish Roots.  Gaz-elem (the Hidden or Young Redeemer) 

A Hidden Prophetic Meaning:

To unfold the mystery of Gazelem we must also take a closer look at the phrase, "I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem a stone...".  Encoded into the text is a prophetic picture of this Young, Hidden Redeemer who will come to act as a deliverer to his brethren:

The Hebrew word for stone is the word Ehben (אֶבֶן) which can be broken down into its component parts (ab- Father, Ben- Son of) or a Son of the Father.  But we must also reverse the order of the letters to reveal the root Nun Beth Aleph (Navi- The root for Prophet/Prophesy).

Joseph Smith and Gazelem

It is interesting to note that in the original D&C 78:9 Joseph Smith was referred to by the code word Gazelem. Whether the original intent of Alma 37:23-25 was meant to refer solely to Joseph Smith is certainly a topic for further exploration, but I do find it interesting that the Hebrew word picture presented by the word picture of Gazelem consists of the following images which could easily be applied:

Gazelem- A Hidden Redeemer

A Young Man who has been kept out of sight to come forth as a redeemer of his brethren who is a son of the Father and a Prophet. A stone (son of the father/prophet) who is brought forth to reveal and destroy the secret works of darkness.


**For those so interested- great resources can be found in 

The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of The Bible by Jeff Benner.  

A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament Book- by William Lee Holladay

Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon- Book by Chaim Bentorah

Hebrew Word Study: Revealing the Heart of God-Book by Chaim Bentorah

Strong's Hebrew Lexicon


Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Israelite Mystery of Cumorah- A Hebrew Masterpiece

The Book of Mormon is an ancient covenant record written and preserved by a remnant of the House of Israel to come forth to a remnant of their posterity in a future time to prepare them for a Great and Marvelous Work to come forth by the Hand of YHVH (God).  Knowing that their future posterity here in the Americas would be destroyed and scattered by the Goyim (gentiles/nations) who would come upon this continent, God through his prophets here in the Americas preserved this record. This record along with the covenant land grant that we call America is the foundation upon which their scattered posterity (and all those who would associate themselves with them) could once again be restored as a covenant keeping body of the House of Israel.

We are witnessing a falling away by many from a belief in the Book of Mormon at a time when its' teachings could provide us with prophetic and practical instruction for the events we are witnessing in America now.  There are many who oppose The Book of Mormon and the idea of a restoration because it does not conform to their Catholic and Protestant traditions. In other words, they approach The Book of Mormon from a modern Christian paradigm.  The Book of Mormon is a Jewish/Israelite Book written by the descendants of Lehi and his family who were ALL JEWS-meaning they were occupants of the Southern Kingdom of Judah just prior to the Babylonian Captivity.

"I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came." (2 Nephi 33:8)

A Jewish Document?  YES!

The writers of the the Book of Mormon were Jews or rather citizens and descendants of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. As such, the record contains many guiding truths and covenant betrothal gifts from God to his people meant to establish them in the land and prepare them for his coming in Glory.  The Book of Mormon is not the property of any religion but is the birthright of the heirs of the remnants of Israel for whom this record was intended.  As the writers were Jewish Prophets and their descendants who were taught the knowledge of Israel and it's ancient prophetic tradition, the record contains the foundational knowledge by which a modern remnant of Jacob, believing Jews, and those believing Gentiles may once again be established as a righteous and covenant keeping people before YHVH (God) on this covenant land grant called America.


Hebrew- Israel's Palette of Paint



Hebrew as a language has ancient roots which it shares with its' sister tongues Aramaic and Arabic. The alphabet consists of 22 letters with many books being written over the centuries about them. Unlike our English/American alphabet, Hebrew letters contain deeper meanings meant to be understood at different levels based on context and form. In some traditions it is said that the letters and words can be understood from 10 different but related dimensions. 

In our western culture, our language is often used to define things in very concrete ways.  In Hebrew, however, words can have concrete meanings and can also serve as the components or colors used to paint pictures on a canvas.  These word pictures are meant to convey literal meanings, allegorical meanings, traditional/theological teachings, and deeper meanings associated with the council of heaven and the eternal worlds (the sod level of meaning).

Unlike the modern English language and alphabet that often focus solely on the concrete meaning of words, Hebrew is inclusive of these other dimensions with all of the meaning/definitions being experienced in relation to each other.  Just as each person "experiences" a piece of artwork both concretely, objectively, abstractly, emotionally etc. so too are the word pictures that are constructed in the Hebrew meant to be experienced.  Imagine looking upon the masterpiece of "The Last Supper".  Concretely we see an image meant to literally portray the Last Supper of Christ.  Objectively we may find ourselves focusing on the different images that compose the painting.  Abstractly we may see hidden meanings woven into the painting by the artist.  Emotionally we may be drawn to experience a connection to the Messiah and his disciples during this epic event.  Which perspective is the right one?  The answer-ALL OF THEM!

The Book of Mormon as a Hebrew/Israelite record is no different. A child who reads the record may experience the literal stories of Nephi obtaining the brass plates from Laban or the story of Helaman and his Stripling Warriors.  An older person may experience the allegorical teachings contained in the record of those literal stories. There are those who may experience the record in relation to other ancient teachings of Israelite prophets, sages, and history.  And there are those who may peer through the windows of Heaven into the Upper Worlds through those same stories. Which one is the right way to relate to the record? The answer-ALL OF THEM!

As we study and contemplate the Book of Mormon as a Hebrew/Israelite text we literally grow with the language.  It changes us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It is taught in the Israelite schools of the prophetic that as one reads the words of the scriptures they become infused with the same spirit that infused the prophet that wrote those words-a process called "feasting on the word". In doing so we not only partake of the nourishing fruit of the Spirit of God, but we also ingest the seeds of that fruit whereby we as a tree produce the same fruit.

Hebrew words are  constructed from parent letters and root words that often appear as different expressions but share an underlying relationship meant to take you from the image of a black and white TV to Wide Screen, High Definition TV with surround sound.  These root words are often neutral in their meaning until they have been read in the context of the record or speech they are given in. In other words, the words alone are like the shell of our physical body without the animating life of the spirit. When the life of the spirit or the light of God is infused into these vessels from the varying dimensions, we experience the life in this world as it comes from above. This light is the life of God in its many expressions of the spiritual gifts from God. 


CUMORAH - A Tapestry of Many Colors



In Hebrew not only do words mean things, but parts of words mean things, letters mean things, and letter combinations may reveal things both past, present, and future.  Let's examine the word Cumorah.  

I have always maintained that many of the words that appear "strange" to us in the record of The Book of Mormon are actually Hebrew word constructs.  In other words, a word such as Coriantumr while we may view it as a name may actually be a Hebrew word construct designed to carry with it multiple meanings depending on the context.  The same can be said of the word Cumorah.

Cumorah- (concretely)- The place of the last battle of the Nephites. The place where Moroni deposited the Plates. The place where Joseph Smith (a gentile) retrieved the plates.

Hebrew Letters:   Kuph - Mem - Resh- Hey

Cum - קומ- to arise, stand up, rising up (like a hill our mountain that rises high above the ground)

Ur - flame or light- the verb to give light or shine

Ah- a short form of Yah- meaning "of God" or "From God"

Distilled meaning: The Rising Light of Yah (God), or The Shining Hill of Yah (God)


The Colors of the Palette

The artist or prophet who painted the picture uses the parts of the word like the colors of an artist's pallete to help us to see depth in his painting. The parent letters and roots may also give us insight into other things as well as we combine the Hebrew Letters to form additional elements of the picture:

Kuph Mem- to arise, stand up, rising up (like a hill our mountain that rises high above the ground)

Kuph Resh- A place of gathering- to gather men- a coming together of people

Kuph Hey- something sealed or bound up- an accumulation of things or objects


Mem Resh- head waters- something that is bitter- a place of waters

Mem Hey - something not known or in question; marrow in the bone

Mem Caph- rot, a stinky smell, dried or shriveled grapes


Resh Hey- flowing of words, flowing of water, to quench thirst

Resh Kuph- to draw out, a grassy area,

Resh Mem-high, Exalted, lifted up


Relational Meanings:


In addition to concrete and abstract meanings there are also relational meanings that are derived from the numeric value of the word:

Kuph - 100

Mem - 40

Resh- 300

Hey- 5

Total = 445

Often times we can discover additional relationships with other words that help fill in some of the missing parts of the picture or puzzle that share same numeric value:

techillah-תחלה--  meaning- the beginning or commencement of something

harar / mountain-להררי- 

shaphat / judge-שפטנו-

mishpat/judgment ומשפטי

miqshah / beaten -מקשה- as in a beaten, hammered work of gold Ex. 25:18

nakah / smite - הכיתי - to strike, wound, or slaughter, conquer, 

towdah / thanksgiving - לתודה- a praise and thanksgiving

Examining the Nephite/Hebrew Painting:

Considering the meanings of some of the parent roots and relational associations found in Hebrew let us now examine the picture of Cumorah being painted in The Book of Mormon where the word Cumorah is first mentioned:

"And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle.

And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired.

And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.

And when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah.

And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni." (Mormon 6:2-6)

From this scripture we can see the picturesque language of the Book of Mormon drawing on its' Hebrew/Jewish Roots:

Cumorah was a hill. (Kuph Mem- to arise, stand up, rising up (like a hill our mountain that rises high above the ground), harar / mountain-להררי- , Resh Mem-high, Exalted, lifted up.

Cumorah was a place of battle. (nakah / smite - הכיתי - to strike, wound, or slaughter, conquer)

Cumorah was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Mem Resh- head waters- something that is bitter- a place of waters)

Cumorah was the place where the plates or records were deposited. (Kuph Hey- something sealed or bound up- an accumulation of things or objects), beaten -מקשה- as in a beaten, hammered work of gold Ex. 25:18).

Cumorah was the place where we see the gathering or coming together of people- whether it be Mormon gathering his people to the hill, the last battle of the Nephites/Lamanites or the Last Battle of the Jaredites (Coriantumr vs. Shiz)- (Kuph Resh- A place of gathering- to gather men- a coming together of people)

"And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed." (D&C 128:20)- (towdah / thanksgiving - לתודה- a praise, good tidings, and thanksgiving"

So what is the meaning of Cumorah?  The Answer: They are all part of a picture meant to be viewed and explored from the various Israelite levels of interpretation and from the vantage points of both the writer, the reader, and Heaven. For me, I like the distilled meaning of The Rising Light of Yah (God), or The Shining Hill of Yah (God) as either evokes an image of the artists purpose in the coming forth of The Book of Mormon and its' message to the world. Whether we examine the pixel or the whole picture we grow in our understanding and depth of perception.

**For those so interested- great resources can be found in 

The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of The Bible by Jeff Benner.  

A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament Book- by William Lee Holladay

Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon- Book by Chaim Bentorah

Hebrew Word Study: Revealing the Heart of God-Book by Chaim Bentorah

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Sublime Israelite Teachings Encoded In The Book of Mormon





There seems to be a great push by many intellectuals, educators, churches (whether Christian or Mormon) to label The Book of Mormon as a fraud or at best a work of "inspired fiction".  Unfortunately, many of these voices have not approached The Book of Mormon with an Israelite perspective. In doing so, they miss many divine truths captured in the text-Divine truths that require Israelite eyeglasses to behold.

One such truth is an ancient teaching that contains instructions on God's name (his character, attributes, and how he interacts with his children) and the patterns of the Exodus. The nature of this teaching is so sublime and so encoded into the text of the Book of Mormon that only an Israelite schooled after the manner of the Jews could identify this teaching. In other words, it would truly take divine revelation from on high to craft a record using a 21 year old, gentile boy from upstate New York in 1830 to compose a record that contained this intricate teaching only preserved to this day by some of the oldest traditions in Judaism.

The Book of Mormon is heavily dependent on the Torah of Moses in both content and structure. In fact to understand the full message of The Book of Mormon it requires the learning of the Jews to unlock the prophetic secrets contained in the record. Without this understanding, many of the greater teachings contained in the Book of Mormon would remain forever sealed.

The story of The Exodus of Israel is pivotal to Israelite History and prophetic tradition. The Book of Mormon follows this same pattern with Lehi's "exodus" from Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian Captivity. While the story outwardly follows the pattern of the Israelite Exodus it also inwardly follows the same pattern.  The two accounts run together in a manner to provide us a testimony to the authenticity of both the Torah and The Book of Mormon, but it also runs together to restore a very ancient teaching regarding man's eternal progression and the stages of the soul. 

Mercy-Severity-Beauty- The Exodus of the Soul from the Lower Worlds


This article requires one to approach The Book of Mormon after the manner of the Jews. In the story of the Exodus from Egypt there are three verses that describe God's power dividing the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to pass through on dry land:

"(19)And the angel of God, which went (hä·lak-traveled) before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

(20)And it came (bow-came)between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

(21)And Moses stretched (natah-stretched) out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided." (Exodus 14:19-21)

The combining of these verses is what gives us the 72 names of God. The teachings regarding these verses are found in several Jewish texts that have preserved many of the ancient teachings. In the Zohar (II:51b) it is stated that these three verses refer in order to the attributes of God called chesed (Mercy), gevurah (Severity/Power), and tiferet (Beauty). The combining of the three- Mercy|Severity|Beauty- the basic picture of how God interacts with his creation. In doing so they combine to form what is called the explicit name name of God or a divine manifestation regarding his character and attributes.  In the Sepher Bahir we find the instruction of the same listed by the key words referring to these verses by citing the following phrases, "And Traveled(19)...And Came(20)...And Stretched (21)...".  The usage of these words are an example of remez or an Israelite technique of quoting a portion of a scripture to refer one back to the source scripture that the teacher was quoting.  

The writers of the Bahir and Zohar use these code words,"And Traveled(19)...And Came(20)...And Stretched (21)..." to direct their readers to the verses comprising Exoduse 14:19-21. The teaching being communicated in Judaism is that each of the verses is meant to contain an encoded instruction regarding three attributes of God as follows:

(19)Chesed or Mercy
(20)Gevurah or Severity/Power/Justice
(21)Tiferet or Beauty (the balancing of Justice and Mercy-called the Secret of The Son)

This teaching then goes on to reveal some of the most ancient doctrines regarding the power of the name of God that is attributed to both Moses and Enoch.

THE DIVINE EXODUS IN THE BOOK OF MORMON


As an Israelite document, The Book of Mormon follows the ancient patterns of the Torah to reveal and conceal the most ancient of teachings that came down through the House of Israel from The Fathers.  In following this ancient pattern of "AND TRAVELED...AND CAME...AND STRETCHED" we find that the Prophet Nephi draws upon this ancient code to communicate the same ancient principle.  In 1 Nephi 2:4-6 we find following parallel phrases and code words used in exactly the same sequence as found in Exodus 14:19-21:

"4 And it came to pass that he departed (halak) into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.

5 And he came (bow) down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched (natah) his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water."

If we follow the pattern of this Israelite teaching then it would follow that:

AND TRAVELED -  BOM 2:4 Parallels Exodus 14:19- Chesed or Mercy
AND CAME- BOM 2:5 Parallels Exodus 14:20- Gevurah or Severity/Power/Justice
AND STRETCHED-    BOM 2:6 Parallels Exodus 14:21- Tiferet or Beauty 

In other words, the Prophet Nephi is using THE EXODUS account as a template in his "exodus" account to comment on the same ancient teaching. In following this ancient pattern Nephi then discloses in poetic form the same teaching as passed down in various Jewish traditions, but in this case the teachings are encoded in Lehi's admonition to his sons Laman and Lemuel:

Chesed- The Fountain of Righteousness


"And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof. And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!" (1 Nephi 2:8-9)

In ancient Israelite symbolism mercy (chesed-equated with the divine feminine) is equated with a fountain as in "the fountain of all righteousness".  We see this same sentiment expressed in the Psalms:

"How excellent is thy lovingkindness (chesed or mercy), O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness (chesed or mercy) unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart." (Psalms 36:7-9)

Gevurah - Power|Severity|Justice


"And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord...And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them." (1 Nephi 2: 10, 14)

Here the symbol of the Valley is equated with the aspects of Gevurah (firm, steadfast, and immovable- parts of the divine masculine) and then ending in poetic parallism with the phrase,"my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power (gevurah)...".

BUT WHERE IS THE BEAUTY-TIFERET:






"And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched (natah) his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water." (1 Nephi 2:6)

Just as Exodus 14:21 equates with the characteristic of beauty so too would it's parallel 1 Nephi 2:6 as noted by the Hebraic marker -- and he stretched (natah)EX:14:21) and  1 Nephi 2:6 -he pitched (natah). Here the stretching out of God's hand is a symbol of beauty or the balancing or mercy and justice.  It is the same Israelite symbol of stretching or pitching a tent. Here the symbol of the tent is associated as a holy place such as Moses Tabernacle or Tent in the Wilderness. The tent or Tabernacle in the Wilderness is the place where God balances Mercy and Justice which brings about true Beauty.  In Israelite theology tiferet/or beauty is called the "Secret of Messiah". The ten vessels of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness symbolize the sephirot or attributes of God.  In particular the altar equates to the attribute of beauty- tiferet- with its connection to malkut (earth/stone symbolized by the stone of the altar or "he built an altar of stones")

Nephi then crafts a poetic parallelism between the concepts of Mercy-Justice-Beauty as he expounds further:

Mercy- Verses 11 and 12 mirroring verse 4 

Justice- Verses 13 and 14 mirroring verse 5

Beauty/Tiferet 15 mirroring verse 6 - "And my father dwelt in a tent"

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?


The ancient teaching regarding the names of God are centered in the balancing of Justice and Mercy.  We find this balance in the beauty of the atonement.  The prophetic connection between Exodus 14:19-21 with 1 Nephi 2:4-6 is significant in that is the foundation teaching for accessing the Treasury of Heaven to obtain the Record of Heaven (The Ruach ha Kodesh).  In doing so, Nephi is preserving an ancient betrothal gift and technology designed to transform the the hearts of the people and to manifest the gifts of the God.

There are so many willing to throw aside The Book of Mormon as a legitimate record of the House of Israel because it does not conform to their gentile Christian traditions.  Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will set aside these traditions.  In doing so they can then explore the record to uncover the true Beauty of the record as an Israelite record.  They will then understand why it says it contains the fullness of the gospel (besorah).




(To be Continued)

copyright July 18, 2020- Robert Kay







Wednesday, July 8, 2020

CITIES OF LIGHT (PART 2): OVERTURNING THE CURSES AND LOCATING THE BUILDING BLOCKS



Many people have heard the above referenced quote from the Book of Chronicles quoted in both religious and political arenas.  Unfortunately, many who hear this quote do not know that the promise conditional upon keeping the terms of the Covenant given by God to the House Of Israel as they entered The Land of Promise recorded in Deuteronomy 28:

"And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God...Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field...Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock...The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways...The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways...And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them..."

In contrast if the terms of The Covenant are not kept, the the curses of The Covenant are poured out:

"But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field...The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me...The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish...The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth...A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually...All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever...The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young."

It takes the blessings of The Covenant to overturn the curses of the Covenant that come about through disobedience. In order to secure these blessings we must understand the terms of the covenant that specifically applies to the covenant land grant that we occupy.  For America this would be The Book of Mormon. 

BUILDING BLOCK 1: THE GOD OF THIS LAND


The First Pillar of Israelite Covenants commences with the Declaration of the God of the Covenant and his absolute authority.  We see this Declaration of Dependence upon God declared in The Title Page of The Book of Mormon:

"...Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations..."

Those who wish their homes and communities to be Cities of Light and Refuge must be established on the sure foundation of the Eternal God and the terms of God's covenant. There is no wiggle room here. Just as with ancient Israel, God has sworn (i.e. testified under legal oath) the following regarding the land of America:

"And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them. And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity (Lawlessness). For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off." (Ether 2:8-10)

The idea of our absolute dependence upon God is the first pillar in our relationship with him.  In fact is the greatest commandment, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is bone Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27)


BUILDING BLOCK 2: MEDIATION AND AT-ONE-MENT



True repentance commences when a person or people commits to be established on the Messiah of Israel and his absolute dominion over civil and spiritual affairs in their covenant domain.  But establishing ourselves on his sure foundation also involves upholding and sustaining his mediation and atonement as well as his Law- both civil law and his holiness code of the heart.

The idea of oneness with God was expressed in the law of Sacrifice as given to Adam and Eve:

"And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore." (Moses 5:6-8)

For some reason we as modern Americans get caught up in the cultural expression of animal sacrifice, but fail to understand that it represents a state of oneness epitomized in the declaration, "Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore." part of the equation.

So what does this mean to a community?  How then shall we do all that we no in the name of The Son? In the Israelite mind to act in the name is to conduct ourselves (our outward behavior and our inward thoughts and desires) after the pattern given by Christ.  In the Book of Mormon we find two prime examples of this:

King Benjamin's Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot):


"And moreover, I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I do because they have been a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord. And I give unto them a name that never shall be blotted out, except it be through transgression." (Mosiah 1:11-12)

In Israelite thought, just as we take upon ourselves the name of God through our actions and our desires we may also find the name we take upon ourselves to be blotted out through our actions and desires of transgression. In other words, a person or community takes upon the name through their actions and desires not just through a symbolic ritual of water immersion (aka. Baptism). 

King Benjamin is the epitome of a righteous King in Israel who recognized and declared his dependence on God:

"But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me." (Mosiah 2:11)

In recognizing his dependence, he then proceeded to reinforce the protective hedge or barrier that God gave in the 10 Commandments:

"Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you."

The 10 Commandments given to Israel sets up the civil boundaries or standards of God's people. In establishing these boundaries, we are given the righteous building blocks that make up the protective wall for families and communities of light. Without this barrier, a family and community leaves itself vulnerable to enemies both foreign and domestic.  We are now witnessing the results of removing this protective boundaries in The United States of America as this article is written. 

The opposite picture of a community or nation in danger of being enslaved and destroyed is found in the account of King Noah.  In this case, the Prophet Abinadi attempts to uphold this protective barrier to King Noah and his wicked priests:

"And they answered and said that salvation did come by the law of Moses.

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:

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.

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.

Now Abinadi said unto them, Have ye done all this? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. And have ye taught this people that they should do all these things? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not..." (Mosiah 12:32-37, 13)

The protective wall or barrier of the 10 Commandments is a gift and a covenant responsibility to every Man, Woman, and Child in the community.  If we erect the wall, we are delivered by the matchless power of God.  If we disregard the wall, then our enemies have the inroads they need to bring us into bondage.

COMMUNITIES OF LIGHT AND SACRED SPACE:


Besides the protective wall of the outward civil code (10 Commandments). A community of light needs and ideology and standard of the Heart. If we do the works of the King and if we correct our hearts by bringing them into oneness with the desires of the King, then we are the King's people and are called by his name. If we follow this Israelite thought process out, then King Benjamin's address paints the picture of the actions and behaviors of a community of people who take upon them the name of Christ:

"And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." (Mosiah 4:26-27)

THE SERMON AT THE TEMPLE:


The Sermon at the Temple/Mount is what is termed a Holiness Code in Israel.  It comprises teachings regarding the conditions of the Heart.  In the condition of the Heart, Sacred Space is created or destroyed. If the 10 Commandments represent the outward protective wall or civil code for the community, then the teachings at the Sermon at the Temple represent the atmosphere of holiness and pure desire that exists inside the wall where the inner city is built -i.e. the heart of the community.  The sermon commences with the description of the state of being blessed.

The word "Blessed" comes from the Hebrew word barukh.  When an Israelite blesses God or God blesses someone or something the word barukh carries with it an awareness of the closeness of God.  In fact being blessed is being in a state wherein the very presence of God fills the air.  The idea of blessedness carries with it deep Israelite connotations of the presence or spirit of God being felt in our minds, our hearts, even the core of our very souls.  The idea of being blessed or even in blessing God is that our hearts and minds should be awakened to the understanding that God is making himself close to us to draw us into closeness with him.  In other words, the declaration of a blessing or declared blessed is that of the awareness of the presence of God right now.

With that in mind now consider the words of the Messiah as part of his covenant declaration:

"2 And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

 3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 4 And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 5 And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

 6 And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.

 7 And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

 8 And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

 10 And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11 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. (3 Nephi 12)

Now for a moment as you read the words of the Sermon at the Temple/Mount consider that the Messiah of Israel is making a declaration of blessing (i.e. blessed). In each of these declarations he is declaring the Promise of the closeness -EVEN THE PRESENCE- of God in the here and now as we conform to the image of those blessed who are the poor in spirit, those that mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted for the sake of walking in his name.  In other words, the presence of God is already in them and with them. These principles of desire and the heart are not something that can be legislated like a civil code, but must be planted in the hearts of the people and nourished with love and mercy so that the roots will dig deep and grow into a Tree of Life.

Now more than ever, do we need to restore the protective wall give by God to all Israel for our homes and communities. Now more than ever do we need a return to the ideology of the teachings of the Sermon at the Mount/Temple to restore the atmosphere of covenant peace in our communities. While our nation is diminishing due to its lawlessness and unbelief, we as families and communities can still uphold these pillars of righteousness.

By our homes and communities establishing these pillars of covenant righteousness, we will see the words of the Prophet Isaiah fulfilled:

"Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard...

And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in."

(ISAIAH 58:8,11-12)

In doing so, let us remember the declaration of Jesus Christ- Yeshuah ha Moshiach:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house; Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil..." (3 Nephi 12:14-17)

Cities of Light (Part 3)- To be continued.





Tuesday, June 30, 2020

CITIES OF LIGHT AND THE NEPHITE ART OF WAR (Part 1)




"Now behold, this Lachoneus, the governor, was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; therefore he did not hearken to the epistle of Giddianhi, the governor of the robbers, but he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them. Yea, he sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place...And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle." (3 Nephi 3:12-13,25)

When people come across the warfare chapters in the Book of Mormon they often read these chapters with a glazed look followed by their eyes rolling back in their heads.  At that point, their fingers subtly skip over the pages until they find other parts of the Book of Mormon that they find more interesting. Yet in passing over these accounts of ancient warfare we are passing over strategic information given to us-information that I call "The Nephite Art of War". 

Most people are unaware that in the Israelite Mind and conflict can fall under the category of warfare whether it be a conflict of nations, communities, economics, families, siblings, etc. In these Latter days, we are also engaged in a modern warfare against modern Gadianton Robbers who seek to subvert the liberty and freedom that exist in this country. While the word war often carries with it images of swords, arrows, guns, tanks, and missiles there are other types of warfare that should be considered. 

In modern business schools around the country, Sun Tzu's Art of War is often translated into tactics for the modern warfare of Business.  Yes, Business and Economics can also be considered a form of warfare. While the world is engaged in their "Gadianton Robbery" believers in the Book of Mormon and The Followers of Christ have been given an art of war to protect themselves and their families in their modern war with the modern Gadianton Robbers. One such tactic in the Book of Mormon's art of war is the tactic of communities designed to not only be beacons of light but fortified communities of safety and security.

As believers in The Book of Mormon, we should be anxiously engaged in studying and translating The Nephite Art of War into principles of Spiritual, Economic, and Physical Warfare to uphold the principles of liberty and freedom given by God.


THE POWER OF MICRO-ECONOMIES AND COMMUNITY:


Like their ancient counterparts modern Gadianton Robbers survive by politically and economically pillaging we the people.  In reality, they produce nothing but they consume everything while giving you the illusion that their works are noble and their intentions are just.  They are like the leader of robbers who wrote a letter to Lachoneus saying, "I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so...Therefore I write unto you, desiring that ye would yield up unto this my people, your cities, your lands, and your possessions, rather than that they should visit you with the sword and that destruction should come upon you." (3 Nephi  3:2,6)

By cutting off the robbers from their substance, the Nephites created  places of refuge for themselves.  In doing so they created micro-economies that provided their people protection from the greater threat of those robbers who could only survive by taking their substance and ultimately enslaving them to a system of secret works and thievery.  

Many people feel the need to belong to communities that stand as pillars of strength and sanctuaries of light.  People come together and create communities out of concern for the welfare of their families and the welfare of the neighbors.   This concern has the potential to blossom into the kind of love which fulfills the adage-Love One Another. As those of like desires join the community this ember of love turns into a flame that will provide light and heat to those who engaged in the community.  As things progress, the light then beckons others to join our community because it fulfills the physiological needs, the safety needs, the need to love and belong, the need for esteem, and the realization of true Joy.  In fact, this desire to receive from God to bestow upon others and to bless God is the epitome of a Zion Community. 

The fire of love we are discussing is not just an emotional feeling but is a love that provides opportunities of growth (physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional).  It is a love that causes members to experience an environment of belonging and deep connection. It is a love that provides the members of the community the mechanism to make real differences in the world.  It is a love whose ultimate goal is a fulfillment of Mankind’s purpose- Man is that he might have joy.

Communities represent groups of people who share common values whether they are centrally located or in different locations.  Sometimes these values me be spiritual values, shared interests, commercial values or endeavors, or the decision to manifest a shared vision or desire in the material world.  In the end, despite the varying paths and experiences that bring us to the common ground, the ultimate desire is to feel connection and oneness. People want to know that they are valued and understood.  They want to know that they are physically safe. They want to know that they are secure in their surroundings. They want to know, experience, and give love.  They want to feel valued and respected. They want to realize their full potential as children of God. 

Some communities may be small while others may be larger and more diverse. There are conditions where a smaller group may thrive where larger ones dwindle.  Sometimes the larger group thrives in conditions where a smaller group cannot take root.  Whatever the case may be, communities exist to fulfill our need for relationship-relationship with family, with our friends, and with God. 

While many feel the strong desire for community, they also feel at a loss on how to build a thriving community with strong and clear vision. Sometimes they do not understand the cultural identity and elements needed to cement real community. They face the challenges of getting the younger generation involved and to create a legacy of faith that can be perpetuated from generation to generation. 
There are many kinds of communities in this world, but if you are reading this then you are seeking the foundation of establishing a community based on the pattern given by God.  This pattern is very ancient, but despite its age its pattern holds the keys to a power that will provide safety and security from the onslaught of the modern warfare we face.

Washing The Feet of Your Brother’s and Sisters

To create a thriving community that will stand as a beacon of light it is important to keep in mind that the heart’s core of any city of light is the principle of service:

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.’ (Mosiah 2: 17)

If we aspire to a Zion, then we must never forget this one principle. The wisdom (chokmah) of Heaven is unleashed in the direct proportion to our desires and actions of service to our fellow beings.  In other words, if we as individual and community vessels seek to receive from God to bless and bestow upon others then the living waters poured out from Heaven pour forth to the same degree.  If we seek to receive from God to covet, the life-giving waters of heaven cease and our ground dries up.

Many have experienced or been part of various groups or communities.  They have experienced the mistreatment and abuses of ego-based leadership versus servant-based leadership.  They have had to endure those who promote themselves and exalt themselves above their brothers.  They have had to endure mistreatment and cliques.  The tendency of the natural man and woman to exalt themselves while disrespecting and diminishing others is all too common. If the community is self-serving it will only result in the creation of secret combinations, cults, and other destructive behavior. 

In the beginning many communities start out with high energy and what seems to be a promising future. Reality soon sets in along with the real concerns of everyday life and everyday personalities.  Without viable form and function, community dies.  Without every member being a leader and a servant community becomes scattered and chaotic. 

When people see that their brothers and sisters are at least as concerned about their welfare as they are about their own, then people become motivated to physically, emotionally, and spiritually invest in the building of a community composed of people of this caliber.  This is not to say that predators such as wolves in sheep’s clothing do not come into a community, but by establishing “the hedge” given by God their influence and damage can be minimized and if necessary expelled. Remember, “Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)

For a community to grow in the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood it is necessary for the community to clearly state the ideology and common principles that represent the purposes and goals of the community. If common values are not clearly stated, then the community can become easily manipulated and taken down a path very different than the path they originally desired. If members are asked or persuaded to disregard their ideology and common principles, then the community can be destroyed by opportunists and predators. Many communities have been destroyed by activities that are not in alignment with their ideology and common principles. 

The Building Blocks of Communities of Light (to be continued)



Sunday, June 21, 2020

Behold the Tree- America's Ultimate Roadmap




"I will liken the United States of America like unto a tame olive tree
which a man took and nourished in his vineyard
And it grew and waxed old and began to decay" (Jacob 5:3)


This article is a serious case of likening the scriptures to ourselves. The words of the Prophet Zenos have multi-dimensional application. It might seem strange to some that I would replace the word House of Israel in Jacob 5:3 with the United States of America.  But in reality, the insertion of our nation into this allegory is just as applicable today as it was to the Nephites in the days Jacob.  If we examine this allegory from an Israelite perspective then it would also make sense to apply this parable to America today as in reality the whole of North America and specifically the United States of America contains one of the largest populations of both Jews, Ephraimites, and the The Ten tribes (not to mention the mixed multitude) in the world. 

To understand the words of Zenos we have to approach it from and Israelite perspective. In Israelite symbolism a “Tame Olive Tree”  is the ruling house or nation.  The branches are servants and those people connected with them.  The servants are those men and women who are the ruling political persons or entities, the spiritual persons or entities, and the social persons or entities that rule that nation. The parable/allegory is designed to explain how a kingdom (specifically a ruling covenant house) can be raised up again so that Messiah can be its Chief or Capstone once it has rejected him and the covenant relationship he offers. 

 

The covenant kingdom is the structure built below the capstone and to which it is laid once the structure is in place. Like Israel the United States of America fits this allegory on the eschatological (prophetic or last days) level of Israelite interpretation.  The prophet Jacob lays out the reason and they mystery of why he is including the words of Zenos in his record:

"And now I, Jacob, am led on by the Spirit unto prophesying; for I perceive by the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that by the stumbling of the Americans they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation.

But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Americans can build.

And now, my beloved, how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their corner? (i.e. their capstone)

Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you."  (Jacob 4: 15-17-insertions added)

Let's begin by examining the word stone or eben (אֶבֶן).  While the word for stone is eben it can also be mechanically broken down to mean "son (ben) of the father"  in addition using another interpretive key we would reverse the word to navi (נָבָא) or  to prophesy which is the base root for prophet.  The Messiah as The Son of the Father and as The Prophet is the chief and cornerstone- or capstone of the kingdom.

In Israelite thought a tree can represent both a King and a Kingdom.  The idea of being "tame" is related to the concept of ruling, birthright, and covenant keeping.  A "tame olive tree" being likened to a ruling covenant house or kingdom. The roots of the tree represent the Fathers -not only the Patriarchs but also the Fathers of This Nation who entered into covenant with God.  The trunk of the tree is the covenant  that God Made with the Fathers and extends as the source of nourishment from which those branches receive their strength (gevurah/power). In the case of the United States of America the covenant is the Constitution which is a derivative of the Sinai Covenant. 

The natural branches are those natural born citizens of the Kingdom who are the natural heirs to the covenant.  In drawing their nourishment from the covenant established with God they are able to produce the natural or covenant fruit.  After a period of time, the natural branches began to take the strength to themselves (i.e. instead of drawing their strength from the covenant/constitution the branches began to believe they were the trunk and became lofty).  In other words, the natural born sons of the republic in the process of time began to believe they were the source and the secret in the sauce.  Their introduction of non-covenantal principles produced bad or non-covenantal fruit.   The process is still going on today.

To rectify the situation God grafted in wild branches (servants and people from other nations born outside the US Covenant).  By grafting in the people or branches from non-covenant or foreign nations, God was able to save the trees at first and as they took their nourishment (i.e. abided in the terms and blessings of the covenant) the tree (nation) began to produce good or covenant fruit.  Time passed, and those wild branches also took strength (power) to themselves.  In other words those branches/servants/people began to disregard the covenant. They failed to uphold the terms of the covenant.  They became a law or covenant unto themselves and once again the top of the tree became too lofty and the tree became weighed down.


The Tree Is In Danger of Dying:



“But behold, the wild branches (non-covenant keeping servants) have grown and have overrun the roots (the Fathers and the covenant that proceeds forth from them) thereof; and because that the wild branches have overcome the roots thereof it hath brought forth much evil fruit (non-covenantal works); and because that it hath brought forth so much evil fruit thou behold that it begins to perish; and it will soon become ripened, that it may be cast into the fire, except we should do something for it to preserve it.” (Jacob 5:37 (insertions added))

In Hebraic thought that which is evil are those principles, policies, and actions which lead us away from fulfilling God’s commandments. Because the servants and people have legislated iniquity or lawlessness, the tree begins to perish.  When the tree becomes fully corrupted -branches, tree, and roots) the tree is become ripened with no possibility of salvaging the tree or kingdom.  At that point, the tree or nation is good for nothing but to be case into the fire. 


Preserving The Tree:



“And behold, there are all kinds of bad fruit; and it profiteth me nothing, notwithstanding all our labor; and now it grieveth me that I should lose this tree.” (Jacob 5:32)

God does not desire to lose his governing house/nation/ or Olive Tree.  His intent in establishing The Olive Tree is to produce good olives.  From Olives Israel of old produced the oil of anointing-the healing oil that was to heal and sustain not only his covenant people, but all the peoples of the world.  To save the tree he and his servants must take action.

“And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: What shall we do unto the tree, that I may preserve again good fruit thereof unto mine own self?

And the servant said unto his master: Behold, because thou didst graft in the branches of the wild olive tree they have nourished the roots, that they are alive and they have not perished; wherefore thou beholdest that they are yet good.

And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: The tree profiteth me nothing, and the roots thereof profit me nothing so long as it shall bring forth evil fruit. Nevertheless, I know that the roots are good, and for mine own purpose I have preserved them; and because of their much strength they have hitherto brought forth, from the wild branches, good fruit.” (Jacob 5:33-26)

When those wild branches or servants took upon themselves to sustain and uphold the terms of the covenant/constitution they were able to draw from the nourishment of the trunk and roots to bring forth the covenant fruit (all men created equal…life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness…One nations under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all, etc. etc and all the principles of justice and mercy we associate with our constitution/covenant/ and covenant land grant. When they took the strength (gevurah or power) to themselves they like the natural branches began to produce evil or non-covenant fruit.

To preserve the tree or nation, God must prune the tree.  He must pluck off the non-covenant keeping servants and people and replace them with natural or covenant keeping branches again. In the case of the United States, the natural branches are those servants and people who will sustain and uphold the terms of the covenant/constitution associated with this covenant land grant.  The wild branches are those who want to destroy the covenant/constitution and become a law unto themselves (the epitome of priest craft and king craft).

“For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard. And the branches of the natural tree will I graft in again into the natural tree; And the branches of the natural tree will I graft into the natural branches of the tree; and thus will I bring them together again, that they shall bring forth the natural fruit, and they shall be one. And the bad shall be cast away, yea, even out of all the land of my vineyard; for behold, only this once will I prune my vineyard.” (Jacob 5:66-69)

Pruning the tree involves plucking off the most bitter (non-covenantal) branches/servants/states/communities/individuals even as covenant keeping branches/servants/state/ communities/ individuals who connect in and uphold the terms of the covenant are nourished.  

The American Tree is overgrown with non-covenant keeping branches.  We are producing all manner of evil fruit .  The United States of America as we have known it is experiencing its’ death throes. Like all nations who have experienced The Day of the Lord (YHVH) the cycles of judgment are being poured out.  The purpose of these judgments is to cut off that which is most bitter so that the tree can have the chance to survive and thrive. The question remains-what will the tree look like once the top branches are leveled and the most bitter branches that weigh down the tree are pruned off.

Usually the top branches (ie. political leaders/governmental leaders/ top religious institutions/ and ruling families) get lopped off. The overgrowth is trimmed away and what we have is a much smaller but also much healthier tree in the long run.  By plucking off the branches whose fruit is most bitter he can then nourish those leaders and people who want to establish the covenant in their land to once again produce the fruits of Zion- even life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all who will keep covenant with God.