Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Expanding Divide

The media likes to talk about the expanding division between the rich and poor. The numbers vary depending on how wealth disparity is measured.  However, even more concerning is the increasing disparity in righteousness between the worldly and the elect of God. As the morals and values and virtue of the world continue to errode, the standard of God  remains immovable. Paul in the New Testament puts forth God's standard that establishes a minimum standard among Gods people. 

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 5:11)

This verse of scripture serves as the basis of worthiness and virtue in God's Church.  While we know that no one is perfect and all believers have access to the atonenent of Christ and the power repentance; nevertheless, maintaining God's standard of virtue maintains a community of safety, trust, and unity.  

1 Cor 5:11 serves as a basis for LDS interviews to be declared clean and worthy to participate in the ordinances of Christ's gospel like baptism and partaking of the Lords Supper.  You may not realize that LDS Bishops are not preachers.  The members themselves preach the gospel to each other including sermons and Sunday School.  The Bishop instead is a Judge in Israel and like the Priests in the OT, spend their time determining ritual purity and administering the church programs.  The membership themselves do the work of ministering to one other.

The consequence of erroding values is that for the elect who slip and fall into sin, the distance they fall is much greater and the pain when they hit bottom is greater.  Additionally, due to greater disparity between God's standard and the world, it is much more difficult get out of the pit a person may have fallen into.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Adam's Intent

"And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 2:22)

I do not think Lehi in the Book of Mormon is saying that Adam and Eve had to break the second commandment to obey the first commandment. God did not give conflicting commandments.  Instead, I think the Book of Mormon is revealing to us the reason why Adam ate the fruit after Eve had already done so.  The Bible  already gives us Eve's intent.

Because Eve was to be cast out of the garden, Adam would have been left alone. Consequently, Adam could not have kept the first commandment. So, it is not God that created the complication but sin itself that created it. Eve's transgression created the dilemma for Adam, not God.

Lehi is NOT saying that God intended Adam to sin in order to obey. Lehi is just explaining Adam's intent. Intent is considered in many instances in the Law of Moses.  Adam's intent was to keep his covenants, stay with and care for Eve, and multiply and replenish the Earth.  Adam intention was to keep his covenants.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jesus Christ: The Ultimate Boy Scout

My friend spoke in church last week about how the values of scouting reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ. in a way, it could be said that Jesus Christ was the ultimate boy scout.  In addition to doing a good turn daily, Every boy scout takes an oath to obey the scout law and to keep himself physically strong and morally straight. The scout law is a list of virtues that every boy scout has committed to living. Illustrating the parallels between scouting and Christianity, my friend shared a teaching of Jesus Christ that corresponded with each element of the scout law.

A scout is:

Trustworthy- "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (New Testament, John, John 4:34)

Loyal- "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 4:10)

Helpful- "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?   (what will thou have me do for thee)  mine hour is not yet come." (New Testament, John, John 2:4)

Friendly- "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (New Testament, John, John 15:13)

Courteous- "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 7:12)

Kind- "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."(New Testament, Mark, Mark 10:14)

Obedient- "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (New Testament, John, John 6:38)

Cheerful- "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (New Testament, John, John 16:33)

Thrifty- "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 19:21)

Brave-"And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 26:39)

Clean- "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." (New Testament, John, John 15:3)

Reverent- "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 6:9)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Sukkot: Feast of Tabernacles

There are 3 Jewish Feasts that Israel was commanded to observe: Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.  Because LDS Sunday School is studying the Old Testament and because of the Lunar Eclipses (Blood Moon Tetrads) that will occur this year and next on the Jewish Feast Days, I have decided to make an observance of the Jewish Feast's this year; just for fun.

Pesach/Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread: commemorates the liberation of Israel from bondage in Egypt.  It also points to the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  (April 15-16, 2014)

Shavuot/First-Fruits/Feast of Weeks: commemorates God giving the Torah to Israel.  It also points to God giving the gift of the Holy Ghost following the ascension of Jesus Christ.  (June 4-5, 2014)

Sukkot/Ingathering/Feast of Tabernacles: commemorates Israel's dwelling in tents in the desert and being fed with manna. However, unlike the spring feasts, the fall Feast of Sukkot has not been fulfilled.  In fact, Zechariah says that all nations are to observe the Feast of Sukkot in the Last Days or be cursed with plague and receive no rain.  This feast suggests Israel will once again dwell in tents at the great Last Days Solemn Assembly at Adam-ondi-Ahmen and in Jerusalem. (Oct 9-10, 2014)

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Old Testament, Zechariah, Zechariah 14:16)

Jewish Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute explains that Sokkot is a unique commandment because it is the only mitzvah where the whole body participates.  It also is a reminder that this life is temporary and that we are to worship Hashem with our whole body: heart might mind and strength.

Rabbi Richman tells the parable of a rich traveler who stays in the home of a poor family. The rich traveler asks the poor man, "How do you live like this? Don't you have furniture?"  The poor man asks the rich traveler where is his furniture.  The rich traveler responds that he has plenty of furniture back in his own house.   The poor man then says, that he likewise has plenty of furniture in his real home in heaven. 

In addition to eating and sleeping in a booth or tent for 7 days, Sukkot also involves the waving of the Lulav or 4 kinds: Palm, myrtle, willow, citron. The waving of the 4 kinds represents the unity of Israel.  The elect are likened to the citron fruit whose tree yields fruit all year round.  

I found it very intetesting that Rabbi Richman said that the Bible likens a sweet taste with a good reason or idea and a pleasant fragrance with good works.  He says that like the willow or myrtle or palm, some people in Israel learn a lot of Torah or perform a lot of Mitzvot, while others do not.  However, the waving of the 4 kinds is a reminder that we should be focus on our unity that we are all a part of Israel and not who knows more or does more than others.

Equating a good taste with a good idea reminds me of Alma 32 in the Book of Mormon where Alma invites the Zoramites to "experiment upon the word of God" and promising them that the word would be "delicious".

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, ....  ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 32:28)

Lastly, the final requirement in observing Sukkot is that one is to be joyful while dwelling in the Sukkot.  This suggests music (joyful noise) be a part of the week-long festivities. 

Rosh HashanaSep 25-26, 2014The Jewish New Year
Yom KippurOct 4, 2014Day of Atonement
SukkotOct 9-10, 2014
Oct 11-15, 2014
Feast of Tabernacles
Shmini AtzeretOct 16, 2014Eighth Day of Assembly