Sunday, June 29, 2014

Vision Five

PROLOGUE
How does our individuality and desire play a key part of being "godly?" Is Heaven composed of drones who are exactly alike, or do they all differ from each other?

It is my assertion that there is a commonalty, and that is their desire to relate with each other in a spirit of joy. In other words, "Heaven” is not about taking orders or doing everything the same way. In fact, you could say that is “hell.”

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

Herein lies the definition of “righteousness” and “good works.” If it is something that interests us, we are passionate about it, and it is aligned (or “at-one”) with God’s will and purposes, then this is righteousness. It comes about as a change of one’s heart, and opening us up to the realization that the Gospel is “fun and exciting” because it brings the most important component of all to the table: DESIRE. It is not a matter of one waiting to be told what to do, but creating because it brings joy to ourselves and others. There is no "economy" here. I do not take actions based on the hope of a reward or an exchange of my "good deeds" (what Nephi calls "merits") for "blessings."

Look at the following 5 examples of people who had been “born again.” Take notice of what immediately follows the change of heart:

ENOS
Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them. 

ALMA
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

KING LAMONI
And it came to pass that when they had established a church in that land, that king Lamoni desired that Ammon should go with him to the land of Nephi, that he might show him unto his father.

SONS OF MOSIAH
Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites.

THREE DISCIPLES
And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me.

Notice that none of these were instructions, commandments or promptings. They all DESIRED it with their hearts. They weren’t waiting on the Lord to tell them what to do. They acted upon it, (or in one case, were hesitant to express it, but the desire couldn’t be contained). Also, notice that it was not to gratify some sort of lust or their pride, or to receive something in exchange. Their desires were at-one with God’s will. 

The scriptures say that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Have you thought about what that means? From the Lectures on Faith it is clear that faith is a "principle of action." If it is a principle of action, whose action is it? Must you do something, and if so, what? What action must you take? What is the role you occupy in faith?

The Lectures on Faith also say that faith is a "principle of power." What does that mean? Whose power? Is there a relationship between the action of man and the power of God?

Think of any great example of faith in scriptures and apply these questions to them. It can be as simple as David and Goliath, or as complicated as Elijah. After you have studied the example, ask yourself, "what action did the man or woman take? Why did they act in that way? What was the intention? How was God's power used? Who controlled the power? More precisely, from what source did the power come? Is this principle of power connected with priesthood? If it is, then when any person exercises faith as a principle of power, are they exercising priesthood?

We, by “doing” things based on a desire that is aligned with God, are exercising “Priesthood.” Or, in other words, we are behaving as the brotherhood of high priests behaves, who exercise faith out of their desire to bring people to Christ. What, then, is this “power of God?” Belief. The gods are such because they believe Christ’s story. This is their power. And we too, if we deny ourselves of all “ungodliness” can be “perfected in him” because his grace is sufficient.

2 Nephi 2:25-27:  
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

D&C 121:36-37: 
Many are called, but few are chosen…That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

"Priesthood" is that we are acting based on the desires of our hearts, which will be unique for everyone. The things that come as a result are “righteous” works, or acts of faith. What a freeing discovery this is! It means that I can be myself, and pursue the desires of my heart… and not doubt that they “don’t count.” Christ does not care about counting. He cares about our hearts. Anything we create out of this place: belief, desire, and being at-one with God’s plan or theme, makes us “godly.” This is the power of the gods. This is the priesthood. This is good works and righteousness. This is faith.



THE VISION
I was in a very large room, and all about me people were busily scurrying in every direction. They all seemed to have urgent business and were quickly moving to run errands or take care of business. Oblivious to them, I saw a group of people in the center of the room at a large table, that extended beyond my view. The people sitting were enjoying some sort of festivities, which included a great banquet. They were laughing and enjoying each other while they feasted.

In the middle of the long table sat the Savior! I knew it was Christ, not because of what He looked like (although I suppose He had a beard and fit the common description, it just didn’t seem important), but by how He FELT. There was a presence of pure joy coming from Him. He was laughing and engaging those around Him. I really wanted to be by His side, but it seemed there were no seats available.

I went ALL THE WAY to the end of the table (which seemed like miles away), looking for a place to sit down at the feast, but found nothing. A bit dejected, I returned back to where I started and realized that there, directly in front of Him was and open seat! I sat down and He continued talking and laughing with the others, not in some gregarious way, but like He was completely engaged and connected to them. Then, if for only a second, He stopped, then turned His head and looked directly at me, then SMILED. My heart felt like it was on fire!! Not even in my dream of Zion did I feel such joy!

THE SONG

Excerpts from The Living Gita, A commentary for modern readers by Sri Swami Satchidananda
Note: “Bhagavad Gita” means “Song of God.”

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Commentary: When you go to a teacher saying, “I know a little bit, can you add a little more?” or, “I know, but can you verify it?” you are just going there to check your capabilities, not to learn anything new. If you want to learn, go empty and open. “I’m an empty cup; please pour in all you can.” If you go with a cup already full, even if the teacher pours something good, where will it go? It’s not that she or he is miserly; the teacher would like to pour, but it will overflow and go to waste. So empty your cup.”


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Commentary: Sometimes people say, “Probably, it’s too late for me now. I don’t know how long I will live to practice these things. I don’t have much time.” Or, “I’m too old to do all this. I’ve wasted my life.” But here the Lord gives confidence to such people:

Krishna: In these practices, no effort made is lost, nor are there adverse effects. Even a little practice of this dharma protects one from great fear.


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Krishna: The one who has trained the mind to stay centered in equanimity, in this life, has cast aside both good and evil karma. Therefore, by all means practice Yoga; perfection in action is Yoga.

Commentary: I often quote this sloka as a definition of Yoga. “Yogah karmasu kaushalam;” Perfection in action is Yoga. An act becomes perfect when you do it with all joy and without expecting anything in return. All other acts, however wonderful they are, however beautiful they look, whatever religious label they get, are imperfect acts, because they will affect the mind. Then you are not free from the feeling of profit or loss.

You might ask, “Why can’t I do something and get some merit? You say to let go of all results, but what about good results? What’s wrong with that?” Lord Krishna’s reply is that whether they are good or bad, they are going to bind you.


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Krishna: Arjuna, in the beginning I gave the world a two-fold path: the way of discerning wisdom (Jnana Yoga) and the way of selfless action (Karma Yoga).


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Krishna: It is better to do your own dharma (calling) even imperfectly, than to do someone else’s dharma perfectly. Even better to die in your own dharma than in another’s, which brings great fear.


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Commentary: It’s okay, just flow. Feel the unseen hand directing you every minute, taking you along from one thing to another. Know that it’s always unplanned by you and for the good of everybody.


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Commentary: The minute you feel that you want help and guidance, someone to save you, [mercy even], then the savior comes. And nothing can stop Him from saving you; neither land nor sea. Even the sea will part. All scriptures also have their esoteric meanings, over and above the story itself. When God wants to help you, nothing can stop Him. That’s the promise that God gives… The only thing is, you have to follow [and believe] Him.


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Krishna: With the keen blade of knowledge, sever any doubts due to ignorance that you may still hold about Atman, the true Self, which abides in your own heart… Stand up Arjuna!


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Krishna: A person can rise up through the efforts of his own mind; or in the same manner draw himself down, for each person is his own friend or enemy.


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Krishna: Arjuna, I am the taste in pure water, the radiance in the sun and moon; in all scriptures, the sacred word OM; the sound of silence; and the virility in men. I am the fragrance of the earth, the brilliance in the fire, the life in all beings, and the purifying force in austerity. Know me, Arjuna, forever present as the origin of all beings. I am intelligence in those who are wise, and splendor in all that is beautiful. I am the power in strength, that is untainted by passion or personal desire. In fact, I am the desire in all beings, Arjuna, when desire is in accord with dharma [one’s calling, virtuous teachings].


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Commentary: If you have faith, you can see God in everything. He’s not at just one particular temple or church that’s decorated with gold, silver and velvet. You can worship God anywhere. There isn’t just one place or one form for God. We should know that. Unfortunately, many people, and even some religious people misunderstand. Then they don’t really experience that spirit. They simply read the scriptures and take them literally. They miss the spirit of teaching by holding onto the letter of teaching. Letters have their own limitations. The spirit will reveal more to you than the letter.


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Commentary: Likes and dislikes are caused by either wanting to get happiness or not wanting our happiness disturbed. But both of these attitudes are caused by lack of knowledge that we have happiness always and it need not come from outside. Nobody can make us happy; nobody can make us unhappy. Happiness is always in us. The moment we forget the truth of our own true Self, we are deluded and begin to look for it from the outside.


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Krishna: The fruit of good actions is a pure and harmonious mind. The fruits of impatience ultimately are pain and suffering. And the fruit of inactivity is ignorance (mistaking the unreal for the real).


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Krishna: The wise speak of an eternal Asvattha tree (sacred fig) with its roots above and branches here in this world. Its leaves are the Vedas (holy scriptures). Whoever understands this tree knows the most sacred wisdom.


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Krishna: I am present in everyone’s heart. Thus, I give rise to memory and understanding – or take them away. In fact, I am that which is to be realized ultimately: I am the zenith of all sacred scriptures.


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Commentary: When you feel to give something to someone simply because you feel it is right to give it, and there is no thought of receiving anything in return, and it is given at the right moment, at the right place to the right person, then it is pure giving.


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Krishna: When the agent of an action (the individual) has let go of attachment to the fruits and (thus) is free of the egoistic feeling of separateness, yet is still full of enthusiasm and fully committed, then that agent is not affected by (so-called) success or failure.


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Commentary: God just gave you a little intelligence and is waiting to see if you are intelligent enough to use it properly by linking your intelligence with His. You’re still free to keep it separate and say, “It’s mine. I’m just going to play with it and do everything myself.” But the truly intelligent person will link his or her intelligence with the higher intelligence.


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Arjuna: My delusion has been destroyed. Through your grace, Krishna, my knowledge is returned. I now remember the way. I am free of doubt, and strong and steady (on the path). From now on, I will act according to your words.


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Vignettes:

Bring Him Home

Maurice Duruflé: Requiem




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Next post: Sunday, July 6

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Vision Four

Prologue
OUR TRADITION
“To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal. Sacrifice has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. After the Atonement of Christ, followers of Jesus Christ—by His direction—began to offer instead a “broken heart and contrite spirit” a willingness to repent of sins and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one's life with His commandments.”    -LDS.org

THE PROBLEM
1) When the Lord accomplished His work, the meaning of “sacrifice” changed. It was “done away” and “fulfilled.” The old definition of sacrifice (as pertaining to the Law of Moses) was reformed. No longer were we to offer up sacrifices and burnt offerings. The Lord told us those things should be done away and that He would not accept them. The new meaning of sacrifice given was “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” This is the offering that would bring on “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.”

2) It is important to understand exactly what is meant by “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” Nephi uses it in his prayer to the Lord, asking that his stumbling block is removed and that the “gates of hell shut continually” before him. Moroni describes how baptism did not occur for an individual until they had shown that they had “truly repented of all their sins.” Moroni also tells us that the Gentiles can rend the veil of unbelief, “hardness of heart, and blindness of mind,” call upon the Father in the Lord’s name and have the revelations be unfolded before them. Clearly, “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” has to do with repenting and purging from the pollution, and being open to another story… willing to be childlike and receptive to something different.

The common belief is that we now should sacrifice or give up the things we cherish for the hope that something else better will come along. Even with the new meaning of a "broken heart and contrite spirit," we dwell in a place of desolation and scarcity.

ANOTHER PROBLEM
From the Lectures on Faith:

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things.

And Joseph Smith said:

As it is generally supposed that Sacrifice was entirely done away when the great sacrife (sic) was offered up—and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of Sacrifice in future, but those who assert this, are certainly not aquainted (sic) with the duties, privileges and authority of the priesthood or with the prophets. The offering of Sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the priesthood. It began with the prieshood (sic) and will be continued untill (sic) after the coming of Christ from generation to generation—We freequently (sic) have mention made of the offering of Sacrifice by the servants of the most high in antient (sic) days prior to the law of moses, which ordinances will be continued when the priesthood is restored with all its authority power and blessings. Elijah was the last prophet that held the keys of this priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and delive (sic) the Keys of this priesthood in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness It is performing “ordinances of the gospel” which make us “heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham.

When we apply the old meaning of sacrifice to the new commandment and ordinance given to us (the “sacrifice of all things”) alarms go buzzing off in our heads (at least they do mine) as if to say, “Something isn't right! Why would we be required to give away something good for the promise of something better? Does Heaven operate this way? I thought the Gospel was offered to us “without money and without price”? How is it even possible to offer up “all things?” Does this mean we need to leave our worldly pursuits behind, and even our possessions and families? It just doesn't make sense!”

Our refusal to search for the higher meaning of sacrifice causes us to shake, and either we are stirred up to anger or repentance. Let us see what repentance looks like.

A NEW PARADIGM
I don’t like pulling up Webster’s Dictionary to be the answer to our definition problem because meanings can be tainted, but in this case it is a useful experiment, and for me has saved the day. What exactly is the etymology of the word “sacrifice,” and how can a shift in our understanding make everything clear?

sacrifice (n.) -  from sacra "sacred rites": ("sacred;"  or "holy") + root of facere: ("to do, perform"). To "perform holy," or "to do holiness."

Could it be that simple? A sacrifice is simply an act, a work or a performance which is sacred or bestowed to God? In other words, we dedicate everything we do towards God’s will -- bringing to pass His work (the immortality and eternal life of man). This stems from our faith in God and our desire to come to know Him, as the Lectures on Faith 2:55 points out:

Let us here observe, that after any portion of the human family are made acquainted with the important fact that there is a God, who has created and does uphold all things, the extent of their knowledge respecting his character and glory will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after him, until, like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they shall obtain faith in God, and power with him to behold him face to face.

To simplify even further, this is how I would explain it: The Law of Moses was about performances… doing things in repetition which symbolized “real” principles. Once the Lord came and offered the “great and last sacrifice,” everything became new, and it centered on the heart. The thing that was in similitude (sacrificing at the altar) became dead. What the Lord is after now is the real principle: charity. If I have faith in God, and I believe He is talking to me through the Spirit (via dreams, visions, whispers in my mind, or other gifts) then my faith will “move” me to act. The things I do are unique to me, but they demonstrate that I really DO believe in God. The proof is in the pudding. If I really do believe, then my dedicated actions will show it. I am “anxiously engaged” because having repented and turned towards Christ, He has changed my desires. They are the same as His, so “doing” the will of God (or “doing holy” “all things”) is a natural endeavor. It is “light” and “easy” and indeed enjoyable.This is the “baptism of fire” because the faith is living within me, like a flame.

When we are consumed in this holy fire, all our thoughts center around seeking God. Every breath and thought become a prayer to Him. Everything we behold is a testimony of God’s mercy and goodness. Truly we can speak with the tongue of angels, because we have received the Holy Ghost, and the words of Christ tell us “all things” what we should do. And if "consecrate" means to "make holy," then "sacrifice" means to DO holiness or righteousness.

Now, isn't this a much more exciting and animated definition of “sacrifice?” Doesn't it help us to shake off the dust and want to awake and arise to discover how our unique talents play a part in His will? The Book of Mormon speaks in general about what He would have us do: repent, come to know His true points of doctrine, and eventually bring the truth to the Remnant of Lehi, Joseph and Jacob. But not only that, it is to have "charity" for those who are suffering, and to use our "talent" to become the "fountain of all righteousness" for them. This can only be done out of the desire of our hearts, not by way of commandment:
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
What is the “reward” of one who does charitable things of their own free will? It is knowledge and an understanding of how the heavens operate.

The Vision
I was on the island of Hawaii and there was an imminent volcano eruption. I could see the glowing red in the cracks leading up to the cone. All around me people were trying to get away, as was I for a time. Driving my family in a car, we ascended to a bluff overlooking the moving flow. I hopped out of the vehicle and then received the feeling that I should JUMP IN the lava! I faced my family and told them to wait for me and then reluctantly turned around.

Just then, the side of the mountain exploded, with the molten river headed my way. I took a running head start, and leaped into the fiery lava below. The vision ended as was falling, not knowing my fate or the fate of my family.

Years later, the rest of the vision was given to me. I picked it up where I left off: falling after jumping from the cliff. However, instead of landing in fire, I was immersed in the water of the ocean. The plunge had sent me so deep that there was no chance of swimming to the surface to get some air, so I held my breath as long as I could. Finally, my lungs gave out and I inhaled. What I found then was that I could not only breathe in the water, I could also move about freely.

I went to and fro, enjoying the liberty, even though I was in a normally restrictive environment. As I swam (if you want to call it that), I noticed an underwater cave. It was glowing red, and I wanted to investigate. Entering the tunnel, I discovered that it was lava from the erupting volcano, but before I could think about it, I was moving through it the molten rock, unharmed! My momentum seemed to start accelerating, and the course I was traveling changed from horizontal to vertical.

Suddenly, I burst from the magma chamber through the cone of the volcano, and I floated in the air above the island. To my amazement, I found that I could fly and I was impervious to fire or drowning in the sea. After checking out the landscape below me, I noticed that off in the distance there was a group of people calling for help. Hoping that I could assist them somehow, I flew their direction and the vision was concluded.

The Song
Pele was born to Haumea and Kanehoalani in Hapakuela, a far distant land at the edge of the sky. Her days had been long and adventurous, often filled with passion and mischief. But being older and wiser now, she desired to make contact with those humans who had received her bounteous gifts. The problem was that the mortals had become so concerned about their own selfish existence that they did not bother to search where they originated, or for that matter, where their kindred went when they died. Pele had much to teach them, if they only would listen.

Ages earlier, when Pele set out on her original journey, her parents gave her the sea to go with her and bear her canoes onward. So she sailed forward, flood-borne by the water, until she reached the islands (which were a vast waste at the time). The fresh water brought life to the area, and it was not long before fish, birds, animals, flowers and all sorts of fruit trees flourished in her presence.

She was also given by her parents the gift of fire and earth. With this power, she created new ground for the people (and often got into trouble). The modern occupants of the land respected and acknowledged Pele, but for most, it was based either on fear of being destroyed or on desiring to receive the treasures and wishes that they thought she could grant them.

One day, Pele could take the loneliness no more. She awoke from her bed in Kilauea and moved across Mauna Loa towards the western side of the island, hoping to visit with those who lived in the village there.  As she did so, the people became very frightened (for as you know, when Pele moves, she brings fire and earthquakes with her). “The end of the world is here!” they exclaimed.

Making her way to the town, she noticed a man who seemed to be hesitating. He had collected his family and placed them on a tall bluff, and then returned to face the burning lava which had been closely pursuing them. Sensing he could understand her, she said, “Come to me. I will not hurt you or your family if you can only trust me. I long so much to share what I know!"

Summoning confidence, the man turned to his relatives and said, “I must go meet Pele. I will be back for you soon. Do not fear, my beloved family.” With that, he turned and sprinted towards the approaching inferno. Reaching the edge of a cliff, he stopped for a moment. Below him was a fountain of liquid fire.

He said to himself, "If the gods know that I am here, and am in this dreadful condition; and if nothing happens without Their appointment, They have appointed all this to befall me.  If I am going to die by fire, it will have been appointed to me." With that, the man leaped into the blaze. As he was falling, the thought came to him, “I know that I will not be consumed. Rather, I will be filled with light, finally understanding my purpose and many mysteries as well! I must soon return to tell the people not to be afraid, so they can learn too.”

And he did.

Thus, we see that fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself.






Vignettes:

Find Your Own Way Home

Can You See Me (lyrics)

The Last Day

The End ....?

Next post: Sunday, June 22

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vision Three

PROLOGUE
Commentary on Alma 12 and 13 

And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out(Satan’s plan is to contend, no matter what the topic… because contending leads to captivity. You can never escape his captivity by contending) Now this was a plan of thine adversary, and he hath exercised his power in thee. Now I would that ye should remember that what I say unto thee I say unto all. And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.

Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced (God DOES want us to be convinced. Faith is not believing something without seeing evidence for it) more and more of the power of God; and he was also convinced that Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart; (his words and works made it easy to him to witness of his thoughts and intents) for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy. (The spirit of prophecy is knowing one’s heart and if it is aligned with God).

And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. (Experimenting, searching. In other words, we only come to know the mysteries if the desire of our hearts is the same desire as God. So obeying a commandment is following the mysteries of God).

For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; (these are the three witnesses to the desires of our hearts) and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. (If we know Christ, our desires will have changed along with our heart. His desires will be our desires. The witnesses to this will be our words, our works and our thoughts).

(King Benjamin) But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments (know the heart) of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save EVERY MAN that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance. (The “fruit” is a changed heart, which will be reflected in our words, thoughts and deeds. This is the indication of whether or not we know God).

(Alma) And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

(Christ) A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. (based on the desires of their hearts, aligned with God) Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith (belief that what they were hearing was the plan) and repentance (changing their hearts and looking to the Lord) and their holy works (having changed, following the desires of their hearts, which were now aligned with God).
Therefore God gave unto them commandments, (this is the gift of knowing God’s heart, or a desire to follow the mysteries of God) after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil

(Ammon): And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.

(Bro 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. (Notice the significance. A commandment calling upon God to receive desires from Him.)

(King Benjamin): And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Their desires changed).

And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; (so opening our hearts leads to entering the rest of the Lord) therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, (the first time around, presumably before birth where we became as children) yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first.

And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest of God, which is prepared according to his word. (It appears that our current mortal existence is our “second chance” to come to know the heart of the Lord.)

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; (part of the “first provocation,” or before this current mortal experience) and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. (The way that they were ordained is indicative of how we receive redemption from the Lord.) And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; (Their exceeding faith and good works is how we receive redemption. For the high priests, this must have been before the first provocation, because it was from the foundation of the world) in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called (so these high priests are among us?) with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such (they came to the first provocation and the second provocation already redeemed?).

Or in fine, in the first place (before the first provocation?) they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts (or those who would come to know God’s desires), being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; (their hearts had been changed to the desires of God’s heart) and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, (as evidenced by our thoughts, words and actions… or the desires of our heart) that ye may also enter into that rest. Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order (this means that Melchizedek was part of the first or second provocation, and that the high priests are possibly in the same realm with us now) which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.

And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, (so tithing, in the way Abraham paid to Melchizedek is a type for how the Lord gives a remission of our sins. If I recall, Abraham brought it to Melchizedek because they were throwing a celebration for him. What I get out of this is that by sharing in the bounty that we are given, we are brought to redemption. The purpose of being here is to get ready to throw a big party!) that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, (when did he exercise this faith? ) and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.

Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; (apparently, all this is contained in the Brass Plates) if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.


What does this have to do with the Gentiles, you ask? I believe that having given us all these gifts of the Spirit, (the Spirit being "poured out" upon the Gentiles) the heavens are waiting to see what fruits come out of it. We have seen the fruits of the Church, and there are watchman who point it out. But when OUR desires align with God’s, then I think we will receive the greater things… because we will want to use the many gifts we have to bring to the House of Israel, not to further our own cause or missionary work, or to bring ourselves closer to God just for the sake of being in His presence. It is clear that it is the Lord’s desire to restore His children to a knowledge of who they are, and that the Gentiles are the means of doing that. So if the desire of my heart isn't anywhere but that, then He will say that He knew me not, because my words, thoughts and deeds will reflect what my true intent was. Based on results, we can see one’s true desires.

THE VISION AND THE SONG
Charley was excited as he approached the great Room. He knew something sensational was about to take place. A large group of friends and family was assembled, waiting for what seemed like forever. They could all feel the energy in the air (and maybe even magic!) Somewhere in the distance, a church clock began striking ten, signifying that it was time to start. Very slowly, with a loud creaking of rusty hinges, the great wooden doors of the concert hall began to swing open. To the left and right of him he saw the mass making their way to the seats. It was a huge auditorium that extended so far that there was no end in sight!

Charley sat down in anticipation of what was going to happen next. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt that there had been much preparation and build-up to what was about to take place. For a few moments, the crowd assembled and buzzed with eagerness, as if a plane full of kids who had never flown before was just getting ready for take-off.

Suddenly, the congregation began to grow quiet, signifying that something had occurred. Sure enough, when Charley looked up he saw a woman slowly walking towards the center of the stage. The group had become so silent that you could hear the lady's heels click as she made her way across the planks of wood. Finally, she arrived at the midpoint and stopped. What was she going to say?!

As it turns out, she didn’t say one single word. Rather, she bent over and grabbed a handle from her feet, bearing a white movie screen. She pulled it over her head, and then something seemed to take hold of it and open it even further, until it extended almost to the upper stage lights. With that, she looked at the crowd, smiled, and moved off the stage, disappearing behind the curtains.

The lights went down and there was a collective gasp, as this was totally unexpected. After a couple of seconds, an image was projected onto the screen. Charley couldn't say what the picture was, but it looked like a close-up of some sort of plant or leaf. Oddly enough, there were a few black circles of various sizes dispersed over the image. Charley heard someone behind him declare, “Hey, I think we’re supposed to count the dots!”

The noise changed to that of people unzipping bags and pulling out note pads and writing utensils. Charley decided that he had better do the same (although he couldn’t say why) and managed to find what he needed to settle in for what seemed like a very odd test. Everyone around him, without exception, busied themselves counting all the dots on the image. Just as Charley was circling the number he had determined was the sum, the image changed.

Now Charley saw something similar to the first picture, except it looked like it was zoomed out a bit and had about twice as many dots as the one before. Feeling hurried, he sped up his counting.  Every few seconds the slide would change and more and more dots would appear. After a dozen or so slides, Charley looked around and everyone was still counting. Some were comparing notes, others were deep in concentration, bouncing their fingers in the air. Many were on the verge of tears, (obviously frustrated), but still they counted.

Finally, Charley said to himself, “There’s no way I can even guess how many dots are there!” and gave up counting them altogether. As he did so, Charley looked again at the image (which by now had thousands and thousands of dots on it). He started to see beyond the dots to perceive what the big picture was in the background. The more he looked past the dots, the more they started to fade away. Then the thought hit Charley, “Wait a minute, no one told us that we were supposed to count dots. One person just assumed that and everyone blindly followed!”

Just then, the dots moved out of the picture in a blur, and what Charley saw (or more like experienced) was a panoramic scene of a beautiful snow-capped mountain range swimming in a vibrant blue sky. The foreground revealed a green park covered in trees and children laughing with glee. He saw a family having a picnic, and all seemed to be utterly blissful. This wasn’t just a static slide, or even a video. Charley could “feel” the dimensionality of it – the vividness of the colors; the expression of love from the people; the selflessness of nature, offering up her beauty.

Charley was left a little remorseful that he had wasted so much time counting, and had missed out on seeing what was behind the dots in previous scenes. He did, however, anticipate the upcoming images, now that his view was void of obstructions. As he looked to the screen, something strange and amazing happened. Charley was somehow inside the picture! He turned around and saw where he had been a moment before: the audience. The image being projected was the large group still arduously recording the blobs of black, but they didn’t seem to be able to see Charley. Below this side of the screen was banner that read, "The greatest of secrets are hidden in the most unlikely of places!"

He was now free to move about the scenery, exploring all the wonderful things therein (which reached as far as the eye could behold: north, south, east and west). He hoped that others would soon see past the dots and join him in this exciting journey. Truly it was a magical auditorium and the adventure more breathtaking than he could have ever imagined! He shouted to no one in particular, "I think it's the most wonderful place in the whole world!"

As he looked around, Charley thought to himself, "Never, never again will I doubt something that no one is sure of to begin with."


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Vision Two

PROLOGUE- PART I

When it comes to prophecy and the Book of Mormon, there does not seem to be a lot of chatter as to which ones have been fulfilled and which we should look forward to in our time. At least, anyway, anything more than the correlated events we are taught. That is because either we have been told that the prophecies have already taken place or they are way out in some nebulous future in the days when magical things will happen. But as for the moment, all is well in Zion, and we need not look at the promises made in the Book of Mormon, because our leaders are on top of it, and have it covered.

But I would like to show that by closely looking at one prophecy which has supposedly already been fulfilled, and comparing it to modern-day events, it will unravel a completely different picture of what has been, what is to come, and what our current standing REALLY is.

Let’s start with 1 Nephi 13:12-15 –

12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.
Quite simple, right? The Spirit wrought upon Columbus, who came with other Gentiles to America, settled the land and scattered the Lamanites who had dwindled in unbelief. Case closed… or is it? There is one keyword we need to look at which usually goes unnoticed or is given an assumed definition: “captivity.” The common reading is that Columbus/the Pilgrims/the New World settlers were escaping the “captivity” of England or maybe the larger scale of Europe. The monarchs had oppressed the people and the Spirit guided them to a place where they could practice their religions freely.

A closer look at history, however, shows us that it wasn't so much that there was freedom to worship how one pleased in this new land, as it was having virgin soil on which to continue old existing “traditions.” Or perhaps there were new religions created (namely, the LDS Church), which took from the buffet, creating something that appeared unique, but was really just a rearrangement of existing precepts.

But the important thing to look at is how the Book of Mormon defines “captivity” and see if our history qualifies as coming out of it. Just preceding the above-referenced passage in 1 Nephi, we find this:
4 And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church.
5 And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.
6 And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.
7 And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.
8 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.
9 And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
While there is talk of yokes of iron, torture and being bound down, we have to see what it is that is the root of this captivity: the desires for gold, silver, silks, harlots, etc. and a lust for the praise of the world. One might say, “Well, there you go. The settlers were bound to this system of slavery and by coming to the Free World, they were released from it.” But is that really the case? From Wikipedia:

Farmers, planters, and shopkeepers in the American colonies found it very difficult to hire free workers, primarily because it was so easy for potential workers to set up their own farms.[1] Consequently, a common solution was to transport a young worker from England or Germany, who would work for several years to pay off the debt of their travel costs. During the indenture period the servants were not paid wages, but were provided with food, accommodation, clothing and training. The indenture document specified how many years the servant would be required to work, after which they would be free. Terms of indenture ranged from one to seven years with typical terms of four or five years.
Not all were sent willingly. Several instances of kidnapping for transportation to the Americas are recorded and this falls more clearly into the bracket of "white slave". Whilst these white slaves were often indentured in the same way as their willing counterparts it is an important distinction to make. An illustrative example of such a kidnap story is that of Peter Williamson (1730-1799).

Most white immigrants arrived in Colonial America as indentured servants, usually as young men and women from Britain or Germany, under the age of 21. Typically, the father of a teenager would sign the legal papers, and work out an arrangement with a ship captain, who would not charge the father any money.[3] The captain would transport the indentured servants to the American colonies, and sell their legal papers to someone who needed workers.

Add to that the disgrace of slavery which soiled the land here, and I think it would be difficult to convince me that the Gentiles were freed. Rather, the captivity simply relocated to this place. “Well,” one might argue, “we eventually came out of it. Indentured servitude and slavery were ultimately abolished, and this became a free land.”

Perhaps. But if we look at how the Book of Mormon describes the Gentiles’ captivity as a result of desiring money and praise, I would say, “Look around!” Has our society turned away from the system of seeking riches and fame? Do we labor for Zion or for money? Do we have charity, or do we engage in priestcrafts (setting ourselves up for a light so that we get gain and praise of the world)? Do we, like the Savior, offer our provisions free to all men and persuade them to repentance? Or do we consider that one man is more privileged than their brother, and should be rewarded for their genius with a better income or more opportunity to succeed (meaning more money and stuff)?

A response might be, “It is the system of the land. We don’t have a choice but to engage in it to be able to live in this world.” Exactly! Now you see that WE ARE STILL IN CAPTIVITY!! We have never left it. Sure, our “system” is less oppressive than it used to be, and we have taken out the most obviously egregious parts (or perhaps hidden them); yet, we are still made to drink “of the wine of the wrath of [Babylon’s] fornication.”

I would therefore propose that the “man” among the Gentiles has yet to go forth upon the many waters “unto” the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and this same event described in D&C 88:94 has yet to happen:
And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned. And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it.
It seems much easier to retrospectively look at a prophecy to see its fulfillment than to envision how it will look when it does take place. Unfortunately, as a church, we already checked off this particular prophecy by Nephi, so no one has bothered to look into possibilities of its true fulfillment. While it may be difficult or impossible to predict details of what will happen, we can look closely at what we are being told, and hope that a picture, albeit a vague one (seasons of a tree?), is painted for us. Here is what we can say: 

If the captivity of the Great and Abominable Church is our current economic structure (which is embedded into our theology), then at some point, a group of Gentiles will come out of that. It will quickly be made evident to the whole world. 

These Gentiles are originally separated from the seed of Nephi’s brethren by “the many waters.”
The Spirit of God comes down and works upon a man, indicating that it will be a gradual process of enlightenment. 

The man goes forth “unto” the seed of Nephi’s brethren, hinting that THEY are the destination, and the man is seeking them.

Before continuing, I think it is important to note that in reading Nephi, and perhaps other Book of Mormon prophets, we need to be careful to not assume that everything we are told prophetically is linear. In other words, Nephi may be describing a big picture, and each description may be out of “sequence” with another. I’m not sure how these visions work, but they may be less like a book or a movie (a story) and more like viewing an object. If I look at an apple, I wouldn't say, “It is red, and then it is round, and then it has a stem…” etc. I am describing attributes which combined give me a picture of the apple, and can be rearranged if I want. As part of that, I could say, “I took a bite and then it tasted sweet.” There is a sequence of events here, but only to describe the sweetness of the apple and how I came to that description of it. With that in mind, let us continue: 

The “wrath of God” is upon the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and they are scattered and smitten.
The “Spirit of the Lord” comes upon the Gentiles, who prosper and inherit the land.
The “power of the Lord” is with the Gentiles who come out of captivity.
The “mother Gentiles” gather together upon the waters and land to battle against the Gentiles who come out of captivity. 

The Gentiles who come out of captivity are delivered by the power of God (not by the power of their armies. Note that there is no hint of the freed Gentiles fighting) out of the hands of ALL other nations. 

The freed Gentiles prosper, and there is a book carried forth among them.
The book comes out of the mouth of a Jew (who could be “John,” but is probably the Lord Himself). 
Notice also that when the angel is talking about “captivity” to Nephi in a couple of places, there is something interesting which precedes it:
And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.
And:
And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
In this case, what if we make the “and” in these statements to mean “and then,” as a sequential statement? The first thing here would be that the saints are slain or destroyed AND THEN brought down with a yoke placed on them, bound up, tortured, yoked, etc. Or as the Lord said, “ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage.”
 
I will skip the points having to do with the Great and Abominable Church, moving to the time when the Book of the Lamb goes to the Remnant. 
  • The book of the Lamb of God goes forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of Nephi’s brethren (doesn't say that it is the polluted version). 
  • After the Book of the Lamb goes to the Remnant, other “books” come forth from the Gentiles to the Remnant, which “convince” the Gentiles, and the Remnant and the scattered Jews that the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. 
  • The “last” records among the Gentiles establish the truth of the first (which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb) and they make known the plain and precious things which were taken away from “these books.” 
Again, it would be easy to say that this has already happened. But take away the single “captivity” card, and the whole deck comes tumbling down. The vision must be rebuilt with other promises and prophecies in mind. Here are some things I can confidently say (even though some may argue my points): 

The Gentiles (us) have not come out of captivity. In this world we are still slaves to the system which seeks gold and things, as well as popularity. I would describe this as the corporate model. The “praise of the world” is nothing more than marketing our “product,” whatever that might be: property, food, clothes, sex, a church, etc. Being praised by the world is akin to being a “leading brand,” and if it is popular, people will give their gold for it. However, there is no getting around this system, even if we do not want to participate. Thus, we are bound with a yoke of iron, forced to engage in Babylon’s priestcraft. The next life apparently can be a darker place even still. There, "no labor can be performed."

The Book of the Lamb, in its corrupted form, was indeed carried by the Gentiles who came to this land; however, neither it nor the Book of Mormon has been presented to the remnant of Lehi’s seed unto their convincing that they are of the House of Israel. We assume that the "Lamanites" are the said seed of Lehi, and that they are the Native Americans. Even so, none have been officially identified, because none fulfill Nephi’s prophecy that they will be convinced. 

Even if that book going to the Remnant is the Bible, and even if they received it, it is impossible for the Bible to convince them that they are of the House of Israel, the covenant people, because those covenants and plain & precious things were removed. The only thing the corrupted book can do is captivate, the very thing the Gentiles who come to the Remnant are said to show how to escape.

Admittedly, there is a critical question raised if we assume that the Gentiles coming out of captivity is a future thing: How is it that the freed Gentiles can be separated by the “many waters” from the Remnant if the Gentiles already possess the Promised Land, mingled with the oppressed Lehi-ites? To offer an explanation, I will point you to what Lehi in his dying days told his son, Joseph:
And now, Joseph, my last-born, whom I have brought out of the wilderness of mine afflictions, may the Lord bless thee forever, for thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed.
Lehi made a point to say that his son, Joseph’s seed would not be wiped out, presumably in contrast to the Nephites, who were doomed to oblivion. Later, Moroni helps us to clarify the significance of Father Joseph, and perhaps the son of Lehi as well:
4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—
6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
Did you catch that? Not only is the story of Joseph of Egypt “a type,” but it is confirmed that the remnant of the House of Joseph shall be built on this land. Now wouldn't it be fun if that statement had a double meaning? Which Joseph are we talking about? Egypt’s Joseph? Or the House of Joseph, son of Lehi? My assertion is that it’s both of them. One is a type for the other. It would be easy for us to conclude that the blood of Joseph, son of Lehi, is preserved along with the Lamanites. Luckily, there is some elucidation from Mormon.
And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away. And now it came to pass in this year, yea, in the two hundred and thirty and first year, there was a great division among the people. And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites…
The Josephites were not among the Lamanites; rather, they were one of four groups composing the “Nephites.” Moroni later tells us:
I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father.
We can conclude that the line of Lehi’s son, Joseph, is not preserved through any who fought the final battles of the children of Lehi. They must have left the group at some other point or be "preserved" in some form, even if it is one single man--a branch ready to be grafted back onto the Tree of Life.

PROLOGUE- PART II
QUESTION:
If the Gentiles should not at any time hear the voice of the Lord, save it were by the Holy Ghost, what does it look like when one does receive the manifestations of His Spirit?

ANSWER
......................................................
QUESTION:
What did Jesus pray for regarding those who the Father gave to Him and those who believe on their words?

ANSWER
......................................................
QUESTION:
If  the things that the "multitude" heard and understood in Christ's presence cannot be written or uttered by man, how is it that they "do bear record?" (notice the present tense)

ANSWER


THE VISION AND THE SONG

I was taken to the top of a great mesa, into the center of a village. Not far off to the left, blue and purple stood the White Mountain, rising into peaks of jet, tipped with glimmering snows, flushed with the rose of morning. Below it there was a wide and rugged shelf that ended suddenly in the brink of a sheer cliff, which made this place that I stood seem completely unapproachable by any invading force.

A group of youngsters assembled underneath an exquisitely carved pavilion, raised off the ground to form somewhat of a stage. I believe they were gathered to take counsel with each other, as prelude to a significant event that appeared to be on the horizon. But rather than serious or worrisome discussion, there was a festive spirit. At an inaudible cue, I heard their young, delightful voices begin to sing in unison:

We are the children of the light
Whose fathers viewed a finer height
But first the sting of sin was felt
Below their brothers’ swords they knelt
And made a vow, in word and deed
That peace alone would be their creed.

Mercy's gift, while undeserved,
Has kept us whole and yet preserved.

We are the children of the night,
Our slumber long, a lengthened plight.
Dispersed, we tarried from our place
Into the void we hid our face.
The law was sealed the word was bound
Until the house of Jacob found.

For signs and wonders we are given
To Israel from the Lord of Heaven.


We wanderers in the shadowed land
Did not despair! For though dark they stand,
All woods there be must end at last,
And see the open sun go past:
The setting sun, the rising sun,
The day's end, or the day begun.
For east or west, all woods must fail,
Revealing light ‘yond leafy veil.

A cry of war blows in the wind.
Shall we hasten to defend?
Nay, Lord forbid. Our lord we trust,
For now our arms have turned to rust.
The blade of steel which once was broken
Is forged anew! It bears the token.
Dead the sword! Its curse and oaths
Become the Word: his wine and loaves.

Let the song begin! We sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, of rainy weather,
Light on the bud, dew on the feather,
Wind on the hill, bells on the heather.
The night is over, we shall not fear.
With light our cover, the Lord is near.
Though ancient, we are children here
Reborn of God, our hearts now cheer!



Next post: Sunday, June 15