19 July 2009

"The Anger of the Lord [Is] Kindled against His People,"

2 Nephi 15:24-25

"Therefore, as the fire..." Footnote on "fire" has at least two implied meanings:
  • The light that emanates from Christ himself.
  • Those faithful remnants of the house of Israel in the last days (see 3 Nephi 20:16).
This second thought I had not considered. This suggests that the Saints will be the ones that are doing work in the latter days. While the scripture referenced above sounds rather destructive, I recall reading just last evening that the Saint's power to lead in the last days would be noted because of their unique capacity towards kindness and Christ-like compassion.

So where the scripture talk of destruction of the wicked and power to consume, which in a sense is calculated to bring fear into the hearts of the wicked, the reality of the issue is that the power and capacity for good that is exhibited by the Saints will be increased. Their works will be works of kindness, love, and great mercy. Yet ironically, in the hearts of the wicked, these same works will bring fear because they repented not.

"...Devoureth the stubble," the footnote on "stubble" goes on to reinforce the destruction that will come upon the wicked. At the same time there is a reassurance of the safety of the righteous during this period. It is only the unrighteous that are classified as stubble ready to be burned.

"...And the flame consumeth the chaff," the chaff is the encasings of the wheat or other grain. I spent a fair amount of time grappling with this idea the other day. As it seemed to me to be unfair that the chaff should be destroyed and the wheat itself not. But the next few words in the verse give further insight.

"...Their root shall be rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust;" The difference between the wheat and the chaff is that the wheat, once it has been formed, lasts a long time (years). Every other part of the plant is gone after the season is ended.

"...Because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts," The rejection of eternal principles which are enduring, is the cause of their insustainable, perishable state.

"...And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel." This reminds me of the words of Mormon where he observerd the awful state of the wicked once they came to a reality of their wickedness: "...For their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin," (Mormon 2:13).

"Therefore, is the anger of the Lord..." God is a Being of passions and emotions, similar to what we are. We read here and elsewhere about God's anger and jealousy. What must it take for a being of infinite patience, love, wisdom, and peace, to be provoked to fell anger? I'm missing an important point somewhere in all this. This can in part go to illustrate the gravity of the offenses that the House of Israel had committed against the Lord their God.

"...kindled against his people," It was hard to light due to the eternal nature of God, and his great tendencies towards mercy and kindness.

"...and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them;" Now the tables are turned. Where as the Lord had held out his outstretched hand in mercy waiting for many seasons for His people to come unto him, now that His eternal wrath has been kindled, that same merciful hand is now "stretched forth... against them."

(I cannot underestimate the weight of this particular verse, and how serious an offense it is to bring against oneself the wrath of an offended God. Nothing else can make sense in light of the chaos and destruction that result.)

"...and the hills did tremble," The earth itself cannot hold its peace out of fear in the presence of a jealous God.

"...and their carcasses were torn in the midst of the streets." This terrible imagery demonstrates to what extent the Lord will not tolerate his people to continue in wickedness.

"For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." And still even after all the wrath and destruction that comes upon the Lord's people once his anger has been kindled, after all of it, it is difficult -- nearly impossible -- to turn away the wrath of an offended God!

13 July 2009

To ""Take Away the Righteousness of the Righteous," 2 Nephi 15:22-23

2 Nephi 15:22-23

" Wo unto the mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink;

"Who justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!"

A footnote that leads to Proverbs 31:3-9 talks about how kings and princes should not drink wine, nor be drunk for the express purpose of being able to judge righteous judgment upon those that need it, especially in relation to the cause of the poor and needy.

What continues to stand out to me as I return to these verses is how Isaiah condemns wine and strong drink because of it distorting properties which allows mighty and strong men to justify the wicked and deprive the righteous of their just reward. The footnote on "reward" in verse 23 leads to a topical guide entry for "bribery". Curiously enough, the word used in Spanish for "reward" is the equivalent of "bribery".

I have not before seriously considered the implications of strong drink, wine, or alcohol, upon the work of righteousness. It truly is a tool of the devil to deaden the senses and to blur the cause of the righteous. This is why Gordon B. Hinckley fought so hard to defend and uphold liquor laws in the state of Utah as a citizen. The work of wickedness and oppression of the righteous is facilitated by strong drink as it allows its participants to ignore any sense of conscience. Hence we have the final and strongest condemnation in a list of woes pronounced against the House of Israel.

10 July 2009

"Wise in Thier Own Eyes," 2 Nephi 15:21

2 Nephi 15:21

"Wo unto the wise in their own eyes..." This is a clear condemnation of those that profess to be wise according to their own ideas and perceptions. Wisdom comes from God. To profess wisdom otherwise, is to publish a false doctrine as truth--relative, absolute, or however one wishes to frame it. Truth is eternal and can only fully emanate from the divine fountains of life itself.

"... and prudent in their own sight!" This is the part of the verse that truly strikes me as curious this morning. "Prudent" according to their own making. It perhaps the first time that I've considered that the world's ultra-conservative idea of prudence might be off or too extreme. There is a footnote on "prudent" which leads to the topical guide listing for prudence.

From there we learn that prudence for the most part is a desirable trait for a man of god. Yet, there are verses only in Isaiah and the Gospels that specifically call out the prudent as being unable to perceive the works of God. "...For the foolishness of God is wiser than men;" (1 Cor. 1:25).

07 July 2009

"Them That Call Evil Good," 2 Nephi 15:20

2 Nephi 15:20

"Wo..." The list of condemnations that Isaiah pronounces against the house of Israel in his day continues. Yet, these condemnations are so applicable to me in my day.

"unto them that call evil good..." There are footnotes on both "call" and "evil". The footnote that emphasizes "call" condemns those that would take judgment upon themselves, assuming that they know better than the Lord what is good and what is evil.

Moroni reminds us in chapter 7, verses 14 &18 that we should not judge wrongfully, judging the evil thing to be of God, or that which is of God to be evil. Most importantly, at the end of verse 18, Moroni states, "For with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged." This is a very interesting thought, that as I choose to treat and perceive others, so shall I be treated and perceived by God in the end. There is something of a secret in becoming like God in this simple observation.

"and good evil..." This happens when we are unable to perceive the works of God, not understanding their purpose or the intent for which a thing is given. One such thought is the calling of inexperienced persons to fulfill positions of leadership within the church. From the outside, one would never manage a business in such a fashion. Yet, the work of the Lord is brought to pass when man's weakness is refined. The purposes of God are completely different than any other worldly organization.

"that put darkness for light..." The footnote on "darkness" leads to 1 John 1:6 which reads, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:" This verse is a measuring stick. To have fellowship with Christ is to walk in light. If we are in darkness, confused, it is because we are lying (to ourselves at least) and do not what is right or true, or in other words, we do not that which Christ would do. We have in a few words "put darkness for light."

"and light for darkness..." That is to say that the light does not work, or that the light doesn't really produce the desired results. Therefore, the light, which is in Christ, is discounted as ineffective, irrelevant, or useless. Faith is assumed to be vain. These are the results of those that will put "light for darkness."

"that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" This last part of the verse reminds me of some of the erroneous "bitter" doctrines that have been adopted into Christian churches that are neither Christian nor the substance of hope. Such teachings as the eternal nature of the family unit, redemption for the dead, and sinless nature of little children are all "sweet" and beautiful doctrines that are only had through the restoration of the Gospel of Christ.

03 July 2009

To "Draw Iniquity with Cords of Vanity," 2 Nephi 15:18-19

2 Nephi 15:18-19

Vs 18- " Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope;" The word "draw" in these verses means to pull. This is a visual image of an abstract concept. The image is of someone pulling on a cord to drag behind them some large burden. It is interesting that it is called "vanity". One might ask himself, why would someone knowingly be so attached to their iniquities as to drag them behind them; it is because of their vanity. Vanity, in other terms, maybe known as pride or vain ambition. Vanity is the result of placing our hopes and dreams in our own wishes and not in valuing or accepting the will of the Lord.

In different, yet similar terms, the same idea is expressed again in the second half of the verse. In Spanish, it this part of the verse that offers a footnote on this passage suggesting that sin is compared to the bond between the beast and its cart. The visual in my head is of an ox, slowly plodding along, strapped to some old, inefficient wooden cart.

Vs. 19 - "That say: Let him make speed, hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it." This verse illustrates the effect of the vanity that causes the proud to drag their burdens of sin, in all their many forms. This first statement suggests utter disregard for the works of God. They are the vain expressions of sign seekers - "that we may see it."

The second statement shows even greater contempt for Son of God himself. If they had repented of their sins, the liberation from their sins --their "cords of vanity" --could have been witness enough of the Lord Jesus Christ and his doctrine. The last footnote for this verse as found in Isaiah reads, "They will not believe in the Messiah until they see him."

It is an interesting assumption that the wicked make-- that they can only see God if he chooses to reveal himself to them. Quite to the contrary, the righteous see God and walk with Him on a frequent, regular basis. They know the Lord Jesus Christ lives and that His works are being accomplished just as much today as when He was present in mortality.