29 September 2011

"How Beautiful Upon the Mountains," Mosiah 12:20-24

Mosiah 12:20-24

The verses quoted in this section are taken from Isaiah 52:7-10.  In context, I have to remind myself that these priests that quoted them where utterly clueless on the very points of doctrine that make this verse of scripture so rich in meaning and significance. Perhaps they used this passage of scripture through some gross distortion of it, as justification for their vain and pacifying promises to the people of Noah.

But oh how beautiful and rich in symbolism is the true meaning of these verses. There is a verse of one of our hymns ("Come, Ye Disconsolate") that concludes with this line: "Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal." I feel that the significance of these verses is in the reality of that statement.

As I work through these verses, I am asking myself why are these verses so significant and reassuring at the same time. What follows is a personal Q and A relative to the verses quoted from Isaiah.
  • What is the significance of being in the mountains for those that publish peace?  Perhaps being in the mountains, the rocky places that are difficult to traverse, makes their publications of peace more powerful, because they come as statements of testimony from those who have walked the hard paths. Thinking this way, that the publishers of peace are those that have experienced the trials of life, give me an even greater hope that the hard road truly is the path of peace.  Mountains could also be symbolic of temples or even the elevated perspective that comes from climbing in the mountains.
  • Why the term "publish" to describe the action of those that bring good tidings, peace, and salvation? Publish, as opposed to terms like speak, declare, or write, has something more permanent about it. In a modern sense, we publish newspapers, magazines, books, and even music, movies, and web sites. While perhaps this isn't exactly what Isaiah had reference to, as I consider the amount of energy and effort required to publish something, as opposed to just saying or writing it, the weight that published media has is more enduring.  When something is published, it is organized in such a way as to reach a broader audience, more than just a simple person to person communication. Depending on the medium these publications can reach the masses.
  •  Why the distinction between good tidings, peace, and salvation? What do these things mean? Good tidings are good news with a focus on improvement, accomplishment, good works, relieving suffering, etc. Most news focuses on the negative, the problems, wars, and violence. In such, it is difficult to find peace. Modern news organizations even consider the peaceful conclusion to be something other than effective. To be certain, there is a distinct difference between peaceful and passive.
  • Why the distinction or the focus on Zion and what significance does this message have to Zion : "Thy God reigneth"? This message to Zion at the end of this verse is reassuring. Out of the tumult and noise of the world, those who have already set themselves apart by covenant to belong to Zion, find in the publications of peace and good tidings, the reassurance of the true way of happiness, no matter where in the world they are found. For the last two mornings, this particular point reminds me of when I arrived at my mission and how it was that finding the mission home established there brought a great deal of confidence to this young missionary's heart. I had never honestly thought about nor considered the significance of this before yesterday, but for some reason, it seem important in the context of this verse. 
  • How are the watchmen lifting up their voices? The possessive "thy" at the beginning of the phrase assigns these watchmen as belonging to Zion. It is commonly understood that the watchmen in our time are the prophets and apostles. This designation could possibly also be extended to the quorums and members of the Seventy and other leaders.
  • "With a voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion." (There is a sense of unity about these verses.) Is it the watchman whose voices are unified? Indeed, it is amazing to find such a large body of completely uniform doctrine in any one organization as is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The reality of the last statement being fulfilled is significant. As we look at the statistical growth of the Church of Jesus Christ, what we really are seeing is the Lord who will again bring Zion, and is now bringing Zion. 
 Now in verse 23, we read about the waste places of Jerusalem singing because of the Lord's comforting and redemption of Jerusalem. I don't know why, but I am having a very interesting time being drawn back to strong impressions and feelings associated with my time as a missionary with the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were found in my mission. Perhaps these are some of the people who have been comforted as it is spoken of in this verse.
  • What is the significance of the redemption of Jerusalem? I've taken a little time to study the history (very superficially) and the prophecies related to Jerusalem. As early as Melchizedek, who became king of Salem (later to become Jerusalem), it became the center of religious activity. Jerusalem was a key city in the time of the Savior's ministry because of its historical significance prior to His ministry. The redemption of Jerusalem is at the core of Christian, and especially Latter-day Saint, belief and hope for the future, because the prophecies associated with Jerusalem's redemption are also those that look forward to the Second Coming of the Lord.
  • Then finally, how will the Lord make bare his holy arm in the eyes of the nations so that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God? Doctrine and Covenants 133 explains how the work of the Church in the latter-days will bring this about. Hence this verse from Isaiah is in direct reference to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, and the ongoing missionary work of the Church in our time. This is how the Lord will make bare his holy arm and the ends of the earth will see the salvation of God, and recognize Christ for who He is at his second coming. 
Additional Resources: 

14 September 2011

"And They Began to Question Him," Mosiah 12:17-19

Mosiah 12:17-19

There is a footnote in verse 19 on the word "withstand," stating that Abinadi was able to withstand all the wicked priests' questions. The footnote leads to Doctrine and Covenants 100:5-6 which describes the spiritual gift used by Abinadi. In my opinion, this requires a great deal of faith to execute:
Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
How do I keep myself in such a mood of Spiritual discernment that I may be able to hear the Spirit whispering to my heart? There is more to this instruction, because I find myself this morning asking if I have ever been able to do this: to speak in the very moment that it is needed. There are a few choice experiences where in capacity as a ward missionary I have been blessed to do so. I suppose I was conscientious of this commandment that is given in the following verse of Section 100.
But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. (vs. 7)
So there are three commandments to be able to keep ourselves in this spiritual mood: 1)do it in the name of Jesus Christ, 2)act in solemnity of heart, and 3) act in a spirit of meekness. 

I take confidence then in the following verse also: "Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Exodus 12:4)

03 September 2011

"What Great Evil Hast Thou Done?" Mosiah 12:9-16

Mosiah 12:9-16

It is a common attitude among the wicked to deny their wickedness. I've cross referenced a couple of other scriptures on verse 14 for the term "guiltless" where people are found to take the same stance.

This causes me to ask myself, what is the difference between a wicked and righteous individual. The wicked will profess their perfection and guiltless state. The wicked will ask questions such as "What great evil [have we] done?" (vs. 13) or "How knowest though that we have cause for repentance?" (Alma 21:6). In all cases they are in complete denial of any wrong  doing on their part.

Contrast this with attitude of the truly righteous, who in other terms are also called "the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness". (See Alma 27:18). In Luke 7, the centurion who seeks the Savior to heal one of his servants, says "Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:" (Luke 7:6) Jesus concludes this story by observing, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," (vs. 9)