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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Women will receive the priesthood

I would like to draw attention to an event that will soon come. God foretold this thousands of years ago. In fact, if you dedicate significant effort to a study of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, and Malachi, you will find that their prophecies contain an astonishing amount of detail about our day.

12 As for my people, babes subject them; women wield authority over them.
O my people, your leaders mislead you, abolishing your traditional ways.
13 Jehovah will take a stand and contend with them; he has arisen to judge the nations.
14 He will bring to trial the elders of his people and their rulers, and say to them,
It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
you fill your houses by depriving the needy.
15 What do you mean by oppressing my people, humbling the faces of the poor?
says Jehovah of Hosts.
16 Jehovah says, moreover,
Because the women of Zion are haughty
and put on airs, painting their eyes, ever flirting when they walk and clacking with their feet,
17 my Lord will afflict the scalps
of the women of Zion with baldness;
Jehovah will expose their private parts.
18 In that day my Lord will strip away their finery—the anklets, head ornaments and crescents, 19 the pendants, chains and scarves, 20 tiaras, bracelets and ribbons, zodiac signs and charm amulets, 21 the rings, the noselets, 22 the elegant dress, the shawl, the kerchief and the purse, 23 hosiery, sheer linen, millinery, and cloaks.
24 And instead of perfume there shall be a stench, instead of the girdle, a piece of twine,
instead of the coiffure, baldness,
instead of the festive dress, a loincloth of burlap;
for in place of beauty
there shall be ignominy.
25 Your men shall be felled by the sword, your might overthrown in war.
26 Her gateways shall lie bereaved and forlorn; she shall sit on the ground destitute. (Isaiah 3, Gileadi Translation)

 22 How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.
 23 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness. (Jeremiah 31:22-23)

17 Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
 18 And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
 19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
 20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
 21 Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
 22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
 23 Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 13)

Men will give women the priesthood, but God will not until after the redemption from the fall.

Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Moses 4:22)

"Johanna Southcott professed to be a prophetess, and wrote a book of prophecies in 1804, she became the founder of a people that are still extant. She was to bring forth, in a place appointed, a son, that was to be the Messiah, which thing has failed. Independent of this, however, where do we read of a woman that was the founder of a church, in the word of God? Paul told the women in his day, "To keep silence in the church, and that if they wished to know anything to ask their husbands at home;" he would not suffer a woman "to rule, or to usurp authority in the church;" but here we find a woman the founder of a church, the revelator and guide, the Alpha and Omega, contrary to all acknowledged rule, principle, and order. Jemimah Wilkinson was another prophetess that figured largely in America, in the last century. She stated that she was taken sick and died, and that her soul went to heaven, where it still continues. Soon after, her body was reanimated with the spirit and power of Christ, upon which she set up as a public teacher, and declared that she had an immediate revelation. Now the Scriptures positively assert that "Christ is the first fruit, afterwards those that are Christ's at His coming, then cometh the end." But Jemimah, according to her testimony, died, and rose again before the time mentioned in the Scriptures. The idea of her soul being in heaven while her body was [living] on earth, is also preposterous. When God breathed into man's nostrils, he became a living soul, before that he did not live, and when that was taken away his body died; and so did our Savior when the spirit left the body, nor did His body live until His spirit returned in the power of His resurrection. But Mrs. Wilkinson's soul [life] was in heaven, and her body without the soul [or life] on earth, living [without the soul, or] without life! The Irvingites are a people that have counterfeited the truth, perhaps the nearest of any of our modern sectarians. They commenced about ten years ago in the city of London, in England; they have churches formed in various parts of England and Scotland, and some few in Upper Canada. Mr. Irving, their founder, was a learned and talented minister of the Church of Scotland, he was a great logician, and a powerful orator, but withal wild and enthusiastic in his views. Moving in the higher circles, and possessing talent and zeal, placed him in a situation to become a conspicuous character, and to raise up a society similar to that which is called after his name. The Irvingites have apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and angels. They profess to have the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, and, in some few instances, to have the gift of healing. The first prophetic spirit that was manifested was in some Misses Campbell that Mr. Irving met with, while on a journey in Scotland; they had [what is termed among their sect] "utterances," which were evidently of a supernatural agency. Mr. Irving, falling into the common error of considering all supernatural manifestations to be of God, took them to London with him, and introduced them into his church. They were there honored as the prophetesses of God, and when they spoke, Mr. Irving or any of his ministers had to keep silence. They were peculiarly wrought upon before the congregation, and had strange utterances, uttered with an unnatural, shrill voice, and with thrilling intonations they frequently made use of a few broken, unconnected sentences, that were ambiguous, incoherent, and incomprehensible; at other time they were more clearly understood. They would frequently cry out, "There is iniquity! There is iniquity!" And Mr. Irving has been led, under the influence of this charge, to fall down upon his knees before the public congregation, and to confess his sin, not knowing whether he had sinned, nor wherein, nor whether the thing referred to him or somebody else. During these operations, the bodies of the persons speaking were powerfully wrought upon, their countenances were distorted, they had frequent twitchings in their hands, and the whole system was powerfully convulsed at intervals: they sometimes, however, (it is supposed) spoke in correct tongues, and had true interpretations. Under the influence of this spirit the church was organized by these women; apostles, prophets, etc., were soon called, and a systematic order of things introduced, as above mentioned. A Mr. Baxter (afterwards one of their principal prophets) upon going into one of their meetings, says, "I saw a power manifested, and thought that was the power of God, and asked that it might fall upon me, and it did so, and I began to prophesy." Eight or nine years ago they had about sixty preachers going through the streets of London, testifying that London was to be the place where the "two witnesses" spoken of by John, were to prophesy; that (they the church and the spirit were the witnesses, and that at the end of three years and a half there was to be an earthquake and great destruction, and our Savior was to come. Their apostles were collected together at the appointed time watching the event, but Jesus did not come, and the prophecy was then ambiguously explained away. They frequently had signs given them by the spirit to prove to them that what was manifested to them should take place. Mr. Baxter related an impression that he had concerning a child. It was manifested to him that he should visit the child, and lay hands upon it, and that it should be healed; and to prove to him that this was of God, he should meet his brother in a certain place, who should speak unto him certain words. His brother addressed him precisely in the way and manner that the manifestation designated. The sign took place, but when he laid his hands upon the child it did not recover. I cannot vouch for the authority of the last statement, as Mr. Baxter at that time had left the Irvingites, but it is in accordance with many of their proceedings, and the thing never has been attempted to be denied. It may be asked, where is there anything in all this that is wrong? First. The church was organized by women, and God placed in the Church (first apostles, secondarily prophets,) and not first women; but Mr. Irving placed in his church first women (secondarily apostles,) and the church was founded and organized by them. A woman has no right to found or organize a church -- God never sent them to do it. Second. Those women would speak in the midst of a meeting, and rebuke Mr. Irving or any of the church. Now the Scripture positively says, "Thou shalt not rebuke an Elder, but entreat him as a father;" not only this, but they frequently accused the brethren, thus placing themselves in the seat of Satan, who is emphatically called "the accuser of the brethren." Third. Mr. Baxter received the spirit on asking for it, without attending to the ordinances, and began to prophesy, whereas the scriptural way of attaining the gift of the Holy Ghost is by baptism, and by laying on of hands. Fourth. As we have stated in regard to others, the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets; but those prophets were subject to the spirits, the spirits controlling their bodies at pleasure. But it may be asked how Mr. Baxter could get a sign from a second person? To this we would answer, that Mr. Baxter's brother was under the influence of the same spirit as himself, and being subject to that spirit he could be easily made to speak to Mr. Baxter whatever the spirit should dictate; but there was not power in the spirit to heal the child. (Joseph Smith, TPJS electronic edition, p 149-151)

Just as in Joseph Smith's day, whenever you see a group of people "giving" women the priesthood, you can know with a surety that they are acting contrary to God's will. You can also know that, when this happens in our day, it will precede great penalties, including the death of large segments of the spouses of these women.

But how could such a thing happen?

I have a lot of friends who support Ordain Women. They are on a broad spectrum. Some are more closely aligned with the groups stated objective, which is to achieve female ordination, independent of what God might say about it. Others are empathetic with the broader idea of the possibility of women receiving the priesthood should the leaders of the church inquire and receive a revelation on the matter.

Enter the case study of the 1978 priesthood decision. Let's start with Brigham Young, because he started the policy of not ordaining blacks to the priesthood. Now we follow through subsequent church leaders. Each one made concrete statements that the scriptures indicating that God has barred certain lineages from the priesthood meant that God barred people with black skin from the priesthood. (Note: I do not accept that connection). There were 1st presidency statements making the doctrine official. There was even one signed 1st presidency letter that said it was a revelation from God. President McKay's historical investigation concluded that there was no evidence of a written revelation. Yet, he was unable to overturn the ban due to several members of the 15 who were outspoken supporters of the ban. A high profile article from an LDS religious historian outlined an argument for lifting the ban. The church was enjoying unprecedented support in Brazil, where people were being baptized rapidly enough to justify temple construction there. However, most converts had at least partial black ancestry. Finally, President Kimball sent the 2 most outspoken opponents of the ban on assignment, then polled the remaining 12 members of the 15 individually and privately to settle their objections, then called for a vote in the temple. Although Bruce McConkie described the event in such charismatic terms that it would rival the Kirtland temple dedication, LeGrand Richards described it as a simple sober decision (google "legrand richards 1978 interview" for the transcript of the interview and scanned letters from Richards addressing the interview). That would indicate that one of those two individuals was, at best, grossly over or understating the truth. At any rate, the ban was lifted without a written revelation or sustaining vote from the church. Recently, the church enlisted the help of historians to again show that Brigham Young implemented the policy of his own accord. They went as far as calling presidents Young through Kimball racists and said they were uninspired in upholding the ban (see here). Let us consider the implications in this case study.

1) According to the church, past presidents have lied about saying something is a revelation.
2) According to the church, truth is more likely obtained from historian's access to and interpretation of evidence than it is from signed statements of doctrine from the 1st presidency.
3) It was necessary to receive a revelation from God to lift a ban invented by Brigham Young, and Kimball et al. were not told in said revelation that the ban was made up. They never said so. However, some 30 years after the event, the church is able to say with certainty without any extra evidence that the ban was made up.
4) President Kimball felt it necessary to wait till the 2 most staunch opponents were gone to have the vote.
5) President Kimball felt it necessary to individually convince each of the members of the remaining 12 why it would be good to change the doctrine before praying to God about it to get the "revelation."

Let's look at another case: Garment modification. The brethren who lived around Joseph understood that the garment was revealed from heaven to him with certain explicit characteristics. That continued to be the understanding through the presidency of Joseph F. Smith. Throughout that period of time you will find official quotes from the brethren such as this one from president J.F. Smith: “The Saints should know that the pattern of endowment garments was revealed from Heaven, and that the blessings promised in connection with wearing them will not be realized if any unauthorized change is made in their form, or in the manner of wearing them.” (Joseph F. Smith, President of the church, 1916 instruction hung on an 11 x 14 poster in all temples) . Here is another one: “If you mutilate the garment by cutting off the sleeves or legs or changing it in any manner, it loses its identity and is no longer a garment of the Priesthood. Those who do this forfeit their standing as members in the Church and the only way they can get back is by the waters of baptism.” (The Truth Magazine, 16:44-45) Fast forward to Heber Grant's administration. With building pressure from the ladies, who didn't like the inconvenience of the original garment in their day-to-day lives and fashions, the Grant administration decided to allow modifications of the garments. Their reason? They found an old lady who claimed that, according to her recollection, the garment patterns were made up by Emma Smith and Bathsheba Smith: "The suggestion for the reconsideration apparently came because of Elder Richards's questions raised after a conversation with Sister Maria Dougall in October 1922. At that time he learned that Joseph Smith had not designed the garments and temple clothing. In fact, a group of sisters led by Emma Smith and including Bathsheba Smith had fashioned both the garments and the temple clothing, and presented them to Joseph Smith for his approval." (From "Mormonism in Transition"). Here again we have an example where certified statements of official doctrine from presidents of the church are overruled by convenient and unquestioned "history." No matter that, even if Emma had fashioned the first garment, Joseph approved it. The garment was modified in accordance with the requests of those petitioning the church.

Another case: There are numerous quotes from Joseph Smith that indicate that the ordinances of the priesthood are revealed from heaven, and will never change. In 1987 David Buerger wrote a Dialogue article where he suggested that declining rates of attendance were due to parts of the endowment that certain members disliked. Just a few months later, the church issued a survey to 3400 US/Canadian members regarding the temple. These were made effective in 1990. The covenants were modified and the instruction was changed.

So, the root of all this is: what happens when you put pressure on the church to do something? The answer is, you get what you ask for, whether it comes from God or not. The church will ordain women. They will have all sorts of reasons for it, other than admitting that it is due to social pressure.  Those who don't know any better will hold this move up as an example of modern revelation when, in fact, it will only be an example of modern fabrication. Wait and see.

On a final note, I must again state that I think the whole crusade for the priesthood is misguided at best. What these women are seeking is not the power of God: that is already available to all who seek and follow Jesus Christ. There are no conditions in the scriptures requiring gender or priesthood to exercise the signs that follow all those who believe. However, you find many of those signs missing in most administrations by the priesthood in the church. What these women are seeking is office. Again, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The sacrifice that God commands vs making our own sacrifice

Saul destroyed an enemy, but failed to utterly destroy them, as God had commanded him. Instead, he saved the choice animals and offered them as a sacrifice to God.

"And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." (1 Sam 15:22)

The law of sacrifice is NOT selecting what you will sacrifice to the Lord. It is not imaging up what you think would be good for you to do and then doing it. It is asking God what he wants you to do, and then doing it.

Sometimes it is easy for us to get carried away imaging what would be pleasing to God. We end up stretching ourselves in vain, while ignoring the real soul-burning offering that God has asked of us. Most times, this harrowing experience is very personal and possibly even invisible to those around you (though sometimes it is public).

God is not pleased by the quantity of what we give. He is pleased by how hard it is for us. The sacrifice is not what we have given out but what we have given up in ourselves by yielding to God.

"Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you." (D&C 132:50)

Every day we are presented with altars and promptings that give us the opportunity to offer up some part of our will for a sweet savor to God. Do we take these often externally quiet opportunities? Or, do we ignore them and focus on the outward motions that for all their pomp do not yield progress with God?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Seemingly Good People Fail to Obtain Heavenly Interaction



The post that got me thinking about this again: http://timesofthegentiles.blogspot.com/2012/12/believest-thou-words-which-i-shall.html

In a nutshell, why do really good people seem not to have tremendous spiritual experiences? Or, put another way, if _____, who seems as perfect as can be, does not entertain angels, see the Lord, obtain power in the priesthood, etc., then how can a dirtbag like me do it?

Our thoughts are not God's thoughts. His judgment is very different than ours. We may look upon someone and incorrectly assume they are prepared for heavenly experiences. Meanwhile we may look upon ourselves and incorrectly assume we are not prepared for those same experiences.

How do people in the scriptures react when they see God or angels? Shouldn't that inform us of how they picture themselves?

Here are some sections from 2 Nephi 9 that I think address some of these issues.

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.
30 But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
31 And wo unto the deaf that will not hear; for they shall perish.
32 Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish also.
33 Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day.
34 Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.
35 Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die.
36 Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell.
37 Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.

Who are those who are not prepared according to the Lord for higher experiences?
  • Those who do not hearken unto the counsel of God. What does that mean? Well, for me the most abundant source of God's counsel is the personal revelation I receive from him. The second is his recorded word in the scriptures. Do I set aside promptings? Do I live my life so busily that I never get them in the first place? How often to I feast from the scriptures? How often do I ask God questions about what I am doing in my life and doctrinal applications? 
  • Those who are rich as to the things of the world. Note that if you are rich you are automatically despising the poor. It is not possible to be rich and not despise the poor since there are so many in abject poverty around us globally, and so many ways to help them (liahonachildrensfoundation.org).
  • Those who spend their time and energy amassing treasure and toys.
  • Those who will not open their minds to things that don't jive with their current beliefs.
  • Those who will not seek and and search questions and answers to those questions
  • Those who don't care for the welfare of others.
  • Those who murder, lie, commit whoredoms.
  • Those who consider the latest material good to be more important than service and spirituality.
  • Those who are not prepared to endure the trial of living higher law.
 40 O, my beloved brethren, give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.

What is your reaction when you read or hear something you hadn't thought of before, or something that contradicts your current belief map? Do you "try the spirits," as Paul said and Joseph frequently advised? Or, do you summarily dismiss it? Do you dictate what is true to God, or do you allow him to gently peel away the scales from your eyes by introducing things you never before considered, as Moses, just as quickly as you can handle it? Do you question the unquestionable? What is your authority for truth? Is it anything other than the Holy Ghost, right now? Are you apt to extend the answers to your prayers for truth-revealing to things that are not related to the subject of your question? Do you have off-limits topics/subjects/themes on which you refuse to meditate/ponder/question?

 41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

Do you believe that the church or anyone in it holds the power to save you? Do you believe it is possible to divorce the gospel from Christ? Do you act as if the atonement is something separate from Jesus that can operate on it's own? Do you seek Jesus literally? Do you want to see him, speak with him face to face, and know him?

 42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

Do you cast away your riches, or do you persist in ignoring the global poor and put your own well-being before that of others? Do you consider yourself a fool before God, or do you assume you know full well what his commandments are and aren't? Do you recognize how much you don't know? Are you humble?

 43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The burden of the United Kingdom



The lion languishes in pain,
Prostrated in exhaustion.
A shadow of his former glory,
Shrunken, emaciated and forlorn.
His moanings for help,
Fall to the ground unanswered.
His allies are likewise impotent.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Abasement and Ascension: Happiness and Sorrow

"As a child, I thought I could live 
without pain,
without sorrow." (Dream Theater)

Every day I grow older, I better comprehend the extraordinary wisdom of Solomon, son of David. It used to be that this admiration of knowledge centered on the Proverbs. However, with maturity comes an ever-growing admiration of the gems contained in Ecclesiastes. Though I can't say it from a historical basis, Proverbs reads to me as the things he learned and said in his youth, and Ecclesiastes as his parting words.

What do we have in Ecclesiastes? For starters, one of my favorite verses in all of scripture: "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2)

Here is a man who had sampled everything the world has to offer. He quite possibly had greater wealth, power, fame, etc, than any man before or since. And what does he make of it? It is all vanity! This is the sense of the word that connotes emptiness and falsehood---an eventual decayed outcome.

How much of this life is simply vanity? To begin with, everything the world has to offer. It all evaporates with the sunrise of wisdom: the realization of things as they truly are.

As Dave Mustaine wrote,

"Throughout all ages of history,
The one thing we found out,
Sweet taste of vindication,
It turns to ashes in your mouth."

I wanted to quote sample verses from this book highlighting everything Solomon covers, but I would basically be quoting the whole thing. It is worth a read.

Essentially, if you could do it, Solomon tried it. He tested everything that men do under the sun. He made money, he spent money, he had many, many wives, he enjoyed the entertainments of the day, he had building projects. He realized that none of these pursuits brought lasting happiness. Most pleasure was fleeting, and that which endured (such as his buildings) would go to another at his death. He realized that this world and all it has to offer is essentially an illusion, evaporating when you rely on it the most.

Therefore, the only joy that is lasting in this life is that gained by obtaining and knowing Jesus Christ, and the love and peace that abides in him. Of all this world has to offer, this is the only thing that really matters. Everything else is simply meant to either be a vehicle that leads us to that (through repeated failures and suffering) or an illusion to distract us from it if we head not the master's call.

There is a false notion that obedience to God yields happiness. I say false notion, but what I mean is that the preceding is a true statement, provided the definition of happiness is correct. Countless prophets (all?) lived their days out in sorrow. Joseph said, “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth’ [see Hebrews 11:38], and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” (History of the Church, 4:574)

If these men, who were closer to Christ than most, experienced so much bitterness, is it not logical that as we seek to become more like Christ, we will be exposed to a greater portion of the bitter cup that he himself drank? Yet, they rejoiced in Christ. What we are told of one group of disciples is true of all:

"And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ." (Alma 31:38)

It was not that they would not suffer afflictions, but that their afflictions would be swallowed up in the joy of Christ. This is one of the many scriptural descriptions of true happiness---the pattern of ascent and descent.

What does happiness mean?

(1828 Webster's) HAP'PINESS, n. [from happy.] The agreeable sensations which spring from the enjoyment of good; that state of a being in which his desires are gratified, by the enjoyment of pleasure without pain; felicity; but happiness usually expresses less than felicity, and felicity less than bliss. Happiness is comparative. To a person distressed with pain, relief from that pain affords happiness; in other cases we give the name happiness to positive pleasure or an excitement of agreeable sensations. Happiness therefore admits of indefinite degrees of increase in enjoyment, or gratification of desires. Perfect happiness, or pleasure unalloyed with pain, is not attainable in this life.

Interestingly, I see two divergent definitions above. The first agrees with what I found in the modern definition: "The state of feeling or showing pleasure or contentment." The other, relief from pain, seems to agree more with what I find in the scriptures, but is still rather lacking.

There is the confusion about what happiness actually is. Laman and Lemuel are a great example of this. They said, "Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy." (1 Nephi 17:21) Meanwhile, Lehi and Nephi had sacrificed much to lug them along on a journey to the real source of happiness, the love of Christ (see 1 Nephi 8:10). You see, "to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6 and 2 Nephi 9:39) We can say these words and still not get what they mean. When we prioritize the so called happiness of this world with the joy of Christ, we demonstrate that we do not understand what those verses mean.

Among Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jeremiah, Job, Moses, Adam, Enoch, Nephi, Mormon, Moroni, Christ himself, and all the faithful, will you find a single person who went about cheerfully, always finding "happiness" (the lack of suffering) and favor in this fallen world? You will not. Not among the righteous.Their joy, as Christs kingdom, is not of this world (John 18:36) meaning not that it is not to be found here, but that it is not defined as the world would define it.

And so we see that the indications of joy in Christ are intentionally very different from the way Babylon experiences happiness. Their happiness is an illusion.

So what is to be done? How can we mitigate our sorrows? Once, when Alma Jr. found himself in a particularly hopeless situation, he offered a powerful prayer. The Lord responded to it by blessing him with "strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ." (Alma 31:38) Note the very important fact that God did not remove their afflictions from them. Rather, he blessed them that their joy in Christ could surpass their sorrow. Disciples of Christ have always and will always have more earthly sorrow than most. However, their joy in Christ surpasses those sorrows. This is the ascent-descent pattern.

Examples of scriptural happiness

Alma Jr.: "Now Alma, being grieved for the iniquity of his people, yea for the wars, and the bloodsheds, and the contentions which were among them; and having been to declare the word, or sent to declare the word, among all the people in every city; and seeing that the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful." (Alma 35:15)

10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness. (Alma 41:10)

Jacob: "...the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days." (Jacob 7:26) What spiritual blessings did he receive? What earthy sufferings did he go through? The more knowledge you have, the more sorrow you have. It is that simple. "For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." (Eccl 1:18)

 Ammon: 16 And it came to pass that as Ammon was going forth into the land, that he and his brethren met Alma, over in the place of which has been spoken; and behold, this was a joyful meeting.
 17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.
 18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.
 19 Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength. (Alma 27) Why? Because of their toil. This is the same pattern displayed by the Lord, whose ascent above all was made possible by his descent below all:

The Lord:
"He shall see the toil of his soul and be satisfied;
because of his knowledge,
and by bearing their iniquities,
shall my servant, the righteous one, vindicate many.
12 I will assign him an inheritance among the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,
because he poured out his soul unto death,
and was numbered with criminals—
he bore the sins of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:11-12)

Nephi vs Jacob:
It is interesting to compare/contrast these statements by Nephi and his brother Jacob.

Nephi:  27 And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness. (2 Nephi 5:27)

Jacob: 26 And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days. (Jacob 7)

Jacob: 43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints. (2 Nephi 9:43)

If they lived after the manner of happiness, how could Jacob describe it so negatively in his concluding verse? And how could he simultaneously call it "the happiness prepared for the saints"? Why is it hid? Because the reconciliation of these two definitions of happiness is only evident to those who have comprehended this mystery: the pattern of ascent and descent.

Ascent / descent

Happiness is the path of ascent after descent. It is the receipt of exaltation after you have sacrificed yourself through abasement for the benefit of others who did not merit it.

 11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
 12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
 13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away. (2 Nephi 2)

In order to obtain eternal life, you must descend to a very low point, and prove faithful all the while. This always occurs in steps of ever-increasing abasement followed by ever-increasing exaltation. Every step forward requires you descend below your previous lowest point. This is a pattern we see all over scripture.

Abraham: The father of all righteous was born in a comfortable life steeped in false tradition. His family was well-off and had a vested interest in preserving the false traditions they espoused. However, he willingly sought descent as a condition to acquire knowledge. There is no other way.



2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. (Abraham 1:2)

Happiness is the acquisition of knowledge, meaning the completion of an ascent/descent iteration. The more knowledge you have, the more sorrow you have. It is that simple. "For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." (Eccl 1:18)

Nephi:
You are raised commensurate with the degree to which you abased yourself. This happens through the justice of God. Although you can be justified (forgiven, cancelled out debt) through mercy, you can only be sanctified (exalted, increased) through justice. God looks upon your condescension on behalf of those who did not merit it and blesses you by judging you in absence of your sin for which you have been forgiven by and through Christ.

You can only progress as far as you've descended. If you quit, you merely are postponing what will eventually have to be done, anyway. Brigham Young once said "if the people have not an opportunity of proving themselves before they die, by the ruler of their faith and religion, they cannot expect to attain to so high a glory and exaltation as they could if they had been tried in all things." (JD 4:90)

Job:



There is a bar representing every stage of eternal progression. For instance, a bar associated with gaining the presence of God. A bar associated with becoming a Christ. A bar associated with being a Heavenly Father, and so on. Those who obtain salvation (however you define it) do so be conquering all the challenges associated with that level of blessing. They must live that law, which requires a discrete amount of condescension equal to the exaltation that follows.

"Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them
under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and
a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the
case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last
enemy was death." (TPJS)

Interestingly, the culmination of this pattern is always greater interaction with heaven. Joseph teaches in the Lectures on Faith that the required amount of abasement to merit exaltation requires that one encounter Jesus personally, and receive the promise of eternal life. Without this promise, it is impossible to endure the depth of descent required for eternal life.

41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.(Mosiah 2:41)

Hold out faithful till the end of what? Till the end of the descent pattern required for eternal life. You have to endure all the things God has to throw at you before you are able to live the law required for eternal life. It is an annealing process.

In summary, happiness is not the absence of sorrow, but the accumulation of knowledge earned through sorrow incurred through righteous intercession on others' behalf.

(The images in this post started from my friend John with many additions by my wife Nicky. Thanks to both.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Watchman, what of the night?

In Isaiah we read:

An oracle concerning Dumah:
Men call to me from Seir,
Watchman, what remains of the night?
Watchman, how much of the night is left?
12 The watchman replies,
Morning comes, though it is still night.
If you would ascertain it,
do so by repenting and coming back. (Isaiah 21:11-12)

The Hebrew calendar is a lunar-based calendar. Thus, the cycles of the moon, the rising of the sun, etc. were important events. The law of Moses tied certain practices to time periods set by these events. Thus, it was not uncommon to have a watchman posted so that at the earliest glimpse of the moon rise or sun rise, the people would know that God's timetable had moved to the next phase.

Likewise, God has always appointed watchmen to watch the night. These people are given to be an early warning sign of the things the Lord will do (see Amos 3:7). What's more, these people are meant to be a righteous standard to advance warning against the tide of Babylon among the people.

My Beloved had a vineyard
on the fertile brow of a hill.
2 He cultivated it, clearing it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines.
He built a watchtower in its midst
and hewed for it a winepress as well. (Isaiah 5:1-2)

The Lord is intent is that his vineyard bear fruit---not wild fruit, but his fruit, even eternal life. Throughout history, the priestly class has eventually succumbed to the forces of Babylon through the attrition made possible by supplanting God's word with the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Isaiah explains it from the Lord's perspective:

3 Now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and you men of Judea,
please judge between me and my vineyard!
4 What more could have been done
for my vineyard than I have done for it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it produce wild grapes?
5 Let me now inform you
what I will do to my vineyard:
I will have its hedge removed
and let it be burned;
I will have its wall broken through
and let it be trampled.
6 I will make it a desolation:it shall neither be pruned nor hoed,
but briars and thorns shall overgrow it.
Moreover, I will forbid the rainclouds to rain on it.
7 The vineyard of Jehovah of Hosts is the house of Israel
and the people of Judah his cherished grove.
He expected justice,
but there was injustice;
he expected righteousness,
but there was an outcry. (Isiah 5:3-7)

It is important to note that the punishments promised by the Lord aren't actually caused by the Lord. They are a natural result of the drunken stupor and slumber of the watchmen. Consider the recent Ebola inroads in the United States. The US has a solid history of ignoring the plight of dying Africans, despite the vast wealth and means of the country. If we had mobilized even 1/1000th of our annual defense outlays to set up isolation centers in West Africa 2 months ago, the epidemic would have ended. Because we didn't, we will endure an ever-increasing wave of ebola exports to the USA, and many Americans will die. This is not a direct action from God, but a natural result of our ignoring his commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. The destruction promised above will happen, and it will happen to the USA in our generation.

So what of the appointed watchmen in the LDS church? 

9 All you wild beasts, you animals of the forest,
come and devour!
10 Their watchmen are altogether blind and unaware;all of them are but dumb watchdogs unable to bark,
lolling seers fond of slumber.
11 Gluttonous dogs, and insatiable,
such indeed are insensible shepherds.
They are all diverted to their own way,
every one after his own advantage.
12 Come, they say, let us get wine
and have our fill of liquor.
For tomorrow will be like today, only far better! (Isaiah 56:9-12)

Not only are they not warning, Isaiah reduces them to dogs. It is not only that they choose not to bark, but they are so ignorant of things as they really are, that they are completely blind and unaware of what is actually important, relevant, and timely. Instead, they take their own advice as if it were God's word, they feed on the poor, and keep up their drunken stupor fed by false tradition and hubris. All is well, all is well.

So, if our watchmen are not warning us of the impending destruction, are not leading the charge to deal justly with our poor fellowmen, what are they doing?

Recently, the LDS church has spent a lot of money and time creating and publicizing the movie, "Meet the Mormons."

Consider the following reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

"Would you go out of your way to see an infomercial that was more than an hour long? Would you even pay for the privilege? That's what "Meet the Mormons" would have filmgoers do."

"Breaks the shocking news that LDS members 'come in all sizes, shapes and colors' and 'love God and believe he has a plan for all of us. Is this news worth $10.50 a ticket?"

"Slick, relentlessly upbeat propaganda that suffers from too many sins of omission."

"Meet the Mormons isn't substantial enough to screen on the first day of LDS 101; the church's most basic tenets - and controversial aspects - are elided completely."

They are spending millions of dollars, and encouraging members to spend even more by seeing the movie, renting out theaters, and spending tons of their own time, publicizing just how un-peculiar a people we are.

If the church were to spend millions of dollars out of their own purse, and encourage millions out of the purse of members, why not actually spread the message that God has asked us to spread, namely, of the destruction coming (D&C 88:81).

"17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

 19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

 20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

 21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul." (Ezekiel 3:17)

Why? Because it would be unpopular. If we spent the millions instead on caring for the poor, and preaching the gospel, we would bring in the types of people that are ready for the message. Instead, we are seeking to be popular. Rotting flesh doesn't attract butterflies...

Brigham Young: "When Mormonism finds favor with the wicked in this land, it will have gone into the shade; but until the power of the Priesthood is gone, Mormonism will never become popular with the wicked."     (J.D. 4:38)

"The President [Brigham Young] stopped with us. He sat at the head of the table and had me sit down at his right. The President, when everything was ready,asked a blessing, then all began to eat. He asked for some buttermilk, then crumbled some bread in it and began to eat. He conversed freely on the situation of the Saints in the mountains, and said that he dreaded the time when the Saints would become popular with the world; for he had seen in sorrow, in a dream, or in dreams, this people clothed in the fashions of Babylon, and drinking in the spirit of Babylon until one could hardly tell a Saint from [22] a black-leg. And he felt like shouting, `To your tents, Oh Israel!' because it was the only thing that could keep this people pure. Many of this people for the sake of riches and popularity, will sell themselves for that which will canker their souls and lead them down to misery and despair. It would be better for them to dwell in wigwams among the Indians than to dwell with the gentiles and miss the glories which God wishes them to obtain. I wish my families would see the point and come forth before it is too late. For oh, I can see the tendency in my families to hug the moth eaten customs of Babylon to their bosoms. This is far more hurtful to them than the deadly viper; for the poisons of the viper can be healed by the power of God. but the customs of Babylon will be hard to get rid of."
(Mosiah Hancock Journal, p. 47-48)

Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 30 Mar. 1990: “In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church. You can not appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman. Both Alma and Helaman told of the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today. Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur ‘in the space of not many years.’ In one instance it took only six years. (See Helaman 6:32, 7:6, 11:26.)” (Transcript of an address given at a Regional Representatives Seminar, 30 March 1990, entitled “Let Them Govern Themselves.”)

This is a fantastic commentary on Isaiah 28. You should listen to it.
http://www.isaiahexplained.com/MP3%20Commentarys/Isaiah28.mp3

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Talk on Tithing

I prepared this talk on tithing. Next time you are asked to speak, feel free to use it...no matter what topic you are assigned, and especially if you are assigned to regurgitate a general conference talk.

Joseph Smith reported the following from an epistle by the 12: "Study the word of God, and preach it and not your opinions, for no man’s opinion is worth a straw. Advance no principle but what you can prove, for one scriptural proof is worth ten thousand opinions." (History of the Church, 3:395–96.) This is precisely what we are going to do today.

``Yes, it is the precepts of men versus the principles of God. The more we follow the word of God, the less we are deceived, while those who follow the wisdom of men are deceived the most. Increasingly the Latter-day Saints must choose between the reasoning of men and the revelations of God. This is a crucial choice, for we have those within the Church today who, with their worldly wisdom, are leading some of our members astray.'' (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference Oct 1967)

As we embark on our scripture study today, I invite you to heed the words of Presidents Smith and Benson and discern between God's word given in scripture and the opinions of men which are sold as psuedo-scripture. Today we are going to go over the entire set of scriptures where God teaches the law of tithing. I invite all of you to compare what you have been taught as the law of tithing with what the Lord has actually said the law of tithing is.

This first scripture was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. It is from Genesis 14, JST:
36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
 37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
 38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
 39 Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need. (JST Gen 14)

What was the law of tithing given to Abraham? He was to pay a tenth of all he possessed BEYOND what he needed. This, in modern parlance, is 10% of his surplus, or 10% of whatever is left once "sufficient for your needs" has been taken out. Did Abraham pay 10% of his income to the Lord? No. He paid 10% of his surplus. Did Abraham "pay the Lord" first? No. He paid his debts first, then he paid himself by taking care of food, shelter, raiment, and other necessities, then he paid the Lord in the form of 10% of what was left.

This next one is from the Old Testament:
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. (Deuteronomy 14:22)
At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: (Deuteronomy 14:28)
Did God command these farmers to pay a tithe on the gross yield of the field? No. He told them to take out of the yield whatever seed they had put in, then pay a tenth of what was left---the surplus---to God. Did God command these farmers to pay the Lord the instant they harvested their crop? No, he instructed them to do it over a period of three years, possibly graciously allowing for absorbing bad crop years.

This next one is from the Doctrine in Covenants. Pay special attention to this scripture, as it is the only two instructions we have in the Doctrine and Covenants regarding tithing.

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion,
2 For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.
3 And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.
4 And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.
5 Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.
6 And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.
7 And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen. (D&C 119)

Did God command us to pay one tenth of everything they received annually? No. He commanded them to pay one tenth of each year's profit. Profit is calculated by taking the increase of your estate and subtracting out all expenses. This is no different to the way God commanded Abraham to pay tithing: one tenth of everything you have beyond what you need. Note that the Lord says not only that this will be a standing law forever, noting that it will never change. He also says that as long as we live some different law of tithing than this one, or no law of tithing, we cannot become Zion.

This principle is reinforced again in another section of D&C, the only other exposition of the law of tithing.

"And again, let the bishop appoint a storehouse unto this church; and let all things both in money and in meat, which are more than is needful for the wants of this people, be kept in the hands of the bishop." (D&C 51:13)

Again, more than is needful for the wants of this people.

At this point it should be clear that what is preached in the church as the law of tithing, and what God revealed as the law of tithing, are two very different programs. Also remember that God said that the law of tithing contained in the scriptures would not change, and Joseph showed us that it was the same even back when Abraham lived.

So how did we get this way?

Let's start with how the church got this way.

According to President Packer, leaders just don't have very much time to study even the fundamentals of the gospel.

Pres. Packer: He [the faithful member] will be a bishop for perhaps six years, then he will be thirty-three years old. He will then serve eight years on a stake high council and five years as a counselor in the stake presidency. At forty-six he will be called as the stake president. We will release him after six years to become a regional representative, and he will serve for five years. That means he will have spent some thirty years as [a] leader. However, in all that time, he will not have attended three gospel doctrine classes in a row, nor will he have attended three priesthood quorum lessons in a row....Unless he knew the fundamental principles of the gospel before his call, he will scarcely have time to learn them along the way. Agendas, meetings, and budgets are not usually overlooked.
But the principles are overlooked – the gospel is overlooked, the doctrine is overlooked. When that happens, we are in great danger! We see the evidence of it in the church today. (Principles, Ensign, March 1985, p.9)

Most of what members get by way of the gospel is via regurgitated general conference talks. Why would leaders, who are almost always selected from the ranks of busy doctors, lawyers, and businessmen, have any more time than normal members to study the gospel from the scriptures? A bishophric member that I know, who is a surgeon, only has time in his 100+ hour weeks to listen to the gospel on his commute. He believes the best thing to listen to is general conference. Conference averages 1.5 verses of scripture per talk, and most of those are repeated from conference to conference. You would get more scripture from taking just 15 minutes of reading than by listening to a whole weekend of conference. So if they aren't quoting scripture, what do they quote? Well, mostly just previous conferences.

So to see when the doctrine of tithing deviated from God's revealed word, we need to consult history. Believe it or not, many members during Joseph's life actually lived the law of tithing according to God's word in D&C 119.

"If a man gives for the benefit of the Church, it is considered a voluntary offering. Yet the law requires or enjoins a consecration of the overplus, after reserving for himself and family to carry on his business." (John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Latter Day Saints, p 45)

"The celestial law requires one-tenth part of all a man's substance which he possesses at the time he comes into the church (See D&C 119:1), and one-tenth part of his annual increase ever after(See D&C 119:4). If it requires all man can earn to support himself and his family, he is not tithed at all. The celestial law does not take the mother's and children's bread, neither ought else which they really need for their comfort. The poor that have not of this world's good to spare, but serve and honor God according to the best of their abilities in every other way, shall have a celestial crown in the Eternal Kingdom of our Father." (The Millenial Star, 1847. Orson Hyde, editor)

Both of these descriptions match God's description of tithing. So when did it change from what is in the scriptures to what we have now? Immediately after Joseph's death. Less than two months after the martyrdom, the brethren issued a proclamation demanding a one time payment of 1/10th of their property to the church, without exemptions for those who had already done so per D&C 119.

History since then is full of a sordid list of modifications to the revealed word of God. You can trace the first instances of:
-Tithing being 1/10 of your income instead of surplus (1873, Orson Hyde)
-Tithing being described as a separate law from consecration (1874, Orson Pratt)
-Tithing ought to be paid before necessities of life (1892, Joseph F. Smith)
-Removal of requirement to first consecrate your property (1899, Lorenzo Snow)
-Requirement of tithing on income for entry to temple (1910)

So we see that, over time, the philosophies of men become mingled with scripture. That explains how the church replaced God's law of tithing with an innovation. But what about you? How did you get off track from God's revealed commandment?

You trusted the arm of the flesh. Joseph repirmanded the Saints in his day for doing the same. He said, ""

 "President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel [see, for example, verses 9-10: 'If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing...the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.']...said the Lord had declared by the Prophet [Ezekiel], that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men...that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls -- applied it to the present state [1842] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...that they were depending on the Prophet [instead of the Lord], hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves..." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pp. 237-38)

Seek God yourselves. Don't trust other people to regurgitate the scriptures to you. Go read them yourself, and ask God what he meant. Do what you read. Start now with tithing. Go re-read JST Gen 14. Re-read D&C 119. Look at church history and figure out what God's law of tithing is, using his words, not someone else's.

I testify to you that God has given us the law of tithing. Let no man change God's word, which he declared a standing law forever. Without living this law, according to God, we cannot have Zion.

One does not simply pass the heavenly gift

Elder Boyd Packer was paraphrased in the Deseret News a while back as saying "that priesthood is the authority and the power that God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present." (Here.)

Packer explained that the church has distributed the authority of the priesthood worldwide, but that they had not distributed the power of the priesthood.

Packer said: "After all that we have correlated and organized, it is now our responsibility to activate the power of the priesthood in the Church. Authority in the priesthood comes by way of ordination; power in the priesthood comes through faithful and obedient living in honoring covenants. It is increased by exercising and using the priesthood in righteousness."

What do church members mean when they say words like "keys," "authority", or "sealing power"?

Let's start with authority. Elder Packer says, "that priesthood is the authority and the power that God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present." He also says that many priesthood holders in the church do not have power, although they do have authority. So we see that while authority can be given by the church, power cannot. Or, as Packer put it, "power in the priesthood comes through faithful and obedient living in honoring covenants." Or, as the Lord put it,

44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
 45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
 46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
 47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
 48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world. (D&C 84:44-48)

If priesthood power or "God's efficacy" cannot come from the church, where does it come from? As Joseph restored to Genesis 14, the power of the priesthood cannot come from man at all:

25 And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.
 26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
 27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. (JST Gen 14:25-29)

Interestingly, the phrase "neither by beginning of days nor end of years" could refer to the LDS practice since Brigham Young of ordaining men at certain ages.

So, as Elder Packer says, authority means "church permission." It cannot mean "God's permission," because if it did, according to JST Gen 14:25-29, it would come with power. And not just your run of the mill sacrament/blessings on the sick power, either:

30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
 31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world....
 33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace. (JST Gen 14:30-31,33)

So what does "keys" mean? Well, the church website for that topic quotes the following:

“It is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 136).

So when leaders say "keys" they mean church permission to give church permission. Again, note that this is a process that doesn't necessarily involve the Lord, since if it required God's approval, it would always come with the power of the priesthood, which Packer claims is frequently not the case.

What about "sealing power"? When most members of the church use that phrase, they do so with the exclusive meaning of making a spousal or parental relationship eternally binding. However, any act done in the Lord's name fails to actually come to pass unless recognized by heaven. Thus, to state something on earth and have it come to pass, it must either have originated in heaven and been communicated by God's word prior to occurring, or it must have originated on earth and been ratified by God's word in heaven. This can and does happen on a case-by-case basis. This is limited power in the priesthood. However, from time to time God declares to men that whatever they say, he will do. For example, this is what he said to Nephi:

 4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
 6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
 7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
 8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
 9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
 10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass. (Helaman 10:4-10)

Note that it is not Nephi who makes Nephi's actions efficacious, but God. Elijah could not have stopped the rain without God putting his seal to Elijah's statement. Melchezidek could not have put at defiance the armies of nations of his own accord. God did it at his request. Moses could not have divided the red seas without God having told him to do so, putting his seal to the words Moses would utter to command the sea to part. It was by God's power, and not man's, that all these and all other examples of sealing power occurred. So the fullness of the priesthood is nothing more and nothing less that God's promise to a man that what he says will be done on earth and in heaven. In heaven because it takes heaven to move earth, and on earth because God in heaven can command the earth and all things on it.

This past weekend we heard Elder Eyring say, "The prophet sent me to confer the sacred sealing power on a man in a small city far away. Only the prophet of God has the keys to decide who is to receive the sacred power which was given by the Lord to Peter, the senior Apostle. I had received that same sealing power, but only by direction of the President of the Church could I confer it on another." (Here.)

President Eyring, and all the brethren, claim to have the sealing power. After all, if they didn't, none of the ordinances conducted by the church would be recognized by God as more than an earthly witness of effort. No temple ordinances would actually redeem the dead, no endowments would grant access to God, no baptisms would result in a claim to be resurrected into the next life, and priesthood blessings of health would not be honored by virtue of the church permission of the bearer.

If the brethren hold the sealing power, it means that what blessings they invoke will come to pass, and what curses they invoke will come to pass. It may seem highly irregular that a member of the 15 would curse someone, but that is essentially what they do when they consent to the excommunication of a member, for if they hold the power to seal to eternal life, they also have God's power to revoke the efficacy of ordinances performed in the church, even extending to revoking a man's access to the Holy Ghost.

The brethren don't often talk of their use of the priesthood. However, Elder Oaks gave a somewhat candid talk regarding priesthood blessings not too long ago. In it he makes some very interesting points in context of what has been discussed here.


  • "the healing power of the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him whose priesthood it is." He cites D&C 42:48, which says that the sick can be healed unless they are appointed unto death.
  • "Another part of a priesthood blessing is the words of blessing spoken by the elder after he seals the anointing. These words can be very important, but their content is not essential....Ideally, the elder who officiates will be so in tune with the Spirit of the Lord that he will know and declare the will of the Lord in the words of the blessing.....On some choice occasions I have experienced that certainty of inspiration in a healing blessing and have known that what I was saying was the will of the Lord. However, like most who officiate in healing blessings, I have often struggled with uncertainty on the words I should say. For a variety of causes, every elder experiences increases and decreases in his level of sensitivity to the promptings of the Spirit.....Fortunately, the words spoken in a healing blessing are not essential to its healing effect. If faith is sufficient and if the Lord wills it, the afflicted person will be healed or blessed whether the officiator speaks those words or not." (Ibid)

Elder Oaks plainly states that efficacious blessings in the church can only come if one of the following is true:

  1. God tells the priesthood holder what to say.
  2. Someone exercises faith so that God heals them.

Interestingly, if someone is healed by faith, no priesthood was necessary in the first place. Even Elder Oaks admits that in the same talk by referencing people who are healed through prayer to God. I would suggest that if the priesthood holder has not received God's word, a blessing ought to be replaced with a prayer asking God to heal the person. All the "authority of the Melchezidek priesthood" in the world will not make that blessing any more efficacious than a prayer if the word of God hasn't appointed it, and the hubris of such a display may make it even less likely than a prayer.

It also seems tremendously convenient to claim that if the priesthood holder's words did not come to pass, "it must not have been God's will." D&C 42:48 only applies when God wants the person dead. If they go on living but afflicted, it is clear that the words were spoken (and the Lord's name was taken) in vain.

A priesthood blessing via the sealing power would require neither of these conditions. It is possible that Elder Oaks was describing his own experience prior to his receipt of the sealing power in conjunction with receiving the second anointing, which would have happen at or before his ordination to be an apostle. However, even supposing such is the case, we would have to believe that every single blessing given by every apostle always comes to pass to the letter.

Either the brethren have the sealing power, or not every blessing they give comes to pass to the letter every time. There is no middle ground. It just takes one counterexample, folks.

As you contemplate the presence or absence of sealing power, it would do good to think about how it is received. It turns out that, as explained in JST Gen 14, the fullness of the priesthood is received directly from God. On the other hand, while the words "the sealing power is only ever received directly from God" do not appear in scripture, the body of examples of individuals receiving it match that pattern. Without fail, every single person in the scriptures who had the sealing power received it directly from God.

One counterexample you might be thinking of is Joseph Smith. The church claims he got it from Elijah in the Kirtland temple on April 3, 1836 (see D&C 110). However, that revelation does not include anything about bestowal of the sealing power. The phrase repeated to Nephi and all others who have ever received it was not recorded. Joseph DID receive the sealing power, but not from Elijah. The bestowal is recorded in D&C 132, which was recorded in 1843 but could have occurred many years before:

 45 For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time.
 46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.
 47 And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless I will bless, and whomsoever you curse I will curse, saith the Lord; for I, the Lord, am thy God.

When did God tell Brigham he had sealing power? We have no record of it. Did Brigham claim he did? No. He claimed to have gotten it from Joseph. For many years, his claim was that he got it through his ordination as an apostle. Later, the claim was that they received it during the "last charge." Yet, if true, this would be the first example of a man receiving the sealing power through another man. Of all those in scripture, none received it from a man who already had it. What about later presidents of the church? They all claim to have received it through men since Brigham.

All this being said, we return to the connection between church permission and God's power. The church spends a tremendous amount of resources spreading church permission under the understanding that it is required to make God's power efficacious. To the occasional examples where apostles have admitted that church permission is NOT required (such as Oaks above admitting that the scriptures are right when they say the effectual prayer of the righteous can actually get God to heal without any priesthood involved), let us add another easy to see example.

When Jesus' apostles report to him that individuals without church permission are casting out demons in Christ's name, he tells them to let them (Mark 9:38-40). Oddly, these folks were effectual in a ministry that the apostles themselves weren't quite able to do (Matthew 17:19), and without the church permission the apostles had in abundance.

Moreover, we are told that many miracles shall follow all those who believe (Mark 16:17-18), whether or not they have church permission.

Finally, we see that Paul was ordained an apostle by Christ himself (Galatians 1:1), and wasn't even in contact with the other apostles for years after he started his ministry, which included many priesthood miracles.

So we are left with a few questions:
  • Why are at least some of the brethren's blessings ineffectual if they have the sealing power?
  • If the brethren have the sealing power, how did they get it?
  • Why does the church spend so much time and effort spreading around church permission if God's power is available directly from God (JST Gen 14)?
  • If you can can exercise at least as much of God's power in the priesthood without church permission as you can with church permission, what does church permission buy you?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Second Blood Moon

We woke up early this morning to view the lunar eclipse. We live in an area where you can see not only thousands of stars but also the belt of the Milky Way. The sky was cloudless at the apex of the eclipse. The large red moon was set on a backdrop of pindrop shiny stars with a few planets scattered in. The thought came to mind:

"The Lord's face is red with anger, and the hosts of heaven great and small join in witness against the blood and sins of this generation."

Interestingly, prior to the eclipse the moon was full and white. It rose from being invisible to visible as the light so abundantly dispersed generally upon the earth was gradually diminished, until it was clear that the only light came from the moon. Then the moon turned red. Then, after a time, it turned back to white, and eventually the sun will rise (it is still dark here) and the light will be abundantly dispersed generally upon the earth once again.

At the apex of the eclipse, my wife saw a shooting star that appeared to come from the moon's location, straight down to earth. This is very interesting. My interpretation is that the Lord is declaring that from this point there is a servant called and activated to carry out the events associated with that sign. Might be an angel sent to pour out the declared destruction (see Revelation for descriptions of angels prophesied to do just that) or the beginning of the public ministry of the servant spoken of in Isaiah. Time will tell. I expect things to get very interesting soon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The wheat, the tares, and harvest time

22 And after that day, I, the Lord, will not hold any guilty that shall go with an open heart up to the land of Zion; for I, the Lord, require the hearts of the children of men.
23 Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
24 For after today cometh the burning—this is speaking after the manner of the Lord—for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon." (D&C 64:22-24)


``1 It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop;
2 And also their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances.
3 It is contrary to the will and commandment of God that those who receive not their inheritance by consecration, agreeable to his law, which he has given, that he may tithe his people, to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning, should have their names enrolled with the people of God."
(D&C 85:1-3)

 5 Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;
 6 But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.
 7 Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.
(D&C 86:1-7)

 63 Again, verily I say unto you, I will show unto you wisdom in me concerning all the churches, inasmuch as they are willing to be guided in a right and proper way for their salvation—
64 That the work of the gathering together of my saints may continue, that I may build them up unto my name upon holy places; for the time of harvest is come, and my word must needs be fulfilled.
65 Therefore, I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life, and be crowned with celestial glory, when I shall come in the kingdom of my Father to reward every man according as his work shall be;
66 While the tares shall be bound in bundles, and their bands made strong, that they may be burned with unquenchable fire.
67 Therefore, a commandment I give unto all the churches, that they shall continue to gather together unto the places which I have appointed. (D&C 101:63-67)

7 But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me;
 8 But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am; for the veil of darkness shall soon be rent, and he that is not purified shall not abide the day.
 9 Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome.
 10 Verily I say unto you, ye are clean, but not all; and there is none else with whom I am well pleased;
 11 For all flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth, among the children of men, in the presence of all the hosts of heaven—
 12 Which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained, and the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned; and, behold, the enemy is combined. (D&C 38:7-12)

From the preceding, we see that the harvest is the time when the righteous have demonstrated fruit worthy of having the angels gather them to safety. This will include (see Elijah post) being called up and elected to eternal life by being sealed in the forehead by the angels. Meanwhile, the wicked are hardened in their wickedness and at harvest, are bundled up or made sure in their wickedness, and burned.

Wheat and tares are indistinguishable when they are young. However, when they start to bear fruit, the difference becomes incontrovertible. The devastation to come is the ripening process. As Jesus said, a blind and seeing person are no different in the darkness. The difference becomes manifest as light increases.

The harvest occurs at harvest time, as we read in the following passages by Isaiah. While the righteous are gleaned out by angels, the wicked are reaped down by the King of Assyria figure.


Therefore I will mourn as Jazer mourns
for the vines of Sibmah;
I will water you with my tears,
O Heshbon and Elealeh,
when your shouts of cheer
over the summer fruit and harvest are stilled.
The joyful festivity will be gone from the orchards;
no shouts of delight shall sound in the vineyards.
The wine treaders will tread no wine in the presses;
the vintage shout I will bring to an end. (Isaiah 16:9-10)

4 In that day Jacob’s glory shall wane,
and his fatness of body become leanness.
5 After being like a harvest of ripe grain,
whose ears are reaped by the armful,
he will become like ears plucked
in the Valley of Rephaim
6 when only the gleanings are left,
or when an olive tree is beaten,
having two or three berries in the topmost bough,
or four or five in its most fruitful branch,
says Jehovah, the God of Israel.
7 In that day men will have regard to their Maker,
and their eyes look to the Holy One of Israel,
8 and regard not the altars,
the works of their hands,
nor look to things their fingers have made—
the idols of prosperity and the shining images.
9 In that day their mighty cities shall be like the deserted towns of the Hivites and Amorites,
which they abandoned before the Israelites during the desolation.
10 For you have forgotten your God, your salvation,
and not remembered the Rock, your fortress.
Therefore, though you plant choice crops
and sow hybrid seed,
11 and though you make them thrive
the day you plant them,
causing them to sprout
the very morning you sow them,
yet shall the harvest vanish
in a day of diseases and incurable pain.
12 Woe to the many peoples in an uproar,
who rage like the raging of the seas—
13 Nations may roar like the roaring of great waters,
but when he rebukes them they will flee far away;
they will be driven before the wind
like chaff on the mountains,
or as whirling dust in a storm.
14 At evening time shall be the catastrophe,
and before morning they shall be no more.
This is the lot of those who plunder us,
the fate of those who despoil us. (Isaiah 17:4-14)

18
Woe to the land of buzzing wings
beyond the rivers of Cush,
2 which sends emissaries by sea,
in swift craft across the water!
They say, Go speedily, you messengers!
Go to a people perpetually on the move,
a nation dreaded far and wide,
a people continually infringing,
whose rivers have annexed their lands.
3 All you who live in the world,
you inhabitants of the earth,
look to the ensign
when it is lifted up in the mountains;
heed the trumpet when sounded!
4 For thus said Jehovah to me:
I will watch in silence over my dwelling place
when the searing heat overtakes the reapers, a
and when the rainclouds appear
amid the fever of reaping.
5 For before the harvest,
when the time of flowering is past
and the set blossoms are developing into young fruit,
they will cut down the fruit-bearing twigs with knives
and remove the new branches by slashing.
6 All shall be left to the birds of prey
of the mountains
and to the beasts of the land:
the birds of prey will feed on them all summer
4 Hebrew ’or, light, emended to ’oreh.and the beasts of the land all winter.
7 At that time shall tribute be brought
to Jehovah of Hosts
from a nation perpetually on the move,
from a nation dreaded far and wide,
a people continually infringing,
whose rivers have annexed their lands,
to the place of the name of Jehovah of Hosts:
Mount Zion. (Isaiah 18:1-7)

12 In that day Jehovah will thresh out his harvest from the torrent of the River to the streams of
Egypt. But you shall be gleaned one by one, O children of Israel. (Isaiah 27:12)

Woe to the garlands of glory
of the drunkards of Ephraim!
Their crowning splendor has become as fading wreaths
on the heads of a the opulent a overcome with wine.
2 My Lord has in store one mighty and strong:
as a ravaging hailstorm sweeping down,
or like an inundating deluge of mighty waters,
he will hurl them to the ground by his hand.
3 The proud garlands of the drunkards of Ephraim
shall be trodden underfoot.
4 And the fading wreaths, the crowns of glory
on the heads of a the opulent, a
shall be like the first-ripe fruit
before summer harvest:
he who sees it devours it
the moment he has hold of it.
5 In that day shall Jehovah of Hosts
be as a crown of beauty and wreath of glory
to the remnant of his people:
6 a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
a source of strength
to those who repulse the attack at the gates.
7 These too have indulged in wine
and are giddy with strong drink:
priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor.
They are intoxicated with wine
and stagger because of strong drink;
they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions.
8 For all tables are filled with vomit;
no spot is without excrement.
9 Whom shall he give instruction?
Whom shall he enlighten with revelation?
Weanlings weaned from milk,
10 For it is but precept upon precept,
precept upon precept,
measure by measure, measure by measure;
a trifle here, a trifle there.
11 Therefore, by incomprehensible speech
and a strange tongue
must he speak to these people,
12 to whom he said, This is rest; let the weary rest!
This is a respite! But they would not listen.
13 So to them the word of Jehovah remained:
Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
measure by measure, measure by measure;
a trifle here, a trifle there, that,
persisting, they might lapse into stumbling
and break themselves,
become ensnared and be taken captive.
14 Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, you scoffers
who preside over these people in Jerusalem.
15 You have supposed, by taking refuge in deception
and hiding behind falsehoods,
to have covenanted with Death,
or reached an understanding with Sheol, that,
should a flooding scourge sweep through the earth,
it shall not reach you.
16 Therefore, thus says my Lord Jehovah:
I lay in Zion a stone, a keystone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.
They who believe it will not do rashly.
17 I will make justice the measure,
righteousness the weight;
a hail shall sweep away your false refuge
and waters flood the hiding place.
18 Your covenant with Death shall prove void,
your understanding with Sheol have no effect:
when the flooding scourge sweeps through,
you shall be overrun by it.
19 As often as it sweeps through,
you shall be seized by it:
18 Hebrew kuppar, expiated, emended to hupar.morning after morning it shall sweep through,
by day and by night it shall seize you;
it shall cause terror merely to hear word of it.
20 Then shall come to pass the proverb:
The couch is too short to stretch out on,
the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in.
21 For Jehovah will rise up
as he did on Mount Perazim,
and be stirred to anger, as in the Valley of Gibeon—
to perform his act, his unwonted act,
and do his work, his bizarre work.
22 Now therefore scoff not,
lest your bonds grow severe,
for I have heard utter destruction
decreed by my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts,
upon the whole earth.
23 Give heed, and hear my voice!
Be attentive, and listen to what I say!
24 Will the plowman be forever plowing to sow seed,
disking and harrowing the same ground?
25 When he has smoothed its surface,
does he not sprinkle fennel and scatter cumin?
Does he not demarcate wheat from barley
and plant buckwheat in its own plot?
26 His God instructs him,
directing him in the proper procedure.
27 Fennel is not threshed with a sharp-toothed sledge,
nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin:
fennel is beaten out with a stick
and cumin with a rod.
28 Domestic grain is ground;
one does not go on endlessly threshing it.
It cannot be ground
by driving horse and threshing cart over it.
29 These things originate with Jehovah of Hosts,
whose counsel is wonderful,
whose inspiration is surpassing. (Isaiah 28)

A king shall reign in righteousness
and rulers rule with justice.
2 And a man shall become as a shelter
from the wind or refuge from the storm,
like brooks of water in a desert place,
or the shade of a large rock in arid country.
3 The eyes of those who see shall not be shut,
and the ears of those who hear shall listen.
4 The minds of the rash shall learn understanding,
and the tongues of the stammerers master eloquence.
5 The godless shall no longer be regarded as noblenor rogues considered respectable.
6 For the godless utter blasphemy;
their heart ponders impiety:
how to practice hypocrisy and preach
perverse things concerning Jehovah,
leaving the hungry soul empty,
depriving the thirsty soul of drink.
7 And rogues scheme by malevolent means
and insidious devices to ruin the poor,
and with false slogans and accusations
to denounce the needy.
8 But the noble are of noble intent,
and stand up for what is virtuous.
9 Up, and listen to my voice, O complacent women;
you careless daughters, hear my words!
10 In little more than a year
you shall be in anguish, O carefree ones,
for when the harvest is over,
the produce shall fail to arrive.
11 Be alarmed, you complacent women;
be perturbed, O careless daughters!
Strip yourselves bare;
put sackcloth around your waists.
12 Beat your breasts for the choice fields
and flourishing vines,
13 for my people’s land
shall be overgrown with briars and thorns.
Mourn for all the amusement houses
in the city of entertainment,
14 for the palaces shall lie abandoned,
the clamorous towns deserted.
High rises and panoramic resorts
shall become haunts for ever after,
the playground of wild animals,
a browsing place for flocks.
19 For by a hail shall forests be felled,
cities utterly leveled.
15 Then shall a Spirit from on high
19 Verse appears out of sequence in the text.
15 Hebrew ‘ad, until, emended to ’az.be poured out on us;
the desert shall become productive land
and lands now productive
be reckoned as brushwood.
16 So shall justice inhabit the desert,
and righteousness abide in the farmland.
17 And the effect of justice shall be peace,
and the result of righteousness
an assured calm forever.
18 My people shall dwell in peaceful settlements,
in safe neighborhoods, in comfortable dwellings.
20 Blessed are you, who shall then sow by all waters,
letting oxen and asses range free. (Isaiah 32:1-20)