Monday, January 27, 2014

They "shall roar like...lions" - Isaiah 5:29

In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, we read, "And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly: None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind: Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it. And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof" (Isaiah 5:26-30).

Now, before you scratch your head, and wonder what that even means: keep reading. 


This passage is making reference to the gathering of the House of Israel from all the earth. What is the Ensign that God has raised to gather Israel? The question is answered by the very standard itself: "And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel" (3 Nephi 21:7). The coming forth of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was to be the beginning of the great work of the Latter-days! Along with the Bible, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, we have the Standard Works; but The Book of Mormon has the power in it to convince the world of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and of the reality of the restoration of His church to the earth.


With this standard, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are to hiss it forth. Hissing is something that we do to get the attention of others. If we are not bringing The Book of Mormon to the attention of others, we are failing in this grand commission. Ezra Taft Benson once said, “We, the members of the Church, and particularly the missionaries, have to be the ‘hissers,’ or the tellers and testifiers, of the Book of Mormon unto the ends of the earth” (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1975/04/the-book-of-mormon-is-the-word-of-god?lang=eng). 


Then comes the promise. As members hiss forth The Book of Mormon, the elect of God will hear His voice, and they "shall come with speed swiftly". They will do anything to get to Zion. While, for now, Zion is not a physical location, in the past it was. One of the major methods of gathering the saints to Zion, while often forgotten, is the railroads. Can you not see the imagery of the iron horse's hooves to be like flint, or throwing off sparks? Can you not see the wheels being like a whirlwind? 


With such marvelous technology, the like of which had never been seen in Isaiah's day, is it any wonder that when Isaiah saw the trains, and the planes, and the cars, and other forms of transportation, that he would say "none shall slumber nor sleep". 


Furthermore, from the shear desire to gather to Zion today, people rush to the temples. Anybody who has been saving for years to go to the temple so their family can be sealed, obviously, won't unloose their shoes nor get out of their day clothes, because that would slow them down in getting to Zion. Also, if all is taken symbolically, people will be rushing to the gospel and to the waters of baptism as they come to know that the gospel is true, and that the Standard is good.


With the word of our testimonies, we have sharp arrows and bent bows, ready for the attack. It is not an attack against any person, but "against principalitiesagainst powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). With our testimonies in full strength, we literally wage war against Satan. Having a testimony, however, will not be enough in this war, we must share it and invite others to learn what we know with boldness.


What could possibly have a better image of boldness than a lion? A lion is not timid. It will rush forth roaring with a loud voice. That is what happens when we share our testimonies of the gospel. That is what happens when we invite others to come unto Christ. We don't have to be rude about it. No does still mean no. But boldly testifying of the power and veracity of The Book of Mormon, and then asking them to read it is not rude, but it is bold. It doesn't matter if you are a "young lion", for that roaring can convince nations.

Unlike lions, however, we do not seek to destroy our prey. We seek to bring our prey to safety, and away from the Destroyer. Nothing can stop it, save it be the agency of the prey (or convert) itself. This is the great work of the latter day.

Then, when Zion has been fully established, when she is allowed to "in her beauty rise" (1985 Hymnal 41), the children of the covenant will roar against the children of Babylon with their testimonies. Then, when the glory of Zion shines brightly, the wicked will look at their own lands, and behold the darkness and sorrow they longed to hang onto. They will see the comparison to the "cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night""upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies" (Isaiah 4:5). At that day, the wicked shall know, and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ.

For those reading this, who are not yet of our faith, I plead with you to study from The Book of Mormon, ponder the message it contains, and then ask God if it is true. I beg you to come to taste of this inexpressible joy that I have tasted. I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of the Lord. I know that God has set His hand to gather in Israel from her long dispersion. I know that you will come to know all of this as well as you study from this sacred record, even The Holy Book of Mormon.

For those reading this, who have come into the fold, but have strayed for a season, I implore for you to study from The Book of Mormon, ponder the message it contains, and then ask God if it is true. As you do so, you will come to rekindle the fire of the covenants you once had brightly burning in you. You will find a greater purpose in your life, and you will feel to "sing the song of redeeming love" again (Alma 5:26).

For those reading this, who are in the fold but are questioning why you are still here, I urge you to study from The Book of Mormon, ponder the message it contains, and then ask God if it is true. You will come to know of the veracity of the work in which you are engaged in. Inasmuch as you are weak in some areas, as you study this sacred record, you will find ways to be made strong through the Holy One of Israel. You will find greater resolve to stand against the onslaught of Satan.

For those reading this, who are active in the church but who struggle to engage in missionary work, I beseech for you to study from The Book of Mormon, ponder the message it contains, and then ask God if it is true each time you study from this sacred record. Your testimony will be strengthened each time and your conversion deepened. As you consistently read from this standard, which the Lord has raised to gather Israel, and renew your testimony in it, I testify in the name of Jesus Christ that you will be able to roar like a lion in bearing testimony of this great work. I know it, and you can too.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

That "he may loose the bands...which bind his people" (Alma 7:12)

This may come as a shock to many of you, but life is difficult. Each one of us is the sum of everything that has ever happened to us, and how we reacted to those things. Neither one of us is exactly the same for that very reason. None of us can truly, fully understand another person.

The hymn, "Arise, O Glorious Zion" has a special place in my heart. It practically teaches the full doctrine on how Zion can come out of obscurity and darkness in this wicked, corrupt world. The third verse teaches us of the struggles in life, "Thru painful tribulation We walk the narrow road And battle with temptation To gain the blest abode But patient, firm endurance, With glory in our view, The Spirit's bright assurance Will bring us conq'rors through." (http://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/arise-o-glorious-zion?lang=eng). Each time I sing those words, I think, "Yeah! That's totally my life!"

Doubts, fears, and questions constantly arise. Why do I feel the way I do? Why is life so difficult? Why can't I see the end from the beginning? The truth is, because that's the way it is. This life is a time to grow. If God removed all the need for faith, none of us would grow.

We have one who understands us perfectly. He knows exactly the way we feel. He knows that life is difficult, and why. He knows the beginning from the end. He knows what we need to grow to become like Him. Jesus the Anointed One loves us perfectly, because he knows us perfectly. He loves us more than we can possibly love ourselves, because we don't know ourselves as well as He does. He came to understand the bands which bind us, as well as to loose them from us.

With John Taylor, I say "World upon world, eternal things, Hang on thy anguish, King of kings." He went through that anguish, because of love. He always prepared with purpose, taught with testimony, and labored with love all of this life. He understands us perfectly.

Answers, hope, and joy can come to each of us. Instead of seeing the way of Babylon, we can have the Holy Ghost teach us the ways of Zion. We still won't be able to see the end from the beginning, but we can have the strength, and the power of the Holy One of Israel upon us at all times through His redeeming and exalting blood.

Returning to "Arise, O Glorious Zion", the fourth verse explains by what power comes the Spirit to aid us in life. "Oh, grant, Eternal Father, That we may faithful be, With all the just to gather, And thy salvation see! Then, with the hosts of heaven, We'll sing th'immortal theme: To him be glory given Whose blood did us redeem." (http://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/arise-o-glorious-zion?lang=eng). Through our faith in, and through, the blood of the Lamb, we are able to survive this life. We are able to thrive.

Because of the Power of the Atoning Sacrifice of the Son of God, He is able to perfectly, truly, and fully understand you, and me, better than we can understand ourselves. Life is still going to be challenging at times, but we will always have a friend bearing us up, even Jesus the Christ. And that is the least shocking thing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Law of the Harvest

"As a Man Sows, So Shall He Reap" (http://www.latterdayconservative.com/howard-w-hunter/the-law-of-the-harvest/).  This is the Law of the Harvest. There is a trend in today's world to dismiss this time-tested and ancient law. We expect to sow time on Facebook, and reap good grades. We expect to sow idleness, and reap satisfaction. We expect to sow tweets and texts, yet wonder why we don't reap knowledge of the scriptures. We are either, today, expecting wheat by sowing tares, or expecting wheat for doing nothing. We expect to learn to play Football without putting in the effort to practice.

In short, we are all inherently lazy. We must learn to work. I am not saying that we all need to become farmers and perform back-breaking manual labor all the time. It is good to have enough expertise in the field that there isn't a real shortage of food right now. But, the lack of the need for work on the farm has, in large part, played a role in the entitlement society. Many people today are demanding a "living wage". It sounds nice, but really, it's a way of trying to get something for nothing (or at least more for less). 

They seek not to learn, nor to better their situations (in many cases). It is in essence, the desire to be idle outside of a regular job. The Lord is very clear on the topic of idleness. "Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer" (Doctrine & Covenants 42:42). The days in which we have the most satisfaction are the days when we had everything to do, and we succeeded. 

The Law of the Harvest is as in force today as it was in the days of Adam, and so shall it be until the end of the world. Thou shalt not be idle!