I was reviewing Abraham 1 and verse 4 changed for me:
I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
Now who knows if this is right, but I read it in a new way this morning. Something like: “I sought for my turn to be ordained to the priesthood, because of the promise of God unto the fathers that their seed would hold the priesthood to bless all the earth.” His immediate fathers had all gone astray worshiping idols, so Abraham even had to seek it. Otherwise it would have been given to him naturally, in the natural course of things. But in his case, he had to learn about it, study it, decide, and seek it. But what he was seeking was something already promised to him, but his immediate family wasn’t going to give to him.
He was supposed to be the next link in the chain, but his father thought that Egypt had the right priesthood authority instead. Remember that the Egyptians fain claimed it from Noah, and Abraham’s father believed him. I wonder when the first weak link happened. Who was the first in Abraham’s family to believe the Egyptians had it? Was it Abraham’s father, grand father, great grand father, or who? Did Melchizedek live a very, very long time since he was king of a Zion city that was translated at some point? Was Melchizedek far back in Abraham’s genealogy?
And why were people so excited to find a priesthood genealogy that went back through Ham? Was it just that the Egyptians had built a giant society so it appeared that they had power and must have the right priesthood? Was it the case that those who didn’t want to live in a Zion way didn’t join Melchizedek, and over time their descendants sought for what looked like the priesthood but without consecration? That’s a harsh thing to say perhaps but it might be human nature?
Anyway, I think it’s worth hanging on to this possible reading from verse 4. What was sought was not just that he could have the promise of God concerning the seed (which is how I had read it before), but what was sought was the priesthood, because he of the promise given to his ancestors concerning their seed.
My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.
However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness. We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.
This life is the time to prepare to meet God. We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.
My prayer is that as a body of priesthood holders, we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms. We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The question I have comes from verse 17. It says that the Melchizedek Priesthood “continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.” What do you make of the two phrases “in the church” and “in all generations”?
1) Does the priesthood continue in all generations (is always on the earth) and there is always a Church with men to hold it? That doesn’t seem to be the right reading, given our understanding of “the Apostasy.” On the other hand, the idea that the men from Esaias to Jethro kept the priesthood on the earth and that it was then given to Moses has me wondering! Are there always people somewhere, lost to the knowledge of the world, who have the priesthood? But, on the other hand, Peter, James, and John returned to give the Melchizedek Priesthood to Joseph Smith. So that would seem to suggest that there weren’t other people living on the earth who held that priesthood. But who knows! Maybe there were but God did it that way for some purpose He had. I’m open to about anything right now!
2) Does the priesthood continue in all generations if and when there is a Church organized on the earth? This is the more standard reading of course. This could be why the rest of the verse points out that the priesthood is without beginning or end; it is important to remember that while it is only manifest when a Church is organized, it exists all the time.
“It’s not about opposing manual knowledge, the knowledge of the people, the intelligence of the tool and of the worker, to the science of schools or the rhetoric of the elite. It is not about asking who built seven-gated Thebes as a way to vindicate the place of constructors and makers in the social order. On the contrary, it is about recognizing that there are not two levels of intelligence, that any human work of art is the practice of the same intellectual potential. In all cases, it is a question of observing, comparing, and combining, of making and noticing how one has done it. What is possible is reflection: that return to oneself that is not pure contemplation but rather an unconditional attention to one’s intellectual acts, to the route they follow and to the possibility of always moving forward by bringing to bear the same intelligence on the conquest of new territories. He who makes a distinction between the manual work of the worker or the common man and the clouds of rhetoric remains stultified. The fabrication of clouds is a human work of art that demands as much — neither more nor less — labor and intellectual attention as the fabrication of shoes or locks.”
Ranciere, in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pages 36-37.
From this: http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/discourse-6-april-1837
“From a view of the requirements of the servants of God to preach the gospel, he remarked that few were qualified even to be priests, and if a priest understood his duty, his calling and ministry and preached by the Holy Ghost, his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the presidency”
Something sparked my interest, and I’ve decided to work through the Family Proclamation over and over again and see what I can learn. I want to be as familiar with it as I am with some of my favorite scriptural passages. I think that it’s too easily read over on just a surface level. It is meant for the “world” to be able to read it and access its ideas, so I understand why it’s surface appearance is the most likely one to be seen, read, and used. I want, however, to look past that surface level. What are the scriptures behind these ideas? How are they being summarized here? What is being implied but not stated outright? What information here is based on doctrine taught by Joseph Smith? What here would seem radical to someone outside of the Church? What information here would sound surprising to a feminist who is used to the doctrines of the Catholic Church or various protestant religions being the only Christian options? All of these questions have already helped me see the Proclamation in a new way, and I’m hoping to learn a great deal still.
I think that would be a great title for a book someday! :) I’m still quite convinced that Ranciere’s model for teaching is exactly how we ought to think about things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are equal with each other — we’re even co-eternal with God! And we have stewardships based not on merit, but based on our willingness to yield to the Spirit. The Spirit is that which gets us working. It pushes us forward. It enlightens our minds. It is one of those great things in common that points us to so many other things in common upon which our minds and hearts can ponder and get to work! As teachers or leaders or parents in Zion, our job is not to lead based on our superior intelligence, but to lead in such a way that they come to lean on the greatest Intelligence of all! Any time we get in between God and a child of God, we are guilty of priestcraft; any time a teacher comes in between the “thing in common” and the student, she/he is guilty of stultification. The ignorant one will do more and less at the same time, says Ranciere. He will do less, because he cannot verify if the student’s answer is right. But he can do more, because he can verify if the student has paid attention. Paying attention is all that is needed — and how much that applies to our work in the Church! Pay attention to the Spirit! Pay attention to the scriptures! (all of them!) Pay attention to the ordinances and think about them! Go to the temple and pay attention! Pay attention to the needs of those you visit teach! Pay attention to sacrament talks and see what the Spirit teaches you about doctrine, how to teach or not to teach, what this person needs, what those around you need, and so forth. There is so much to learn if one only pays attention, and then the work that follows is a joint quest for truth and love. We are all of equal intelligence, says Ranciere — we are all equal in that we can all pay attention and think. We are all of equal spiritual nature, I think — we are all equal in that we can repent, receive ordinances, and commune with the Spirit!