Category Archives: Scripture Studies

Diving from…


I just came across this note from a lesson a while back:

In Genesis, the creation story is presented as this dividing from that over and over again.

And then, woman divided from man!

And then, Sabbath divided from week!
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Keys of the ministering of angels


Here are all 5 references to Aaronic priesthood and angels in the scriptures (if the lds.org search I did was thorough enough).

My research question is this:

Do the words “keys of the ministering of angels” mean something like the Aaronic priesthood has power to receive ministering spirits/ministering angels?

(such as the gift of the spirit Moroni mentions in Moroni 10:14 “the beholding of angels and ministering spirits”)

Or, do the words “keys of the ministering of angels” mean something like the Aaronic priesthood has the power to authorize or invite angels to minister to others?

(such as when Alma prays for his son, and an angel comes in Mosiah 27:14 “therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.”)

This latter interpretation might follow along with what Elder Oaks said in the 2018 General Conference (and elsewhere):

“The keys of the priesthood are the powers to direct the exercise of priesthood authority.”

With those thoughts in mind, here are the 5 verses:

Doctrine and Covenants 13:1
1 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:26
26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

Doctrine and Covenants 107:20
20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

Doctrine and Covenants 129:1,9
1 There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—

9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

Joseph Smith—History 1:69
69 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.


Thoughts on the Aaronic Priesthood on this May 6th…


I don’t get around to blogging much anymore, but I’m glad this site is still around when I need to find a quotation or talk or idea that struck me years ago. Thanks, wordpress, for being my filing cabinet. 😉

Today I want to have a place to keep some things I’m finding on the Aaronic Priesthood.

Here’s a few quotations from President Hinckley:

Then two men, good and true and faithful—one of them my father—placed their hands upon my head and conferred upon me the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained me to the office of deacon. I did not have any oath, slogan, motto, or law to memorize in connection with this. But I did memorize section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants, and I have remembered it ever since. These are the words of an angel. They are the words of John the Baptist when he conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829:

“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” [D&C 13]

And this from this past conference (April 2018):

Young men, you are authorized messengers. Through your words and actions, you can bring faith in Christ to the hearts of God’s children. As President Russell M. Nelson said, “To them you will be as a ministering angel.”

The Preparatory Gospel

Increased faith in Christ always leads to a desire to change or repent. So it is logical that the key of the ministering of angels would be accompanied by the key of the preparatory gospel, “the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins.”

Okay, so what’s striking me here is that the keys of the ministering of angels might not be what I imagined it to be. I used to imagine it to mean that someone could call upon God and have angels minister to them. The key opened the door and the angel was there, so to speak. But instead, what if it means that someone can call on God to have ministering angels sent to someone else? That is, the Aaronic priesthood is about teaching and preparing, so what if, while in that duty, they feel to ask God to bless someone they are teaching with the ministering of angels? Whether or not that person they pray for ever sees or hears an angel, perhaps angels still came to minister and prepare their minds?! Could that be what this key is all about?!?! That would make so much sense to me, and and the same time, be so very very amazing!

I’m thinking now of Alma the elder praying for his son, and eventually an angel was sent to minister to Alma the younger. The angel came to answer the prayers of his father. It is unclear whether Alma was specifically praying for an angel to come or whether he was praying for his son to understand the power of God in a less specific way, so I’m not saying this is a proof of this idea, but it does make me think of this. And, having read Alma’s story, I do have that in my head when I think of what Aaronic priesthood holders might pray for today.

So imagine a missionary teaching someone — I guess they could pray for such ministering? Or is this a very sacred, once-in-a-long-while thing?

Or of course, am I way off and it’s really again the idea that someone can pray to be ministered to by an angel?

But wait a second, I’ve been reading over and over again that the purpose of the priesthood is to bless others, not to bless oneself. You can’t baptize yourself, for example. So I think it’s worth keeping this other reading of the ministering of angels in mind.

ALSO I tend to remember that the Aaronic priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels, but I forget that section 13 goes to on say that it also holds the keys “of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.” I remember that these are part of the purpose or duties of the Aaronic Priesthood, but I don’t think of them as “keys” usually. But I’m trying to change my thinking this morning. These are keys as well. Keys of repentance, and of baptism.

I have to do more thinking about that!

But I will throw in one more thought I’ve been having. I remember, probably in Paul’s writings, the idea that the Aaronic priesthood in the Old Testament did things that needed to be repeated, but the Melchizedek priesthood (namely Christ, I think), does things that happen once. I don’t know if that holds up in today’s work, but I want to think about it. I thought about the sacrament immediately. It happens over and over again — something that’s not “done.” But baptism is only once… unless we connect it back to the sacrament. Baptism is a sign to God that you have repented, and in the sacrament we renew that. So in a sense, the combination of baptism and sacrament is an Aaronic, outward, repeated ordinance. Maybe?

Anyway, when I first thought of that it had a stronger affect on me, so I’ll come back to it if I think of a better way of putting that.

Lots to think about!


1 Ne 14 and D&C 45: At some point, all are gathered to fight or gathered to Zion


As I was reading 1 Nephi 14 this week, I was struck by how much the language sounds like D&C 45. I’m going to copy and paste the parts that I’m talking about below, but before I do that I want to point out one helpful interpretation that comes of seeing these two side by side. When it says in 1 Nephi 14 that there are only two churches, I think it is talking about a future time near the end of the world:

D&C 45:

64 Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from the eastern lands, assemble ye yourselves together ye elders of my church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me.

65 And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you.

66 And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;

67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

68 And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.

69 And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.

71 And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.

1 Nephi 14:

And it came to pass that when the angel had spoken these words, he said unto me: Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel? I said unto him, Yea.

And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.

10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.

14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.


Heading of 1st Nephi may have come from the Large Plates


 

At Study Group on Saturday, we looked at the title page and then the heading for chapter 1 of 1st Nephi. While we were looking at the heading, Joe pointed out that the order of the heading doesn’t quite match up with 1st Nephi. For example, here in the heading it sounds like the trips to get the plates and get wives happened on the same trip. There’s no mention of his vision or his father’s vision. (There were other differences I’m not remembering right now.)
An account of Lehi and his wife Sariah, and his four sons, being called, (beginning at the eldest) Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi.
The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life.
He taketh three days’ journey into the wilderness with his family.
Nephi taketh his brethren and returneth to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews. The account of their sufferings.
They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife.
They take their families and depart into the wilderness. Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness. The course of their travels.
They come to the large waters. Nephi’s brethren rebel against him. He confoundeth them, and buildeth a ship. They call the name of the place Bountiful.
They cross the large waters into the promised land, and so forth.
This is according to the account of Nephi; or in other words, I, Nephi, wrote this record.
This led us to talk for an hour or more about why that might be. As part of that discussion, we struck on one possibility that I really liked: perhaps this heading is an exact copy of the heading of his book on the Large Plates? He wrote that version years (decades!) earlier. And now he’s writing a second account. Perhaps he copies over the summary from the large plates to 1, give himself a guide of what to cover and/or 2, so that the two records will match, giving each more credence.  They would be more useful as two books which simply had different focuses if each covered similar periods and events. Readers could get their bearings quickly as they jumped from one to the other. Or, readers could feel satisfied with reading one instead of the other, if they knew the basic events were covered in both?
If this is true, that the heading was copied from the large plates, then wouldn’t that make perfect sense of the last sentence? “This is according to the account of Nephi [his large plates].” Something like me saying, “Karen did this, Karen did that, and this is according to Karen’s journal, which I myself wrote. I am Karen.”
So, in general, I really like it. We talked for a long time so there’s much more to say, but that was the basic insight. I’ll add below a few other random insights, as they pop into my head:
  • The lack of the visions mentioned in the heading is a tricky part, because Nephi does tell us that he covered them in some degree in his other record. But, who knows. Maybe he just didn’t copy that part of the heading because he knew he’d cover those visions differently in his new record.
  • Joe has always wondered why it took 8 years to get across an area that only needs to take a few weeks. The language of this heading could open up the possibility that the brothers stayed in Jerusalem for years, wooing wives and coming up with ideas of how to get the plates.
  • If the order of events was changed for the small plates, that shouldn’t be too surprising. It is a spiritual record, not the historical one, and we could see Nephi changing around the order slightly so that it matches the exodus story or other scriptural patterns. In fact, this happens all the time in the Bible. We even have different accounts of the same events, told in very different ways. Chronicles & Kings are very different, for example, even when covering the same history. So perhaps Nephi had an example of this already. In fact, maybe this is what he means by, “Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.”
  • If the events were slightly rearranged on purpose, then this might explain why Nephi points out that his father dwelt in a tent (just like the children of Israel). It would explain the wandering in the desert even though they were being led by the Liahona. (I think there were other connections I’m forgetting.)
  • It’s also possible that Mormon copied over the heading from the large plates to the beginning of the small plates.

Also, if we had the Book of Mormon as Mormon intended us to have it, with both the small plates record and the large plates abridgment, then it seems that the primary difference between Nephi’s two accounts is that one would have a lot of Isaiah in it. We then decided that if the saints had both accounts, how few would even read Nephi’s small plates account? Perhaps there was wisdom in allowing the abridgment to be lost?

 


Jacob 2 and slavery


Joe is reading a fascinating book on the “History of White People.” Meaning, how did we come to think of “white” as a race? It’s a long book that I won’t try to summarize (and that would only be a summary of his summary), but the part we were talking about today had to do with the sad, sad topic of sex slaves. It was common through much of history to travel, steal people of the whitest cultures, and sell them as slaves — the men as workers, and the women for sex. 😦 At one point, Britain was about 10% slaves — most of them as fair-skinned as could be found. It was also normal (ack!) to sell your children into slavery during a famine etc. — some as workers, but the fairest daughters? 😦 So it was normal to have a well-off family where the man had his wife, but several other women as well.

This made me think of Jacob 2-4. For example, Jacob 2:32: “I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

The word “fair” here stands out to me differently this morning.

Verse 33: “For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

The connection between “lead away captive” to “commit whoredoms” also sounds different now too.

I also appreciate that what was happening in Brigham Young’s time was so different that what had been happening all over the world before that point. What the Mormons were doing was basically monogamy multiplied, rather than one wife & family as central and many mistresses who were there largely for the man’s pleasure.

Anyway, I can see the maybe Jacob 2-4 are saying that the men in the Nephite society are starting to have mistresses for their pleasure, which act is breaking the hearts of their wives and children, and is abominable before the Lord.


Moses 2:1-5 Creating & Dividing Darkness & Light


Reading Moses 2 this morning —

And the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water; for I am God.

God caused darkness to come. I suppose when I usually think of the creation story, it’s already dark and God adds light to it. But in this verse, God brings darkness to this formless earth. What would that mean? Are there already stars around, but now there’s something blocking that light? Or clouds? Or a distance? Or another star passes away?

Why come up upon the face of the deep? What does face of the deep mean or what does it look like? What is “the deep?” Is it the waters? Is it “something formless deep in space?”

Why “up” upon? Is this darkness something that was under the deep and now is out in the open and visible? (so to speak)

And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light.

4a And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good.

God saw “that light was good.” That light in general is good? Did God see that this light was good? That is was created properly? Were there other lights to chose from but this was a good one? Had he created other lights in the past that didn’t go as they should, so he recognized this as good?

Are we talking about the creation of the sun?

Are we talking about how the light gets to the earth? It was getting here in a good amount of time? Or included a good amount of energy, etc.?

4b And I, God, divided the light from the darkness.

If I’m picturing a sun shining on a planet, then the light is only covering one half of that planet. It would seem that the light is already and always separate from the darkness. What if, instead of this meaning that the light and dark are separated, it means that the light and dark and mixed together in divisions. The light and dark are divvied out, portioned out, take turns. They are divided not from each other but within each other.

Now it sounds like a math problem: Let’s divide the light from (?) the darkness. If each part of darkness is divided by each part of light, how many parts will we have? No, that doesn’t work we’d still have half and half. 🙂 But anyway, I still want to think of how this could be thought of as dividing huge never-changing chunks of light and dark into smaller, rotating chunks of light and dark.

That is, into day and night. What we had before was “light half” and “dark half.” Now we have each area of the earth receiving both light and dark. The rotation of the earth is what gives both light and dark, or day and night.

And I, God, called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night; and this I did by the word of my power, and it was done as I spake; and the evening and the morning were the first day.