Category Archives: Scripture Studies

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.

Sister Sharon Eubank’s entire talk “Turn On Your Light”

I just reread this talk in order to pull from it some quotations. But the entire talk is bewilderingly perfect. If you haven’t listened to it, do it as soon as you can. It might be one of the best 13.41 minutes of your life. 🙂


(or read it here:) Continue reading

Elder Christofferson “Preach what you practice” and other quotes to keep handy

A crucial element of the parental duty to warn is to paint not only the demoralizing consequences of sin but also the joy of walking in obedience to the commandments. Recall the words of Enos about what led him to seek God, receive a remission of sins, and become converted:

“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication.”19

Deseret News opinion editor Hal Boyd cited one example of the disservice inherent in staying silent. He noted that while the idea of marriage is still a matter of “intellectual debate” among elites in American society, marriage itself is not a matter of debate for them in practice. “‘Elites get and stay married and make sure their kids enjoy the benefits of stable marriage.’ … The problem, however, is that [they] tend not to preach what they practice.” They don’t want to “impose” on those who really could use their moral leadership, but “it is perhaps time for those with education and strong families to stop feigning neutrality and start preaching what they practice pertaining to marriage and parenting … [and] help their fellow Americans embrace it.”32

We trust that especially you of the rising generation, youth and young adults on whom the Lord must rely for the success of His work in future years, will sustain the teachings of the gospel and the standards of the Church in public as well as in private. Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to floundering and failing in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering. Remember the Savior’s promise:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”33

Elder Perry’s experience at the Vatican (quotes to keep handy)

Pope Francis opened the first session of the assembly with this statement: “We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. … It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”1

In referring to those of the rising generation, he said it is important that they “do not give themselves over to the poisonous [mentality] of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern”; this must be done.2

There were many who saw and expressed this unity, and they did so in a variety of ways. One of my favorites was when a Muslim scholar from Iran quoted two paragraphs verbatim from our very own proclamation on the family.

During the colloquium, I observed that when various faiths and denominations and religions are united on marriage and family, they are also united on the values and loyalty and commitment which are naturally associated with family units. It was remarkable for me to see how marriage and family-centered priorities cut across and superseded any political, economic, or religious differences. When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries, and dreams for children, we are all the same.

What the restored gospel brings to the discussion on marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity.

The entire theology of our restored gospel centers on families and on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in a premortal life where we all lived as literal spirit children of God our Heavenly Father. We believe that we were, and still are, members of His family.

We believe that marriage and family ties can continue beyond the grave—that marriages performed by those who have the proper authority in His temples will continue to be valid in the world to come. Our marriage ceremonies eliminate the words “till death do us part” and instead say, “for time and for all eternity.”

We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values—but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God.

A great number of secular people have concluded that a committed marriage and family lifestyle is the most sensible, the most economical, and the happiest way to live.

No one has ever come up with a more efficient way to raise the next generation than a household of married parents with children.

Why should marriage and family matter—everywhere? Public opinion polls show that marriage is still the ideal and the hope among the majority of every age group—even among the millennial generation, where we hear so much about chosen singleness, personal freedom, and cohabitation instead of marriage. The fact is that strong majorities worldwide still want to have children and to create strong families.

Once we are married and once we have children, the true commonality among all mankind becomes even more evident. As “family people”—no matter where we live or what our religious beliefs may be—we share many of the same struggles, the same adjustments, and the same hopes, worries, and dreams for our children.

We need to remind ourselves once in a while, as I was reminded in Rome, of the wonderfully reassuring and comforting fact that marriage and family are still the aspiration and ideal of most people and that we are not alone in those beliefs. It has never been more of a challenge to find a practical balance between employment, families, and personal needs than it is in our day. As a church, we want to assist in all that we can to create and support strong marriages and families.

We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will.

My brothers and sisters, the restored gospel centers on marriage and family. It is also on marriage and family where we can unite most with other faiths. It is around marriage and family where we will find our greatest commonality with the rest of the world. It is around marriage and family that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the greatest opportunity to be a light on the hill.