Thursday, August 30, 2012 3 comments

Jesus's three temptations: KJV versus JST

It is always interesting to examine the differences between the King James Version of the Bible and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.  We can learn some good things.  Today I decided to compare the account of Jesus’s three temptations in Matthew 4 with the JST of the same.  (I might have decided to only show the JST, but I wanted to see what things were removed as well as added, so it helps to have both for that.)


1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.  (Matt 4:1-11)

KJV with JST added in:
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God.
 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil.
 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
 5 Then Jesus was taken up into the holy city, and the Spirit setteth him on the pinnacle of the temple.
 6 Then the devil came unto him and said, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
 8 And again, Jesus was in the Spirit, and it taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
 9 And the devil came unto him again, and said, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and, behold, they came and ministered unto him (John).  (Matt 4:1-11)
What do we learn from the differences between the KJV and with the JST? 

First, we learn that Jesus went into the wilderness to be with God, not to be tempted.  Those three temptations were not set before him by the Spirit as some sort of spiritual obstacle course for him get through, as it seems in the KJV’s verse 1; rather, the devil was interloping,  crashing the party and trying to ruin Jesus’s spiritual experiences.  (This is also true for us today; the devil continues to try to ruin spiritual experiences for everyone, so we have to be on the alert and resist temptation.  I recall youth temple trips that would start out with several people having bad attitudes or feeling rushed and impatient..)

Second, we learn that it was the Holy Spirit leading Jesus from place to place, not the devil.  It is contradictory to Jesus’s holiness for Him to be led anyplace by the devil! 

Third, we also get the sense that there was some purpose for the Spirit to lead Jesus to the wilderness to fast for so long, then to the pinnacle of the temple, and to a high mountain to show him the kingdoms of the world.  I suspect that it had something to do with teaching Jesus about His great mission to redeem the world.  If that were the case, no doubt the devil would want to disrupt it as much as possible.

Fourth, we discover that rather than be ministered to by angels after His temptations, Jesus sent angels to John in prison to minister to him.  It is neat to see that even during His mortal ministry He had authority to dispatch angelic messengers.  I have to wonder if Jesus’s temptations thus far had taught Him according to the flesh how to succor others.  To me it is an additional example of how Jesus sends tender mercies to those in affliction and trial. 

For other posts on Jesus's temptations, you can read:
 Christ shared how He resisted temptation  (I show the JST, but don't discuss it in particular)

Monday, August 27, 2012 0 comments

Ezekiel on consequences of unfaithfulness in the priesthood

 10 And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity.
 11 Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.
 12 Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord God, and they shall bear their iniquity.
 13 And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed.
 14 But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein.
 15 ¶But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God:
 16 They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge. (Ezekiel 44:10-16)

In these verses, the Lord tells Ezekiel that there is to be a difference in the duties given to priests who participated in idolatry versus priests who kept themselves from idolatry.  The unfaithful priests are still mercifully allowed to serve in the temple… but their duties are limited and they are not permitted to participate in the most sacred parts of the service.  It is interesting to see what they are permitted to do.

Less faithful priests are to:
·      Have charge at the gates of the house (v11)
·      Minister to the house (v11)
·      Slay the animals for the sacrifices (v11)
·      Stand to minister for the people (v11)
·      Not come near to God (v13)
·      Not come near the holy things (v13)
·      Not come in the most holy place (v13)
·      Keep the charge of the house (v14)

Faithful priests have much greater privileges, and the list continues to verse 31. They are to:
·      Come near to God to minister to God (v15)
·      Stand before God to offer the fat and blood as sacrifices (v15)
·      Enter the sanctuary (v16)
·      Come near the table to minister to God (v16)
·      keep the charge (v16)
·      Clothe themselves in linen garments as they enter the inner court (v17)
·      wear the linen bonnet, breeches, and girdle (v18)
·      Remove the linen garments (and put ordinary clothes on) before they go to the outer court to minister to the people (v19)
·      Teach Israel to know the difference between good and evil, sacred and profane (v23)
·      Render judgment in controversy (v24)
·      not touch the dead (v24)
·      inherit the Lord instead of land (v28)
·      eat the sacrifice offered in the temple (v29-30)

When I was reading these verses with the description of the separate roles, it seemed to indicate to me how the Lord wants to show there are consequences for being unfaithful and they consist of losing privileges of doing the holiest service in the temple.  

And yet another way of looking at it is to see how a subtle lesson about degrees of glory is taught here.  The priests who stayed faithful even when the rest of Israel was worshipping idols were in effect valiant in the testimony of Jesus.  Their privileges in the temple are celestial.   They can minister in the presence of God in the most holy place, while the priests who were not faithful can’t go into the sanctuary at all.  Faithful priests can offer sacrifices for the people, while unfaithful priests must kill the animals for the sacrifices.  Faithful priests can minister to God and the people, while unfaithful priests only minister to the people.  Faithful priests wear priestly robes in the inner courts, while the unfaithful priests seem to have no such privilege. 

This reminds me of how important it is to make sure that I keep myself from sin in order to be worthy to go to the temple.  It reminds me to think about the questions that I’m asked during my recommend interviews to gauge myself and how I’m doing. God is not mocked.  If we are not worthy to go to the temple, we pollute the Lord’s house and He knows it, and He will remove our spiritual privileges.  But if we go worthily, we will be blessed with the Lord’s power and revelation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 0 comments

Rendering an account helps us de-clutter

And verily in this thing ye have done wisely,
for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward,
to render an account of his stewardship,
both in time and in eternity.
(D&C 72:3-5)

We may have the notion that we will render an account once and for all on Judgement Day, but this scripture shows us that we will render an account in time (or during our lives) too.  While it may still seem like the accounting is only done once, when we do it often, it can help us continue to make progress.  

We are familiar with the account that we give every year to the bishop about our tithe-paying status, but rendering an account can be a helpful tool for other areas or our lives.  Specifically, I want to point out how it is fundamental to the de-cluttering process.

            Rending an account to another person helps us figure out what is surplus.  There is something about talking to another person that helps you think more realistically about how often you really use something.  This is one way professional organizers help their clients de-clutter.  Professional organizers are adept at asking questions that will challenge us to think about our need for things, to think about how much is appropriate to have that will not get in our way, and to think about whether the frequency of use justifies the space things take up.  

The following questions can help you clarify whether you really need something:
What is this and what is it used for?
How often do I use it?
Is this really helpful to me? (Does this item make my life easier, save me time, save me money, fulfill an essential need?)
Do I love it?  If so, why?
If I had to buy this again, would I buy it?
Is this the best place for it?
Do I have space for this?
How many of these do I have? (Do I need them all?  Which are my favorites?)
Do I own something else that does the same job?
Is owning this more trouble than it is worth?

Some people might feel uncomfortable with having another person ask these questions; it might feel like they are being judged.  However, if the person asking the questions does it with compassion and a desire to understand, rather than to condemn or mock, then it creates a safe emotional place.  I try to make sure my clients know that they are not the ones under trial, but their stuff is.  My clients may balk at the beginning, but as time goes on, because of the safe emotional space I create and try to maintain for them as they answer, they get better and better at asking these questions themselves and making the judgment themselves.  

Usually when my clients have a hard time explaining why something is needed, there is some sort of emotional issue or attachment involved and they need time to work through those issues.  I don’t push too hard when this kind of situation comes up because I know the issue will come up multiple times with other possessions, and eventually my clients will come to a realization themselves to let go as I help them deal with the attachment.  Once their awareness has been raised, they are ready to learn by their own experience whether they need something or not.

            When we ask ourselves questions about our use of our stuff, we are in essence giving an account of part of our stewardship.  It can only help when we are as honest as possible and as realistic as possible.  Then, when we act bravely to fix the problems, whether by repair, donation, recycling, or just plain throwing things away, we need not fear accounting to anyone else.

            It is possible for the process of rending an account to become so quick and easy with practice that becomes almost intuitive.

            If you want to see the question process in action, you can check out the article “How to use Declutter Questions to Make Purging Decisions at the blog I’m an Organizing Junkie.

P. S. What do you plan on applying these questions to?  What have you been able to let go of because of asking these questions?

P. S. S.  I will be posting future insights from the scriptures about organizing and de-cluttering on my blog “House of Order, House of God,"  so if you want to get up-to-date notification on your blog readers, feel free to follow me there too! 
Saturday, August 18, 2012 0 comments

The fullness of John’s record

15 And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
 16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
 17 And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
 18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John. (D&C 93:15-18)

I used to think that promise in verse 18 just meant that more scriptures written by John would be restored. (Do I say that no more records of John will be brought out?  No; I know better than to limit the Lord’s words.)  However, when I consider the things that John bore record of here, it seems to me this may be promising that we will receive experiences that will allow us to bear the same testimony John bore.  After all, v1 of the same section says:

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; (D&C 93:1)

It seems to me that we can’t have the fullness of the record of John (assuming record here means testimony) unless we have the same revelatory experience as John. 

Without the experience of seeing and receiving the testimony of the Holy Ghost, the record is just words, and there are things words can’t express but can only hint at.  We have part of the record when we have the Holy Ghost testify to us, but the fullness of the record is seeing as well. 

I suppose it takes faith to trust that the fullness will come in the Lord’s time if we are faithful as He stipulates in v1.
Thursday, August 16, 2012 2 comments

How to rally your troops

Alma 43 is the chapter in which the Nephites defeat the Zoramite-Lamanite army led by Zarahemnah.

One of the interesting things about Alma 43 is that it contains at least three separate reiterations of the causes the Nephites were fighting for and causes the Lamanites were fighting for.  The cause is mentioned:
1.     as the people form up their armies,
2.     when Moroni places his armies to catch the Lamanites, and
3.     in battle when the Nephites are about to give away. 

Moroni makes sure the Nephite army has a good cause to fight for, while the Lamanite-Zoramite army had to be stirred up to anger and hate and had to have their hatred preserved.

It is hard to tell if each iteration of the cause was written in the record that Mormon was abridging or whether it was only there once and Mormon made a point of repeating the Nephite cause at important points.   (It is easy to understand why Mormon would be happy to transmit repetitions or emphasize repeatedly the Nephites’ just cause after having lived through battles in his day that were motivated by unjust causes.)  Regardless, it is instructive to notice where these repetitions come.

Mormon tells the Nephite cause at the point when the Nephites begin to amass their troops on the border of Jershon and Antionum in response to build-up of Lamanite troops in that area.  When armies and groups are mobilized somewhere, it is important that they know why their movement is important.

9 And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.
 10 For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy.
 11 Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who were called the people of Ammon—and they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it—therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed.
 12 And the Nephites would not suffer that they [the Anti-Nephi-Lehis] should be destroyed; therefore they gave them lands for their inheritance. (Alma 43:9-12, emphasis added)

Their mobilization was specifically to prevent the Anti-Nephi-Lehis from being destroyed, and from the larger perspective, it was to protect the Nephite nation from their enemies and preserve freedom of religion.

Mormon reiterates the Nephite cause as he tells the Nephites were about to use spying as a strategy to find out what their enemies were doing.  He figured that some of his readers might be leery of the Nephites using spies (with the lying that is implied in that strategy) to beat their enemies, so he reminds us of the Nephite cause.  Happily, if we are alert, we can see that the spying consists of placing men in the wilderness to watch for when the Lamanites come (v28), and sending men to watch the Lamanite camp to see where they go (v23).  There is no direct engagement with (lying to) the enemy.

23 But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed into the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp…
28 And Moroni placed spies round about, that he might know when the camp of the Lamanites should come.
 29 And now, as Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land;
 30 And he also knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church, therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem; therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take. (Alma 43:23, 28-30)

All that watching of the Lamanite army (and watching for it to come) would get very boring if the Lamanites weren't doing anything (or it wasn't seen coming).  During the long periods of inactivity, the spies would need to remember the cause they were fighting for, so that they could remember the important contribution they made to the cause, even when it seemed like they weren't contributing at all.  A report of "Lamanites still in the same place" is just as much of a contribution to the Nephite cause as a report of invading Lamanites, since a "Lamanites unmoving" report would contribute some piece of mind. (If we apply this to ourselves, a visiting teaching or home teaching report of "families all well" contributes just as much to the cause of Zion as a report that one of our families needs help.)

Third, Mormon reiterates the Nephite cause when the Nephites are about to give way before the Lamanites to show why the Nephites ultimately did not give up and resumed their best efforts in the battle.

45 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
 46 And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.
 47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.
 48 And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage. (Alma 43:45-48, emphasis added)

Assuming all these iterations of the Nephite cause were in the unabridged record of how Captain Moroni rallied his men, we see that he is determined to keep their cause in mind at every important point.  We also see that when the battle gets especially difficult and they are about to give up, he again reminds them of their cause and this gives them the courage to call on God for help.   Interestingly enough, when the Nephites have the Lamanites at their mercy, Captain Moroni stops the battle to talk to the Lamanites, and we see that he even tries to rally and inspire them too with words about justice and faith.  (Too bad they rebel.)

I think that this attention to inspire and rally with important causes also inspired concern in Moroni’s army for each other and their leader.  I notice that when Moroni was attacked, one of his soldiers instantly came to his defense.  But when Zerahemnah had his scalp cut off, not a single Lamanite lifted a finger on his behalf.  Zerahemna could command his men, but he hadn’t reached their hearts.  His leadership over them was rooted in stirring them up to anger and preserving their hatred of the enemy.  Moroni’s leadership was rooted in love, defense of country, liberty, religion, and family.  His army saw all this in the way that Moroni prepared them for battle, so they defended him just as he tried to defend them.

One of the things I learn from all this is how important it is to remember the causes we are fighting for.  This also shows me how wonderful people are who have that ability to rally us and inspire us to persevere in the best causes.  What are some causes we believe in?
·      Freedom of conscience, freedom to practice our religion
·      Common decency and morality to keep our families safe from blatant and ubiquitous temptations of the worst sorts
·      Justice and equal enforcement of the laws
·      The cause of Zion and building up the kingdom of God

Another thing this teaches me is how our important it is to us to be inspired when we’re in a tricky situation where we have to stay strong and fight for our standards.  When someone rallies us by reminding us of the cause we are fighting for at those moments, oh how wonderful it seems to us!  Renewed determination can help us find strength we never knew we had.

A final thing I get from this is how important it will become for us to be able to rally others.  Mothers and fathers rally their children.  Teachers rally their students.  Coaches rally their players.  Politicians rally their supporters.  CEOs and managers rally employees. 

We see that rallying others with true and unselfish principles will be more successful than trying to use fear or anger or hate or grievance.

Finally, we can rally ourselves by reminding ourselves what we are working and fighting for.  For example, every so often it gets really hard for me to continue blogging about the scriptures here.  I ask myself,  “Why do I keep doing this?  This is a ton of work!  I’m always worrying about whether what I have written is good enough!”  I have to remind myself that I’m not doing this for fame or fortune.  I’m doing it to share what I’ve learned so that others can come to understand what I understand and learn what I am learning.  I’m doing it to help others appreciate the scriptures more deeply.  I’m doing it in hopes of persuading to repentance.  I’m doing it to try to bring others to God.  Remembering that gives me strength to keep at it.

How do you rally your troops? 
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 0 comments

Surrendered for real, or not?

12 And it came to pass that not many days had passed away before the Lamanites began to lose all hopes of succor; therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands; and thus we had accomplished our designs in obtaining the city Cumeni.
 13 But it came to pass that our prisoners were so numerous that, notwithstanding the enormity of our numbers, we were obliged to employ all our force to keep them, or to put them to death.
 14 For behold, they would break out in great numbers, and would fight with stones, and with clubs, or whatsoever thing they could get into their hands, insomuch that we did slay upwards of two thousand of them after they had surrendered themselves prisoners of war. (Alma 57:12-14)

Here in this block of verses, we see that the Lamanites, after they had yielded the city would still try to break free, and they would fight with anything they could get.  This indicates that although the Lamanites said they had surrendered, they hadn’t really. 

The spiritual lesson from this should be plain—once we have surrendered our will to God’s, do we still try to fight Him?  What are we fighting him with?